Loyalty - 1

The man who attempts to keep the commandments of God from a sense of obligation merely – because he is required to do so – will never enter into the joy of obedience. He does not obey. When the requirements of God are accounted a burden because they cut across human inclination, we may know that the life is not a Christian life. True obedience is the outworking of a principle within. It springs from the love of righteousness, the love of the law of God. The essence of all righteousness is loyalty to our Redeemer. This will lead us to do right because it is right – because right doing is pleasing to God. {COL 97}

Beware of anything that competes with loyalty to Jesus Christ. The greatest competitor of devotion to Jesus is service for Him. It is easier to serve than to be drunk to the dregs. The one aim of the call of God is the satisfaction of God, not a call to do something for Him. We are not sent to battle for God, but to be used by God in His battlings. Are we being more devoted to service than to Jesus Christ? {My Utmost for His Highest January 18}

All true obedience comes from the heart. It was heart work with Christ. And if we consent, He will so identify Himself with our thoughts and aims, so blend our hearts and minds into conformity to His will, that when obeying Him we shall be but carrying out our own impulses. The will, refined and sanctified, will find its highest delight in doing His service. When we know God as it is our privilege to know Him, our life will be a life of continual obedience. Through an appreciation of the character of Christ, through communion with God, sin will become hateful to us. {DA 668}

These quotations have come to my attention over the last two days and I have heard God compelling me to take a very close look at this word loyalty. As soon as I saw the phrase essence of all righteousness, I got very excited because I knew that whatever was coming next would give me a pretty accurate definition for this word righteousness which has been one of the most elusive, confused and distorted religious words in history.

But what I was not expecting to see was that loyalty is the most accurate, succinct concept that can describe what lies at the very core of the idea of righteousness. I have always been taught that righteousness is mainly doing right, doing good things and then later when that was exposed as being far too external-oriented I was taught that it was being right or being right with God. Being and doing are vastly different things and that helped me tremendously to start to move away from legalistic thinking and toward a relationship-based spirituality that I am still pursuing vigorously. But finding that genuine kind of vibrant, intimate relationship with Jesus still seems to have a great deal of interference from confusing notions from my past.

One of those interfering notions was the heavy baggage that for me personally surrounds this word obedience. I know that many others carry the same intense reaction to this word that I do though many may display their reactions in different ways. Some openly reject it because it simply does not ring true for them but many others react by trying to force themselves to overcome this subconscious resistance and just 'obey' anyway. But as can be seen in the first quotation above, from heaven's perspective that is not really obedience at all even though it may appear like it to others around us.

One thing has been intensifying in my heart for a number of years now that helps me to unravel this conundrum and discover the true relationship between all of these obscured words and phrases. It is the principle that is stated clearly in the last quotation above, that true obedience has to be a heart thing or it is nothing but a counterfeit and as such is powerless to have a positive effect on the life. When I began to see this more clearly I then had to spend years just trying to get acquainted with my own heart and even become aware of what it was, what it feels like, how to listen to it properly and how to allow it to function that way it was designed to do.

If I am ever to come into right relation to God by living a life of heart-based obedience, then it is vitally necessary to cooperate with God in the healing of my heart so that it can begin to function in the ways that true obedience operates. But since I still have some of this veil over my heart about the word itself, God has been leading me through other channels to arrive at the right place and to disrobe the concept of obedience of all the negative clothing that it has been dressed up in by the enemy of righteousness.

I have noticed that some religious words have far more false clothing over them than others. Possibly because of this God has used the less obscure words and ideas to lead me to the true meaning of the more obscured and distorted concepts so I can begin to be released from the triggers associated with the more volatile words. This is taking me years of reforming and retraining my subconscious and conscious thinking and will likely take many more. But there come points of breakthrough when I have wonderful epiphanies that are exhilarating and energizing where certain words suddenly drop into a deeper significance and shed much of the garbage and false definitions that have cloaked them in my mind and heart for so long.

I have been pursing the real meaning of this word righteousness for many years now. It was one of the words most difficult for me to discover any significant and reliable meaning because it was used so broadly and generically by so many people. It generally assumed a lot of negative baggage around it because it was so often used in conjunction with an attitude of condemnation as so many other religious words have been used.

On the other hand, loyalty was seldom even talked about in religion which allowed it to be relatively free of much of that unhealthy baggage and as such is far more clear in its meaning for many people including myself. Because of that, when I came across this statement a couple days ago I realized that God wants to use this avenue to open up a lot more vital truths for my heart to assimilate in relation to these other more volatile words. So to understand the real truth about both righteousness and obedience, its close buddy, God has given me the assignment to discover the real truth about them through the window of carefully examining this word loyalty. When I opened up the devotional My Utmost this morning and read the above quote I realized that this assignment was not to be taken lightly or ignored; God is serious about me getting busy to look at this because He is anxious and eager for me to get into much closer relationship with Him as quickly as possible.

So here I am, wondering what in the world loyalty really means and what it might look like without any confusing or false ideas clinging to it to taint its true meaning. I look inside to see what my own mind might believe about this word and I am not terribly clear yet just what it means to me since it has never been a central issue in my life as it may have been for others. Oh, it has been around and has been used loosely at times in my relationships with others. But more often it has been a word that primarily showed up in stories involving conflicts, war stories, intrigue or prisoners of war. It usually shows up in times of polarization when societal pressures mount forcing everyone to choose sides in a heated disagreement that is accelerating into open conflict.

Loyalty in the context of wartime though, is too often linked with prejudices and hatred so I have to be careful not to let the soldier metaphors infect this word with those false attitudes. I have seen too much glorification of military language and militant emotions mingled into religious concepts that have seriously infected religion with selfish and ungodly motives that permeate most religions everywhere. So I am cautious as I look around for better examples of what true loyalty might look like. I want to find better examples in the context of a character filled with true ideas of what God is really like.

I am literally probing my mind and memories for examples that might help me to get a better handle on this word. Elijah comes to my mind and the idea of fierce loyalty and allegiance to God in the face of overwhelming popular pressure in another direction. Loyalty does not just exist when there is pressure to turn away from the object of our loyalty, but it is far less likely to be noticeable until a majority of others around us are insisting that our ideas are wrong and theirs is the only right way to bring about unity and peace in society. This may be why Elijah is mentioned in connection with the spirit that will be seen in the very end time as prophesied in Malachi 4:5-6.

I believe that true loyalty necessarily involves a heart attachment. If we try to be loyal or faithful to some cause or some person without having a very deep heart connection with them it will prove to be only a profession and not anchored deep enough inside to withstand the enormous pressures exerted to overcome our loyalty. That means that we not only have to understand to some extent the logical reasons why we should be loyal to someone or some entity but we have to get very emotionally involved to the point of become passionately consumed in our loyalty to them.

All of this is really bringing a great amount of light and insight into my quest to understand the true meaning of the extra flasks of oil in the parable of the ten virgins. I have been pondering this for a few weeks now. That was another emphatic assignment I received from God sometime before this one. He has been giving me specific assignments in succession and I realize He is intent on teaching me some very vital lessons in whatever course it is I am taking from Him. As I take on one assignment after another it quickly becomes obvious how tightly they are related to each other and how each one is linked to the others.

From this perspective I can now more clearly see that the wise virgins were actually filled with more loyalty to the Bridegroom than were the foolish virgins. That is the reason why they took precautions so they would not be caught emptied of oil if things went differently than planned. But what is strongly impressed on my spirit lately is that I must not only find out what the real meaning of that symbol is in real life but even more importantly I must have that experience myself if I want to be found among the faithful, ready and loyal ones prepared to enter into the joy of the wedding feast. I must know what it really means to have that extra oil, what the oil really stands for and where I am supposed to store it up. Otherwise the chances that I will come up short and very surprised that I am short is extremely high.

A dear friend of mine shared with me over the phone recently her insights on this parable that really helped to solidify some of these concepts for me. She told me from Scriptural references that the lamps represent the Word of God, not so much our own lives. We must have the Spirit of God as well as the spirit of joy in our hearts if we are to really have the Bible give off proper light. But both groups of virgins had this experience at first and there was no noticeable difference in that respect.

But I had noticed that the backup containers were not lamps and were not designed for producing light. They were far more out of sight and were designed mostly for holding liquid for use at a later time. There is much more about these containers that is very exciting but I don't have time here to relate what I have found. But what my friend shared with me is that those containers represent our own hearts. We must have that intimate relationship with God that is rooted primarily at the heart level if we are to be prepared to have enough oil for the lamp and if we want to be prepared for the crisis that is coming very soon. To just have a knowledge of God is not enough. To know all the right answers in religion is not enough. All the virgins had lamps that had oil and that were burning at first. They were all virgins which means they had the pure truth of God. But not all of them took the effort to store away in their heart containers extra oil that would prepare them for any eventuality that might come along.

As the leaven, when mingled with the meal, works from within outward, so it is by the renewing of the heart that the grace of God works to transform the life. No mere external change is sufficient to bring us into harmony with God. There are many who try to reform by correcting this or that bad habit, and they hope in this way to become Christians, but they are beginning in the wrong place. Our first work is with the heart.
A profession of faith and the possession of truth in the soul are two different things. The mere knowledge of truth is not enough. We may possess this, but the tenor of our thoughts may not be changed. The heart must be converted and sanctified. {COL 97}

Now I am seeing that the idea of loyalty is very closely intertwined with the heart. Loyalty is at least partially composed of devotion, love, emotional attachment and the concept of exclusivity. To be loyal to one is to turn away from anything that competes for that part of our heart. Jesus stated it quite clearly when He said, No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. (Matthew 6:24 NKJV)

I must continue this later.


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