WHEN OBEYING IS SIN
“In Him was life, and the life was the light of men”, John 1:4 

When people have something else for light than the very presence and Life of God, sin has installed itself in the heart. From there on, there is a kind of obedience which works mainly to bribe God into something or even out of something, a flattering mode in some doings and feelings of man towards God, which aim to gain a blessing but not in what man finds himself doing. He wants a blessing for something else and it seems he works towards that goal he would love to get his hands on soon through obedience. We know God blesses whatever we do and not whatever we want God to bless ahead because we do now. If we work, God blesses work; when we marry in His will, God blesses marriage. It does not work out that when we work God is bribed into a blessed marriage for us. Every situation has its own proper and kind of blessing, according to God’s own riches and willingness towards holiness within when we are able to do and the door to His will is widely opened unto any of us whatsoever. What we think to be the process, God has as the only aim for us sometimes.

It is true that the genuine blessing of God is dependable in the Life that is within man. The worst curse there is on earth, however, is when God blesses the outward life (or does not avoid a blessing upon it), so man does not become aware God is gone from his inner, struggling life. The greatest blessing ever, on the other hand, is when one has nothing (from health to riches) and that life still burns and consumes all our thoughts and mind freely and without force. Such a person is a most blessed person indeed. “Blessed is the man that, when His master comes, finds him doing…”, Luk.12:37,43. Jesus said that man is surely blessed.

There is another issue about this Life in man: people, quite often, wish to know when God is guiding them mainly because they wish to hear God concerning some issue dear to their flesh, doctrine or an own knowledge of it. Only sheep (and not wise men) are able to distinguish between the voice of the shepherd and the one of a stranger. If people hear not, they are either not sheep like, or they ceased to be sheep like after God has said something because they had the faintest idea they became sheep for some other purpose than the one of just being sheep to God. “Love thy God with all thine heart, soul and mind…” – let it be your only goal and purpose in knowing God that way.

Others again, wish to hear a trumpet in their inside, a voice, a prompt or whatever else they think and believe to be God’s voice, never acknowledging that the light for the way is a kind of eternal Life within (which is made their own for real) which guides and takes them naturally (and many times unawares) on their way. Others again think and believe that Life will guide them towards a way of their own and not towards God Himself alone. We should always be able to recall to mind that God said “You shall find ME when you search for ME”. He did not say you shall find something else when you are found looking for Him, nor that you shall find Him when you look for something else – even when both things may come to happen. Saul found God when he went to look for his father’s cattle, true, but God did not confirm anywhere you shall find something else when you look for Him or vice-versa.

It is true that God denies you when you deny God, but you may never assume the opposite will happen, that God will bless you in relationships if you have found God at all. I believe there is this kind of obedience that man most easily thinks of, a plow he easily lays his own hands on, which is, that man vows to God a certain kind of pledge so as to get a blessing bought off God towards something else, thinking faith or obedience is an exchanging coin which easily buys from God’s store something such a person wants and wishes after greedily sometimes. Greed is to wish from God for us or even for other people, something else than what He is offering unto any of us. We should learn to get the blessing upon that vow when we vow, upon work when we work, upon marriage when get married in God’s will, upon business when we offer it unto God wholly. “So likewise you, when you shall have done all the things commanded you, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants, for we have done what we ought to do’”, Luke 17:10.

Now, it is Life which serves as light unto man. If man is at right standing with God, Life is there naturally and it takes man and it guides as it wishes where it wishes to take. “The wind blows where it wants”. If man is not holy, God’s presence will be quenched and done away with – not by sin, but by God Himself, for it is God who retreats because of sin and not that sin has got the power to quench God away from any of us at all. All power is given unto Jesus. Once this Eternal Life within is gone from man that way, if man was very holy, he will notice it being gone. If he did not love that Life, he will not take any notice of it being gone, I think. This constant, eternal Life, on the other hand, uses a kind of heart to establish His way within and without and has a certain pattern which it used to ride upon and used to bless. It is like a railway and a train connection. But, once that life is gone from man, the railway will surely remain – at least for a while longer – and man will use it but not by the Spirit. Here man will have his own ways done with a Bible in his hand. This is what man mostly desires: to believe he has God blessing him in his sins. This is where doctrines like "once saved always saved" among many others were born. Man will then use it by force for he wishes it to be true the way it best suits him, by habit but never through the Spirit of God if sin is not done away with at first. because God does not please man, He will never be bribed into sin. If one may come to loose his first love, one may rest assured that anyone may loose the first life he got at real birth just as well (and not at a supposed birth at all). But, when one has found His Life back into the soul, let such never think God came back to bless something other than the soul itself.

Once this life is gone, this is surely where man tries to be obedient through his own means instead of urging himself to stop being religious and pattern-like so as to avoid going back to where he has fallen at some point of his Christian carrier. Man here obeys rules and regulations more than the Life he may have within, love and God, obeys those above God and Life in him, so as to quench his thirst, which is the link and associate of God calling back to Life and which Life left behind to drive man back to the FIRST senses he had which took him to his FIRST love, and that thirst calls back again and again. Instead, he should be bold enough to get away from Bible reading, sacrificing and praying to cause himself to rather repent somewhere – anywhere – where he has fallen away from that presence of God. This is where God says “To whom He said … rest; cause the weary to rest; this is the refreshing. Yet they were not willing to hear”, Is.28:12. People will rather sacrifice unto God an emotion or an attitude which pleases none but themselves there. If you please yourself, if you please the man that you are, you cannot please God. 

What man takes in as obedience is usually sinful. That kind of obedience is not light which exposes sin, but rather a cloth of darkness upon the eyes, which hinders man to see where and in what he has fallen since it keeps and holds him busy in God’s service the way any heathen would gladly be. When obedience is not natural, Life-prompted, disobedience is never sin: sin is to obey that way. And Jesus said expressly “do not be like the heathen when you pray”; “Pray in the Spirit”. If God has called you to preach or to pray and you have sinned somewhere, preaching and praying is sin. “Why should man gain the whole world and loose his soul”, Jesus asked once. “But I have against you that you left your first love. Therefore, remember from where you have fallen and repent, and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and will remove your lampstand out of its place if you do not repent”, Rev.2:4-5. That lampstand may remain there for a while though.

“Whom shall He teach knowledge? And whom shall He make to understand doctrine? For it is precept upon precept, precept on precept; line on line, line on line; here a little and there a little. To whom He said, “This is the rest; cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing. Yet they were not willing to hear... the bed is shorter than one can stretch himself on, and the cover is narrower than one can wrap himself in. But the Word of Jehovah was to them precept on precept, precept on precept; line on line, line on line; here a little and there a little. Because you have said, We have made a covenant with death, and we have made a vision with hell and (said) when the overwhelming rod shall pass through, it shall not come to us; we have made lies our refuge, and we have hidden ourselves under falsehood, therefore so says the Lord Jehovah, Behold, I place in Zion a Stone for a foundation, a tried Stone, a precious Cornerstone, a sure Foundation; he who believes shall not hurry…”, Is.28:9-20. Nevertheless, one should never take from this that to lack on earthly goods is to lack on God. To lack the blessing on the very, actual thing God has given us to do is to lack on God – whatever that thing is. One should never attempt to make it work above going back and reconcile oneself with God or with people. Rather “Remember from where thou hast fallen…”. It is that Life which is the light of man. If He is not there, man will be lost and at loss – even when obeying. Amen.

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José Mateus
zemateus@msn.com