This morning, my husband had an appointment in the hospital for an angiogram. He had to be there at 6:30 so before we left, I read today’s devotional from “My Utmost for His Highest” without reading the entire verse or its context.
Chambers quoted Jesus from John 7:17 exactly this way: “If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine . . .” Then he went on to say that if a person wants insight into what Jesus Christ teaches, he can only get it by obedience and if a person is in the dark, it is because of deliberate disobedience.
I’ve been asking God to show me what to do in a few areas of life, and as yet have no answers. He is silent, but I’ve not been concerned because He will show me in His time. However, when I read Chambers’ interpretation of this verse, I began to feel accused. Am I in the dark because I am disobedient? What did I do? Where am I being disobedient? My mind began to fog up. I felt arrows aimed at me and a settling sense of oppression and uncertainty.
Later, I read the rest of the verse and the verses around it. This is what it says . . .
“About the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and began teaching. The Jews therefore marveled, saying, ‘How is it that this man has learning, when he has never studied?’ So Jesus answered them, ‘My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me. If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood.’” (John 7:14–18)
In this passage, Jesus defends His authority. He is not telling me that I will learn God’s will by obedience. Instead, He is saying those who obey Him will know that His teaching is from God. He is talking to a religious establishment who questions why He can say what He says. The rest of John’s gospel says that the obedience Jesus looks for is the obedience of faith, of trusting Him for their salvation. If they do that, they will be convinced that His teaching is from God.
As for how this passage applies to me, I know obedience is important and that I must walk by the light that God has given me, but I also know not every instance of uncertainty is related to disobedience. For instance, I might not be ready for the light that He can give.
In addition, obedience does not earn God’s light. He gives it because I need it, not because I deserve it. Obedience is God at work in me, not me working to gain a pat on the head from Him.
I began wondering why many of Chambers' readings are spot on, but there are times, like today, where they sound more like I am wrong, wrong, wrong, not doing enough, etc. and he is accusing his readers, hinting at salvation by works, and producing a confusing sense of vague guilt.
When the Holy Spirit convicts me of sin, He is clear in what needs confessing and clear about what I must do. If the accusations are foggy and unclear, they are always from the Liar who was cast down and now accuses God’s people day and night before God (see Revelation 12:10).
Satan is busy trying to cast me down with him, but “Jesus lives forever to intercede for me.” I have conquered that Liar by Jesus’ shed blood, by declaring my testimony of salvation, and by not being concerned about my life (verse 11).
I know that sin messes up understanding, but Jesus died for that sin that He might give everlasting life, and along with it His wisdom and everything I need to live a godly life. I also know that God is not the author of confusion. Instead, Satan loves to throw lies at me to get me confused, to offset the power of faith and the saving work of Jesus Christ.
Today, my prayer to God is this: If Your silence is due to my sin, show me what I need to confess. Forgive and cleanse me. Grant grace and show me what to do. If Your silence is merely “Please wait” then please protect me from the enemy who wants me to feel guilty all the time, even over sin that You have already covered in the blood of the Lamb. Also, grant me a gracious heart toward Chambers and others who shake their fingers rather than point them in the direction of Jesus Christ.
Later: As soon as I prayed, the oppression lifted. I am not to be ignorant of Satan’s devices. As for my hubby, he had three stents put in near his heart, one that was seriously large. They are keeping him in recovery for at least tonight and maybe two days to make certain everything is okay. He feels great and has the most amazing attitude. Thank You, Lord.