June 11, 2013

Reflections on Obedience by God’s Grace

For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace . . . that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Romans 6:14; 8:4)

Before we leave this vital subject of obedience, let’s reflect upon how it is related to God’s grace. Various key passages that we have examined previously can help us accomplish this goal.

Romans 6:14 is such a passage. Herein, we are told how to get out from under the domination of sin. “For sin shall not have dominion over you.” Anyone who is ruled by sin is living in disobedience. Sin and disobedience are virtually synonymous. Grace is the path of deliverance from disobedience. “For you are not under law but under grace.” Sin is transgression of the law of God. The law can call us to the holy standards of God, but the law cannot help us to obey those perfect standards. “For the law made nothing perfect” (Hebrews 7:19). Grace is God’s resource for us to find forgiveness of sin (thus rescuing us from the dominating penalty of sin): “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7). Grace is also God’s strength for living daily in victory over sin (thereby rescuing us from dominating influence of sin): “Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 2:1).

Romans 8:4 is another passage that indicates the connection between obedience and grace. The opening words address a primary reason why Christ died on the cross: “that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us.” It is God’s desire that the holy demands of the law be increasingly lived out in our lives. This would amount to a life of obedience. The law itself could never produce this. “For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh” (Romans 8:3). What God’s law could not do (because of man’s inability to live up to it), God did through His Son. Now, by means of all that Christ has provided for us, obedience is available to us. Who is it that experiences this available obedience? Those who “do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” Christians who face each day by the flesh only access the carnal resources of natural man. On the other hand, those who address the daily issues of life in dependence upon the Spirit draw upon the grace resources of a supernatural God.

Holy and gracious Father, I praise Your name that grace is the path to obedience. In light of my inadequacy, no other approach could ever be sufficient. Once again, I renounce my flesh and look to the work of Your Spirit, fulfilling Your righteous requirements in my life, Amen.


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