"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander." ~ 1 Peter 3:15-16

Why Do We Obey God?

While reading a posting from a brother’s blog here, some random thoughts came across my mind and so I thought of penning them down before they get lost, as usual. This brother whom I got to know while I was still helping out with the Boys’ Brigade, has graciously given me his permission to post my thoughts here. Accordingly, the brother’s posting (indented, in blue font) is interspersed with my random thoughts (black font) below.


Today, like many other Sabbaths, I went to church and listened to the founder's sermon. He spoke like many other times of how people often choose to be disobedient to God and choose the path of self-deception or denial leading to perdition.

Hopefully that’s not the only topic we have can talk about.

Interestingly, he asked rhetorically the question i've been asking. Why must we obey God? My Elder's answer: 'cause God will send to eternal damnation those who choose not to. Acceptable argument but too limited in scope?

In my opinion, this is not the primary reason or right motivation to obey God. So let see where this will lead us to.

I have always been wondering why since a long time ago I have become bored of his messages. After picking up the skills to identify main conclusion and premises of arguments in Ki lessons (i was too dense to pick it up with the little emphasis in secondary school) I found the reason: the Elder's premises for his conclusion have never changed significantly.

At least, give him the credit for being consistent over the years.

His reasons are: (1) God has laws that He set out for humans, (2) God will send to Hell those who break His laws, conclusion: therefore if you don't want to go to Hell obey His laws.

What’s more important is that we go beyond the outward form of the laws, to the principles behind those laws, so that we can appreciate why they were given in the first place. It is also equally important to realize that we cannot earn our way to Heaven by obeying the laws. It is only by grace through faith alone. In fact, the laws were given so that we would know how much we have trespassed, and how much we need to rely on Him. It was not His intention to require something of us which we cannot achieve, without also giving us the very strength we need. Today, the Holy Spirit who is in every believer is also our Helper and Teacher who will guide us to the ultimate Truth, Jesus Christ, on a daily basis.

When reading verses which talk about God creating us humans for His own pleasure, I somehow cannot escape the idea that an Almighty Someone created me just because He wanted to be pleased.

God did not create us for the sole reason to please Him. Instead, we were created for a living relationship with Him. And it is a relationship with a two-way traffic such that He may enjoy us, and at the same time that we may also enjoy Him for eternity.

With His prescience He created a race, with the intention of only spending eternity with a rather small proportion of all creation,

Unless we have perfect knowledge, we would not know for sure exactly how many will be saved and the corresponding percentage of the total human population. Even if only a relatively small group of people will be saved at the end of the day, we can be absolutely sure that He does not delight in any death of His creation.

those who would choose to please Him and send the rest who refuse to and did not know that were supposed to please Him, to Hell.

The reason why we are heading to hell is not because of our choosing not to accept Christ (or please Him), but because of our sinful nature. It is important to understand this distinction because the former will lead us to view Christ as coming to judge or condemn us, whereas the latter will reveal Christ as our Redeemer, Saviour and Friend, the One who came to save us so that we will no longer be condemned.

My friend, Ian, was rather upset (I can't tell whether Ian was angry; offended by my statement or just excited but he said he wasn't really angry just tired) and came close to rebuking me for my view.

Good friends should not be afraid of offending us, for our sakes. And this is what brothers and sisters are for, like iron sharpening iron we refine one another towards maturity in Christ (without the spilling of blood, of course!).

It seemed selfish of God to do such a thing to us humans.

Perhaps it’s good that we pause and ask ourselves, just what is our point of reference for selfishness?

There is actually no argument behind God's demand for us to keep His laws except that He wants us to please Him –

His laws are for our own welfare. I have just cited another reason among others, besides God wanting us to please Him.

recall the many instances where He only says "thou shalt... because I am the Lord your God".

God knows what is best for us, especially when we don’t know. Our perception of God is critical here, because if we do not believe that God loves us, we will doubt Him and not able to comprehend some of the things that He did. Is it a coincident that the Scripture stressed so much about love, especially His demonstration of love?

Sure there are many laws which are essentially about showing love but many others are about pleasing Him and it was rather clear in the Bible that even if one were to love others as what the law requires, one will not be exempt from Hell except that one chooses to love God and please Him in the manner He chooses to (besides the mandatory acceptance of Christ).

Love blossoms not from laws but relationships. This means that we have to focus on cultivating a good relationship with Him first. All else is secondary. Unless we remain in Him, we can do nothing apart from Him. Besides, no one will be able to enter Heaven even by observing the law to love. For love is the result of our being saved, rather than the requirement in order to be saved.

I would actually cross into dangerous territory now and say that we do not owe God anything.

The very fact that God is our Creator shows that true ownership does not lie with us but with Him. We are only mere stewards. Some have even said that we live on borrowed lives.

We certainly had no choice in choosing whether we want to come into existence neither any of the transient earthly benefits that come with being alive. In fact, many of us wished we never existed.

Life certainly has its ups and downs, but each challenge is an opportunity for growth and to overcome ourselves a little each time. We all have a tendency towards pride, and difficulties in life are just reminders that we could use a little humility.

If we had a choice, and if we used that choice to choose existence, knowing all the consequences of that choice, then we do owe God our very life. However, none of us did. Zero.

If we are able to choose our being and existence, we would have existed independently of God and not owe Him anything. The fact that no one is able to compare himself with the Great I AM, proves that every single one of us owes our lives to Him, for He is both our Creator and Sustainer.

Since God did create us for His pleasure, He was the One who called us into existence. He seemingly gave us a free will to choose whether we want to please Him. However, He comes around and includes a clause that if you choose not to, your next destination is hell. In love, if we truly love people and want love in return, we do not demand love by threats. It resembles a stalker or at the very least a spoilt kid.

While choices have consequences, the consequences do not negate our free choice. It is one thing to threaten, yet it is another thing altogether to warn of a danger. If we are drowning, is it rationale that we take issue with someone who stretches out his hand and tells us bluntly that we will drown for sure if we do not grab his hand? Moreover, would a stalker or spoilt kid enter the world and lay down His life while we are yet sinners?

At the very end of the day of human history, judgment lies in the hand of Him who causes all things to be.

It takes a perfect Being to judge perfectly, and we would surely not want to be judged haphazardly by a less than perfect being.

The Almighty decides our fate, so let us powerless humans bow before Him and worship Him because He requires it of us.

On that Day, indeed many will be forced to bow before Him and confess that He is the King against their will, but that’s not what the Father is looking for. The Father desires a group of people who will, out of a willing heart, choose to share His heart and divine life with Him. Even now.

Whether you like it or not. Whether you are convinced or not. It doesn't matter.

Our heart is what that matters to Him most.

All that matters is whether you want to be tortured eternally without rest, from eternity to eternity. Wise up!

The Gospel isn’t meant to be self-serving, like getting for ourselves a fire insurance which has a validity period for eternity. A glimpse of the message of the cross could be likened to a grain of wheat which falls into the ground, dies and produces a lot of grain. So too we are called to live by His life unto Him and others. It is about dying to ourselves (and voluntarily!), so that others could live. While redemption is important and desirable, it is not the end in itself but the means to something even greater. The eternal purpose of God is not something that we heard often nowadays, but the Father is looking for a family of sons and daughters whom He can call His own beloved; the Son is looking for brothers and sisters whom He can share His inheritance with; and the Holy Spirit is looking for temples whom He can dwell in and pour His life through and through. In fact, the Body of Christ is the Bride who is called to express and fulfill this eternal purpose of God. There is something more than being saved.

This is what my elder essentially preaches. This is the reality we live in. Sadness wells up in my heart, a God who demands my love. I will submit to His power.

By looking at the Son and what He did, will reveal the Father’s heart. And understanding this will renew and transform our relationship with Him. Voluntary submission and dying to self, by the power of the Holy Spirit, can then be made possible and joyous at the same time.