Grace That Leads to Obedience

There are probably very few pastors or preachers who teach or speak on the love and grace of God any more than I myself do.

The revelation of God’s love and the freedom that Grace gives from the condemnation of sin and the law are cornerstone’s of all that God has called me to proclaim in my personal walk in ministry.

I am a firm believer in the redemptive power of the blood of Jesus Christ and that His blood is more than capable to not only save us but keep us.  After all, He is the author and finisher of our faith and the good works He has begun in us He is faithful to complete.

As I have come to understand grace more in depth, I have come to see grace as more than just the great equalizer that takes me from my righteous inadequacy to being in right standing with God.  Grace is also not a magically empowered spiritual soap by which all my sins are just merely blotted out or simply the great spiritual equalizer.

While I make those analogies in jest, it is true that grace does put me in right standing with God and makes me spiritually through faith in Christ what I can’t be on my own however, grace is much more.

In fact, what I want to focus on is the power of grace.  Grace is real power by which we overcome sin and we no longer are held as a defenseless victim in its clutches.

As we grow in grace, we grow in power and in victory so that sin no longer rules our minds and bodies.

Roman’s chapter 6 is an in depth writing by Paul that addresses the misunderstanding that many misguided Christians often have in believing grace does not require obedience or that there is not a standard or an obligation on our part to pursue the practice of righteousness and holiness.

Romans 6 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)

6 What shall we say [to all this]? Are we to remain in sin in order that God’s grace (favor and mercy) may multiply and overflow?

2 Certainly not! How can we who died to sin live in it any longer?

3 Are you ignorant of the fact that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?

4 We were buried therefore with Him by the baptism into death, so that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious [power] of the Father, so we too might [habitually] live and behave in newness of life.

5 For if we have become one with Him by sharing a death like His, we shall also be [one with Him in sharing] His resurrection [by a new life lived for God].

In verses 1 through 5 Paul is asking questions that are simply rhetorical.  Paul asks are we to remain in sin in order that God’s grace may abound?  (Again, Paul is asking a rhetorical question.)

Paul goes on to answer the question anyway which reads like it has a slight degree of facetiousness due to the ridiculousness of the question.

Notice, to paraphrase Paul, he asks, how can we who are now a new living creation in a new life, continue to live and behave the way we once did when we were sinners?

Shall we continue to sin?  Uh no!  How can a dead man live?  Your old nature was killed silly!

To put it yet another way, I think if Paul would have wanted he could have used an example and said, can a dog behave and pretend it is a cat?  Will a dog meow and purr?  Of course not, a dog is not a cat and therefore will not behave like one!

Likewise, we as new creations with a new nature cannot and do not embrace the old nature of the old man and we are not governed by the primal nature of our biology (the flesh).  The real identity, our spirit, is in fact the man in charge.

In the next few verses, 6-11  Paul clearly outlines the process.  When we die spiritually (the former man) and we are made alive in Christ in the new man.  We are no longer under the power of sin.  Paul not only tells us that this is a spiritual truth, but goes on to tell us to consider ourselves dead to sin.  In effect Paul is telling us how to think and see ourselves.  This is not merely speaking about the fact that we are no longer transgressors of the law but that everything we are and how we live is about denouncing our own lives and any entitlement to the indulgence in sin that we once had and exchanging it for UNBROKEN fellowship with Jesus Christ.

6 We know that our old (unrenewed) self was nailed to the cross with Him in order that [our] body [which is the instrument] of sin might be made ineffective and inactive for evil, that we might no longer be the slaves of sin.

7 For when a man dies, he is freed (loosed, delivered) from [the power of] sin [among men].

8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him,

9 Because we know that Christ (the Anointed One), being once raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has power over Him.

10 For by the death He died, He died to sin [ending His relation to it] once for all; and the life that He lives, He is living to God [in unbroken fellowship with Him].

11 Even so consider yourselves also dead to sin and your relation to it broken, but alive to God [living in unbroken fellowship with Him] in Christ Jesus.

Now, Paul expands upon this giving us an outline of our obligations and responsibilities to pursue obedience and to pursue the practice of righteousness and holiness in our lives.

12 Let not sin therefore rule as king in your mortal (short-lived, perishable) bodies, to make you yield to its cravings and be subject to its lusts and evil passions.

13 Do not continue offering or yielding your bodily members [and faculties] to sin as instruments (tools) of wickedness. But offer and yield yourselves to God as though you have been raised from the dead to [perpetual] life, and your bodily members [and [b]faculties] to God, presenting them as implements of righteousness.

14 For sin shall not [any longer] exert dominion over you, since now you are not under Law [as slaves], but under grace [as subjects of God’s favor and mercy].

To reiterate, Paul has made it very clear that grace not only frees us from the condemnation of the law, it also gives us power to break the strongholds of sin in our lives and to no longer be slaves to it.  Lastly, as Paul gives instruction, it gives us power to bring the nature of our carnal desires and fleshly appetites into submission to the spirit man that we are.  In short, grace also gives us the power to walk in obedience to the Father’s desires and expectations of us.  Jesus models this behavior in the Garden of Gethsemane when He tells the Father “not My will but Yours be done.”  We see this echoed throughout the life and ministry of Jesus as Jesus explains He only does what the Father shows Him to do.

Bill Johnson once said “Grace that does not lead to holiness is not grace at all”.

This is in perfect agreement with what Paul is teaching in Romans chapter 6.

There are of course many opposing viewpoints in many churches today.  Some who argue against grace and are totally legalistic and others who dilute grace to a freedom to live however they choose embracing any sin or desire they choose, taking on no responsibility for the call to self-denial and the pursuit of obedience and practicing righteousness and holiness.

15 What then [are we to conclude]? Shall we sin because we live not under Law but under God’s favor and mercy? Certainly not!

16 Do you not know that if you continually surrender yourselves to anyone to do his will, you are the slaves of him whom you obey, whether that be to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience which leads to righteousness (right doing and right standing with God)?

17 But thank God, though you were once slaves of sin, you have become obedient with all your heart to the standard of teaching in which you were instructed and to which you were committed.

18 And having been set free from sin, you have become the servants of righteousness (of conformity to the divine will in thought, purpose, and action).

Paul expands upon the obligations we have and the choice we have and what fruit those choices bear.  Paul makes it very clear that if we allow sin to reign and we become slaves of obedience to sin, we will drink from the cup that sin brings which is ultimately death.  Not because we are not loved of God and not because the blood of Jesus does not redeem us but because the result of being a slave to sin is death.  Whether it be physical sickness, depression, anxiety, loneliness, or any other thing that the love of God does not desire or give us, disobedience does have a cost.  Conversely, when we continuously surrender ourselves to do God’s will as Paul writes in verse 16 and as we become obedient with all of our hearts as Paul outlines in verse 17 we begin to sow seed that brings forth new and abundant harvest in our lives.  Paul also explains in verse 22 that regardless of how many crops of thorns and thistles we have sown and reaped in our sin, there is always a new field and crop we can plant and harvest when we embrace the grace of Jesus Christ not only for salvation but to be free from and masters over sin so that we may be empowered to walk in obedience, righteousness and holiness.  Paul reminds us of the shame and the uselessness of our old nature and our lives once dedicated to the pursuit of fleeting pleasures of sin in verses 19-21.  It is a strong reminder to help keep our focus on the prize and not be lulled into believing the lies that our past offers us some kind of fulfillment.

There is no going back, all that once was will only be as ashes in our mouths once we have tasted the goodness of God that is sweeter than wine or honey.

Once you have experienced abundant life free from sin, no one in their right mind refuses the well of Bethlehem to drink from an open sewer.

19 I am speaking in familiar human terms because of your natural limitations. For as you yielded your bodily members [and faculties] as servants to impurity and ever increasing lawlessness, so now yield your bodily members [and faculties] once for all as servants to righteousness (right being and doing) [which leads] to sanctification.

20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.

21 But then what benefit (return) did you get from the things of which you are now ashamed? [None] for the end of those things is death.

22 But now since you have been set free from sin and have become the slaves of God, you have your present reward in holiness and its end is eternal life.

23 For the wages which sin pays is death, but the [bountiful] free gift of God is eternal life through (in union with) Jesus Christ our Lord.

In summation, we have the grace and love of Jesus Christ that is freely ours.  We are free from condemnation and the guilt of sin under the law.  We are in fact free from the curse of the law and all the punishments that were written against us by the grace of Jesus Christ.  That is the first step towards abundant life.

Real abundant living comes as we step forth in the power of grace and crush the power and influence of sin in our lives and we learn what it is to live a life of submission and to become sons and daughters of obedience to our Heavenly Father.  True abundant living is found in the pursuit of His righteousness and holiness with a fervent zeal, forsaking and leaving behind all that offers a counterfeit joy or pleasure through pride, vanity, or otherwise that only leads to self-indulgence and the pursuit of lawlessness and impurity.

Our joy only increases as we learn to walk like Jesus, looking for every opportunity to please the Father and mirror all that He is as we behold Him and are transformed into His image.

 

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2 thoughts on “Grace That Leads to Obedience

  1. Transient Sower

    Excellent read! It encourages me to know there are others that think this way. As a matter of fact this reminds me of something given to me a few weeks ago;

    Someone recently called me a wise man, which humbled me and got me to thinking. Hanlon’s razor says “Never attribute to maliciousness that which can easily be explained by stupidity”. I think wisdom has a similar razor “Never attribute to wisdom that which can easily be explained by obedience.”
    This led to another question. Where does obedience come from?
    It is not as much about our will, might, determination, or goodness as much as it is a result of who we know, and what he has done for us.
    I think more aptly said, is that wisdom is not so much about what you know, but rather who you know. And who you know drives what you do, because you want to emulate those whom you admire and continue to do so much for you. So this brings me to a recent common theme in my life, If I focus on my relationship with Jesus Christ, I cannot help but become more obedient. Not because I’m trying harder, but because of who I know.
    It is also true, that when I neglect my relationship with Jesus, disobedience and pain follow, This is because he wants the best for me and the closer I am to him, the best he has becomes the best in me. And it hurts to lose that.
    Transient Sower

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nathan Ogden

      Thank you for sharing your excellent and well spoken points! I pray that what God put on my heart to share has encouraged you further in your personal relationship. It is so comforting to know that He is not only the author of our faith but He also is the finisher. God Bless you!

      Like

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