Quest. 19: What does God require in his Word of every believer?
Ans: God in his Word requires that every believer is to live in loving obedience and humble submission to his revealed will.
1 Jn. 2:3–5. 3And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. 4He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.
2 Tim. 3:16–17. 16All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
See also: Rom. 12:1–2; 15:18; 2 Cor. 2:9; 7:15; Phil. 2:8; Plm. 21; Heb. 12:2–13; 1 Pet. 1:13–16; 2 Pet. 3:18; 1 Jn. 1:8–10; 2:1.
There is a principle of obedience and humble submission to God and his Word that is to characterize true believers. In the context of God’s truth and revealed will, human beings are divided into those who are described as unbelievers, or “the children of disobedience” and believers, or “obedient children” (Eph. 2:2; 1 Pet. 1:14). But believers still sin and act out of character as Christians when they neglect or disobey the revealed will of God. There is a direct correlation between one’s faith and one’s obedience to the Word of God. Loving, willful obedience betokens a relatively healthy faith; disobedience betrays a given amount of unbelief. The degree of loving, willful obedience and submission to God’s Word in the life is in direct correlation to one’s spiritual maturity (Heb. 5:10–14). A lack of obedience and submission means Divine chastening, which, though corrective and done in love, may be very grievous (Heb. 12:1–14).
The ultimate purpose of God in the life and experience of the believer is to conform him to the image of his Son (Rom. 8:29; 2 Cor. 3:17–18; 1 Jn. 3:1–3). This is found in the path of obedience to the revealed will or Word of God. Disobedience, or acting out of character as a believer, necessarily calls forth Divine chastening and various trials and adversities which are designed to bring one back into the path of obedience, blessing and maturity. See Question 125.
Why do Christians––the very redeemed of Christ Jesus––disobey the Word of God? The reasons may vary. Sin is a sad reality, a failure, a terrible contradiction in the experience of every believer. Sadly, almost every believer at times simply neglects the Scriptures, and so thinks or acts contrary to God’s truth because it is not as fixed or refreshed in his mind as it ought to be. He thus thinks or acts without the holy restraint of God’s truth. We can all be blind to at least some of our sins through our ignorance or neglect of God’s Word, because of our own inherent self–righteousness, or the alleged right of some cause, controversy or contention. It may often be all too easy to defend ourselves at the expense of Divine truth. Every one of us must deal with the reality of indwelling sin and remaining corruption, of which every sin is a sad manifestation (Rom. 7:13–25).
Unbelief masquerades behind every sin, and unbelief is inherent to our natures. At times, spiritual pride and self–righteousness may dull our minds and deceive our hearts. We may even excuse the very sins in ourselves which we condemn in others because our consciences are neither convicted by the Scriptures nor exercised regularly in prayer. A neglect of prayer grieves the Spirit of God who uses the Word to convict us of sin. Such are some of the more common reasons why Christians disobey God’s Word. The only hopeful cure, apart from the severe discipline of Divine chastisement, is to make the study of the Scriptures, coupled with private prayer, our primary daily spiritual exercise. Do you pray? Do you obey?
By Dr. W.R. Downing