Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. – 1 Samuel 15:22
A. Let’s clarify what we mean by OBEDIENCE and SACRIFICE.
- Obedience is doing the will and seeking to please someone in authority over you.
- Sacrifice is seeking to appease or cool off the anger of an authority you have disobeyed.
A sacrifice is a ritual transaction between a person and God that physically demonstrates a relationship between them. But if the person’s heart is not truly repentant or if he does not truly love God, the sacrifice is a hollow ritual. Religious ceremonies or rituals are empty unless they are performed with an attitude of love and obedience. “Being religious” (going to church, serving on a committee, giving to charity) is not enough if we do not act out of devotion and obedience to God.
DOES THE WILL OF MY FATHER
Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord”, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. – Matthew 7:21
Jesus emphatically teaches that carrying out God’s purposes and desires is a condition for entering the kingdom of heaven. This certainly does not mean that we can earn spiritual salvation by our own efforts or works. This is true for the following reasons:
1. God’s forgiveness comes to us through faith and repentance (admitting our sin, turning from our own way. Submitting to God and following His purposes). It is made possible by the grace and sacrificial death of Christ, who gave His perfect life to pay the ultimate penalty for our sins.
2. The Obedience to God’s will demanded by Christ is an ongoing condition for salvation; it does not save us, but is a response and a result of true salvation. Yet, it is still God’s power and grace (undeserved favour, love and help) that enable us to live by His standards. This means that we must continually pray for that grace, receive it and put it into action by true faith and devotion to Christ.
3. Because of the gift of God’s power and grace, we are capable of doing God’s will and living right as we follow Christ with all of our heart. God’s Word says that “by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” – Ephesians 2:8-10
4. God always give us the strength and ability to obey Him and overcome sin. That is part of the full salvation He works out through those who have entrusted their lives to Him and have been restored to a personal relationship with Jesus. “For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose” – Philippians 2:13
Yet God’s gift of grace – His favour, help and mercy that wedo not deserve – does not cancel the need for action on our part. We must respond positively to God’s gift of obedience. “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling” – Philippians 2:12
We always free to reject God’s grace, refuse to depend on Christ and refuse to pray for and accept the life of obedience.
WHEN WE WALK WITH THE LORD – MHB 516
1When we walk with the Lord
In the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way;
While we do His good will,
He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.
Trust and obey,
For there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus,
But to trust and obey.
2 Not a shadow can rise,
Not a cloud in the skies,
But His smile quickly drives it away;
Not a doubt or a fear,
Not a sigh or a tear,
Can abide while we trust and obey.
3 Not a burden we bear,
Not a sorrow we share,
But our toil He doth richly repay;
Not a grief or a loss,
Not a frown or a cross,
But is blest if we trust and obey.
4 But we never can prove
The delights of His love,
Until all on the altar we lay;
For the favor He shows,
And the joy He bestows,
Are for them who will trust and obey.
5 Then in fellowship sweet
We will sit at His feet,
Or we’ll walk by His side in the way;
What He says we will do;
Where He sends, we will go,
Never fear, only trust and obey.
John Henry Sammis (1846-1919)
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