33 Teach me, LORD, the meaning of your statutes, and I will always keep them. 34 Help me understand your instruction, and I will obey it and follow it with all my heart. 35 Help me stay on the path of your commands, for I take pleasure in it.36 Turn my heart to your decrees and not to dishonest profit. 37 Turn my eyes from looking at what is worthless; give me life in your ways. 38 Confirm what you said to your servant, for it produces reverence for you. 39 Turn away the disgrace I dread; indeed, your judgments are good. 40 How I long for your precepts! Give me life through your righteousness. Psalm 119:33-40 (CSB)
Wholehearted obedience is the goal.
If wholehearted obedience is the target, then what keeps us from submission? Of course, the depravity of humankind causes all to rebel against a holy God. But what about those who are genuine believers? Why do we struggle with submitting to God’s command? We have been given a new heart in the New Covenant. A heart that loves God, but we often fail to follow God’s ways. Why?
Before I attempt to answer this complicated question, imagine with me. What if a friend pulled into your driveway and honked the horn. Once you peak out the door you hear the commotion of house alarms and sirens of the first responder vehicles, your friend just says, “Get in the vehicle.”
“Get in the vehicle, if you want to live.”
“Get in the vehicle, if you want to live. Because there is a horde of zombies heading this way!” The tone of your friend’s voice is disturbingly convincing.
“What? Um…zombies?!?” In your mind, you think your friend has lost it, but then you think about the sirens and alarms in the distance.
“Get in! I will explain on the way.”
This may be an extreme illustration, but would you jump in with your friend? You have two choices in this situation. You can trust your friend and get in the vehicle, or you can refuse their help. If you take them at their word, it’s more than likely because you trust the small amount of information given. You have faith in them because they never have misled you. If you refuse, it’s probably because you do not have enough answers. (You trust your friend, but the request seems absurd.) The key to following your friend’s commands is in the why, right?
Like your friend in the scenario above, God calls us to follow his commands to avoid impending danger. A danger that we may not see. He wants what is best for us. He desires our undivided devotion. But often we question, why we should follow. Especially, when the command seems ridiculous.
In verse 34, the Psalmist writes, “Help me understand your instruction, and I will obey it and follow it with all my heart.” Psalm 119:34 (CSB) The goal is wholehearted obedience, but this compliance doesn’t come easily without understanding. Although we may not know what God is up to in our lives, we must comprehend what God requires of us. God does not reveal all of his cards, but he does give us enough detail to consider in the Bible. That is why the biblical author repeatedly asks for God to teach him the statues of God.
Do you struggle with following God in specific areas of life? Have you asked God to teach you his ways in this area? Understanding the why (or motive) behind the commands will help you to follow with all your heart. The why behind God’s command is that he wants you to be safe and secure in him. He wants you to reach your full potential.
New Testament believers have two resources the Psalmist did not possess. First, a believer is indwelt with the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth. For he will not speak on his own, but he will speak whatever he hears. He will also declare to you what is to come.” John 16:13 (CSB) God will guide you, but you must listen. Second, Christ gave the Body of Christ gifts. Paul writes, “11 And he himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12 equipping the saints for the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ,” Ephesians 4:11-12 (CSB). God knew we would need someone to help us understand his ways, so he gave us the five-fold ministry.
To sum it all up, understanding God’s purpose behind the commands in the Bible helps us to follow. When we learn the reason God asks something of us, we will see it is what is best for us. God loves us. We never fully understand God’s actions, but he desires us to know what is expected of us. Understanding the motive behind the command and the knowing God, as a loving Father, would never mislead you is the key to wholehearted obedience.
Suggestion for Prayer
Thank God for the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit, and ministers. Ask God to help you comprehend his commands so that you will be more apt to follow wholeheartedly.
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Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible® and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.