Weekly Devotional 3-22-21 Obligated or Not
In a recent class discussion the participants were considering 1st John 3:20 which says: “For if our heart (our conscience) condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things.” The complete passage has to do with how persons treat their brothers (and sisters) in Christ and the inference of 3:20 is that if they feel condemned under the Law, God is greater than the Law and gives them relief when they acknowledge and repent of having wrongly treated them.
It was mentioned that Christians have it much better than the non-Christian because God has obligated Himself to that relief. Evidently, the statement was either not conveyed well or it was misunderstood because everyone of the class, in total, took issue. The chairman of the class was quite adamant that God is obligated to no one. He suggested that the better word to use is that God is faithful. To this the facilitator of the class answered, yes God is faithful but there is a difference in being faithful and being obligated.
Webster’s Ninth Collegiate Dictionary defines Obligation as –Something, such as a formal contract, a promise, or the demands of conscience or custom that obligates one to a course of action.
The same dictionary defines Faithful as – steadfast in affection or allegiance. Firm in adherence to promises or allegiances or in observance of duty. Synonyms for faithful are Loyal, Constant, Staunch, Steadfast, Resolute > Meaning, firm in adherence to whatever one owes allegiance.
The facilitator went on to say, while it is true that God is obligated to no one, God before creation, obligated Himself to man’s redemption. The facilitator pointed to Revelation 13:8b and 17:8b which say in part, that God purposed that He would sacrifice Himself in the person of Jesus Christ for the redemption of man. Going on the facilitator pointed out that it is impossible for man to be redeemed by any other means and therein lay his meaning; God obligated Himself to that end. If He had not obligated Himself no one would be saved (Redeemed). The facilitator then led the class to consider the words of the apostle Peter spoken before the elders of the Jews as he defended himself for healing a lame man on the Sabbath. He said that it was Jesus who had healed this man and added, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
The facilitator then drew the attention of the class to these words of the writer of Hebrews which speaks of Jesus, “1 For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. 2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. 3 But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. 4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins. 5 Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: ‘Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, But a body You have prepared for Me. 6 In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure. 7 Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come– In the volume of the book it is written of Me– To do Your will, O God.’ 8 Previously saying, ‘Sacrifice and offering, burnt offerings, and offerings for sin You did not desire, nor had pleasure in them’ (which are offered according to the law), 9 then He said, ‘Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God.’ He takes away the first that He may establish the second. 10 By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10:1-10).
The facilitator closed his remarks by saying; In that man cannot save himself, and in that God purposed man’s salvation (Revelation 13:8b and 17:8b), and in that God cannot fail, He has obligated Himself to bring that salvation about. God is glorified in the salvation of those He redeems, and He gave His only begotten Son to that end.
Are there instances in the Bible where God obligated Himself? Yes, The Abrahamic covenant is one such instance. In Genesis 12 God called Abram out of the Land of Ur (his father’s dwelling place) to a land unknown by Abram. God promised to make him into a great nation, make his name great and make him a blessing to all the people of the earth (12:1-3). God promised to give him a child by his wife Sarah even though see was advanced in years and beyond the age of childbearing. God obligated Himself in bringing these things to pass by an unconditional covenant (Genesis 15).
A covenant is an agreement between two parties. There are two basic types of covenants: conditional and unconditional. A conditional or bilateral covenant is an agreement that is binding on both parties for its fulfillment. Both parties agree to fulfill certain conditions. If either party fails to meet their responsibilities, the covenant is broken and neither party has to fulfill the expectations of the covenant. An unconditional or unilateral covenant is an agreement between two parties, but only one of the two parties has to do something. Nothing is required of the other party.
The ceremony recorded in Genesis 15 indicates the unconditional nature of the covenant. When a covenant was dependent upon both parties keeping commitments, then both parties would pass between the pieces of animals. In Genesis 15, God alone moves between the halves of the animals. Abraham was in a deep sleep. God’s solitary action indicates that the covenant is principally His promise. He obligated Himself to the covenant.
In the New Testament Jesus (God in the flesh) obligated Himself to the building of His church (Matthew 16:18) and obligated Himself to fulling the will of Father (God) in sacrificing Himself on the cross for the satisfying of God’s Justice (John 3:16; Matthew 26:39, 42).
So yes, God has obligated Himself to His own glory and for the benefit of man. Oh’ what benefactors we are! To Go be the Glory!
Transforming Power; the Work of God on Behalf of Man