Now here’s the third principle I want to share with you and that is the principle of obedience. The first principle was all by grace. The second principle is the necessity of faith. And the third principle is obedience. God said of Israel in Romans 10:21, “All day long have I stretched out my hands, unto a disobedient and contrary people.”
And of course it is still true today. Today, obedience is a despised word. But it is something you must have if you’re gonna go deeper with God. Let’s look again at the example of Abraham. We read in Genesis 12, “Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house to a land I will show you.'” And in verse 4 we read, “So Abram departed as the Lord has spoken to him.” Abram did what God told him to do. He was called to leave all of his old friends, his old way of living, his old lifestyle and to adapt a new way of living in the presence of God. Now let’s make an application of what happened in Abraham’s life to our own lives.
God wants you to leave an old way of life and come to a life He will show you. For example, there is a lifestyle of drunkenness in our society. And some people have adopted this lifestyle. Sometimes people brag about it, “Oh I was so hammered last night,” or “You should have seen Joe or Suzie, they were so wasted. It was funny.” It seems like we can’t go to a concert or go boating, or to a sporting event without drinking and getting drunk. We can’t watch football without a six pack or two of beer. Now the Bible says if we choose a lifestyle drunkenness, we’re not going to heaven. I’m not talking about the occasional drink, don’t get me wrong, but a lifestyle of drunkenness. If you have a lifestyle of drunkenness, God is calling you to get out of that country and go to a new country, a new lifestyle that He will show you. And you’ll want to obey that call just like Abram did — if you want to go deeper with God.
Another lifestyle that keeps people from going deeper with God is a lifestyle of fornication, which is sex outside of marriage. We live with people we’re not married to. We sleep with people we’re not married to. We think it’s great fun to take a boyfriend or a girlfriend on a vacation. And sometimes we even cheat on our husbands and our wives. And of course there’s a lot of social pressure today to accept homosexuality as a moral lifestyle. Now the Bible says not to do these things. We read in 1 Corinthians 6:16 that when you have sex with somebody, I’m paraphrasing here, you become one body with that person. When you go from person to person to person to person having sex with all these people, your soul is torn again and again and again and again. That’s why in God’s plan you marry, and marriage is forever.
So again, we can’t go deeper with God unless we oblige to obey him. Obedience is our third principle. So let’s quickly review what we have learned. Principle number one, going deeper with God is not a result of our own goodness or works or efforts, it’s the grace of God. His love for us. Principle number two, to go deeper with God we need to be like Abraham. Abraham believed God, and was counted as righteousness. In other words, we need to believe the Bible, God’s Word. We need to hold on to the promises in the Bible and have faith, even if people say we’re foolish for doing so. Even if they say it won’t work, because it will.
Principle number three, to go deeper with God, we need to be obedient. In other words, we have to live a life God can bless. If you’re living a lifestyle that God can’t bless, how do you expect to go deeper? You have to choose a lifestyle that God is able to bless, and that requires obedience. Now this could all be summed up in this, to go deeper with God you need to accept and follow Jesus.
Now let’s take a look at this from the Bible, let’s see how everyday people like you and I, began to follow Jesus. It’s actually the story of His disciples. We can imagine that disciples were just everyday people before they met Jesus, like you and I. They’re probably not very religious, but they believed in God just like many of us, not very deep, then something happened. Something changed when they began to follow Jesus.
And this is how it happened. The Bible says beginning in Matthew 4:18:
“And Jesus walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brothers Simon and Peter and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea for they were fishermen. Then Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” And they immediately left their nets and followed him. And going on from there, Jesus saw two brothers James son of Zebedee, and John his brother. In the boat was Zebedee their father, mending their nets. And he called them, and immediately left the boat and their father, and followed him.”
Now in Matthew 13, Jesus told the parable of the sower which is helpful in explaining what sort of obedience I’m talking about.
“Behold a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell by the waste side. And the birds came and devoured them. And some seeds fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth. And they immediately sprung up because they had no depth of earth. Or when the sun is up they were scorched because they had no root. And there, they withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprung up and choked them. But others fell on good ground, and yielded a crop. Some a hundred fold, some sixty, and some thirty fold. He who has ears let him hear.”
So here in this passage in Matthew 13, Jesus set forth four types of ground. And each type of grounds stands for a particular type of person. Number one is the wayside, the wayside is like a path. It’s like a hard trotted place where people walk in the dirt back and forth, back and forth — it’s very hard. Nothing penetrates it. That’s the first type of ground Jesus talks about sowing seed on. And obviously, that’s going to be difficult. The second type of ground Jesus listed in this parable, is the stony or rocky ground. The third type is thorny ground were the ground is full of weeds. And the fourth type that Jesus mentioned was good ground.
Now those are the four types of ground and Jesus explained there are four types of results. The wayside, a seed never grows there. The rocky ground, it grows and then dies. The thorny ground it grows but the weeds choke it, and the plants produce little. And finally the good ground where the seed grows and yields up to a hundred percent. Now Jesus explained that each one of these soils stands for a person. So that begs the question, which one are you? And which one would you like to be? Are you wayside, where people talk to you about Jesus and you just forget about it? Or are you rocky soil where you’ve heard about God, you went to church, but your heart was hard and your relationship died? Maybe you’re the thorny ground where people have told you about Jesus, you’ve received it but nothing really has ever come out of it? No fruit.
Or, by God’s grace, are you the good ground? Where you have become fruitful because the seed has gone deep in your soul. I tell you today, God loves you and wants your roots to grow deeper.
Jesus is calling you gently. He won’t force you to go deeper with Him. And here’s what the Bible says about this Jesus who loves us so much, who’s calling us. In Matthew 12:
“Behold my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved. And whom my soul are well pleased. I will put my spirit upon him. And he will declare justice to the gentiles. He will not quarrel or cry out. Nor will anyone will hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break. And smoking flax, he will not quench till his seen forth justice to victory.”
Here’s what this passage is telling us, number one, Jesus is beloved by the Father and God’s full spirit rests on Him. Number two, He will not argue with you or quarrel with you, or try to force you to go deeper. He will just call you to follow Him and love Him.
“And bruised reed he will not break. And smoking flax he will not quench.” In other words, if your faith is so weak that you’re just like a bruised reed — that any little thing would break you in two and ruin you. Jesus would be so gentle with you that He will not break you even if you’re a bruised reed. And if your faith is so low it’s almost gone out, you’re just like smoking flax — not even a flame just a bare bit of smoke — Jesus will come to you and help that smoking flax become a flame.
I hope that you are the good ground today, and if not, I pray that you will consider the hardness of your heart. God can soften your heart and by His grace, through faith, and with continued obedience, you can dive deeper into your relationship with God.