We all are familiar with the phrase ‘knowing God.’ Often, the leading question people ask others when sharing their faith is, “Do you know God?” But have you ever really thought about that question? Do you know God? If you were asked that question today, what would you say? Perhaps you would respond with some kind of reference to Jesus Christ as your evidence in knowing God. All of which would be appropriate, but let’s look closer at this question.
The Scriptures are clear that knowing God is directly related to obeying Him. According to Jesus, loving God is defined by doing what God says, or obeying Him:
John 14:23 Jesus replied, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them.”
Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate. ~Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship
So, when we say we love God and we have developed a relationship with God, it means we obey Him … no matter the cost. The cost of discipleship isn’t a concept of compliance to a set of rules and principles … it is surrendering to Him in heart, mind, and body.
1 John 5:3 Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome.
When King Saul disobeyed God by doing a sacrifice, God responded, “Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams. Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft, and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols. So because you have rejected the command of the LORD, he has rejected you as king. (1 Samuel 15:22–23)
Even when we claim to be religious and we serve God by good deeds, our service to Him is only as good as our obedience to Him. Obedience to God brings us closer to what it means to know God, more than anything else we do. Anyone can worship God, anyone one can pray to God, and anyone can study the Scriptures to be wise and powerful in displaying a Godly presence. But at the end of the day, the only thing that moves the heart of God is when we are obeying His commands and pursuing Him in surrender to His Word.
Let’s go back to the teaching of Jesus about the narrow gate and the broad gate. The narrow gate is really about those who obey God. The narrowness is about those who have decided that no matter what happens and when failure upsets our direction, there is never a time when we stop obeying God. It is hardest when disappointment comes our way, however, when our prayers are being answered then everything shifts direction. Is this failure or disappointment in my life God’s intention for me? Or, is it a way to test me on whether or not I will obey God?
If we say we know God but we do not obey Him we are a liar:
1 John 2:4 If someone claims, “I know God” but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth.
This isn’t a Verse that gives us license to judge or condemn others who may not be following God accordingly. It is a Verse of truth that defines our knowledge of God by how we obey His Word. It is a Verse that helps us define what it means to know God. The principle of this blog posting is how knowing God can only be defined by how we obey Him. There are many ways people define knowing God … most of them surround the idea of doing good works. However, doing good works doesn’t mean we know God … they only define our willingness to help others and provide a way to meet their needs. Lots of ministries and Christian churches are heavily invested in making God real through good deeds. That may get people to think about God but it does not get them to a point of obeying Him. Good works can be a process whereby we evaluate God’s goodness and provision to us, but to know Him in the Biblical way has to come through obedience to His word.
Knowing God isn’t about being religious or following some formula on discipleship … it is surrendering your heart, your will, and your mind to God’s Word and His Holy Spirit. The only true test of how we love God is how we obey Him according to His Word.
Challenging the Culture with Truth … Larry Kutzler