Jesus, Christ saved you in order to make you a particular kind of person, that in your heart there would be a zeal and a desire to honor Him and to obey Him with your life. A desire to obey marks out those who are truly redeemed. Are you trying to live a good moral life so you can be a Christian? Or are you living a good moral life because you are a Christian? Welcome back to the Truth Pulpit with Don Green, Founding Pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio.
I'm Bill Wright. Today as Don continues teaching God's people God's Word, he'll bring us the second half of a message on morality and obedience in the Christian life. So here is Don with today's lesson in the Truth Pulpit. The reason that we concern ourselves with the moral law of God is because God is holy and that expresses itself in Christian life. Secondly, not only that God is holy, but there is a second reason that this is a necessary consequence.
It's this. It's that God planned for your obedience. God planned for your obedience. And when we say He planned it, what we mean is that obedient Christian living is rooted in the eternal counsel of God.
It is rooted in His eternal purpose established before time began. This is the nature of the eternal purpose of God is your obedience as we will see immediately here. Beloved, one of the reasons that God saved you was to change your heart from loving sin toward loving holiness, toward going from hating the holiness of God and loving it and pursuing it. In Matthew chapter 5 verse 6, Jesus said, blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they and they alone shall be satisfied. This desire for holiness is a distinguishing mark of the ones who are truly redeemed.
Blessed are those. The favor of God rests upon those who have this desire in their heart like an unquenchable or recurring physical desire of hunger and thirst. In the spiritual realm, there is this recurring desire for sanctification, for holiness, for righteous living that has separated itself in principle from the prior manner of life, saying this is what I want. I want to honor God with my life.
I want to obey Him whether anybody sees it or not. And what Scripture says is that God preordained those good works of your Christian life so that you would walk in them. Look at the book of Ephesians chapter 2. Ephesians chapter 2.
In one sense, I speak in hyperbole. Within the realm of the church, everybody knows Ephesians 2, 8, and 9. Somehow we too often stop there and don't read verse 10. Verses 8 and 9, repeating my introduction. For by grace you have been saved through faith and that not of yourselves it is the gift of God, not as a result of works so that no one may boast.
Keep reading, my friends. Verse 10. For we are His workmanship.
Flowing out of verses 8 and 9 is this conclusion that the apostle gives as he gives the inspired word of God. He says, for we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works under this purpose of good works. You're not created in Christ by good works. You're created for them in order that that might be the expression of your Christian life now that you are in Christ. You're created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. God prepared your life in advance. God, when He saved you, had set in course and had prepared a life for you to live, whether in richness or in poverty, whether in strength or in weakness, whether in prosperity or whatever it may be, God prepared in advance a life for you to live. And this life that He has given you to live is to be lived in the power of the Holy Spirit, showing forth obedience and living life to His glory as the providence that He has established for you unfolds day by day. And that is the purpose for which you live as a Christian.
So that, look at verse 10 with me again, God prepared these good works beforehand so that we would walk in them. God planned for you to live an obedient Christian life. This is the nature of salvation. Elsewhere in Scripture it says in Titus chapter 2 verse 14, it says, Christ gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds. In other words, Christ saved you in order to make you a particular kind of person that in your heart there would be a zeal and a desire to honor Him and to obey Him with your life. He did not save you in order for you to just go out and live any way that you wanted to.
He saved you so that you would be a kind of person that was zealous for obedience. A desire to obey marks out those who are truly redeemed. And it separates the wheat from the chaff. It separates the men from the boys. It separates the contenders from the pretenders.
I'm just using different things here. Those who are genuinely possess eternal life and those who only affirm it with their lips without the reality in their hearts. Obedience is the distinguishing mark that helps us recognize the real thing. So that, Sinclair Ferguson could say, the law is not the basis on which we merit salvation, but it does provide a test to distinguish between those who belong to the kingdom of salvation and those who are outside of it. It is the real test of whether we have been born again or not. If we have been, then God's law has been written in our hearts and we obey it joyfully.
End quote. Friends, I ask you, is there something in your heart at the core of who you are that says, I want my life to be unto the glory of God. The goal of my life is not worldly success. The goal of my life is to be found an obedient child of my heavenly father.
Is that the desire of your heart? If recognizing that we all stumble in many ways, there is this unquenchable desire that never seems to quite go out that says in your heart, I want to be a child that is pleasing to my father. That's the mark of true salvation. If that desire is not in your heart, then you are not a Christian no matter what else you say, no matter who your parents are, no matter how many times you come to the church or anything else. There is a real internal spiritual dynamic that takes place in the heart of the redeemed.
And that is inevitable because God planned for all Christians, He planned a life for them in which they could glorify Him. In the life that God has given to you, He has established a means by which you can express your obedience to Him. And somewhere in the nerve center of your spiritual heart is this desire to honor Him. And that honor and obedience is expressed in responding to the way that God has made His morality, His moral law known in the Ten Commandments. And so God is holy, God planned for your obedience. Thirdly, obedience deepens your assurance.
Obedience deepens your assurance. The first question when you are struggling with assurance of salvation, the first question should always be this. Do you believe in Christ? Do you believe in Christ? Do you look outside of yourselves and see in Christ a perfect Savior without whom you cannot be saved? Do you look at Christ and say, yes, I believe what Scripture says about Him, that He is the eternal Son of God. He came to seek and to save the lost.
I believe that He died on the cross to save His people from their sins, Matthew chapter one, verse 21. I believe that and I trust in that even though I stumble and fall short. That's always the first question. You look out your side of yourselves and you say, do you believe the gospel or not?
You start there. But as you proceed, you understand that true faith produces works of obedience. And so you either can deepen your assurance by pursuing obedience or you diminish obedience and cloud it by persisting in sin.
In 1 John chapter two, verse three, you don't need to turn there. The apostle said, by this we know that we have come to know Him if we keep His commandments. In James chapter two, verse eight, it says, someone may well say, you have faith and I have works. Show me your faith without the works and I will show you my faith by my works. And so the issue of whether your faith is real or not, one of the tests of that is the test of moral obedience to a holy God and a willingness to confess and repent when it's been shown to you that you fall short. I ask you, my friends, whether your life, whether your faith can be known by your works or not, because scripture tells us to think in those kinds of categories. And if there is a pattern, a desire, a manifest change in life, then you have reason to believe as you look to the gospel, as you trust in Christ, you say, you know what, my life is consistent with what scripture says it will be. I desire to put sin aside and to live in obedience.
Even though I fall short, and we all do, I keep repeating myself that so I won't be misunderstood. Even though we fall short, there is this enduring desire of obedience that is the mark of the truly redeemed. And so we can't avoid the question, if we care anything about the nature of our eternal souls, we can't avoid the question of saying, is there something in my heart like that. Fourthly, why is obedience a necessary mark of true conversion? Fourthly, we obey in love for Christ.
We obey in love for Christ. You realize that this wonderful Christ, in his own right, has been wonderful in grace to you. And you say, I love him. He is the supreme object of my affections. He is imminently worthy in his own right, and he has been imminently gracious to me and good to me. I have received undeserved love and mercy, and it's only begun.
And I'm going to know this love and experience this grace more deeply and profoundly as all of the ages of eternity and the eons of endless time unfold. And I am his, and he is mine. If you know something of that, then isn't it obvious that you love him? You're devoted to him? He's the pearl of great price. He's the most precious thing in all of the universe.
Nothing else could ever substitute for him. My dearest and best, my most warmest human relationships, my own flesh and blood, nothing compares to him. I love him supremely, the redeemed heart says. Well, it's more than just an internal sentiment.
It expresses itself in life. Jesus said so in a positive sense. He said in John 14, 15, if you love me, you will keep my commandments. You'll obey me if you love me.
It could be no other way, not out of a legal cold compliance, but out of a full hearted response of love that says, whatever you want from me, I am yours. Look how worthy you are. I give myself to you. Look at what you've done for me. I give myself to you.
Look at the fact that I'm going to be with you in eternity. I give myself to you. And when I say I give myself to you, I give to you not only in an emotional sense, not only in an intellectual sense, but I give my will to you. I give my volition to you. I surrender my will to yours. The prayer of my life is not my will, but thine be done.
It could be no other way. Jesus said in John 15, 14, you're my friends if you do what I command you. And so we obey in response to the holiness of God. We obey Christ. We obey God because he's planned for our obedience. We obey understanding that it deepens our assurance. We obey in love for Christ. Fifthly, we obey to serve Christ.
We obey to serve Christ. Christ is Lord. Christ is master. Christ is God.
All of those terms communicate the concept of authority. As he is our master, so we are his slave. As he is creator, we are his creatures. As he reigns over us, we respond in compliance, in submission. To him, it could be no other way. Jesus said in Luke 6, 46, why do you call me Lord, Lord, and do not do what I say?
This is incredibly searching, isn't it? You know, we tend to take obedience in a rather trifling way. If it seems convenient, we'll obey.
If it's contrary to our desires in the moment, we won't. Well, we need to be repenting of that remnant of our sinfulness and recognizing that being in Christ is to be under his authority. And to be under Christ is to do what he says. And the way that Christ has preeminently made known his will for us is expressed in the moral law. He's not left us to the devices and the motions of our own inconsistent hearts. He has given us a clear standard by which obedience is to be expressed to him. We'll see this as we go throughout the Ten Commandments.
I'm just laying a foundation right now. In 2 Timothy chapter 2, it says this, everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the master, prepared for every good work.
Look, I freely acknowledge that I am inconsistent at best in responding to texts like that. I make no claim of perfection as I stand here before you. The Word of God needs to sink into me more deeply just like it needs to sink into you more deeply.
We're all in the same boat here. But isn't there something in your heart, Christian brother, Christian sister, isn't there something in your heart that says, you know what, that is what I want. That is the deepest part of who I am. I want to be a vessel for honor to Christ. I want to be sanctified, set apart for him. Whatever days I have left, I want to be useful to my master. I want to be done with lesser things. I want to rise up with the true church of God and serve Christ and love him. I want to be marked out by a separation from this world and its false philosophies.
I want to name him before men. Isn't there something like that in your heart? I'm not asking you if it's perfect, but as you hear these things from God's Word, isn't there something in your heart that starts to beat more strongly in response?
Say, yeah, that's exactly what I want. That's what's true of every true Christian. No true Christian could hear these things and say, eh, it's not that important to me.
That's not the spirit of Christ that speaks in such attitudes. Finally, sixthly, lastly, God blesses obedience. God blesses obedience. Go back to Matthew 5. God honors our obedience by blessing us now and blessing us in eternity.
In verse 19, whoever then and all is one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same should be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. Elsewhere in scripture, in 2 Corinthians 5, verse 10, it says, speaking of believers in Christ, true Christians, it says, we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Whether good or bad, what we have done in our body, what we have done in this life, we're going to appear before Christ and he's going to reward us accordingly. Our sins will not be rehearsed there because God said their sins and their lawless deeds I'll remember no more. Our sins have been taken away. But there will be an evaluation of the general tenor of your life.
Was there a general direction toward obedience and loving Christ that is evident and visible? And Christ will reward you on that basis? And even the reward, beloved, is not something that you deserve, that you merit. Even the reward is a gift of grace. Even the reward is something beyond what you deserve. And I'm quite confident in the mercy and grace and goodness of God that all of us who genuinely appear before him will be rewarded more than we expected, certainly more than we deserve, because just as the initial moment of salvation was out of undeserved grace, God will show his undeserved grace to his children in the reward that he gives throughout all of eternity. What else could the reward be tied up to except in God himself, in Christ himself? And so that as we've known him in small measure here on earth, in eternity to come, we'll know him more fully, more greatly, and we'll see it all for the glory of God. Somehow our reward has to be wrapped up with that.
But what we've seen from these six principles is this. We obey God in gratitude for a salvation that came to us by grace. We don't obey to earn his favor. We have his favor in Christ. And in response to such undeserved favor, we gladly respond in obedience so that even our obedience is rooted in his grace. Even our obedience and our efforts to walk with him are generated, are produced by his grace and attended by his grace so that there is effect and success that comes with them. In Philippians chapter 2, the Apostle Paul said this, So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling.
For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. The desire to obey comes from grace. The ability to obey comes from grace. The results of obedience come from grace, all that God might be pleased. So with the hymn writer, we say grace taught my heart to fear. Grace relieved my fears. Grace drew me to Christ. And now we see that grace helps us to obey the law of our gracious king.
Indeed, when we truly come to know the grace of God, it always results in a life of obedience to our Heavenly Father. This is the Truth Pulpit with Don Green. And friend, if you'd like a copy of today's lesson, or you'd like to find out more about Truth Community Church and Don's ministry, just click on thetruthpulpit.com. Once more, that's thetruthpulpit.com. Well, next time our series continues with a look at how the New Testament confirms, validates, and verifies every single word found in the Old Testament's Ten Commandments. Now for Don Green, I'm Bill Wright, inviting you to join us next time as we continue teaching God's people God's Word here on the Truth Pulpit.
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