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Obedience Motivated by Love

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman
The Truth Network Radio
January 16, 2023 1:00 am

Obedience Motivated by Love

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman

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January 16, 2023 1:00 am

God's commands are not burdensome to the one who has been born of God. Pastor Mike Karns speaks explains obedience in the life of the believer.


Let me state before I get into the sermon tonight that it is my intention and Lord willing to return to the book of Revelation that we've been studying in for months and interrupted for various and sundry reasons, so next Lord's Sunday evening we'll return to chapter 15. I do not think I'm going to be difficult to follow this evening. I think this message is pretty simple in terms of its structure.

It's pretty straightforward and yet it's very challenging. I've come across this verse numerous times and it always provokes a certain response in me depending on where I am and how yielded I am to the process of sanctification that's going on in my life. We're looking at verse 3 of 1 John 5 that says, for this is the love of God that we keep His commandments. Now here's the part that I want you to think about, react with, and His commandments are not burdensome. His commandments are not burdensome. Is there a furrow that registers on your brow when you hear that? Do you go, or does your heart resonate with a hearty amen?

Yes that's true. The commandments of God are not burdensome. And what's in view here are not just the 10 commandments, it's a word that is speaking in broader terms of the word of God, the counsel of God.

Not with a specific... There's specificity here to the admonitions, the exhortations, the imperatives, the demands that are upon us as believers in Jesus Christ. His commandments are not burdensome. I want you to see how love is tied to this concept. Jesus said, if you love me, you'll do what?

You'll keep my commandments. So what Jesus is saying is one of the primary means whereby we evidence our love for God is by our obedience to His word. We know that. It's not foreign to us. But I think what is being said here is something a little bit different.

That part is also spoken of, but here's the additional part. For this is the love of God. Here is a manifestation of God's love toward us. The first, our response to the commandments of God is the way we express our love to God. That this is speaking of God's love toward us.

This is the love of God that we keep His commandments and His commandments are not burdensome. Now we have an adversary who is a liar, a deceiver. He twists the word of God. He distorts our thinking and not only Him, but we're living in a world that is contrary to God and has a philosophy that's contrary to the word of God. The world is not in submission to God and His authority.

The devil, he wants you to believe that God is a tyrant, that God is being overly controlling in demanding your obedience and giving you exhortations and giving you imperatives and warning you of this and warning you of that. There's a sense even as believers that our flesh revolts against that. We want to throw off restraint. We don't want to be restrained. We don't want to be under compulsion.

We don't want to be under obligation. And the devil appeals to that flesh in us and says, yeah, God's a killjoy. He doesn't want the best for you. He wants to restrain you.

He wants to control you. And that idea keeps many men from coming to Christ because they want to pursue their own sin. They don't want to be restrained.

They don't want to come under the lordship of Jesus Christ. We sang a couple of hymns tonight, let me draw attention to a couple phrases in a couple of these hymns. Jehovah said, Canu, I once was a stranger to grace and to God.

This is an unbeliever speaking. I knew not my danger and felt not my load. Felt not my load.

What is that referring to? I felt not my load. I felt not the weight of my sin. I felt not the guilt that I had come under.

I did not feel the judgment and the condemnation that hung over me. I think is what he's speaking of. We sang, what song did we sing? No. What was the first hymn we sang? I've forgotten already.

Brother Greg is, yes. And what page was that? You remember? 424. Thank you. Stands a two. Nor silver nor gold hath obtained my redemption, the guilt on my conscience too heavy had grown.

That's the word of a man who's come under conviction. He's feeling the weight. He's feeling the burden.

And you see, that is a good thing. And the devil comes and says, no, no, that's a bad thing. You don't want to feel burdened. You don't want to feel weight. You don't want to be constrained.

You don't want to be hindered in your pursuit of the life you want to live. And that's the devil lying to you. His commandments are not burdensome. Why does God restrain us? Why does God command us? Why does God make demands upon us? Well, he does it because of love. Now, I want you to listen to the confession of a preacher, a man who was in ministry, a man who just about quit the ministry until he came under the persuasion of the free grace of God.

It's Milton Vinson who wrote this book, A Gospel Primer for Christians, learning to see the glories of God's love. And listen to what he says here. He's giving reasons. There's about 30 reasons here, 30 motivations to pursue God. And listen to what he says. Every time I deliberately disobey a command of God, it is because I am in that moment doubtful as to God's true intention in giving me that command.

Does he really have my best interests at heart or is he withholding something from me that I would be better off having? Such questions, whether consciously asked or not, lie underneath every act of disobedience. However, the gospel changes my view of God's commandments in that it helps me to see the heart of the person from whom those commandments come. When I begin my train of thought with the gospel, I realize that if God loved me enough to sacrifice his son's life for me, then he must be guided by that same love when he speaks his commandments to me. Viewing God's commands and prohibitions in this light, I can see them for what they really are, friendly signposts from a Heavenly Father who was seeking to love me through each directive so that I might experience his very fullness forever. When controlling my thoughts as described above, the gospel cures me of my suspicion of God, thereby disposing me to walk more trustingly on the path of obedience to his commands. Now, that's a preacher talking. So if preachers struggle in this realm, I think we don't have to fear saying, you know what, I get that.

I get that. Burdensome. His commandments are not burdensome.

That word carries the idea of an oppressive burden. It's what Jesus was referring to when he rebuked the Pharisees. You remember that in Matthew 23? Let me just read this couple of verses to you. And Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to his disciples saying, the scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. Therefore, whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works for they say and do not do. For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear and lay them on men's shoulders, but they themselves will not move them with one of their own fingers.

Well that's not something God does. That's what the Pharisees did to try and control people. Pharisees were saying in effect, if you want to please God, you must carry this heavy burden of commandments that they couldn't keep and nobody could keep. So tonight we're asking the question as a Christian, how do you think about the word of God and your obligations to keep it, to obey it and to submit to it?

Do you see the word of God as a treasure to love and to value or do you see it as a burden to keep? And I remind you of the words of Jesus to those people who were under the influence of the Pharisees and what he would have to say to any of us tonight. Jesus said, come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and lowly in heart and you will find rest for your soul for my yoke is easy and my burden is light. My burden is light, Jesus says. Now I don't want to belabor the point, but again, I don't want you to think, well, he's just skimming over that.

He's just not being honest with the reality here. I am not saying that a life of obedience is easy. I am not saying that there isn't difficulty in our walk of obedience in this life. We're to work out our salvation with what? Fear and trembling.

With fear and trembling sounds like a very sobering engagement. Work out your salvation with fear and trembling, but doesn't stop there, does it? For it is God who work within you both to will and to do according to his good pleasure. Putting sin to death is hard work. Contending earnestly for the faith is not easy.

Making progress in holiness is not easy. And yet our text says his commandments are not burdensome. They're not heavy.

They don't weigh you down. So tonight I want to look at this verse, verse three, and see, number one, a principle stated, number two, a principle illustrated, and then number three, the principle applied. Here's the principle, very, I think, easy to see, easy to remember. They read verse three again, for this is the love of God that we keep his commandments and his commandments are not burdensome. Here's the principle. Love motivates obedience. Love for God motivates obedience.

That's the principle. When we don't love God as we should, it's then that we are more inclined, more disposed to see his commandments as a burden. When we don't love God as we should, we are most disposed to see his commandments as a burden. So we have this principle stated, and it's not just here, but Paul speaking to the church in Corinth in chapter five of his second letter, he says, it's the love of Christ that restrains us or compels us or constrains us. We're motivated by the love of Christ, the love of God, but what is that motivation? We are inclined to a life of obedience as our response of gratitude for what he's done for us. Love motivates obedience. And our problem with obedience, when we struggle with obedience, it's that we don't love God as we should. There is a deficiency in our love for God. I think that is what this text is telling us. Now that's the principle stated, love motivates obedience.

Let's try and illustrate this. And for that, I want to return to an Old Testament narrative, and it's the story of Jacob and Rachel. You'll recall that Jacob indentures himself as a servant to his uncle Laban.

And why is that? Well, he sets his eye on Laban's daughter, Rachel, and he wants to marry her. And he wants to marry her so badly that he enters into a work contract that he'll work seven years, and at the end of seven years, he'll earn her hand in marriage.

Seven years. And unless we think that that service that he rendered unto Laban was easy, here is how he describes his obedient service to Laban. It's in chapter 31 and verse 40 of Genesis. He says this, and this is in response to when Laban came after him and accosted him and wanted to know why he ran away in the middle of the night. And he's defending his work record with Laban, and he says, by day the heat consumed me, and the cold by night, and my sleep fled from my eyes. He says, in other words, seven years, difficult, challenging, hard, and could we say burdensome. Yet, here's another perspective he had for the same seven years of hard labor. Chapter 29 and verse 20 says, so Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed only a few days to him. Seven years seemed like only a few days to him.

Think of that. Seven years flew by just like a few days. How does the scriptures account for this? Well let me read the rest of verse 20.

I'll read what I've already read and then we'll pick up. So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed only a few days to him because of the love he had for her. The years of work that he endured were not burdensome.

Yes they were years of work, but they were not burdensome work, and why? What made all the difference? The love that he had in his heart for Rachel. You see how love motivates obedience? Let's look at another biblical illustration to see how work and obligation and obedience are viewed, and this time we're looking when love is absent.

What happens when love is not a part of the equation? Well Jesus told a parable in Matthew chapter 20 of a landowner who hired laborers for his vineyard at an agreed upon wage, and remember that throughout the day he hired others to work, and he paid all of the workers the same wages regardless of whether they worked all day or only a few hours, and the men who worked all day came to receive their pay and they registered a complaint. Matthew chapter 20 verse 10 says, but when the first came they supposed that they would receive more and they likewise received each of the denarius, and when they had received it they complained against the landowner saying, these last men have worked only one hour and you made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the heat of the day, but he answered one of them and said, friend, I'm doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what is yours and go your way. I wish to give to this last man the same as to you.

Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things or is your eye evil because I am good? So the last will be first and the first last for many are called but few are chosen. What is obvious with these workers? They had no relationship with the landowner. They weren't sons. They had no love for him.

They had no concern for the other workers. They were selfish. It was all about them.

And how did they view their day's work? Hard. We bore the burden and the heat of the day complaining. No love for God.

Never love motivates obedience. They were not happy. In fact, they were very unhappy. There's a lot more to that story, but for our purpose tonight, that's the illustration that I want to look at. I believe the reason Jesus told that story was to expose the Pharisees. The Pharisees were the elder brother in the story. What about the elder brother? Well, he said in Luke chapter 15 and verse 29 in his defense of why he wasn't rejoicing and that his brother had returned and his father was rejoicing and having a party over his son who was found, he says, look, these many years I have served you. It sounds a little odd that a son would be talking to his father that way. I have served you? Patience for this elder son was burdensome to him.

Why? Because he had no love. He did not love his father. He saw his father as nothing more than a demanding taskmaster, so he was resentful of his father's generosity and his mercy and his love. He meticulously tallied up his every hour and act of obedience, but life in the household was only a burden to be born. So we're looking at this principle that love motivates obedience. We're looking at some biblical illustrations that shed light on this. You see, it's easy to see the difference between Jacob and those who were only working for their wages. Jacob's work flowed out of a heart of love.

The other workers were in it only for themselves. And I'm sure that there are other illustrations we could draw on to further illuminate the principle, but I think for our purposes tonight that's sufficient. The principle stated, love motivates obedience. The principle illustrated.

Now let's take a few minutes to apply it. We're going to be gathering around the Lord's table in a moment, and we're going to be remembering our Lord in the way in which He commanded us to. And our Savior's love-motivated obedience is seen in Psalm 40 and verse 8, where these words are recorded, I delight to do Thy will, O God. Jesus' obedience to the Father was fueled by His love for the Father. And like Jacob before Him, Jesus' work to obtain His bride was a delight to Him because of the great love He had for her. His love for His bride, His love for His own, His love for the elect of God was so great that He was willing to be obedient even to the death of the cross.

That should help us, shouldn't it? Our obedience needs to be fueled similarly. So the question tonight is we're applying this, not only applying it in relationship to Jesus, but applying it in relationship to us. Do you find obedience a burden, or do you find it a delight?

Is loving your neighbors, whoever they may be, a source of joy, or is it a grinding drudgery? I want to suggest to you tonight that the obligations of the gospel become a burdensome duty because we don't spend enough time remembering what Jesus has already done for us. And I believe it's one of the reasons why God's given this ordinance to the church so that we don't forget, that we remember not only Jesus, but remember what He's done for us. And as we remember that, it reminds us of His love for us.

And it seems almost reciprocal. We love Him. Why? Because He first loved us. How can you not love someone who's loved you to this degree and loved you in this way? Who went to the cross of Calvary and bore your guilt and died in your place and paid your sin debt and came to this earth and lived a life that we deserved, that we were demanded to live but could not live, and He lived it and earned a righteousness, not because He needed to earn righteousness for Himself, but He earned righteousness so that it might be imputed to our account.

How can you not love someone like that? How can you not purpose to live out your days in obedience as an expression of your gratitude for what He's done? The Christian life is not a burden.

God's demands become our delight because nothing satisfies us or pleases Him more than our loving obedience that's fueled by gratitude. You remember how Bunyan characterized this in his Pilgrim's Progress. The Christian was fleeing the city because of the warning of destruction, and as he journeyed, he had a burden on his back. And what was that burden that weighed him down? It was sin. It was guilt.

It was the threat of judgment and condemnation. And when he got to the cross and the burden was lifted and removed from him, yeah, there's a burden in life, and it's the burden of sin. But if God has rescued us from the guilt of sin, then our burden has been lifted. Regardless of what constraints are upon us, they're nothing compared to the slave master.

The evil one had us constrained by. So as we're thinking about the application here, God has regenerated us. He has renewed our hearts so that we would love to do what He tells us to do. When we say He's working in us both to will and to do according to His good pleasure, what is that?

He's working in us. He's giving us a desire to do those things that please Him, that bring honor to Him, that express our love to Him. He's given us His Spirit so that we would be empowered to do what He tells us to do. It's not just work out your salvation with fear and trembling, it's not just all up to us.

No, He has given us His Spirit. And then He loves us beyond anything we can imagine. So never think that you suffer or that His commandments are anything other than expressions of His fatherly affection for you. It's a good God that warns us of danger. It's a good God who commands us to walk in a straight and narrow. So as we're thinking about our relationship to the Lord and how we respond to this, that His commandments are not burdensome, and if we say, you know what, I'm not there, I can't say that with a clear conscience. Well, my message tonight has told you what the cure is.

What is it? What will help you? The hymn writer tells us, More love to thee, O Christ, more love to thee. Hear thou the prayer I make on bended knee.

This is my earnest plea. More love, O Christ, to thee, more love to thee, more love to thee. Let sorrow do its work, send grief and pain. Sweet are thy messengers, sweet their refrain. When they can sing with me, more love, O Christ, to thee, more love to thee, more love to thee. And the final stanza, Then shall my latest breath whisper thy praise.

This be the parting cry my heart shall raise. So if we find that our love is deficient tonight, we know where we can go and ask for it to be renewed, because this is what allows us to say His commandments are not burdensome. Love fuels obedience. It fueled Jesus's obedience. It should motivate our obedience.

Let's pray. Father, how we thank you tonight for setting your love and affection upon us in eternity past. We would not love you had you not loved us first. So tonight, Father, I pray that you would come to us and that you would fan the flames of our affection, that our love for you would grow, that we would understand, perhaps in a way we've not understood before, that this is the key to a life of obedience, that love for you does indeed fuel obedience.

It does motivate obedience. Forgive us for our disobedience. Forgive us for not loving you the way we ought to love you. Thank you for commanding us to love you with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength. And Lord, thank you that you have provided a full and glorious salvation for the people of God, that that which is deficient in this life will know no deficiency in the life to come. There is a day when we will be in your presence forever and ever, and we will love you with an unsinning heart. We will love you with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength.

But until that day, help us to view your commandments aright. Help us to not resist them, not to view them as burdensome, but see them as delight, to be as the psalmist. They were his meditation all the day. They were his delight.

They were like honey to him. And may they be to us likewise. Thank you, Father, for your word, for its instruction, for these words that arrest us from time to time and send us pondering and examining our hearts before you. And we would ask that the Spirit of God would come to us and shine the light of his examining eye into our hearts and expose those things that need to be dealt with, those areas where there is deficiency, and as I've already prayed, fan the flame of our affections so that our love for Christ might grow more and more, we pray in Jesus' name, Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-22 12:41:29 / 2023-01-22 12:51:59 / 11

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