Thursday, March 26, 2009

Christian Obedience

Some say that obedience should be given only from the heart. This idea is false.

It is true that God wants us to follow Him out of love and not out of fear, but does the fact that we don't yet have that love mean we shouldn't follow God? I'll be blunt here, when I say follow God, I am specifically referring to keeping the Ten Commandments.

I say that I will not wait for the feelings to come before I render my obedience to Christ!

Even before I understand, I will follow. "Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him!" and "Not my will, but Yours be done!" (Job 13:15, Luke 22:42)

The proponents of this position, that following God's Law is legalism, say,

"Salvation is through Christ alone, apart from anything we do!"

I agree, and so do other Adventists. We say, "Absolutely! We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, and not by works."

They must believe we're lying when we say that, because they go right on saying we're legalists and that we're trying to work our way to heaven.

So when we say that if we're truly saved by grace through faith, God will also give us strength and power to obey Him, they reply "You're denying the sacrifice of Jesus! Trying to earn your way to heaven!"

They say, "By Christ alone, apart from anything we do!" Yet when a Christian tries to be obedient they scream "FOUL!" So, apparently we are saved by our works...our work of abstaining from works! Apparently what we do does have some affect on our salvation.

They will cry, "You're not trusting in Christ!! You won't go to heaven!!"

Based on what? Something we tried to do or abstain from doing? I thought what we did or didn't do had nothing to do with salvation? Make up your mind.

You say our salvation has nothing to do with our works, yet if we try to keep God's Law then we'll lose our salvation. So which is it? Is our salvation dependent on what we do or not?

Read carefully this quote from Steps To Christ, written by Ellen White, a messenger of the Lord:

"Many are inquiring, "How am I to make the surrender of myself to God?" You desire to give yourself to Him, but you are weak in moral power, in slavery to doubt, and controlled by the habits of your life of sin. Your promises and resolutions are like ropes of sand. You cannot control your thoughts, your impulses, your affections. The knowledge of your broken promises and forfeited pledges weakens your confidence in your own sincerity, and causes you to feel that God cannot accept you; but you need not despair.

What you need to understand is the true force of the will. This is the governing power in the nature of man, the power of decision, or of choice. Everything depends on the right action of the will. The power of choice God has given to men; it is theirs to exercise. You cannot change your heart, you cannot of yourself give to God its affections; but you can choose to serve Him. You can give Him your will; He will then work in you to will and to do according to His good pleasure. Thus your whole nature will be brought under the control of the Spirit of Christ; your affections will be centered upon Him, your thoughts will be in harmony with Him.

Desires for goodness and holiness are right as far as they go; but if you stop here, they will avail nothing. Many will be lost while hoping and desiring to be Christians. They do not come to the point of yielding the will to God. They do not now choose to be Christians.

Through the right exercise of the will, an entire change may be made in your life. You will have strength from above to hold you steadfast, and thus through constant surrender to God you will be enabled to live the new life, even the life of faith."

He is King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Creator of heaven and earth! He made us and we should follow His commandments regardless of how we feel or what our motive is! We can't control our heart but we can control our choices.

"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service." (Romans 12:1)

It is our reasonable service! Who are we to say, "We'll follow You when we feel like it...when our heart agrees with You."

Remember, "You cannot change your heart, you cannot of yourself give to God its affections; but you can choose to serve Him." We can choose to serve Him before our heart and affections belong to Him. "You can give Him your will; He will then work in you to will and to do according to His good pleasure. Thus your whole nature will be brought under the control of the Spirit of Christ; your affections will be centered upon Him, your thoughts will be in harmony with Him." It is only after we give Him our will and choose to serve Him that He works in us to will and to do according to His good pleasure. We must submit ourselves to God in order for Him to be able to work in our hearts! How have we gotten things so backwards?

Think on this: in light of the great sacrifice that Christ made to purchase us, His beloved children, how can we willingly choose to commit sin which crucifies Him afresh and puts Him to open shame? (Heb. 6:6)

What did Christ do on Calvary? He bore the sins of the world...the entire world. He took upon Himself every sin you or I have ever committed. As a consequence, He took upon Himself the punishment for every sin you or I have ever committed, are committing, and ever will commit. He took the punishment for every sin ever committed throughout all eternity...past, present and future.

Therefore we see that every sin we continue to commit only heaps on the pain and unspeakable anguish of our Lord and Saviour. Regardless of my heart I will do my utmost to keep from transgressing His Law, I can do no other!

When a Christian comes to Christ and places his trust in Him, will he stop sinning forever? No, we're not so foolish as to think that is the case. We are justified and deemed righteous, and then we are continually sanctified throughout this life until eventually we are glorified at His coming. Praise God.

After we've chosen to follow Him, do we lose our salvation every time we fall? Of course not. "My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." (1 John 2:1)

If we fall we are covered by the blood of Christ, right?

Yet do we really consider the meaning of that phrase, "covered by the blood of Christ"? For that sin to be covered by the blood of Christ, He must have had to first suffer. Every time we require our sins to be covered by the blood of Christ, we increase His suffering. Even when we don't even realize we're sinning, Christ's suffering and blood is the only reason we can be forgiven and our times of ignorance can be overlooked.

But we have become so familiar with the concept of Christ's atonement that we think of it in terms of going to our earthly father and saying, "Oops, I messed up." At which point he smiles and pulls a few dollars out of his wallet to pay for the damage we've caused. No big deal.

Our heavenly Father does not simply reach into His divine wallet and pull out a few dollars. When we mess up, the only way He can pay for it is with His own blood and agony!

Please God never let us forget what it costs You to save us.

Do not feel disheartened by this message. Please remember that He does it gladly! Each one of us is of infinite value to our Father. Let us always keep our eyes on Christ, "who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross." (Hebrews 12:2) It was a joy for Him to look down through time and see you in His kingdom.


  1. I think some of us folks who have grown up with religious 'jargon' have either never known original or genuine meanings of words or they got lots along the way. I have been studying some of the meanings. Here are a few that have been a big help to me.

    I trust TO obey.

    I can't truly obey God 'BY MYSELF'.

    God won't force me to 'obey'.

    As I look to Jesus, however, His goodness and love brings me to a place where He gives me the opportunity to 'agree' with Him. (Confession)

    As I agree with Jesus, His Holy Spirit leads me to 'choose His will' for my life. (Repentance)

    As I choose God's will for me He 'gives' me His will [in exchange]'for' any other will (Forgive)

    As I accept His will for me that choice is like opening the door for Him to pour in His love power through me to empower me to do on the 'outside' what He is 'willing' to do 'inside' of me.

    Yes, I do have a 'part'. The sanctuary of the old testament illustrated 'my' part very well.

    Thank God, He is both willing and doing in me of His good pleasure.

    Thanks for sharing.

  2. 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 97.3}

  3. Thank you both for the insights...I'm always learning.