Vol. 8 No. 2 – Sept. 2010
Hindrances to Obedience to the Lord
Charles G. Maples, Sr.
Since salvation is provided by God; to “every man” (Hebrews 2:9; Romans 2:11), according to His Grace (Eph. 2:5, 8, 9); but salvation is NOT “Wholly of Grace,” as some teach, and evidently believe, but that God will save only “All those who OBEY Him…” (Hebrews 5:8f), we necessarily conclude that there must be HINDRANCES TO (required) OBEDIENCE that make the difference!
In our first study on this subject we considered that LACK OF INTEREST is one of those hindrances. In this study, let us consider that another hindrance to obedience to the Savior is –
Lack of Knowledge- Understanding
In speaking of a time when He would “Make a New Covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah,” God stated that one of the major differences between that and the Covenant that He had given through Moses, was that “…they shall all KNOW Me, from the least to the greatest of them.” (Jeremiah 31:31-34) [explaination of this text later]
Again, since the Christ “…became the Author of eternal salvation to all those who OBEY Him.”(Hebrews 5:9), it necessarily follows that one who would have that Salvation, must KNOW what the Savior requires of him. And then, since we are told that true OBEDIENCE must be “FROM THE HEART,” (Romans 6:17), it likewise necessarily follows that one must UNDERSTAND those requirements. And so our God has REVEALED to us His Will, completely, and in terms that we can “…UNDERSTAND WHAT THE WILL OF THE LORD IS!” (Eph. 5:17)
Through His prophet Hosea, God lamented over His people, Israel, with “My people are DESTROYED BECAUSE OF LACK OF KNOWLEDGE!” (Hosea 4:6). The Savior, in His “Sermon on the Mount,” proclaims, “…you shall KNOW the Truth, and the Truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32) So that his young friend and fellow-worker, Timothy, might know and understand what the Lord required of him (and US, as well), the apostle Paul admonished him to, “…give attention to READING, to exortation, to doctrine… MEDITATE on these things; GIVE YOURSELF ENTIRELY TO THEM, that your progress might be evident to all…Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.” (I Timothy 4:13-16).
In the case of the prophesy of Jeremiah (31:31-34), God was relating one major difference between the covenant He gave through Moses, in which one’s physical birth (of an Israelite child), constituted him/her a child of God. At that stage in life, that person could not have “known” God; but would need to later be taught ot “know the Lord.” However, Jesus would reveal to Nicodemus (and to us) that “…a MAN must be born of water and of the Spirit (in order to) enter the kingdom of God.” (John 3:1-7) Jesus would command His apostles to “…go and TEACH…” those who were to be baptized. (Matthew 28:18-20) In this we not only see that LACK OF KNOWLEDGE hinders one from “…remission of sins…” (Acts 2:38), but it SHOULD hinder one from being baptized for that purpose!
One cannot truly comply with any REQUIREMENT, unless he/she has KNOWLEDGE of that reqjuirement! He would, therefore, command His apostles (and US) to, “..go therefore and TEACH all nations…”(Matthew 28:19). This not only requires TEACHING, but it likewise requires UNDERSTANDING (cf. Nehamiah 8:1-8), and that, in turn, requires STUDY! (2 Timothy 2:15). When Phillip joined the Ethiopian Treasurer in his chariot (Acts 8:30ff) he found him reading from Isaiah 53, and asked him whether he UNDERSTOOD what he was reading. The man acknowledged his need of help, and so Phillip explained to him the meaning of what the prophet had spoken. The Treasurer then desired to “be baptized;” since the Savior had commanded, “… he who believes and is bajptized shall be saved…”(Mark 16:16) The man, now having studied with Phillip, and had come to not only KNOW, but to UNDERSTAND what the prophet of God had revealed, that God required of him, that he might have the Salvation that God had, by His Grace, made available to him in Christ Jesus, desired to be baptized, in OBEDIENCE to the savior. Lack of knowledge and understanding no longer hindered his obedience. He then confessed his faith in Jesus as the Christ, and was baptized IN OBEDIENCE to Him.
Through the prophet Hosea, God said that even His People were being “…destroyed, for lack of knowledge.” (Hosea 4:6). Jesus stated to those of a sect of the Jews, concerning their false belief concerning the resurrection, that they were “…mistaken, NOT KNOWING the Scriptures…” (Matthew 22:29). As the apostle Paul warned Ephesian Christians not to “…be tossed to and fro, and carried about by every wind of doctrine…” (Eph. 4:14), he reminded them that they were “walking as the Gentiles,” because their “understanding (was) darkened, being ALIENATED from the life of God,” and that they should “…not be UNWISE, but UNDERSTAND the will of the Lord.”(Eph. 5:17), and he had reminded them earlier (3:3-4) that by their reading what he had written to them by Inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they could UNDERSTAND his KNOWLEDGE of the Mystery of Christ! Thus their lack of OBEDIENCE, as children of God (Eph. 1:1), was traced back to their lack of KNOWLEDGE and UNDERSTANDING of the will of God! And so they were in danger of being “…destroyed for lack of knowledge!” (Hosea 4:6)
THE REMEDY in both the case of those who need to become children of God (Acts 8), and those of His children who need to guard against going astray from His fellowship(Eph. 4:14; 3:3f; 5:17) is STUDY of His word; KNOWLEDGE and UNDERSTANDING thereof; and then OBEDENCE to His will! (to be continued)