Obedience, The Test of Love

John 14:21

He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him." NKJV

Many people play the game of love. They go through all the motions of love but with little commitment. They are strictly in it for the benefits they receive. When I was in High School there was this guy who boasted of having two girls on the string. He had both their class rings and was quite the ladies' man. I don't know how that ever worked out but I am sure of one thing. He didn't love either girl half as much as he loved himself. God calls us to love Him in an exclusive way. To love Him supremely above everyone else and even more than we do ourselves.

The means by which He has chosen to grade our love is by a simple method. He call us to obedience.

Now obeying God is not like obeying anyone else. Even parents often lead their children wrongly by commanding wrong things of them. But God is perfect and all wise. He never commands of us that which is wrong. He loves more than any other and would never lead us where it would not be for our ultimate good. Let us consider how love for God and obedience to Him go hand in hand for the Christian.

  1. Obedience is often connected with love throughout the scriptures.
    1. Exodus 20:6 but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments. NKJV
    2. Deuteronomy 5:10 but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments. NKJV
    3. Deuteronomy 7:9 "Therefore know that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments; NKJV
    4. Deuteronomy 11:1 "Therefore you shall love the LORD your God, and keep His charge, His statutes, His judgments, and His commandments always. NKJV
    5. Deuteronomy 11:13 'And it shall be that if you earnestly obey My commandments which I command you today, to love the LORD your God and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul, NKJV
    6. Deuteronomy 11:22 "For if you carefully keep all these commandments which I command you to do -- to love the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways, and to hold fast to Him -- NKJV
    7. Deuteronomy 19:9 and if you keep all these commandments and do them, which I command you today, to love the LORD your God and to walk always in His ways, then you shall add three more cities for yourself besides these three, NKJV
    8. Deuteronomy 30:16 in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the LORD your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess. NKJV
    9. Joshua 22:5 But take careful heed to do the commandment and the law which Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, to love the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways, to keep His commandments, to hold fast to Him, and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul." NKJV
    10. Nehemiah 1:5 And I said: "I pray, LORD God of heaven, O great and awesome God, You who keep Your covenant and mercy with those who love You and observe Your commandments, NKJV
    11. Daniel 9:4 And I prayed to the LORD my God, and made confession, and said, "O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments, NKJV
    12. Luke 6:46 "But why do you call Me 'Lord, Lord,' and not do the things which I say? 47 Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: 48 He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock. 49 But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell. And the ruin of that house was great." NKJV
    13. John 14:15 "If you love Me, keep My commandments. NKJV
    14. John 15:10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love. NKJV
    15. 1 John 2:5 But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. NKJV
    16. 1 John 5:2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. NKJV
    17. 1 John 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. NKJV
    18. 2 John 6 This is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, that as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it. NKJV
    19. Why does God do that?
      1. We would say oh I don't obey God but I still love Him.
      2. We would say oh I love God but I just want to do things my way.
      3. Or I love God but I don't have time to do what God wants.
      4. Mostly people think they do obey God, they pay their bills and don't hurt other people, so what if they are living contrary to God's holy direction for them.
    20. The highest purpose of obedience is to demonstrate that our love for Him is genuine.
  2. A couple of Biblical examples.
    1. King Saul of the Old Testament
      1. 1 Sam. 15:22. Then Samuel said: "Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. 23. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He also has rejected you from being king.'' NKJV
    2. David
      1. Even though David sinned some very great sins, yet in his heart he loved the Lord.
      2. He always repented with a deep repentance.
      3. His heart was broken when his fellowship with God was broken.
  3. It is the Holy Spirit that empowers us obey God's commandments.
    1. Notice in verse 15 through our verse.
      1. John 14:15-21 "If you love Me, keep My commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever -- 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. 19 "A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. 20 At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. 21 He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him." NKJV
    2. Verse 16 tells us the source of our strength.
      1. It is the helper, the Holy Spirit, our encourager.
      2. He teaches us what is right.
      3. He guides us as by the hand to follow after God.
      4. He is our cheerleader to promote God's will in our lives.
      5. We cannot fail if we love God and have His Holy Spirit within us.
  4. Love and obedience must be yoked together for obedience confirms love and love validates obedience. (The following taken from Pulpit Commentary)
    1. To make obedience real.
      1. Obedience which does not proceed from genuine love to Christ has no reality in it;
      2. it is not the genuine offspring of the heart,
      3. the real act of the soul;
      4. it lacks the essential motive and inspiration of all Christian deeds.
      5. It is formal, mechanical, legal, and empty.
    2. To make obedience easy and delightful.
      1. Obedience not arising from love is forced, burdensome, and even painful -- painful to the man himself and to others.
      2. Obedience which springs from fear, selfishness, legality, selfpraise, or from mere custom, is insipid and wearisome; while the obedience of love is easy, natural, and pleasant.
      3. To such the words of our Lord are full of truth and significance: "My yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
      4. The least duty, in the absence of love, is really heavy; while the heaviest, with it, is really light. Many have counted it joy to suffer, and even die, for Christ. They rejoiced in chains, and sang in flames. Theirs was the obedience of love, the offering of affection, and the tribute of a willing heart.
    3. To make it spiritually and personally valuable.
      1. There is no spiritual value in unloving obedience.
      2. It may be acceptable with men, and pass as a genuine coin in human markets, but it is a counterfeit in the spiritual and Divine.
      3. It may benefit society, but will not spiritually benefit the man himself; and however extensive, minute, and ostentatious its performance may be, it will not score in heaven.
      4. It is found wanting in the balance of God, and even in that of the enlightened conscience. "Though I speak with the tongues of men," etc.
      5. Love alone can impart spiritual value into obedience, and fill it with life and Divinity. Pulpit Commentary on John 14:15

This obedient, trusting love leads to two things. First, it leads to ultimate safety. On the day of Christ's triumph those who have been his obedient lovers will be safe in a crashing world. Second, it leads to a fuller and fuller revelation. The revelation of God is a costly thing. There is always a moral basis for it; it is to the man who keeps his commandments that Christ reveals himself No evil man can ever receive the revelation of God. He can be used by God, but he can have no fellowship with him. It is only to the man who is looking for him that God reveals himself, and it is only to the man who, in spite of failure, is reaching up that God reaches down. Fellowship with God and the revelation of God are dependent on love; and love is dependent on obedience. The more we obey God, the more we understand him; and the man who walks in his way inevitably walks with him. Barclay

The essence of obedience lies in the hearty love which prompts the deed rather than in the deed itself. I can conceive it possible that a man might, in his outward life, keep Christ's commandments, and yet might never keep them at all so as to be accepted before God. If he became obedient by compulsion, but would have disobeyed if he dared, then his heart was not right before God, and his actions were of little worth. Spurgeon

The second half of chapter 14 includes Jesus' teaching on the resources of discipleship. Jesus prepared his followers for his physical absence by telling them that they would experience his presence more fully and intimately because the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, would take up residence in them. Among the resources that the Spirit brings to our lives will be: (1) an awareness of God's love; (2) a sense of guidance and purpose in life; (3) the power to obey Jesus; (4) the realization that we are united in relationship with God; and (5) a recognition
and understanding of truth. Life Application Bible Commentary: John

14:21 The Christian faith works through love, and the measure of one's love is the extent to which one keeps Christ's commandments. Ryrie Study Bible NASB

14:21 Jesus reiterated the statement of v. 15 because of its importance. Love is the basis of relationship with God. His love has been manifested in the gift of Jesus (1 John 4:9-10). Our love for him is manifested in obedience (1 John 5:3). Jesus said that there are great benefits for those who obey his commands, thus showing their love for him. Jesus said that the Father would love the obedient disciple, Jesus himself would love him, and Jesus would make himself known to
him. Loving Christ pays unmatched dividends. The Expositors Bible Commentary, New Testament

Christian love is manifested as a believer obeys the Lord's words (cf. vv. 15, 23). The rewards of loving Him are great: (a) the Father will show His love to him (cf. v. 23), and (b) the Son will love him and show Himself to him. This passage does not teach a "works" religion, but rather that one who believes and obeys Christ's Word is loved by the Lord. Saving faith results in obedience (cf. "the obedience that comes from faith," Rom. 1:5). The Bible Knowledge Commentary: New Testament  

 This message was preached at FBC Toulon,

by Albert Harmon. See it at http://toulonbaptist.com