Obedience is a learning process. We don’t have to be taught to be disobedient; we are born that way. We read in Psalms 51:5, “Surely I have been a sinner from birth“. Learning requires both a teacher and a follower. So since God said, “Be holy as I am holy“, He must be the teacher, and we the learners. So His Word gives us the pattern for our behavior. Jesus learned obedience BY THE THINGS that He suffered. And we must, by a determined act of our will, set our course to follow that pattern.
[This] brings us to a very important principle: Our OBEDIENCE releases His graces – His [charisma] – in us, by His Holy Spirit. Paul told Timothy, the young apostle, “Train yourself to be Godly”. And the original Greek word means “repetitive exercise“. Holiness doesn’t come from a monastic, mystical, set-apart-from-the-world lifestyle. Holiness is a down-to-earth determination to get things right between myself and the other people I live with – in my family, in my neighborhood, in my fellowship. THEN, when I seek to draw near to God, He will draw near to me, and I can bask in the reflected glory of Jesus, the Son of God.
God said, “BE HOLY – (BE!) – BE HOLY, AS I AM HOLY” (emphasis mine). We know God by what He DOES and [by] what He SAYS. Other people know us by what we DO and by what we SAY. John says in his first epistle, “We KNOW that we KNOW Him by DOING what He commands“.
The Body of Christ is in need of much radical change. God is doing His part. He has poured out His Holy Spirit upon the church and has made His GRACES manifestly operative through us. By the thousands, young men and young women are being brought out of darkness into His marvelous light. But the life-style of their personal conduct is rarely conducive to a meaningful demonstration of holiness.
It [took only] two generations of affluence and self-indulgence to bring down a social order which had its base on an awareness of God and His Word. It will take at least two generations to reverse that downward spiral. And it [may just] be possible that we don’t have anymore time than that!
From Jay Fesperman’s “Letters of Exhortation”, Number 22, June 1982.