The Real Reason God Wants You to Do Things His Way
No one necessarily enjoys being told what to do.
To those outside the Christian faith, the idea that God would lay claim to every part of my life—from what I do with my sex organs to where I spend my extra money—is oppressive and repulsive. But in Christ, God has freely availed to us all the one who (1) remains inside God’s love through perfectly obeying Him and (2) invites us into this perfect joy through also obeying God by placing ourselves in Christ through our faith in Him. (See John 15:10.)
This truth is astronomical in the reach of its implications. But for many of us, myself included, for whom the Christian life feels at time to be a drudgery of “dos and don’ts,” we can begin to avoid the direction given by God. We can loathe His lordship far too easily. We can detest his correction.
So it struck me that in Psalm 16, David, having no clue who Jesus Christ was, wrote, “I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me” (verse 7).
Doubtless the Psalms overflow with exuberant praise of God’s commands. Psalm 119 is another such example. But how, and why, can the writers of the Psalms delight in God’s order giving? How can David, who also committed adultery and murder, rejoice that God tells him what to do?
The source is in the first six verses. The Lord is David’s only source of goodness in life (verse 1). The Lord is David’s chosen lot—a vast, beautiful inheritance of land (verse 6). The Lord is the thirst-quenching drink in David’s cup, his chosen source of joy and strength (verse 5).
It is because David so highly prizes the richness of God that he delights so much in fellow believers (verse 3), while refusing to even associate with the hollow lives of those who reject all that God is for them (verse 4).
Seeing and tasting of God’s goodness in this way, who would not “bless the Lord who gives me counsel”? God’s instruction is not oppressive; it is the “path of life” and the way to “fullness of joy” and “pleasures forevermore” (verse 11). These are not the fleeting pleasures of sin, but the awesome brilliance of a love relationship with God.
God leads you not merely for the sake of exercising authority over you. He leads you to Himself—to experience total joy and delight in Him.
Today, if you loathe the commands that God has placed over you, it is because you do not understand His goodness.
Understanding God’s goodness is not something we can naturally do on our own. We are far too blinded by our sinful nature and the false promises of worldly satisfaction around us. It is only when God illumines your heart supernaturally that you can perceive how good He truly is for you.
For David, this illumination of God’s goodness came through realizing all God had done up until that point: creating the world, swearing His blessing to Abraham, parting the Red Sea, and delivering David from his enemies over and over again.
For us, that light-bulb moment of realizing God’s goodness comes through the cross. The Gospel. The fact that the holy God of the Universe added a human body to Himself and became lowly, just to suffer and die the way you deserve as a sinful human, is the electricity that the Holy Spirit uses to defibrillate your dead heart that eschews God’s commands.
Without that jolt that replaces a stony heart with a beating heart that is capable of knowing God’s goodness, it is impossible to follow God’s commands—much less like them.
Examine yourself. If you find in your heart any disdain towards what God has commanded you, don’t white-knuckle your way to obedience. Sit, wait, and relish in the goodness of God. Know that His leadership of your life is His means of drawing you to all of the goodness found only in Him. Then obey Him, and in so doing, you will experience all that it means to have the love of God implanted into your heart.
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