Am I truly obeying God from my heart or from external pressure and rule following?
20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.
INSIGHT: When I was a child, I could have likely been talked into eating dog poo brownies, faster than I could have been talked into eating bell peppers. I would get almost nauseated at just the smell of them, but my mother made me try everything and more than once. As I got older, she would make me try them in small amounts and she would bribe me with things like, being able to sleep in my bed instead of at the kitchen table (I fell asleep many times after refusing to eat my vegetables). I had no internal desire, but I developed an external willingness, largely so I could get up from the table or even better, have dessert. But then something happened, and over a few years I started to develop a taste for them, such that now I really enjoy them. Often I pick them up raw, right off the cutting board, and eat them. I initially agreed to choke them down, to please my mother, but now I have an internal and very natural desire to eat them. No one has to force feed me or bribe me anymore, and it’s been a long time since I had to count sheep at the kitchen table.
Churches are filled with people who have essentially been bribed to follow the rules through external pressure rather than an internal desire. They are doing “Christianity” apart from actually having a dependent relationship with God, empowered by His Spirit. In fact, they get along just fine without even having to bug Him too much. How tragic! Do NOT let this happen to you. Saving faith is not about “playing the part”; it’s about loving God from the heart. The obedience I continue to point out in this book should come from your love for God. If you feel cold in your love for Him, ask Him to help you love Him. This is the righteousness that surpasses that of the Pharisees and that will open heaven’s gates to you.