What role does obedience play in the Christian life?
Quick Answer: Many have tried to create a friction between the concepts of grace and obedience. However, grace and obedience are related and beautifully compatible. Romans 6:17 states that we believers have become “obedient from the heart.” By grace, we have been gifted with a new, righteous heart that is obedient to God. This is why we can afford to live under grace and watch as God grows us up as obedient children in His family.
Diving Deeper: Grace and obedience are often presented as being near opposites. However, this is not the Biblical view. According to Romans 6:17, we’ve been given obedient hearts by God’s grace. This means that deep down we desire to please God and live an upright life (2 Peter 1:3-4). We desire to walk by the Spirit all the time and bear the fruit of the Spirit in every situation we encounter (Galatians 5:16). We also long for God to counsel and guide us (John 14:16-17). “Obedient” is a description of who we are at a heart level now.
What about John 14:15 which says, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments”? Jesus intended this as a statement of fact, not a threat! He was simply saying that if we love Him (And we do! See Ephesians 6:24), we will keep His commandments.
His “commandments” here do not refer to the Jewish Law but instead to the new covenant commands of “believe in Jesus” and “love others even as he has loved us” (1 John 3:23; John 13:34). If we are children of God, then we have these new commands etched on the lining of our new spiritual hearts, and we will keep them. This doesn’t mean that we perform perfectly, but it does mean that we have an innate love for God (Ephesians 6:24; Romans 5:5) and for other believers (John 13:35).
In short, loving God and other believers is now part of our spiritual nature, and obedience is imprinted within our new spiritual hearts given to us by God’s grace.
Let’s Make It a Conversation!
1. How do grace and obedience fit together? Explain in your own words.
2. Why do you think so many people have such a small view of God’s empowering grace?
3. React to this statement: By grace, you’ve been given an obedient heart that never wants to sin.
4. Read Romans 6:14 and react to this statement: Being afraid of too much grace is like being afraid of too much victory over sin.