In Acts 5:29, Peter tells the High Priest, "We must obey God rather than men." The teaching of this verse is something that should be evident without much explanation. Many are ready to do this on the significant issues. We are willing to go to jail or death rather than reject Jesus, and we would refuse to allow abortion or euthanasia in our family even if commanded to by the authorities. The problem for most American Christians is not significant issues, but the small issues of our day to day life.
Peer Pressure is not something that only middle and high school kids face. Adults are still facing the choice of obeying God rather than men in several areas of life. We are asked to do unethical practices in our work life. We are asked to ignore our church's worship service and the Lord's day by our friends and family. We are asked to go to movies or parties that we know are not where the Lord would have us be. Our desire to be liked and fit in wars with our desire to obey God.
Fear of loss is a real fear for many folks. There are Christians around the world and through the ages that have lost everything for Jesus. Think of the Muslim convert that is disowned by his family — the Chinese Christian in jail for his faith. Many have suffered financial loss or social exclusion. What has your being a Christian cost you? Has it cost you anything. If you have not experienced loss for the sake of Christ, then maybe the thought of suffering is an area that frightens you. The fear of loss is a weak point where we are tempted to buckle. Many have stood on the Bible until it started to cost them something. It is a great temptation when we have a family member engage in sinful choices. It puts us between a God that calls us to be holy and the world that calls us to love and accept. It is easier to ignore or even condone sin instead of lovingly addressing it as a sin that needs to be confessed and fought. The thought of losing or not supporting a family member is too high a price for many.
Our sinful desires work hard against our obedience to God. We live in a world that ignores all the rules and all the taboos of traditional culture. Going along with the crowd is a natural temptation when we face hard situations. We do not want to be ugly. We do not desire to stir up trouble. It is just easier to quietly submit. Giving in to our desires to avoid a problem is not what we are called to do. We are called to stand up and be a witness for Jesus and the salvation He brought. Being ugly or stirring the pot should never be our intention. Instead, it is the glory of Christ and the truth of God that should be our focus and our theme. If the world is going to hate us, let them hate us for our gospel message and not for our arrogance, our harshness, or our impatience.
How are you going to obey God rather than man in your life? Here are a few helps:
- Know what God has told you to do. You cannot obey God's Word if you do not know God's Word. I think it is important to see that when Satan tempted Jesus, he answered the temptation with scripture. How much scripture have you hidden in your hearts? How diligent are you to read and study God's Word? If we are going to obey God, we must know what God has said in all his Word!
- Stay Close to God - Worship God daily in your devotions and with your family. Pray with your wife and family. Pray with your friends. Make prayer your default setting as you go through your daily life. Paul tells the Thessalonians, "Pray without ceasing." Is this your default setting?
- Stay Close to your Christian friends. Fellowship and Breaking bread were essential parts of the infant church's life (Acts 2:42). Reliable Christian friends serve as a sounding board and a source of encouragement as we face the temptation not to obey God. They are suitable for loving accountability and repentance.
- Do not trust your own strength. Jesus has given us the gift to the Holy Spirit. We do not go into this battle alone. The Holy Spirit strengthened the Apostle's as they stood before the powerful men against them. Jesus taught the disciples they were not alone in Luke 12:12:
"And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say,  for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say." (ESV)
God has sent his people out in the world to be his witness to the Gospel of Jesus. He knows the battle we are sent to fight. God, by his Word and Spirt, is drawing us to obedience to him. It should be the desire of every Christians to obey God both in the significant issues and typical day to day areas of our lives.
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