As I come to the end of Chapter 2 of Colossians, I’m struck by Paul’s last sentence. “These things have the appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are no value against the indulgence of the flesh.”
If I don’t want to indulge my flesh, I can’t rely on self-imposed religion. The truth is, focusing on trying harder to follow a bunch of rules won’t ultimately help me follow them.
Paul says (Rom 8:3-6), if you want to experience life and peace…. (remember, Paul is talking to believers), then live by the spirit, set your mind on the things of the spirit instead of setting your mind on the things of the flesh.
Jesus said, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.” (John 14:23)
I didn’t understand this for years.
For years, I emphasized the wrong thing to my kids and to myself: “If you love Jesus, you will OBEY Him.”
I was wrong because I was focusing mostly on myself and my sins rather than focusing on knowing and loving Jesus.
Apart from Him I can do nothing. (John 15:5)
As I have read my Bible over the years, it’s clear that Jesus points to love and to relationship over following rules again and again.
He isn’t telling us to stop obeying Him. (I’m NOT saying that at all).
However, I believe He is telling us: when we our eyes are on Him, when we really love Him, when our motivation is sheer love for Him—when we do because He has already done what’s necessary for our salvation—following Him becomes less “try harder” and more of a natural choice.
Here is the way I should have been emphasizing it: “If we LOVE Him, we will obey Him.”
But how do I love Jesus enough to live like this?
How do I love Him more today than I did yesterday?
How do I move from being a “try harder” woman —constantly frustrated over my most recent sin failure—to a woman who loves Jesus so much that His ways become my ways?
For starters, I need to realize it is Jesus who wants this more than I do and who provides the power to change.
Jesus loves you so very much, and He wants your whole heart. He wants to be your everything. He wants to be your heart’s focus so you can experience life and peace!
Jesus wants to give you more of Himself.
The King of the Universe, whose plans for you are exceedingly, abundantly good (Eph. 3:20), who sees all your tomorrows and loves you perfectly, wants to give you more of Himself because He is where the peace-filled life exists!
Are you ready for real freedom, guiltless joy, authentic hope, and lasting self-control?
You won’t find those things in a redoubled effort to follow moral rules, but in a purposeful pursuit of a daily in-love relationship with Jesus Christ.
So, what does this look like?
It means deliberately focusing on the love of Jesus, shown to us in the gospel, every day, throughout the day.
We need to think about Jesus and all He has done for us and how much it cost Him—studying the Bible, praying and being around others who love Him helps me to do this.
As I seek to understand His great love for me by focusing on Him, I am drawn by the Holy Spirit to respond to that love with more love for Him . . . and the obedience will follow.
He is the One who will never leave you nor forsake you (Heb. 13:5)
Who will stand with you in the fire (Isa. 43:2)
Who will calm the storm (Ps. 107)
Who will make you laugh (Ps. 126:2–3)
Who will dry your tears (Rev. 21:4)
Who will guide your steps (Ps. 37:3–4)
Who will be your strength (Isa. 41:10)
Whose Name is faithful and true (Rev. 19:11)
This same Jesus left a throne in heaven to die for you while the Bible says you were His enemy (Rom. 5:10).
Can you imagine what that cost both the Father and the Son? How much love did that take?
Oh no, Jesus didn’t die so we would follow the rules and be caught up in some Sunday-only, dry religion. He died for us because He loves us and wants our whole-hearted love in return. … Obedience—that will follow. The more I love Him, the more I want to obey Him.
Oh, what a Savior we have to celebrate and to know and to love!