Under the Old Testament, many seemed to believe that all God really wanted was ritualistic obedience. They seemed to think that as long as they went through the motions, regardless of their hearts, God would be pleased. This mentality was certainly prevalent during the days of Isaiah, and of Christ (Isaiah 29:13; Matthew 15:8).
There are those with this mentality today; however, many seem to have gone to the opposite extreme.
Many today, seem to think God cares nothing about obedience and cares only about the heart. They say things like, “It’s impossible to say whether anyone is right or wrong in what they do, because we don’t know their heart.” These people believe God will judge, not based on what a person did or didn’t do, but based upon how that person felt about God.
Neither of these two extremes are biblical. And neither of these two extremes are pleasing to God. As you read through the Bible, both New and Old Testaments, you will find that what God really wants is YOU! He wants all of you. He doesn’t want just your heart, and He doesn’t want just your obedience. He wants everything. He wants heartfelt obedience!
Jesus certainly rebuked the idea that God would be pleased with ritualistic, heartless obedience. But, He also debunked the myth that God would be pleased with anything less than total submission to His will.
John 14:15 (ESV)
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”
Matthew 15:7-9 (ESV)
“You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'”
Matthew 28:18-20 (ESV)
“And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.'”
Mark 16:15-16 (ESV)
“And he said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.'”
Mark 12:29-30 (ESV)
“The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.'”
Although we will inevitably fall short of God’s will for our lives (Romans 3:23), we must acknowledge the fact that God is pleased with nothing short of a heartfelt effort to be perfect and holy (Matthew 5:48). It is only while we strive (in futility) for perfection, that we walk in the grace of God (1 John 1:7).
God has high expectations of those who come to Him; expectations of your heart and expectations of your obedience.
I love you and a gracious God loves you,
P.S. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.