Wednesday, April 20, 2016

"Grace... Obedience" Part 2

(Thanks to my dear sister and friend Phyllis S. for inspiration on this one)

"Grace… Obedience"

Part 2

     How does grace lead to obedience in the lives of born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ?  We might suppose that the primary answer lies in motivation, namely, that the more we realize the Lord has done for us, the more we want to do for Him.  Grace provides forgiveness, newness of life, relationship with God, the promise of eternal life,  deliverance from Divine wrath, and  many other wonders of undeserved favor and blessedness.  Surely the growing awareness of such grace leads to growing desire to reciprocate with faith and faithfulness.

   It does.  "We love Him because He first loved us" (I John 4:19).  A place exists in the believer's spiritual understanding and sensibilities for what we might term a quid pro quo with God.  He's been good to us.  We desire to be good to Him.  Every Christian amazed by the love of God in the Lord Jesus possesses this yearning to respond in kind, and to bless our Heavenly Father's heart because He has so blessed ours.  "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ" (Ephesians 1:3).

    Such desired reciprocity, however, does not serve as the primary source of obedience to God in a life lived by His grace.  Human motivation, even in response to Divine goodness, can never empower the surpassing life of godliness to which our Lord calls us.  Indeed, if the spiritual quid pro quo we reference served as the only means whereby we seek to obey, our attempt would be little more successful than Israel experienced in her efforts under the law of Moses.  A greater power and motivation is required.  In the covenant of God's grace and truth in Christ Jesus, a greater power and motivation is supplied.

    "The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit" (Romans 8:2-4).
   "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God which worketh in you both to will and do of His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:12-13).
   "God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying Abba Father" (Galatians 4:6).

    The grace of God in Christ provides the internal presence and dynamic working of the indwelling Holy Spirit to all believers.  This was not the case under the law.  As the Lord Jesus told His disciples before He fulfilled His redemptive work in the cross, the resurrection, the ascension, and Pentecost, "The Spirit of truth… dwelleth with you, and shall be in you" (John 14:17).   Grace provides God Himself to dwell within the hearts of believers by His Spirit.  Thus, we "live through Him", seeking to "be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might" rather than attempting the futility of seeking to create enough dedication and determination in ourselves for faith and faithfulness (I John 4:9; Ephesians 6:10).  The law commanded human flesh to make the attempt to obey in order to reveal the deep need of our hearts.  Grace rather promises and empowers our spirits to "fulfill all righteousness" through the presence of Christ Himself dwelling and walking in us (Matthew 3:15; II Corinthians 6:16).

    The fundamental dichotomy between law and grace involves one of the most important truths we can embrace in our walk with God.  The law of Moses beckoned Israel to obey from tablets of stone written by the finger of God (Exodus 31:18).  The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus writes the will of God in our hearts, as imprinted by the very indwelling heart of Christ in us.  The former led to futility, and in those who believe, to the preparation for what the writer of Hebrews termed "better things… a better hope… a better testament… a better covenant… better promises… better sacrifices… a better resurrection" (Hebrews 6:9; 7:19; 22; 8:6; 9:23; 11:35).  Most importantly, a better Christ, in the sense that the Savior who lived, died, rose, and ascended for us now lives in us to motivate and enable obedience.  This is grace, and this is our expectation for a life lived in consistent and growing obedience to the God so very worthy of our Christ-enabled devotion and life of loving self sacrifice.

"But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.  And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.  Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ."
(Galatians 4:4-7)

Weekly Memory Verse
   He that believeth on Me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water."
(John 7:38)

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