Genuine Disciples Walk in Obedience
Read John 14:18-25
“If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word.”
How do we distinguish between the real and the fake? Sometimes they look so close that the untrained eye cannot tell the difference. This is the same question we have regarding our confession in Christ. In Matthew 7:21-23, Christ warns of those who believe that they are genuine disciples, but in the end, they are proven to be pretenders. Many claim to be followers of Christ, who even are involved in ministry but in reality are false disciples. This warning should cause all of us to stop and carefully reflect upon our own life. These were not like the false prophets who deliberately concealed their false motives to ensnare people in their dishonesty. These are individuals who genuinely believe they were followers of Christ but, in the end, found themselves judged. This is the danger and subtly of self-deception. In our sin nature, we can deceive ourselves into thinking that we are genuinely destined for heaven but fail to obtain the salvation Christ offers.
The warning Christ gives should cause us to carefully examine the nature of our faith. But how do we distinguish between pseudo faith from genuine trust in Christ? In John 14, Christ provides us the answer. Six times in chapter 14 and chapter 15, Christ points out that a real disciple, one who truly loves Christ, demonstrates his love through his obedience to the commands of Christ. While we may be moved emotionally during a worship service, while we may pray and ask God to give us help in times of uncertainty, the real measure of our faith is revealed in how we live daily. A genuine disciple keeps God’s Word. The verb “keep” points to a continual action. While our obedience is never perfect, for everyone still acts in disobedience, the focus is upon a daily lifestyle and desire. Genuine disciples continually strive to live in obedience, and when they fail, they respond with repentance and confession.
This is what it means to surrender to Christ. To accept Christ as our savior is to surrender our life to Him, to recognize our sinfulness and need for God’s grace. It is to strive to live by His Word. Instead of rejecting His Word, we embrace his commands as our way of life.
However, here lies the paradox. The more we strive to live in obedience, the more we realize that we fail. Christ, recognizing our weakness, does not leave us to flounder in our spiritual incompetence hopelessly. Instead, He gives us His Spirit (vs. 26) to aid us in our life of obedience. The reason obedience to His commands becomes the authenticator of our faith is not because our obedience earns our salvation, but because obedience is the outworking of the Holy Spirit’s work in our life. When we experience Christ's redemption, He works in us to empower and motivate us to live in obedience (Phil. 1:6). When the Holy Spirit is at work in us, He not only teaches us what we are to obey and how to obey, He also gives us the desire and ability to obey.
Is it your desire to walk in complete obedience to Christ? Do you strive daily to know and follow God’s word? If this is the desire of your life, it is a testimony of the Holy Spirit’s work in your life. If not, seek Christ in repentance and ask Him to transform you into a genuine disciple.