See, I have taught you statutes and rules, as the LORD my God commanded me, that you should do them in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the LORD our God is to us, whenever we call upon him? And what great nation is there, that has statutes and rules so righteous as all this law that I set before you today?
– Deuteronomy 4:5-8
Rules have fallen on hard times. I’ve heard more than one sermon this past year apologizing for or excusing the place of rules in the Christian life. But that’s not how the Lord thinks about His rules for His beloved children. His rules are wonderful! This passage shows us three individual and corporate benefits that follow God’s people when we walk in God’s ways.
First, verse 6 promises wisdom and understanding to those who keep His rules (v. 6). How many times in life do we ask: What should I do? Should I take another job? How should I respond to my child’s bad attitude? Should I make this significant purchase? Should I stay in this relationship? How can I grow in Christ and glorify Him more? God’s rules guide us in these decisions and so many more real-life situations. But we must know His rules and obey them if we are to have wisdom and understanding, as Psalm 119:100 says, “I understand more than the aged, for I keep your precepts.”
Second, verse 7 affirms that God answers the prayers of those who obey Him and He manifests Himself to them even more. The opposite is also true. Psalm 66:18 tells us, “If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.” If we want to see answers to our prayers, if we want to know God’s nearness in our lives, and if we want to see God’s mighty works in our day, then let us choose the path of daily obedience.
Third, verse 8 teaches us that non-believers will believe when God’s people obey His rules. Remember what the Bible says about the Queen of Sheba’s visit to King Solomon: “And when the queen of Sheba had seen all the wisdom of Solomon, the house that he had built, the food of his table, the seating of his officials, and the attendance of his servants, their clothing, his cupbearers, and his burnt offerings that he offered at the house of the LORD, there was no more breath in her” (1 Kings 10:4-5). God’s rules put into practice is beautiful and life-giving, and attracts the attention of outsiders.
The role of rules and their benefits are just as true for us today under the New Covenant as it was for the Jewish believers in the Old Testament.
Obedience brings wisdom and understanding: “Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom” (James 3:13).
Obedience brings answered prayer and God’s greater glory: “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.” (John 15:7-8).
Obedience brings non-believers to faith in Christ: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).
Our heavenly Father, thank You for adopting us to Yourself. It is our delight to learn Your rules and to keep them. Forgive us for times when our hearts are independent and selfish, leading us to disobey You. Transform our hearts more and more by Your Spirit in us, so that we may please You and walk in blessings of obedience and glorify Your name in all the earth. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
Chuck Hetzler, PhD
Director, Christian Union Day and Night
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