4. The Power to Obey God: Exodus Pt. 2
Feeling spiritually stagnant? Exercising trust in Jesus and his promises gives us the power to obey his commandments!
"Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel."
In the first part of the book of Exodus, we learn that God delivered his people, the Israelites, from their slavery to the Egyptians. We pick back up in the story with God now leading them through the desert to the mountain of Sinai. Here, God makes a covenant, or a promised agreement, with Israel. God promises his faithfulness to Israel as their God, and he gives them his law in return. The purpose of God’s law is to guide and enable Israel to live in a right relationship with Him.
The law is not a way to earn God’s love with obedience. The Israelites’ obedience is to be a response to God’s love already given to them. Think of Israel’s relationship with God as mirroring a marriage relationship. When spouses are faithful to each other and seek to love the other well, they enjoy a closer, more fulfilling bond. In the same way, God’s law keeps Israel from behavior that would hurt their relationship with Him. God’s law offers flourishing. It’s how life works best.
God asks his people to worship him alone and to love him with their whole heart. God also wants Israel to show the same love they have been given by God to their neighbor. He asks them to take care of the poor, the vulnerable, the outsider. He tells them to uphold a society of justice. Ultimately, the law can be boiled down to this: Love God, and love your neighbor as yourself.
God wants this community of love to capture the attention of the world, pointing others to him! However, looking ahead in the story, we see that Israel ends up turning from God and worshiping idols. They neglect justice and act immorally.
In holding up the standard required to be in a relationship with God, the law actually revealed humanity’s inability to meet that standard. It showed us why Jesus had to come.
Jesus came to Earth and lived the perfect life, meeting every requirement of the Law, loving the poor and the weak, and shining as a perfect light to the world. In his greatest act of love, he gave his very life! He died for humanity’s sin, our inability to follow his law. Three days later, he rose again. With his death and resurrection, Jesus mediated a new covenant between us and God. Under this covenant, those who accept Jesus as their savior are forgiven of their sins and credited with his perfect obedience to the law. Through the Holy Spirit, those in Christ are empowered to obey him, that they might have a close relationship with him and an experience of abundant life, living how the creator designed us to function.
Do you ever feel discouraged with your actions and choices?
Do you ever get stressed out, feeling like you’ll never be able to change or grow?
The reality is, when we just try harder in response to our frustration, we’re missing the power that’s available to us in Christ! If you want to be more obedient, the key isn’t working on your works; it’s faith! When you focus on Christ, who he is and what he promises to be for you, obedience will inevitably flow from your life.
We don’t need more will-power: we need more of Jesus. We need to meditate on the beauty of who he is; we need to delight in the amazing reality of all he’s done for us; we need to rest in the hope of his promise to sanctify us.
RESPOND: Take a moment to thank Jesus for giving you power to walk the path of obedience.