In 1984 one of the great theological movies of all time was released for public consumption. Karate Kid, Ralph Macchio and the Gang.
There is a scene, that you may not have realized was a “God message”. Daniel, the Macchio character wanted to learn Karate. Mr. Miyagi finally agrees to teach him. Daniel is UBER excited. He shows up, fired up, ready to work, so Mr. Miyagi puts him to work.
Wax on, Wax off.
Daniel begins his confused training.
On the verge of mutiny Mr. Miyagi gives in to Daniel and stands before him and pops him one. Daniel makes the wax on move, reflexively, without premeditation and blocks the move.
The lesson learned was muscle memory over premeditation. You don’t have to understand, you have to react.
If ye love me, keep my commandments.KJV
“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.NASB
A person might read these verses, and wanting to please God, work stringently at keeping His commandments.
….They would feel a sense of accomplishment, like when you buy the right gift for a friend, or answer the right answer on a test.
….That would please the person who was obedient.
….But, would it please God?
The verse has two dominant ways you can interpret it.
1) If you love God you’ll focus your life on obedience as a primary objective.
2) If you love God your changed heart will by default keep the commandments.
3) The first is an accomplishment of self.
…..The second is an accomplishment of God in changing your heart.
4) Which one gives God the glory?
When one’s life becomes focused on the obedience aspect of the faith, their attention is on NOT sinning. They are driving a car 850 miles per hour and their goal is to not sin. That’s all they can look at because if your take your eyes off the goal you will falter and end up in a ditch.
When one’s life becomes focused on Loving God, sin is an issue of the past, you no longer fear punishment for what has been paid for, and your attention is focused solely on the love. The race you run is pointed in a different direction, than the race you run if you flee sin.
Phil 3:13 Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet;
***but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind***
*** and reaching forward to what lies ahead,***
14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
The focus of your heart, must be on the proper prize. You can choose God’s Glory or Your Glory — Him changing you, or You changing yourself.
Christ addresses this, albeit indirectly, at Mat 5:3
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
The word for “poor” in Greek means dependent, beggared, needy. This would hint that the path of me willing myself to obedient, would be counterthetical to what is being taught. In fact being NEEDY/BEGGARED would relate to the story of the Rich Young Ruler and Him being Mature or Perfect. “If you would be mature/complete/perfect, give up all you have that will provide for you, die totally to your former life of self providence, and come to Christ, 100% needy, and dependent and rely/follow on Him.
“And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them. And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, NASB
“Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. NASB
By all accounts, the focus is on the heart being changed, and life changing according to the heart.
The mind getting STRONG and RESOLUTE and conquering the heart.
In fact …
Pro 3:1 My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments: KJV
… seems to confirm that. In this verse, the word for heart, is reference to your inner drive and motivation. In the first part of Romans 8:1-9 you see Paul discussing how a heart of flesh obeys the flesh, a heart indwelled by God’s Spirit obeys God’s spirit. (don’t trust me, go read them.)
The goal of God, is not to beat a man into submission, but to set them on a path where God will change their way of seeing and living life. The focus is on the changing of the heart.
When you make the focus on NOT sinning, you are teaching a person to fear sin. When they fear sin, it works against learning to love. FEAR is an emotion that is 100% self focused. It has a person looking to himself for solutions. John wrote, that if you fear sin you do not have perfect or finished love. 1 John 4:16-18.
People see the word PERFECT and dismiss the verse as unrealistic and start making excuses. The word means the completely mature, finished, type of Love God intends for you. If you fear sin, you lack that love.
If you lack that love, you lack God. God isn’t in you and you aren’t in God. Again, see 1 j 4:16-18.
If you take this verse and contemplate the impact it reveals, growing in love is your focus, not avoiding sin. If you avoided sin and lacked love you failed. Please consult 1 Cor 13.
If you have the love, then you will have the obedience.
Which direction do you wish to teach, preach or personally run yourself? There are 360 directions away from sin.
There is one direction to God.