Talking about Jesus and the things of God is taxing for an unbeliever, and by unbeliever I am not merely referring to those who reject the notion of God. I am including those who may be very religious but have not truly been regenerated/converted. It is taxing because they are still under the wrath of God (John 3:36). False converts try to obey God with their own will and energy, but it is futile. It is a burden. It is joyless. Sunny Shell, blogger at Abandoned to Christ, said it well today on social media:
God’s commandments are burdensome for those who merely profess Christ with their mouths, but their hearts are far from Him. They see God’s commandments as “have to’s” that stifle them. But God’s commandments are a joy and delight to all those who truly repent and trust in Christ Jesus for everything in this life and the next. We see God’s commandments as “get to’s” because now we’re free to do the good will of the LORD.
“Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love…For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.” ~1 John 4:8; 5:3
A recurring theme on this blog is obedience to the lordship of Christ. This is because obedience is fundamental to the Christian’s new life in Christ. Jesus said that obedience to Him was synonymous to loving Him (John 14:15, 14:21, 14:23). The natural man cannot obey God of his own volition, because he is ruled by his sin-nature. Paul writes to the church at Corinth, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Obedience is the natural result of having been born again; having the new nature.
Jesus explains this concept of salvation, regeneration, and obedience in Matthew 11:27-30: “All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
The audience Jesus was speaking to would have understood the illustration well. Yoke’s were a tool used with oxen for plowing. Typically, two oxen were paired together for plowing with a wooden yoke that went across the back of their necks. When a farmer was training a new ox, they would pair it with a stronger, more experienced animal. The more experienced ox would bear more of the load, and would essentially lead the new, untrained ox in what to do and where to go. The new ox would learn from the older ox, who bore the brunt of the burden.
Jesus is promising that those who come to Him, and are yoked with Him in belief and dependence for salvation, will have a light and easy yoke. He will do the heavy lifting; He will guide and teach them where to go and how to obey. That is why His yoke is easy, and His burden is light! He lived the perfect life, walking in perfect obedience to the Father, fulfilling the law. When someone is born-again, and given the new nature, they are able to obey the LORD through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Because they have been given a new heart and new desires, it is a joy to obey Him! Believers are free from sin and able to obey God.
Do you find it a joy to obey the Lord? Do you have new desires in keeping with the new nature? Where once you longed to satisfy every whim of your darkened heart, do you find yourself longing for the light and truth of God? Does His yoke seem light and easy, or drudgery? 2 Corinthians 13:5 urges us to examine ourselves, to see whether or not we are truly in the faith. Examining our hearts to see whether or not obedience is a joy or a burden is one way in which we determine if we are in the faith. If you find yourself lacking, fall on the only One who can save. May today be the day of your salvation!
Soli Deo Gloria!
Resource: Is it Real? Article by Grace to you