Obedience Proves the Relationship
So, how do I know I’m maturing in Christ? In other words, how do I know I’m being discipled or becoming a disciple? The answer is easy to grasp but sometimes hard to apply. The answer is obedience or saying your next best yes to Jesus. Though there is much more to this conversation, we’ll begin our engagement on the topic by introducing three great ways.
Then Samuel said, Do you think all God wants are sacrifices— empty rituals just for show? He wants you to listen to him! Plain listening is the thing, not staging a lavish religious production. Not doing what God tells you is far worse than fooling around in the occult. – 1 Samuel 15:22
We don’t need to overthink it. We don’t have to prove ourselves. All we have to do is keep our minds and our hearts set on him and do what He tells us to do. Once we give our lives to the Lord the Holy Spirit who reveals truth and reality (John 14:26, 16:13) dwells in us and purposes to make our paths clear in a timely manner. If you mishear or misinterpret what you think you’re being told to do, don’t fret. God does not abandon you, you will get back on track. Just trust and obey. Leave the consequences to God.
1) Walk in Love
And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love. – 2 John 1:6
The most important and greatest command is to walk in love. Following Christ is not meant to be rules and regulations you must follow to hold on to your salvation. There is no formula for following Christ because following Him is based on your relationship with Him and everyone’s relationship is different according to the choices they make. We walk in love because we’re saved not to be saved or continue to be saved.
In Help! I’m Saved, we defined discipleship as gaining or having the ability to hear from God and obey the Holy Spirit on your own to renew your identity IN Jesus and commitment TO Jesus daily. Author and Pastor, Carey Nieuwhof, puts it simply that a disciple is “someone who has decided to trust Jesus as their Savior.” But how do you know whether they’re following Jesus?
Jesus actually gave us a very practical test that helps us know. He simply said: “By their fruit you’ll recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?”
In other words, look at someone’s life for the evidence.” (Nieuwhof, 5 Unfair Criticisms of Large Churches it’s Time to Drop)
If you want to know if you’re hearing from God and committed to Jesus, look at the fruit coming out of your life. Are you full of peace, joy, love, patience, and goodness? Do you have self control? Are you faithful? Are you gentle towards yourself and especially others? Probably not always because you’re still human and on this side of heaven (I John 3:2) But is the genuine pattern of your life exhibiting these things? All these things exude love. Disciples exude love. It oozes out of them toward everyone they encounter. When you’ve found that you were not gentle with someone and then did not exhibit self control in response to that, were you repentant and hopeful that you’ll be more like Jesus next time? Did the love get clogged up? How can you get it flowing again?
Discipleship is taking ownership of the “fruit” you produce in your life with the help and power of the Holy Spirit. Discipleship is engaging the world you live in through the love of Christ now alive in you.
2) Hear the Word – Do what it Says
Additionally, do you hear the word and do what it says (James 1:22)? Do you let what you sense the Spirit is telling you as you read the bible, set you on a path toward Jesus or do you retreat into selfishness until you “understand more” or “are more comfortable” with what you sense you should do? James 4:17 reminds us that if we know the good we ought to do and don’t do it, then we find ourselves in sin. Read the bible. Ask the Holy Spirit to put what you read into your heart and your mind. Ask for the grace to obey.
3) Be Wise
So, you live for Jesus now and you’re daily moving forward in figuring out just what the heck that means. There is an enemy of your soul trying to derail you in these efforts (2 Corinthians 2:11). You can not overcome this enemy by sheer will power but if you focus your will power into saying your next best yes to Jesus, the Holy Spirit will take it from there.
The enemy of our souls loves to attack our relationships and feed us lies to tear us down and make us weary and hopeless. The good news is we’re aware of these tactics ahead of time. Protect your relationships fiercely. Filter all your thoughts through the truth of His Word (2 Corinthians 10:5).
Additionally, continual repentance marks humble wisdom. Continual repentance as mentioned in Acts 2 when Peter says to repent and be baptized, is not a command to confess every wrong thing you’ve ever done but rather to repent of the fact that you’ve been apart from Christ – you’ve been apart from love. That’s it. So don’t get frustrated over your failings. Just apologize for being apart from Christ, then say your next best yes to Jesus by fruitfully walking in love, doing what the Word says, and being wise to protect your relationships and recognize lies.