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Three Calls to Hearken

(Isaiah 51:1-8))

Lesson 2 -- first quarter 1996
December 10, 1995

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 1995, Christian Light Publications

Why do people who know the truth choose to disobey it? I am guessing that you may find the answer as near as your own heart. Perhaps if I point out three of my answers you will be able to fetch out some of your own. The following three key words are the foundation for my answers:

Rationale. Even though I know what God wants of me and even though I know what is best for me, I can still "figure out" how to avoid complete obedience. I may choose to poison my mind on the one-legged premise that I ought to have a working knowledge of the world's thought patterns. I may refuse to forgive a not-apologized-for offense because it is a healthy thing for the offender to endure the humiliation and cleansing of having to ask for forgiveness. I may avoid the headship veil or accumulate wealth because certain Bible passages were obviously intended only for those to whom they were originally directed. My friend, let's face this head on: Where the flesh quails, "reason" prevails. So let's get this straight: "ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the LORD" is referring to one and the same person. We cannot seek the LORD unless we are ready to follow after righteousness.

Radical. We all know that those who go overboard are up to their neck in trouble. So as we consider the teachings of the Scripture, we at times fall into the trap of so-called conventional wisdom. We don't want to go overboard in our obedience. We don't want to overdo it. We are wary of radicals and we definitely don't want to be one. Isn't fearing wealth a little radical? Isn't unconditional non-resistance a little radical? Isn't absolute forgiveness a little radical? What about non-conformity, purity, integrity and thou-shalt-avoid-the-covetous-brother? Our flesh craves the pseudo-safety and bogus balance of the middle. God wants us zealous and boiling-hot for the truth. Those who refuse to "risk it all" on unflinching, steadfast obedience will be turned upside down by the world instead of turning it rightside up. "Look unto Abraham your father" in the faith for a model of obedient, godly radicalism!

Reproach. "Yeah, I know Mark Roth. He's the fellow with no cones in his eyeballs--he only sees black and white." My flesh is quite concerned about my public image. I fear the ridicule of others who think I may be taking this literal obedience "thing" too far. When people find out why I don't own a house, will they mock me (behind my back, of course!)? And I haven't forgotten the time I was publicly contradicted at a leaders' retreat for daring to chalk a clear, straight line on woman's veiling. What kind of shame and humiliation are you willing to bear for your obedience? What kind of condescension and ostracism? Remember that our ears are for the Lord, not for man's opinion. Remember that God alone has called us. Remember God's message to His obedient church: "He will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the LORD." Remember the last three verses of our lesson text!

My friend, let's move forward with renewed zeal. Let's pursue obedience as though our success and destiny depended on it--because it most certainly does! Why should I disobey God in order to appease my flesh? Why should I disobey God in order to be "balanced"? Why should I disobey God because I fear mere mortals? "And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell" (Matthew 10:28).

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