Never has there been a more contentious issue in Christianity than the kind of obedience we are to render to our Father. Although many are in one accord that our God is our Creator, our Redeemer, and our Sanctifier, the question as to how we are to give Him homage excites the fiercest of debates.
The strife between God’s people concerning this matter arises not because of an extraordinary piety on our part. Nor is it the result of a confusion as to the text’s intention, for God has made His Word to us as plain as day. The cause of our varying manner of obedience is sin, nothing more or less than that. As the eras of human history have passed, many in the faith fell prey to the vices and evils of humanity present in that time. False doctrines and pagan holy days of all kinds became associated with our faith because we did not hold fast to the commandment to love God with all our heart, soul, and might (Deut. 6:5). Like Cain, we sought to offer God an offering satisfactory to us rather than Him.
What has been the result of this? Have we not brought into our faith the very perils that we seek to be delivered from? Idolatry, pagan doctrines, adulteries, murders, thefts, and perjuries of all kinds have been the mark of many in the faith. They who profess to be set apart, who profess to have a Great Commission, live as servants to say in their heart, “My lord delayeth his coming” (Lk. 12:45). It is this indulgence of our modern-day evils that have led the world to abhor the offering of the Lord and blaspheme Him.
Such a degradation of our faith has done more harm to those who believe in the Lord than those who reject Him. The faith that was once precious to the saints is regarded as a mere profession, rather than a faith that sanctifies every facet of their lives. Messages such as these, which call those dead or asleep in their faith to arise, are treated lightly or as something offensive to their faith. Their very reaction against these messages is a plain testimony that “men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (Jn. 3:19). Like Judas, many in the faith have the light that, if followed, would make them strong in the Lord. They would stand as strongly as did Stephen before the Sanhedrin (Acts 7). But the darkness of their sins enshrouds this light from their eyes. They walk about blindly, looking for a hand to guide them.
But what they know not is that when they rejected the commandments of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ, they opened their minds to “seducing spirits and doctrines of devils” (1 Tim. 4:1). The impressions and feelings that have prevailed over many in the faith are not mere imaginings. They are the very forces that have rebelled against the kingdom of heaven (Rev. 12:4, 7-9). In choosing to rebel against the law of God, man placed himself in accord with the sympathies of Satan and through his leadings, many have taken the doctrines of his design, dressed them in a garb of sanctity, and advocated them as Christian. This is the true cause of the debate between members of our faith and the reason why many are confused as to how to obediently worship the Lord.
The doctrines espoused by these deceived parties have ever been a point of contention, between them and the world. How can God’s law be unchanging if He changes even one commandment? How can God be supreme if the gods of the Celts, Romans, and Greeks (among many others) be revered by us in our keeping of their holy days? How can God be a forgiving and loving God, even to His enemies, when He punishes them eternally? Are these the beliefs of our God and those that love Him? Would not such false beliefs lead many to serve Him out of fear and/or a desire to gratify their sins? Such a walk is in harmony with the world, not with God. Even those in the world, unsaved themselves, can see the confusion that the followers of God are in. The inconsistency of these beliefs leads them to mock the God of Israel and many in the faith, not willing to bear the shame or search for the truth, ultimately renounce their vows to the Lord and depart from Him.
The Lord has made His commandments and His testimony plain, and all who desire to worship Him as He requires may find their answers in studying His Word. Let not the apostate’s false cry of “legalism” hinder you from obeying your Father in heaven. A child, when he disobeys, is corrected by his father and shown how he must act or behave. The father, having seen the evils of men in his youth, is determined not to see the same base conduct manifest in his child. He himself walks in the same path he instructs his child to walk. He does not merely command the child or threaten him into obedience. He lovingly guides him to see why he instructs him as such. The child does not have to repeat the evils of our history to learn from them. He needs only to learn from his father’s upright example and obey him faithfully. When this lesson is repeated throughout his childhood, he will not depart from it in his manhood (Prov. 22:6). Is such obedience to our Father in heaven not in harmony with Jesus’ teaching to worship our God “in spirit and in truth” (Jn. 4:24)?
It is this childlike obedience that God requires of us and all who dwell in heaven with Him will possess this desirable attribute (Matt. 18:3,4). No one who has apostatized from the faith will shake their confidence in their Father. No demonic doctrine or sinful vice will be entertained or indulged by those who fear God and keep His commandments. May all who are now shaken in their faith, asleep in their faith, or dead in their faith return unto the Lord and seek from His Word how to worship Him in spirit and in truth.