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Obedience

Christians love the word obedience. We sing the song Trust and Obey and leave with a warm Christian glow. Obedience is one of those things God demands and we must produce. We run across an imperative in Scripture and we immediately say yes I must do, or not do that very thing because God says so. Do not murder the commandments say and we take that to heart. We determine not to murder until someone angers us and we say in our heart that that person be shot. Sorry Lord, I have to work harder at that.

We read Scripture through the eyes of our flesh. Much of what we hear as the Christian view of the world is in fact the result of fleshly man trying as best he can to understand what the Spiritual Life is really about. We love to pull a verse out, hold it up as truth and then demand some human behavior based on that truth. We then measure our compliance and we say to ourselves that we are getting better in this area or that area of our Christian walk. We get good at feeling really, really, really bad when we fail. We take some pride when we find that we have some success obeying God’s Word. Pride goes before a fall says Scripture and we do indeed fall when we take solace in our ability to obey.

Acts: 5 But some believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees rose up and said, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to order them to keep the law of Moses.” 6 The apostles and the elders were gathered together to consider this matter. 7 And after there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. 8 And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, 9 and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith. 10 Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? 11 But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.”

The flesh sees Scriptural imperatives as an order to keep the law of Moses. The flesh screams at us; this is what you must do…get to it…obey…do your disciplines…get on with it. We do just that and in no time at all, we are as frustrated as we can get. We condemn ourselves for being so weak and we repeat over and over the very thing we are trying to conquer in our lives. Essentially we die. We no longer find any life in us. Why do we put God to the test by relying on our obedience to the law? Why do we place a heavy yoke around our necks?

“But we believe that we will be saved (made whole) through the grace of the Lord Jesus…” That is a salvation not just into eternal life. It is a salvation experienced here and now in this life. Grace makes us whole. We are saved. It is not by our heavy yoke of obedience that we become whole. Wholeness is from a God who knows our hearts and the very thing we need to accomplish His purposes in us. Our works of the flesh will never accomplish what the Holy Spirit will accomplish in us.

Rom 3:10 as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. 12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”

That is the stark reality of the flesh. We cannot depend on the flesh to save us. Our fleshly obedience is only an illusion that produces nothing. We are looking for life in the wrong place.

Gal 3:21 Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law.

Where does that leave us? How do we get out of this fleshly view of our Christian life and get about real living?

Rom 8:3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh,4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.

That is as exciting as it gets. God sent His Son so that we no longer have to rely on the flesh to satisfy the demands of God’s law. We have had a mind change. We no longer dwell on what the flesh can accomplish. We set our minds on what God has accomplished in Christ. We set our minds on the fact that Christ indwells us and is fulfilling the law through us in ways we can hardly understand, much less accomplish on our own. We are conscious of a new life in us. The flesh mikes no effort to set its mind on the things of the flesh. It is made that way. It can do nothing else but that. We have been given a new mind and a new heart that dwells on the truth within us. That is what it does. It can do nothing else but that. By faith, we place our trust in this new reality in our lives. We place our trust in the very presence of God in Christ in us.

Rom 1:5 through whom [Christ] we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations,

A disciplined flesh does not produce our obedience. Our obedience springs naturally from the new life within us. It is an obedience of faith, an abiding trust in the presence and work of Christ in us. If you are attempting to obey, if you are trying to obey you are falling far short of the reality of obedience in you through Christ.

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Categories: Law, Life, Obedience
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