“I Want to Obey the Gospel, But . . .”

“King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest. Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian” (Acts 26:27-28).

Paul preached the truth to a man that was moved by the message but did nothing about applying it to his own life.  The contents of the gospel are very compelling; however, people make all kinds of excuses for not obeying.  Consider three common attitudes that hinder people from obeying the gospel.

  1. Life Would Be Filled with Hardships and No Fun. People who are caught up in worldly pleasure as the substance of life do not realize what they are missing in the true happiness found in Christ.  While it is true that the life of a Christian is difficult (cf. Matt. 7:14; 2 Tim. 3:12; 1 Peter 4:16), it is also true that suffering comes from a life of sin as well (cf. Prov. 13:15; 1 Peter 4:15).  While sin has its pleasure for only a season (cf. Heb. 11:25), righteousness has its satisfaction in the life that now is (cf. 1 Tim. 4:15; 2 Thess. 1:7) and in the life to come (cf. Rev. 21:4).  There is no real fun in shame (cf. Rom. 6:21) and in knowing that living in sin is living in death (cf. 1 Tim. 5:6).  The life of the child of God is filled with joy, peace, confidence and all the good things that God provides for His children (cf. Rom. 2:7, 10).  A righteous, moral life is filled with joy; the joy that really counts.
  2. Love of Family and Friends Might End. While it is true that there are people who will not approve of obedience to God and all that such entails, love for the One who loves mankind the most is the perspective to keep.  John wrote of real love, “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10).  Luke wrote of Jesus’ words concerning true commitment to such love, “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26).  All must sanctify God above all (cf. 1 Peter 3:15).  In addition, there have been people who were the first to obey the gospel in their family and circle of friends only to find that such led their family and friends to take a very serious look at the life of a Christian.  Such a commitment also has stirred up people to learn and obey as well.  The rich man in torments did not want his brothers to be where he was (cf. Luke 16:27-28).  A true friend wants what is best for his companions in this life as well as in the one to come.
  3. Letting Go of Certain Things is Too Tough.  A certain young man who desired to have eternal life learned that his possessions meant more to him than going to heaven (cf. Matt. 19:16-22).  Jesus said of the “thorny ground” hearer, “And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection” (Luke 8:14).  The listing of the works of the flesh (cf. Gal. 5:19-21) is just a small sampling of things that people are not willing to let go to have “promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come” (1 Tim. 4:8).  Here is just another example of how sin blinds the mind (cf. 2 Cor. 4:3-4).  All things are incomparable to the worth of the soul (cf. Mark 8:34-37).  Eternal things far outweigh the temporal (cf. 2 Cor. 4:18-5:1).

Jimmy Clark