There’s a word nobody uses much anymore. In a world of freedom, positive reinforcement and behavior modification, this word seems old school and out of touch. The word is obedience.
Andrew Murray wrote a slew of devotional books back in the 1800’s but his book The Spirit of the Christ rocked my spiritual world. In it, Murray quotes Ezekiel 36:27. . .
“And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.”
He says the Holy Spirit we receive when we first believe convicts us of sin and leads us toward a new life in Christ. But if we want more of the Holy Spirit living in us . . . for His ‘still small voice’ to become a more prominent one . . . for our faith to grow from ‘that of a mustard seed’ to faith that can ‘move mountains’ and endure hardship, it only happens through obedience.
When God the Father gives an order, He takes responsibility for the outcome. For instance, when He commands, “Don’t have sex outside of marriage,” He knows the result will always be good if we obey. The commands of God in Scripture . . . things like the Ten Commandments are for all of us. But there are other commands He gives us individually. For example, God let me know 34 years ago that He doesn’t want me to drink alcohol. “You have a weakness Regi. It’s not something you handle well. It’s not for you.” I’ve obeyed. On another occasion, I was mad at my wife and left to sleep on the couch. In frustration, I asked, “Lord, what would you have me do with my anger right now?” His still small voice said, “Get up, go back in the bedroom and apologize.” I chose to obey. We made up immediately. Those were individual commands for me to obey . . . or not. Over and over, I have to make the choice . . . obey or disobey. Yield or resist. Give up my free will and move forward, doing what was asked. Or exert my free will and refuse to obey.
Each time I hear His voice and obey it, I grow in my faith. Future boldness grows on the shoulders of past obedience. The Holy Spirit’s voice gets louder and stronger in my soul. As I learn to trust His voice, obedience gets easier and easier because I know that if I obey the outcome will always be fine, whether it turns out the way I wanted or not. Over time, the obedient Jesus-follower gains favor with our Heavenly Father. Jesus told of the obedient servants in the story of the talents . . . how the Master promised to ‘put them in charge of many things’ because of their faithfulness in a few things.
So, the more we listen to the Holy Spirit living within us and the more we obey His voice and commands, the stronger His voice and our faith becomes. Startlingly simple. Overwhelmingly powerful.
Scripture: His master replied, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:23)
Mentor Tip: It is an overlooked Scriptural fact that the Holy Spirit lives in every believer’s heart. Like any muscle, our ‘faith muscle’ gets stronger with exercise, and obedience is faith exercised.