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067 – For the Love of Obedience Part 2 – Examine Yourself

How to Obey the Gospel
Part 2

In our last podcast we looked at that intense passage of scripture in 1 John Chapter 2 where John challenges us to obey the commandments of Christ and lets us know, in no uncertain terms, that obedience is not optional. Listen to this passage again…

1 John 2:3-6
We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: 6 Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.

What Commands Does Jesus Want Us to Obey?

Just think about that one statement, “God’s love is truly made complete in him.” We need to step back and understand, it is possible for God’s love to “not be made complete” in a person! In our last episode, we learned; John’s conditional statement explains that we do not know Christ unless we are walking in obedience to his commands. But, which commands? We asked, “What commands do I need to obey?” That question launched us into a deep survey of “The Great Commission.” 

After that very thorough review, we concluded that if we are not actively involved in obeying the four crisp commands of Christ found in The Great Commission, then we fall short in our obedience. Employing this criteria is a pretty solid, albeit deeply convicting strategy for evaluating our position before God. We are forced by the tenets of The Great Commission to ask ourselves, “Am I going? In other words, “Am I evangelistic?” Am I making disciples? Am I baptizing them? Am I teaching them to make disciples and obey everything Jesus has just taught in The Great Commission and elsewhere? Do you realize; The Great Commission is the only pattern we see for converting souls in the New Testament?

Examining Ourselves

The Great Commissions is the only instruction specifically given by Jesus himself as his unambiguous mission for his followers after his departure. How can we claim to know Him if we are not walking in obedience to these very simple commands? This really puts our walk with God under a microscope, doesn’t it? It’s quite a challenge. Now some folks might object to this exercise of “self evaluation” as unnecessary, legalistic, demotivating, discouraging, perhaps even dangerous. But the Bible corrects that notion and indeed challenges us to dial up our introspection; our self-examination.

2 Corinthians 13:5
Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you–unless, of course, you fail the test?

This kind of heart searching and probing might possibly reveal that we are not as secure in our relationship with God as we think. And you know what? That conclusion is not a bad thing! Yeah, it rattles our assurance of salvation; but that’s OK. Listen. If we come to the conclusion that we “fail the test,” and are willing to be honest with ourselves, it just means we are still in the process of conversion. God still has us in his plan.

Are we trusting Him?

Why in the world would we ever think Jesus is going to let us go just because we learned new truth and are convicted that we don’t measure up to the new Biblical standard? Don’t you think that maybe…. just maybe… God is trying to help us get to the place He needs us to be?

God Does Not Give Up on People

I don’t think God gives up on people if they continue pursuing Him with a humble open heart. Only our pride and arrogance keep us from growing to the next level as we point to our spiritual resume and claim, “But I made a commitment to Christ years ago! Look at all I have done for Him!” That may be true and maybe… just maybe, God sees your heart and that’s exactly why He is nudging you higher!

If I “fail the test” as Paul says, Shouldn’t I have an attitude of great humility and gratitude because I realize, I am not saved? And if I come to the conclusion that I am not saved, that does not mean God has rejected me. It means God is not done with me yet. The humble person asks, “Why have I fallen short and how do I move forward in repentance and make the Godly changes I need to make?”

Let’s take a cue from the Apostle Paul. He kept an open mind and a humble heart. Listen to what he said in Philippians 3:12-16 about his own self-evaluation.

Philippians 3:12-16
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16 Only let us live up to what we have already attained.

Conversion is a Process. Sometimes a Long One.

Conversion is a process which leads to a very specific point in time when an individual completely surrenders themselves to the will of Christ, obeys the Gospel in water baptism and is saved. Obedience to the commands in The Great Commission is the only authorized method of conversion.

Sometimes this conversion process takes years; especially given the fact that there is such a vast array of seductive false doctrines blurring the clearly defined edges of the narrow path. Actual obedience, however, takes only a moment. If we have settled for the evangelical world’s method of conversion, we fall short of the goal. While folks who have been deeply committed to Christ for years and served him faithfully probably don’t need to repent of some of the “Technicolor” sins a super worldly person may be struggling with, they most certainly need to repent of the “Black and White” sins of doctrinal issues they have held on to. Sometimes we need to repent of bad deeds, sometimes we need to repent of bad beliefs.

Evaluating Out Life and Our Doctrine

There can be no argument. God wants us to continually and confidently evaluate our walk with him and strive to do our very best every day. Paul said it this way to Timothy.

1 Timothy 4:16
Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

Paul tells Timothy, and by extension… us, to evaluate the way we are living our lives and the things we are teaching in a careful and sober manner. Why? Because the way we live and the things we believe (and teach) are matters of salvation. We can’t live like the dickens and claim to be saved; nor can we teach unbiblical doctrines and expect them to have the power to save ourselves or those who hear us!

Connecting Love for Christ with Obedience to Christ

So, let’s talk about the motivation behind our obedience in the first place. Why in the world should we obey Christ? The bottom line answer to that question is, “Because we love him,” and that might seem pretty obvious. But there are incredible riches in this idea if we are willing to dig just a little bit.

As I told you in the last podcast, I was stunned when I saw the connection between salvation, love and obedience. Listen to these passages and think about this connection. It’s pretty challenging.

This is in John 14 beginning in verse 15.

John 14:15-17
“If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever– the Spirit of truth.

This passage presents a simple if / then conditional statement and connects it to salvation. Now, this connection to salvation might not be obvious. Let’s take a closer look. If we love Jesus then we will obey Jesus. When the first part of this if / then statement becomes true, then the second part is fulfilled. What is the first part of the equation? Loving and obeying Jesus. What is the second part of the equation? God gives us His Holy Spirit.

If the first part of our equation is not true… if we do not love and obey, then the second part never happens. If we do not love and obey Jesus, God never gives us His Holy Spirit. Remember, God does not give His Holy Spirit to unsaved people! Right? All saved people have the Holy Spirit; therefore all saved people have loved and have obeyed Jesus.

The Holy Spirit is Given Upon Our Obedience

Let’s dive a little deeper. Look at the timing. When does Jesus ask the Father to give us the Spirit? Is it before we obey or after we obey? Clearly, the Father is not even asked to send the Holy Spirit until we obey.

Wow! That’s pretty intense. Does the Bible say anything else that connects love and obedience to salvation? Yep… a bunch. Look at John 14:21.

John 14:21
Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.”

In this passage, the first thing we see is that someone must “have” the commands of God. This infers someone must have told them about the commands… someone must have obviously preached the word to them. It also implies, they accepted the word. After they hear and accept the word, these people obeyed the word. God does not love or show himself… reveal himself… to the disobedient. Obviously God loves all people but all people are not saved, are they? Only those who hear the commands and obey the commands will be loved by the Father. Why? Because they develop a saving faith… the faith that obeys.

But wait, there’s more. John continues in verse 23 and 24…

John 14:23-24
Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

This passage is about God giving people his Holy Spirt. Right here, we find that God comes and makes his home in a person who loves Him and obeys His teaching. We see that this is a person whom God loves back. And just so the message is clear, Jesus flips things over and shows us the inverse truth. A person who does not love God will not obey his teaching. Now, let’s remember, the Holy Spirt only indwells a house which has been swept clean. 

In other words, the Holy Spirit does not come and live within us until our sins have been forgiven by God. He does not live in a believer whose sins are still intact. And make no mistake… sins are only forgiven by God when we complete our faith and obey the Gospel in water baptism. Water baptism is the only Biblically ordained response to the Good News. This stands in wild contrast to the evangelical world’s method of conversion by simply accepting Christ or saying a prayer for salvation. That is NOT obedience to Christ’s commands.

We Do Not Love Christ If We Will Not Obey Christ

All three of the passages we’ve just discussed indicate that God’s Love and His gift of the Holy Spirit are predicated on our obedience to Christ’s commands. If we do not love we do not obey and if we do not obey how on earth can we claim that we really do love? And to really drive it home, Jesus tells us, these are not just His words but the Father’s words and there is no wiggle room around them.

These conditionals present a choice between two options. You take the blue pill or the red pill. There is no purple pill. We either love Christ as demonstrated by our obedience to The Great Commission, or we do not. Tragically, I think many people experience a form of delusion where they have never truly obeyed the Biblical Plan of Salvation, but still firmly insist they really really do love Christ. These passages tell us that this can’t be true.

If / then statements present a condition, they tell us what the result is if the condition is met and what the condition is if it is not met. These particular if / then statements have been crafted by and presented by the God of the universe. And you know what? We don’t get to pick the result any more than we get to debate the conditions. The conditions are non negotiable without discussion or apology and a truly humble person simply surrenders to them.

70% of America is Christian?

You know, the world is full of people who call themselves Christians. In fact, that great arbiter of truth, Wikipedia says…

Christianity is the most prevalent religion in the United States. The Public Religion Research Institute‘s “2020 Census of American Religion”, carried out between 2014 and 2020, showed that 70% of Americans identified as Christian during this seven-year interval.”


Isn’t that an interesting statistic? 70% of America is Christian! There’s just one big problem with the claim; nobody is defining the term “Christian.” These surveys, and the world in general, use a very loose goosey definition of “Christian.” When the world says “Christian,” they mean people who believe in Jesus or go to a Catholic, Protestant or Non-Denomination church which uses the New Testament scriptures. Since we are not Jewish, Muslim or Buddhists, etc. we are Christians. The Bible defies that notion.

What is a Christian?

A Christian is someone who not only believes in Jesus but is walking in obedience to Jesus commands. This is not a person who races out the church doors after a 50 minute church service, having done their “religious due diligence” for the week. A Christian is a person who lives their entire week, all seven days, all waking hours, trying to imitate Christ and live their lives as He did and for His sake. That’s a Christian.

Some may say, “That’s a pretty narrow view. Aren’t you being a bit critical?” I don’t think so. Listen to Jesus.

Matthew 7:13-14
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

At a Faith that Obeys, we use the term “believer” to identify that group of folks who practice their faith at a level which falls short of the Biblical standard but are committed to Christ to the best of their understanding. This is not to disparage them or to look down in any way on their sincerity or dedication. Salvation can sometimes be a very long road of progress before the seed of faith blossoms into full repentance and obedience. 

I believe there are many, many really sincere and dedicated people who simply have never been aware of what the Bible actually teaches regarding a genuine relationship with Christ. For that very reason, A Faith that Obeys was created. I believe that any truly sincere heart will accept and obey Christ’s commands once they are made aware of them. 

Once again, this is not just an arbitrary idea Jesus came up with. He made sure we understood the critical nature of this teaching when he said, “These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.”

The Connection Between Love, Obedience and Salvation

For me, seeing this connection between love, salvation and obedience is pretty stunning. I think it gets to me because I know so many people who sincerely care about and are devoted to Jesus to the best of their understanding; but are still lost because they believe and teach an unbiblical method for salvation. 

Millions and millions of people claim Christ as their savior but so very few walk as Jesus did and in doing so, make Him their Lord. If we sincerely love Christ, we have no choice but to adjust our course to follow him in the way scripture requires. As I have declared before, “We can’t have a savior if we will not have a Lord.”

When we love someone, we have a go anywhere and do anything attitude which kindles the fire of that love into amazing flames. That’s a real relationship with Christ!

Folks, what we are learning today should serve to convince us; there is a lot more to a relationship with Christ than punching a time clock at church on Sunday. Our life and our doctrine are matters of our salvation. The Holy Spirit is never given to a believer anywhere in the Bible prior to obedience so we must never teach or believe that we are saved sometime before the final prescribed step in the Biblical Plan of Salvation which is water baptism.

Well, so far, we have looked at some of the most intense passages which relate obedience, salvation and love for Christ. Next, let’s take a look at the “nature of obedience” as it appears in the scriptures. Let’s see what else we might learn as we pursue our Faith that Obeys.


Dana Haynes

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Listen Now – Podcast 067 – For the Love of Obedience Part 2

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