When I was teenager, I became weary of the word “obedience”. This happened because of the hundreds of rules that I was expected to follow that resulted in punishment if I was caught violating one. I wasn’t rebellious, but I couldn’t wait to grow up so I could make my own rules. Then I joined the military where the rules got even stricter and where insubordination resulted in harsher punishments. Much of this colored my view of laws, rules, regulations, and restrictions. But now that I am older, I understand what God means when He commands us to obey.
My immature view of obedience led me to dread comparing myself to God’s holy law–I was never at peace and never felt “good enough” to be accepted by God. But this was a good thing, because it led me to do a deeper search for peace which resulted in me finding the “good news” of righteousness by faith. My relief in finding that God accepted me by faith in the merits of Christ was not because I was attempting to avoid the law, but because I longed for the grace and peace of the gospel. Obedience took on a new meaning as I was no longer attempting to escape punishment, but I was grateful for the assurance of God’s love and acceptance.
I realized that obedience to God wasn’t only about being obedient to the law, but it was also about being obedient to the gospel. I came to understand that there is no holiness apart from faith which is the assurance of salvation in Christ. The tremendous blessings of obedience to the law can never be realized without the Holy Spirit which is received by faith in the atoning blood of Christ.
“Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the law of Moses? Of course not! You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ.” ~ Galatians 3:2, NLT
Genuine obedience means that we obey the law AND the gospel. Obedience to the Gospel is our faith in Christ who died for our sins and rose again for our justification. The law shows us the impossibility of being right with God on our own merits, and then shows us how to live happy and holy lives through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
Our obedience to the laws of God might rise and fall like the stock market, but we have a perfect savior who has promised eternal life to those who trust in Him for salvation:
“All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.” ~ John 6:37, NIV
There is no holiness apart from the assurance of salvation in Christ alone. The fruits of the spirit will motivate us towards higher and higher levels of spiritual maturity. One day we will all stand sinless around the throne of God–not because of what we did while here on earth, but because of what Christ did by shedding His divine blood.
We must be obedient to both the law of God AND the gospel of Jesus.