READ: Judges 1-3, Psalm 73, John 5, 2 Corinthians 13
OBEDIENCE IS THE VICTORY
When God’s people enter the promised land, they find that it is difficult to completely overcome and remove the local pagan inhabitants. God sovereignly allows adversaries to linger. They were left unconquered in the land that God “might test Israel by them, to know whether they would obey the commandment of the Lord” (Judges 3:4). God’s tests measure our levels of obedience.
Obedience is not the byproduct of faith. The reason that obedience is better than sacrifice is because obedience is the highest form of victory, the purest expression of faith. Obedience is the desired product – it is the goal. God is after the victory of obedience. God is not so much concerned with how victories are won (after all He can win them in a multitude of different ways); He is more concerned that we win victories in the way He proscribed. God is not even so concerned on what victories are won (after all God can win by losing; He can be glorified by death on a cross, weakness, foolishness, and limitation); He is more concerned that the victories won were won in the way He instructed.
We pass God’s tests by obedience, not by performance. God is not measuring us by how much or how little we accomplish; He is measuring us by how much of our heart He controls. He identifies His measure of control over us by how quickly and how thoroughly we obey Him. To obey is better than sacrifice. To obey is better than accomplishment. To obey is better than victory – for obedience is the victory itself, it is not just the means of victory.
When we understand that obedience is our victory, it brings about tremendous relief. The pressure of performance (winning souls, planting churches, extending the kingdom) is lifted from us as we realize God does not measure us by how many Muslims we bring to faith; He measures us by how quick and how joyful we are to obey Him. Because our obedience is the victory, it leads to the obedience of others. Romans mentions the goal of God (three times) is to bring the nations (all peoples groups) to “the obedience of faith.” To state obedience is the victory is not to say that we give up the hope or goal of Muslims saved and discipled in vibrant communities of faith. The obedience of the missionary is linked to the obedience of faith of the nations. Obedience is the means to mission. As we obey, others will be saved and discipled. Obedience lifts the pressure of performance even while it guarantees God’s results – for He desperately wants to see the lost found and nurtured.
Just do what Jesus says. He may tell you something outside of conventional wisdom. Your obedience (in the spirit realm) is not the means to victory, though victory will result; your obedience is the victory. Jesus wins when we obey.