1228) God Wants Us to Be Good– For Our Own Sake

     God wants us to be good.  When we obey his commands, life is better for ourselves and those around us.  That is why God gives the commandments in the first place.  

     In the Bible, as in the home, there are a variety of motivators described to encourage our obedience.  There are threats and promises, there are blessings given and blessings denied, and there are punishments and rewards.  But most of all, there is Jesus, who has come down from heaven to be with us in this life.  In getting to know Jesus not only as our God, but also as our friend, we can begin to trust that his commands for us are good.

     In the book of Acts there is a miraculous healing of a man who had been crippled from birth.  Peter and John healed this man in the name of Jesus, but that healing came by way of a command.  Peter said to the man, “I do not have any money to give you, but I’ll give you what I have; I tell you, in the name of Jesus Christ, walk.”  That was a command, and it is commands that we often do not like.  We don’t like to be told what to do, and that lame man could have just said, “No, I won’t,” or he could have complained and said, “Do I have to?” or, he could have sarcastically said, “What do mean walk, are you blind; can’t you see that my legs are no good?”  Obedience was just one of several responses that man could have made.  But the man chose to obey, and verse seven says “Instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong” and he stood up.  Soon, the man was not only standing, but he was walking and even jumping around.  But first, he had to obey the command.  The healing came by faith that in the name of Jesus he could be healed, and then by obedience to the command.

     Jesus gave a command to the women at the tomb on that first Easter morning.  He said, “Go and tell my disciples what you have seen, and tell them that I will meet all of you in Galilee.”  There again is a command– two commands in fact.  Go and tell the disciples, and then, all of you meet me in Galilee.  Do you think there were any objections, any discussions about whether or not to obey this command, whether or not they had to do that?  Of course not.  Any opportunity to see Jesus, who they saw dead and now was alive, would be a blessing, even if commanded.  

     There have always been debates about how much we have to do to be saved, and what sins God will and will not forgive, and how much preachers should emphasize the Law and God’s commands, and how much they should emphasize God’s love and freely given grace.  But it is only because of our sinful blindness that we imagine a conflict between God’s love and God’s commands.  Throughout the Bible there is such a blending of the two that one can hardly tell the difference.  Even the punishments, when given, are not merely because commands were broken, but because the people were turning away from God’s love and bringing upon themselves all sorts of miseries.

     So for all those reasons, God wants us to be good– for our own sake. 

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Deuteronomy 28:1a…2a  —  If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today… all these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God…

Deuteronomy 28:15  —  However, if you do not obey the Lord your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come on you and overtake you…

I John 2:5  —  If anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them.  This is how we know we are in him.

Acts 3:6  —  Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you.  In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”

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O Lord, let my life by useful, and my death be happy; let me live according to thy laws, and die with confidence in thy mercy.  Amen.

–Samuel Johnson  (1709-1784)

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