No Escape Clause – Part One

ESCAPE

Most people, at least those who ascribe to some modicum of godliness, expect that they must obey some commands of God, but they do not necessarily accept that they must keep all of them. The rich young ruler’s answer to Jesus’ call for him to keep the commandments—”Which ones?”—implies that some of what God says is unnecessary to keep, and that is exactly how some people act today as well. However, there are no exceptions to what God requires us to obey. To the contrary, complete obedience is the rule of thumb for a disciple of Christ. It is the very essence of our role as disciples and Jesus’ role as Lord. The writer of Hebrews points out that this follows the pattern of Jesus’ own life, for “though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him” (Heb. 5:8–9). Therefore, to be Christlike is to obey the Father.

While the Old Law was nailed to the cross (Col. 2:14) and is therefore not what God requires of us, it is not because God was dismissing the importance of commandments, but because it always pointed to something better (Heb. 8:8-13). Indeed, God’s commands exist to call us to adopt His character, which is why they are always for our good. “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome” (1 Jn. 5:3). Therefore, since God’s Word reflects God’s character, to reject what the Lord says is to reject the Lord (Jn. 12:48). Thus, sin is not the transgression of some arbitrary law set down by God; it is the striking rejection of God’s own character (1 Jn. 3:4; Isa. 59:1-2).

Unfortunately, when the reality of God’s message exposes the depths to which sin has taken us, not everyone proves prepared to accept the full extent of discipleship. Instead, people look for some loophole and argue for imaginary escape clauses not found in Scripture. Sadly, some people act as if God’s call for repentance only applies to things they previously decided to give up, but the apostle Paul’s call for universal repentance in preparation for Judgment cannot be pigeonholed in such a way.

Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead (Acts 17:30–31).

Some seek simple rituals as a panacea for their sin, accepting big, grand ideas while rejecting the simple tasks of basic obedience. We recall the way Naaman originally responded, preferring his problem to the revealed solution (2 Kings. 5:11–12). Some individuals follow when it is easy but give up as soon as faithfulness becomes difficult. They enjoy the pleasant hope of eternal life but have no stomach for the disciple’s unqualified commitment to Christ (Jn. 6:60). Others follow as long as they can get something out of it—business contacts, youth activities, financial support—but stop when they are expected to give something, failing to accept that obedience in service is at the heart of all their Lord has done (Mk. 10:45). The reality is simple: if you have to ask what part of God’s Word you do not need to obey, you do not have the heart of Jesus, or the heart of discipleship.

Some seek simple rituals as a panacea for their sin, accepting big, grand ideas while rejecting the simple tasks of basic obedience. We recall the way Naaman originally responded, preferring his problem to the revealed solution (2 Kings. 5:11–12). Some individuals follow when it is easy but give up as soon as faithfulness becomes difficult. They enjoy the pleasant hope of eternal life but have no stomach for the disciple’s unqualified commitment to Christ (Jn. 6:60). Others follow as long as they can get something out of it—business contacts, youth activities, financial support—but stop when they are expected to give something, failing to accept that obedience in service is at the heart of all their Lord has done (Mk. 10:45). The reality is simple: if you have to ask what part of God’s Word you do not need to obey, you do not have the heart of Jesus, or the heart of discipleship.

This an excerpt from Kevin’s new book Follow Me: A Call to Authentic Discipleship. Paperback now available. Hardback and ebook coming soon!  Click here for more information.

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