One of the most agonizing times of the year is tax season. People spend hours upon hours collecting receipts, checks, paystubs and filling out paperwork. Or, they spend hundreds of dollars on a CPA to find out exactly what they earned last year. It’s not some trivial game; there is law after law that needs to be followed, and things have to be exact. There is no tolerance for error, because one mistake could result in a fine or even jail time. People understand the importance of technicalities when it comes to money, but when it comes to a relationship with God, some people baulk at the idea that standards and commandments must be correctly followed.
One of the big lies of the Devil is to convince people that the commandments of God are not absolutely necessary to follow. Consider the story in 1 Kings 13. A man of God gets the attention of King Jeroboam by a couple miraculous signs. Jeroboam entreats the man of God to his house, however the man of God had a commandment from God in vs. 9 that quotes, “You shall eat no bread, nor drink water, nor return by the way which you came.” Therefore the man of God refused the offer and left. However, an old prophet tracked the man down a bit later and begged him once again to come to his house to eat. Not only that, but this old prophet lied and said that an angel had spoken to him to convince the man of God to come to his house. At this point, there are a couple things that probably went through the man of God’s mind:
1. I know God gave me this commandment, but I bet he would understand that I am weary, hungry and thirsty and will be fine with it
2. I know God gave me this commandment, but this prophet says otherwise, so it must be ok
Later on in the chapter starting in vs. 20, this man of God is told by God that he will be killed for being disobedient and shortly after, on the way back to his hometown, he is fatally mauled by a lion. All this because he did not obey one simple command: to not eat, drink, or return in the same way he came.
Unfortunately, this lackadaisical mentality toward obedience is very common in the religious world today. Whether if it’s going to church, reading the Bible, giving, singing hymns, taking communion, baptism, not having sex outside of marriage, not looking at pornography, not getting drunk, not having a foul mouth, etc., there needs to be an understanding that God has given us specific commandments to follow (coupled with the right attitude), and will judge us according to how we follow them here on earth (1 Peter 1:17). This issue is mysteriously not a problem when it comes to paying our taxes. However, when it comes to the commandments of God and eternal life is at stake, many shrug them off as more of ‘guidelines’ than commandments. Some may think this concept I’m getting at is “legalistic,” but consider about how God dealt with the man in 1 Kings 13 after he disobeyed one, simple command. Apparently, when God speaks He really does mean it. Complete obedience to God’s commands isn’t my opinion however, Jesus is the one who said “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments,” (John 14:15).