The Expansion of Obedience

Josh Scznsy   -  

There are singular moments in your life where you suddenly experience the extraction of everything you’ve been fighting and contending for. It can potentially take months or even years, but the expansion of God-centered obedience in your life condenses its forces to bring about a sudden trajectory that shifts your current circumstances. The stewardship of faithful obedience is an ongoing trajectory that ultimately awakens a deeper dependence. But through the forging of simple acts of obedience to God, there is a purpose in His heart that is to be revealed in your soul. There are moments where God sovereignly acts upon the unreached territories of the soul—the revelation of what’s inside us is unknown but soon to be discovered.

When God brings us through the flames of crucifixion or the bearing of our cross, the soul has no idea what awaits it. It has no clue of the dark abyss that resides in its depths. In the context of waiting for unfulfilled promises, there are times when God keeps you in the dark. He’s longing for something more profound than just giving you what you want in the present moment. Ultimately, He’s more interested in changing you than using you. He’s committed to the deep work of your soul, and it’s His mercy to open our eyes to what is raging on the inside. But He doesn’t keep you there forever. The speculation of its forces will only be illuminated through the divine torch that dares to invite Him into its chambers of darkness. In other words, we need the light shining into our hearts to reveal the inner commotions of our souls. That is why God forges holiness in the believer through obedience; He divinely calls us to leave everything behind.

Ultimately, God shines His beams on the face of our depravity, and through His sovereign will, He reveals the deceitfulness or weakness of our hearts through the things that we suffer. That is why most of us are caught off guard when God begins to reveal what is lurking in the depths. Whether we say it or not, we often gravitate toward our “inner goodness” as the thread that keeps our relationship with God intact. But God, in His mercy, strikes us to our core and reveals to us that this is not the case. Even when we were dead in sin and full of hatred towards God, He died (Romans 5:8). In the initial moment of salvation, our goodness was never the stepping stone toward God’s final verdict to save us. In Isaiah 64:6, God goes as far as to say that our righteousness is as filthy rags. Our works take no part in the redeeming of our souls. It was purely His mercy and grace in salvation, and the continuity of our sanctification will stand upon the rock of God’s eternal faithfulness. We see in Luke 22:31–32 that Satan has desired to have you that he may sift you as wheat, but I [Jesus] have prayed for you that your faith will not fail. What a powerful grace that God’s intercession is the stability of our faith! God is not asking for your strength; He’s asking for your weakness. He has enough strength of His own to keep you until the end. We will not make it until the end if our lives are centered around the sustainability of our own “goodness” or our self-consumed tactics. That is why God must break us and create within us a heart of flesh that is set ablaze with God’s prevailing power. God must reveal to us that we cannot do it alone, and every ache of weakness is a sign of mercy that God will break the delusions of man-centric grandeur. What a mercy it is that you feel the ache of brokenness! Follow that path of God’s sovereignty, for God is desiring to reveal His absolute sufficiency to you.

And that is why obedience is key in the forging of holiness. He keeps you still when you want to run. He keeps you in the dark when your desires are unfulfilled. When God reveals things in the depths of our hearts, obedience to His leading is the next step. When you feel the weight of what is raging on the inside, God is desiring to take preeminence. He wants the fullness of your devotion, and nothing else will suffice. The desires of the heart will longingly grab ahold of an object, habit, or person, not knowing that it will destroy it. For the most part, we don’t know what we need, but we lock our gaze on what we want. We centralize our focus upon the heat of the moment, and we don’t consider the future avenues of its outcome. In many instances of my life, the Lord began revealing specific situations to my heart. The revelation of the self-life or the inner commotions of our soul can quite often linger, and the magnitude of our corruption can shake every ounce of our being. Ultimately, what is currently being revealed potentially plunges you into the depths of despair, because the deeply embedded source of the nature of our wickedness speaks to territories of the soul that God wants to deal with.

There have been pivotal moments in my life where God began to move, and in my experience of transformational growth, God has always breathed afresh upon an obedient heart that is willing to say yes, no matter the cost and regardless of the intensity attached to it. Let us never underestimate the power of simple acts of obedience to God! When God speaks to our souls, we can either willingly obey His leading or resist His voice in rebellion. When Timothy Keller states, “If you were a hundred times worse than you are, your sins would be no match for His mercy,” this speaks, in my opinion, of the grandeur of our inner-self that we can’t quite compute with or fully experience. In part, we’re only scratching the surface of our wickedness and what God intends to reveal in the inner caves of our disillusionment. Our lives can only scratch the perimeters of our vile nature, which is why we often bend to self-performing and human-focused tactics to carry out things we’re not capable of fulfilling. God must begin to peel back the layers in our lives, for God must chasten or discipline us so that we may be partakers of His holiness (Hebrews 12:10).

For those living in the chambers of chastisement, keep your eyes fixed on Jesus, for He is a good Father. If your life is crashing against the Rock, your confidence lies in the Father who calls you His own. He says, My [son], do not despise the chastening of the LORD, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the LORD loves He chastens [or disciplines], and scourges every son whom He receives (Hebrews 12:5–6). The act of discipline walks on the road of sonship. The battle cry of the saint fights in victory through the sole purpose that Christ may dwell in our hearts, to be rooted and built up in Him (Colossians 2:7). And count it all joy (James 1:2) when your life is filled with various trials, knowing that it’s producing something beautiful inside of you. A.W. Tozer said, “When I understand that everything happening to me is to make me more Christlike, it resolves a great deal of anxiety.” There’s a spiritual battle over your life, and the intensity of war is either forging you to become more like Christ or the world. God’s ways will prevail in the self-life, and by His grace, He bids: bear your cross and follow the Lamb wherever He goes. The power of the self-life must be done away with, and only the sacrificial Lamb will carry His people through the flames of persecution. And we will follow the Lamb unto death!

We don’t have the power to bring about the extinction of the self-will,  but through the trembling ache of a wretched man, his piercing cry of helplessness awaits the summits of victory. The life of consecration begins with the initial indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and as Andrew Murray states, “Nothing will help you unless you come to understand that you must live every day under the power of the Holy Ghost.” We must crucify our attempts to finish what God started by thinking that we have the sufficient tactics to prevail over the power of our sin-nature. Every aspect of life must be submitted to the power of the Holy Spirit, and every second will take its course by throwing ourselves entirely upon the enabling power and sustainability of the Holy Spirit. As you walk the life of obedience to God, the enabling power of the Holy Spirit will give you abounding hope (see Romans 15:13). God must bring us to an end in ourselves, and He does that by revealing the depths of what you can’t accomplish on your own. Obedience is the avenue by which God builds His children, for in the revelation of our depravity, God reveals that He alone is the sustainer and the strength of our trust. In the cultivation of what God reveals to our hearts, our absolute surrender to His leading will increase greater measures of His power and glory in our lives.

My prayer lately has been, “Lord, give me a heart that You can trust.” In whatever the Lord desires to say, ask the Lord to strengthen your resolve to obey in love. The obedience to God’s leading in seasons of chastisement will dictate the success in those areas of growth that God has highlighted. Don’t give up or give in, for faithful obedience to God ultimately climaxes in the final act of utter dependence and transformation. The expansion of obedience to God will increase in deeper measures, for the soul of man is the vessel in which He fills for His glory. He can only fill what is empty!

—Joshua Scznsny