One of the key characteristics of someone who follows Jesus Christ is that they obey God’s word out of a deep heartfelt love for Him. Love goes hand in hand with obedience. Meaningful obedience can’t be separated from a heartfelt love for God. The love we have in our heart for God is what motivates a true believer to want to be obedient to God’s commandments.
But understand this: God isn’t interested in obedience that’s offered out of selfish motives. Being obedient in order to earn God’s favor is a futile endeavor because God only desires obedience that flows from a grateful heart.
Let’s take a look at some of the other marks of a true believer.
A true believer keeps God’s commandmentsThe key indicator that we’re living an obedient life toward God is that we keep His commandments. In order to do this, we must first understand who God is and know what He commands us to do and what not do.
We know that we have come to know Him if we keep His commandments. Whoever says, “I know Him,” but does not do what He commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person.We learn who God is by reading His word, the holy bible. That’s a good thing to do but we can’t stop there. A true believer not only learns what God’s word says but obeys His word. Otherwise, we deceive ourselves into thinking that we are a true believer when we are not.
1 John 2:3-4
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.The Bible teaches that everyone is a slave to something or to someone.
Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living.This was a transforming thought for me because it makes it perfectly clear that you can’t live out God’s will for your life if you remain enslaved to the desires of the world. A true believer chooses to be a slave of God, which leads to righteousness. Everyone else is a slave to their own desires and since we have a sinful nature, those desires usually cause us to sin.
Our love for God is demonstrated by our obedience towards Him and becomes a living sermon to those around us. When we love God like this, our love for Him overflows onto everyone around us.
But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love Him. That is how we know we are living in Him.
1 John 2:5
We put Christ ahead of our own desiresIn order to be completely obedient to God, we must make His will for our lives our highest priority. We have to deny our desires when they are in conflict with God’s word and His will for our lives. This is a hard pill to swallow for many of us, and quite frankly it’s the reason why many people refuse to follow Christ. But Jesus makes it clear that He desires that we put Him first.
Then He [Jesus] said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me".When our desires are in conflict with God’s will, we need to change our desires in order to do the will of God. This is what Jesus meant by “take up your cross daily and follow Me”.
The problem is that we seem to have a natural tendency to obey God only when it doesn’t inconvenience us too much. We’re willing to let Him have His way with parts of our lives but then our sinful nature wants to tell Him, this far and no further. Face it, we’ve all been there… at least that’s how I began my Christian walk. But as I’ve matured in Christ over time, I’ve been able to let go of more and more of myself in order to follow God’s will for my life. I only wish that I had done it sooner.
Fill your heart with the word of God and your love for Him will overflow onto everyone around you.