Saturday, September 3, 2016

Obedience... does it matter or not?

For the child of God there are two seemingly opposing principles that must be tenaciously and equally held on to (believed) and kept in balance.

1. There is nothing we can do that will ever make us acceptable to God or enable us to participate in his love.

2. Living according to God's will/directions/commands is (a) most honoring to God (b) according to our design and (c) the most freeing way to live and experience all God has designed us to experience.

To say it another way 

Principle #1 is saying our righteousness or living right does not matter at all.

Principle #2 is saying our righteousness or right living absolutely matters (in fact it is all important in our bringing God the greatest possible glory and experiencing God and all He desires to be for us).

How can these both be true and work together?

It all depends on context and setting which you are considering. 

Let's take a closer look.

# 1  There is nothing we can do that will ever make us acceptable to God or enable us to fully participate in his love.


Two primary reasons (which include some additional underlying realities). 

1. Who God is:

   • All things came to be by Him and all things continue to exist by him         
      i.e. Everything depends on God. He is Creator & sustainer of all things. 
   • God is also holy, perfect and righteous. 

      a. Because he is the Creator and because he is unyieldingly holy,   
          He rightfully deserves our complete and total allegiance and     
      b. Because of these things, He rightfully calls us to love him with all  
          our hearts soul mind and strength and our neighbors as 

          Anything short of conducting ourselves accordingly is out of line 
          with reality. Who God is, who we are and therefore unacceptable.

2. Who we are:

We are in his image designed to be in relationship with him but rejected (and still reject) Him as our Creator and sustainer resulting in our spiritual deadness i.e. we are dead to seeing him for who He truly is, unable to live for him as we ought and were designed to.  

We therefore simply do not have it in us to do as He calls us to do and be who He originally created us to be. We can never do enough. So there's no point in even trying. 

#2 Living according to God's will/directions/commands is (a) most honoring to God (b) according to our design and (c) the most freeing way to live and experience all God has designed us to experience.

Why? Faithfulness, obedience to God, living to honor Him etc. is why we exist and what we were created for. It is living according to who we are and how we were designed to experience fullness of joy and life.   

True life is in God alone. Obedience to his directions is living in alignment with his good and perfect will, putting us not only in harmony with Him/who he is, but also operating according to who he has designed us to be.

A train is not somehow liberated by getting off the track but in fact may bog down in a ditch or field or run off a cliff and crash and burn when it doesn't operate according to its design i.e. running on the track. 

Who would know better how the train operates best if not the designer of the train? 

Because he tells us how to best operate we must listen if we are to experience our greatest good and bring him greatest glory.

So how do these two principles come together?

In a word, Christ!

Christ, the eternal Son of God, stepped out of eternity and took on the flesh and blood of humanity and dwelt among us as a man. 

And not only so but he lived out his life as a man wholly for the glory of his Father in perfect harmony and obedience with him as we (humanity) were designed to live. 

After living this perfect life he allowed himself to suffer the consequences of our not living wholly for the glory of his Father. In doing so he satisfied the legal requirement to live according to God's glory and our design. 

He offered his righteous life in exchange for our unrighteous one so we are no longer required to live it in order to be received by his Father. 

In so doing he removed the barrier between us and God for failing to live as He designed us and calls us so that his Fathers love is now freely extended and poured out on us, as if we had lived perfectly for God's glory ourselves. 

His offer of right standing and uninterrupted love (the very same love the Father has for his Son) is now ours as a gift, if we receive it.

In summary, God demonstrated his love for us when we deserved the opposite, providing for us access to God and taking care of principle #1. 

As we see this love (for the first time) and are increasingly drawn up into it (an ongoing process) we respond more and more in love by seeking to honor him in all we do or say. Love is the life or dynamic necessary to live according to God's design and glory, enabling us to live out principle #2. To say it as the Bible does, we love him because he first loved us.

The Bible sums up these two principles in the following verses:

"There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 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, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh (attempting to live by the law to earn God's love) but according to the Spirit (seeking to obey the law out of love and gratitude for securing right standing with him and his infinite love for us)." Rom 8:1-4

The Bible also touches on these contrasted principles in the following. 

1Co 10:23  "All things are lawful," but not all things are helpful. "All things are lawful," but not all things build up.

"All things are lawful..." simple means nothing we can do will be held against me legally because of a righteous status (legal standing) in Christ.

"not all things are helpful... not all things build up..." simply means we are designed to operate a certain way and will experience consequences for not doing so. 

The evidence of this right motive for obedience is expressed in the following

Joh 14:15  If you love me, you will keep my commandments.

1Jn 5:3  For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.

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Grace to you
Jim Deal