So you probably hear us talk about one subject more than any other thing: Grace. Yes, Grace is vitally important to understand, but recently we had a listener reach out and ask about obedience.
Here’s the thing that we have to understand about the relationship between grace and obedience. They don’t collide, but rather they compliment each other.
You see, when we can fully understand the massive amount of grace and love that God has for us, we are re-oriented to love and serve Him back freely. Did you notice that key word? Freely! So many people believe that once they become a Christian, they have to then maintain their salvation by following this set of laws and rules from the Bible and the sad part is that it develops a false view of God and in a lot of cases, it leads to legalism.
When we look to obey God and completely bypass the Grace and Mercy that comes with that, we completely miss the point! Rather than looking to following these laws in order for us to somehow earn God’s love, let’s remember that the reason the cross happened was because we couldn’t follow the rules. We needed a Savior to come and save us! And we still need Him each and every day!
So when you’re looking at the topic of obedience, we’re not saying it’s not important because the Bible is very clear about what a Christian looks like:
- “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.” (Romans 12:1, NLT)
- Jesus replied, “But even more blessed are all who hear the word of God and put it into practice.” (Luke 11:28, NLT)
- “But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.” (James 1:22–25, NLT)
- “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments.” (1 John 5:2–3, ESV)
- “Love means doing what God has commanded us, and he has commanded us to love one another, just as you heard from the beginning.” (2 John 6, NLT)
- “And we can be sure that we know him if we obey his commandments. If someone claims, “I know God,” but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth. But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love him. That is how we know we are living in him. Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.” (1 John 2:3–6, NLT)
- “Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the LORD. Joyful are those who obey his laws and search for him with all their hearts. They do not compromise with evil, and they walk only in his paths. You have charged us to keep your commandments carefully. Oh, that my actions would consistently reflect your decrees! Then I will not be ashamed when I compare my life with your commands. As I learn your righteous regulations, I will thank you by living as I should! I will obey your decrees. Please don’t give up on me!” (Psalm 119:1–8, NLT)
- “Because we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body or spirit. And let us work toward complete holiness because we fear God.” (2 Corinthians 7:1, NLT)
According to Holman’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary a succinct definition of biblical obedience is “to hear God’s Word and act accordingly.” Eerdman’s Bible Dictionary states, “True ‘hearing,’ or obedience, involves the physical hearing that inspires the hearer, and a belief or trust that in turn motivates the hearer to act in accordance with the speaker’s desires.” Thus, biblical obedience to God means to hear, trust, submit and surrender to God and his Word.
But instead of looking at obedience as a destination, let’s look at it like a process. Because the reality is that obedience and the road to holiness is one that we will be on until the day that we die. However, the reality is that when God re-orients our hearts to follow Him and what His word says, our desires slowly begin to align with His.
As soon as we begin to fathom the beauty of God’s grace in our lives, we then become free to be obedient as we happily live a life that pleases Him!
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