Chapter 13 showed us the antichrists strategy for the final 42 months of this era of earths history, and now chapters 14-16 show us Gods strategy for this same period of time. He will not passively observe as the antichrist conducts a hellish campaign to force the world to worship him. By means of angels in the sky God will warn the human race of the judgment ahead if they reject Him and take the antichrists mark. Then He will unleash a series of staggering disasters designed to throw the antichrists empire into turmoil.
Mercifully, God will not allow the world to perish without a final worldwide call to repentance. In case anyone is still wavering as to whom to worship He sends an angel to warn of the dangers awaiting those who refuse to repent. With a loud voice the angel proclaims, Fear God, and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come.... The message is stark and full of alarm, and when the next angel speaks the torments of hell are pictured so vividly no one will miss the implications of the choice before them.
Today were going to look at different reasons why people obey God beginning with the fear of God as called for by the angel. Then well move on to look at two other motives which reflect a growing relationship with God.
A. Three Reasons for Obedience
There are different reasons people obey God. Here are three: fear, wisdom and love. Each reflects a growing depth of relationship a person has with God. It is also true that each of us tends to obey God for different reasons in different areas of our lives.
1. I fear God
- Proverbs 9:10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom...
- The fear of God is primal self-interest: I dont want bad things to happen to me
- It is based on the realization that God exists, that He knows what I am doing and that He will hold me accountable for my behavior and attitudes
- Negative: God doesnt know, see or care; theres no judgment, only the grave (Ps 10:4, 11; 73:11)
The fear of God is a foundational attitude in the heart of every believer, but when knowledge (learning the principles in Gods Word) and humility (willing to trust His advice rather than learning everything the hard way) we grow to the next level of obedience.
2. I want Gods blessing (wisdom)
- Wisdom is enlightened self-interest
- I realize God has built laws into His universe; certain behaviors bring His blessings; certain behaviors bring His opposition; I want to be blessed
- Deuteronomy 28:1-14; 30:15-20; Psalm 1; 27:2; Proverbs 3:1-20
- Hebrews 11:6 Without faith it is impossible to please Him for he who comes to God must believe that He is and He is a rewarder of those who seek Him
- Negative: God wont take care of me, I have to create my own blessing.
The wisdom of God shows that a person is learning the principles in the Word of God and trusts God enough to believe He will do what He says. This element God places in the heart of the believer. However, as we experience His amazing mercy and catch glimpses of Him in worship, we discover another reason for obeying Him.
3. I love God and am aware of His love for me
- Self-interest ceases to be my main motive for obedience. It is replaced by love.
a) MY LOVE FOR GOD (Jn 14:15, 21, 23, 24)
- As my love for Him grows, I desire to be like the One I love
- I want to please Him because Im in awe of who He is
b) GODS LOVE FOR ME (Jn 15:9-11)
- I dont want to do anything that prevents me from abiding in His love or that separates me from His presence.
c) GODS LOVE IN ME (Php 2:13; 1Co 15:10; 2Co 3:5; He 13:21; 1Jn 4:7, 16)
- The Holy Spirit dwelling in me is conforming me to the image of Jesus (Ro 8:29). He takes out the heart of stone and puts in a heart of flesh (Eze 36:26; Jer 31:33)
- Gods love in me constrains me to live in such a way that I do everything possible to help others fall in love with Him.
- I dread the thought of causing someone to stumble.
Each level of motivation (fear, wisdom, love) is beneficial and should remain in a believers heart. But as we grow, new layers are added until our hearts become like Jesus heart. Ultimately, He wants us to do what we do because the love of Christ within us delights to do His will. The process takes time and may never be completed until we see Him face to face, but today we can let the Holy Spirit examine our hearts and take us another step closer.
1) Describe something you dont do because you fear God.
2) Describe a biblical principle that has brought blessing to your life.
3) Describe something you do because the love of God constrains you do it.