“Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, ‘We ought to obey God rather than men’.”
If this isn’t our bottom-line motive, then we should ask ourselves why it isn’t.
That’s what Andrew Murray called total commitment to the Lord Jesus. Anything less than that brings into question our love for Him and the validity of our salvation. While this may sound overly harsh—especially in this day-and-age of “cheap grace” (as Bonhoeffer called it)—the fact remains that anything less than that makes our Savior sick to His stomach (Rev. 3:15-16).
As we read the setting for our Manna, we realize that the early church was on fire with Heavenly Fire after the Spirit’s coming in power on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1ff). Souls were being daily added to the burgeoning Body of believers (2:47). Daily dialogue on the Word, fellowship and prayers were the order of the day (2:42), as were great liberalness of heart and an outpouring of the Spirit’s power (2:43-46; 4:32-37).
Interestingly, in the midst of all of this there was also a reminder of the inherent dangers of presuming on God’s Grace. When Ananias and Sapphira “lied to God” (5:4) and “tempted the Holy Spirit” by holding back a portion of the proceeds from the sale of a piece of property and then lying about it (vv.1-9), their sudden deaths caused “great fear (Grk. ‘phobos’—‘alarm, fright, terror, etc.’) to come upon all the church” (vv.5b, 11).
Why was that?
Simply because they realized anew that it’s dangerous to presume on God’s Grace and act with contempt toward Him and His work. This doesn’t mean we are to live in constant fear of making a mistake or not fulfilling all of our vows to Him—for He has not given us “a spirit of fear, but of love, power and a sound mind” (II Tim. 1:7). However, it does mean we shouldn’t take lightly our vows or our service to Him, especially if we profess to love Him with all of our heart (Jn. 14:15; 15:10).
This heart-felt love, coupled with great reverence for Who He is, will at times lead us into conflict with those who don’t know Him and live in spiritual darkness. And, most likely, much of our opposition will come from those who are quite religious and are already in opposition to God Himself (Acts 5:17-40; Jn. 15:18-25).
But, do not fear, dear Pilgrim.
The same One Who called you is the same One Who will keep you. His Holy Spirit will continue to anoint you and sustain you, regardless of what others say or do against you (5:32). And, in the midst of it all you’ll experience great joy and even “count it worthy that you were able to suffer for His Name” (5:41). Hallelujah! So, make “obeying God instead of men” your “modus operandi” today; then watch what He does in and through you.
By Tom Smith Morning Manna Dated June 2, 2010