Several weeks ago, I posted on Holiness vs. Happiness and the misplaced priority of Happiness. This will be the second post of four on this subject. I’d love to hear your thoughts as you join with me for this series of posts.
One of the points of my previous article was to demonstrate that there is a inherent benefit in obedience to God’s commands. Anyone who obeys the moral commands of God will reap positive consequences. They are rules from the “owners manual” that if followed, will elicit a “better performance from the engine.” For example, a man who obeys the command to “not commit adultery” will have a more positive relationship with his wife than the man who cheats. This is not necessarily holiness, but morality.
I make this distinction, because the two are often mistaken. This contrast is essential because human beings, on their own, can only produce morality. True holiness can only be brought out in us by the Holy Spirit. Theology refers to this work as sanctification.
Holiness is the result of properly motivated obedience. There is a distinct order to the “process” of sanctification:
God loves me.
“Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He first loved us.”
1 John 4:10
It’s important to remember that this love is initiated by God.
I love Him in return.
“We love Him because He first loved us.”
1 John 4:19
We are only able to do this when we have received His love, and have been enabled by the Holy Spirit to love in return.
I obey His commands.
“For this is the love of God that we keep His commandments.”
1 John 5:3a
“If you love me, keep my commandments.”
Obedience motivated by love is the purest form of obedience. This too is a work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. I must admit my obedience is not always motivated by love. Poorly motivated obedience is better than disobedience, but love-motivated service is what will bring glory to God.
Obedience brings blessing.
“He that has my commandments, and keeps them, he it is that loves me: and he that loves me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.”
What is for His glory is for our good.
Blessing increases my love for God.
And the cycle repeats.
In my next post we will look more closely at what it is that distinguishes morality and righteousness.
So, what do you think? How important is motive in our obedience to God’s commands? What motives have you experienced in your own Christian life?