A lesson I am still learning: Deferred obedience is not obedience

Deferred obedience is not obedience. How do you fight against the desire to disobey?

Deferred obedience is not obedience. How do you fight against the desire to disobey?

Obedience is an uncommon conversation topic these days. Instead, words like “missional” and “relevant” and “gospel” crowd out our call to obedience.

Admittedly, obedience is a topic I’d rather avoid because I too often choose deferred obedience. “I’ll do it later” was one of my philosophical approaches to life while growing up.

“Make your bed.” “I’ll do it later.”

“Mow the lawn.” “I’ll do it later.”

“Do your homework.” “I’ll do it later.”

“Play video games.” “I’ll do it la- Hey!”

One recent story captures my illness. After a family dinner, I inadvertently left something behind at my parents house. We had already left when my wife, Jill, remembered and reminded me. I said, “We’ll get it later.” She was shocked. Why? We were thirty feet away from my parents’ house…which is 25 minutes away from our house.

Spiritually speaking, I wonder if others experience the same struggle of deferred obedience. It is the struggle to simply, unequivocally, and quickly obey.

The Bible seems to be clear on the importance of obedience (also Psalm 119:60). In the book of James it says, “If anyone then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.” And don’t forget the exhausting struggle Paul details in Romans 7. What he wants to do, he does not do. And the and he wants to avoid, he actually ends up doing. Why is he so bent our of shape if, in fact, he can do it some other time?

Does God go for a response of “I’ll do it later”? Is he content with deferred obedience? I don’t think so. But, hear me, obedience does not supplant the gospel. Rather, obedience is one identifiable fruit consistent with the gospel seed taking root in our lives. Such fruit of obedience glorifies God, communicates health of the plant, and displays to others the gospel bears fruit that lasts.

To avoid deferring obedience, I’m aiming to:

1. Start with God. The reality is God created me for obedience (i.e. trusting him at his word – Gen. 2:16-17 vs. 3:17).

2. Identify sin. It started with Adam and continues with me. My natural response is toward deference. I want to do what I want to do. That’s sin.

3. Make Jesus Lord. For me, this means worship him in the midst of this struggle. His perfect obedience secures salvation, provides me a pattern to walk in, and overcomes the hold deference has in my life.

4. Prepare for obedience. Most of us struggle with a few sins over and over. The temptation will come again. Prepare your response now.

5. Lift Jesus up. How is this different from #4? Obedience loses its appeal when it feels gargantuan. Its appeal is restored when we recognize how awesome Jesus is.

6. Excite with glory. Remember this struggle will one day cease. How exciting is that!?

It is a short acronym – SIMPLE. Not simple as in “easy.” Simple as in “quick to obey.”

QUESTION: Have you faced deferred obedience and, if so, how have you fought to overcome it?

Posted on by Cor in FAITH

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