If you want to obey God’s commandments but find it hard to do so, this article is for you. It includes a simple 3 step process that in the end will help you obey God’s commands naturally. Although the steps are simple, they aren’t necessarily easy. Obeying God’s Word fully can be a lifelong journey and as you submit to his will more, the Holy Spirit will show you other areas where you can grow. So how can you obey God’s commandments?
To obey God’s commandments you must look at His commandments with the right perspective. Then and most importantly, you have to learn and meditate on them. Finally, you should avoid things that contradict them.
1. Look At God’s Commandments From The Right Perspective
The first step to obeying God’s commandments is to look at it from the right perspective. When we start out as believers, we often see God’s commandments as difficult or even impossible to obey. We may even think that God doesn’t want us to have fun or that his commandments keep us from living a good life. Both of these ways of seeing His commands are misguided. In fact, the truth is the opposite of what we usually think.
God’s Commandments Are Possible To Obey
Thinking of God’s commandments as difficult or impossible to obey is normal when we are starting out as believers. If you think about it, thinking something is difficult or impossible for us when we’re starting out is normal for many things. But if we look at His commands as impossible to obey, when tempted it’s easy to have the attitude that we’re going to sin at some point anyway and not make the effort to resist.
1 John 5:3 states that “his commands are not burdensome” (NIV), which means they are not difficult to fulfill. And while giving the reason for his letters, John says “I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father–Jesus Christ, the Righteous One” (1 John 2:1 NIV). Notice that John said he wrote so that they “will not sin.” This implies that it’s possible to not sin. He then continues with “if” anybody does sin, not “when” anybody does sin further suggesting that obeying God’s commands is possible.
Seeing God’s Word as possible to obey is the start to obeying it. That recognition gives you the comfort of knowing your desire to do so is not in vain.
God’s Commandments Are For Our Benefit
Another part of looking at God’s commandments with the right perspective is to know that they are for our benefit. Just like a company provides a manual for their product with do’s and don’t to protect and allow us to get the most out of it, God’s commandments protect and allow us to get the most out of life.
A great example of this from The Bible is the story of God giving the Israelites Manna and Quail from heaven. Because of the sabbath, God provided the Israelites with double so that they would have food for the sabbath without having to work on that day by going out to collect it. Yet some still went out to collect as usual. What was God’s response? “The Lord asked Moses, “How long will these people refuse to obey my commands and instructions? They must realize that the Sabbath is the Lord’s gift to you” (Exodus 16:28-29 NLT).
Part of the reason for the sabbath was for them to rest and they were told that they should realize that it’s a gift to them from God. Likewise, although we may never fully understand the whys behind God’s commands, we must trust that all of them are for our benefit and protection.
2. Learn and Meditate On God’s Commands
After you’ve developed the right perspective of God’s commands, the next step to obeying them is to learn and meditate on them. This is the most important part of the process. In order for us to obey his commands, we must know what they are, and meditating on them helps us commit what we learn to our hearts. It’s only when his commands are in our hearts do we naturally obey them. In other words, only when his commands are in our minds as strong as our most vivid experiences do we begin to behave in alignment with them.
Psalms 119:11 states “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (NIV). The psalmist recognized that the strategy to not sinning against God was to hide his commands in his heart. And the process of hiding his word in our heart in meditation. God gave the same secret to Joshua. When Joshua took over from Moses, God told him:
Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.Joshua 1:8 (NIV)
After reading the first step, God promising Joshua prosperity and success from obeying his commands should be no surprise. But if you take a closer look at the first part of the verse, you’ll see that the formula to “be careful to do everything” in God’s law is to “meditate on it day and night.”
How To Meditate On God’s Commands
So the next question becomes, how do we meditate on God’s commandments? To meditate simply means to think deeply about something. So instead of simply reading a command like thou shalt not covet and moving right along to something else, you pause to think about what coveting means. You examine your life and see if you are coveting in any way. If it is the area you struggle to obey God in, you spend time thinking about and asking the Holy Spirit to show you why you’re coveting.
Since coveting means to want something that belongs to another, you’d spend time thinking about what you already have and how it’s a blessing to have it, and how to be satisfied. As the Holy Spirit reveals things to you in your area of struggle, write them down and review them daily. Doing these activities makes you more aware of it and eventually, your desire to obey God will increase.
By reading this article, it means that you are already invested in obeying God’s commandments. Channel that determination into meditating on his Word. Although you may not see results right away, it will eventually lead you to a place where you obey him.
3. Avoid Things That Contradict God’s Commands
The last step to obeying God’s commandments goes hand in hand with meditating on them. While soaking in what He desires for us to do, we must avoid things that contradict it. It’s like if your mind was a bucket and the desire to sin is dirty water in it. Meditating on God’s commandments pours clean water into the bucket which starts to push out the dirty water. But if you continue exposing yourself to the things that give you the desire to sin, it’s like putting dirty water in the bucket while you’re trying to push it out with clean water.
Jesus makes a similar point in Matthew 5:30. He said “if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell” (NIV). Cutting off a hand is rough. It symbolizes how attached to certain things we can be. Despite it being rough, it’s not worth holding on to considering the bigger picture. You might not be able to avoid everything all at once but work towards it. It’s necessary.
Obeying God’s commandments when you’re struggling to do so is a process. By first recognizing that his commands are for our benefit and that they are possible to obey, we can confidently work towards making it a reality in our lives. It isn’t enough to simply know what his commands are, to obey them naturally requires meditating on them. Finally, avoid undoing your meditation by exposing yourself to things that contradict his word.
God loves you. While we were still sinners he died to save us. On your journey, Never forget that “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9 NIV).