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Putting Obedience in Its Place #1

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green
The Truth Network Radio
November 22, 2023 12:00 am

Putting Obedience in Its Place #1

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green

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November 22, 2023 12:00 am

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And so, I want to take some time today to kind of put obedience in its place, if you wanted a title for today's message, putting obedience in its place, to have a biblical perspective on obedience as it relates to the Christian life. The word obedience can conjure up some negative connotations, as though it's something to either offer grudgingly or simply to curry favor, but as you'll discover today on The Truth Pulpit, obedience toward God is a grateful act, grounded in love for a merciful Savior.

Hi, I'm Bill Wright, and we're moving further into our series, Breaking the Bonds of Legalism. Don will start by detailing what biblical obedience is not. Christianity is not a bunch of dos and don'ts that we must follow to earn salvation. We'll see from Scripture what the truth is, so have your Bible handy as we join Don Green now in The Truth Pulpit. Let's start here. When it comes to obedience, obedience is defined as obedience to the revealed precepts in God's Word.

Okay? That's the kind of obedience that we're talking about. That's the only kind of true obedience there is. A true Christian, one who has truly embraced Christ by faith, the one who has repented of sin, put his faith in Christ, has been truly born again. That's the only kind of Christian there is, by the way. But a true Christian will want to obey. A true Christian will obey, however imperfectly, he will obey. Jesus said this himself in John chapter 14 verse 15. He said, If you love me, you will keep my commandments.

The idea of a disobedient life that has no regard for God's Word, that has no regard for obedience, that not only disobeys but encourages others to disobey, no matter if they do that in the name of Christ even, they're manifesting that they're not born again. Jesus said, If you love me, you will keep my commandments. He said in Matthew chapter 5 verse 19, turn there with me.

Matthew chapter 5 verse 19. Remember that Jesus Christ himself came to fulfill the law. He came to obey the law, to fulfill it on behalf of us as part of the righteous sacrifice of his life that he would one day make at Calvary. That was the mindset of Christ that the law of God is not to be annulled or set aside. The one who truly belongs to Christ is going to have a similar reverence for the law, is going to have a spirit of obedience toward the true law of God that is like that after his master, verse 19 of Matthew chapter 5. Whoever then annuls, sets aside one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven.

But whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. And so there is this response in the heart of a true Christian that honors the word of God, that seeks obedience as a proper response to salvation. Now, how does God view that obedience? God views our obedience not because it is perfect in and of itself, not because our obedience is perfect. Our obedience is always going to be flawed because we are flawed and we offer a flawed obedience to God. And so he accepts our obedience not because our obedience is perfect, but because he accepts our obedience because we are in Christ, because we belong to Christ and he graciously accepts our obedience because it is offered to him in the name of his son. That is a huge difference.

That is a massive difference. And so, with that in mind, we can say God blesses our obedience. God blesses our obedience. Look at the book of Hebrews chapter 6.

So we're just setting parameters here. We're trying to, what we're trying to do here today is set a context to minimize the danger of misunderstanding as we put obedience in its place. Hebrews chapter 6 verse 10 says, God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward his name in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints. Writer of Hebrews says God's not going to forget the effort that you've made to minister to his people.

He's not unjust like that. Even though your obedience may be flawed, he recognizes the sincerity of that. He recognizes that it's offered in the name of Christ and he's not unjust to neglect that.

God will bless our obedience to his revealed word as Christians. We could say on the other side, on the negative side of things, also from Hebrews, that when his children sin, God will discipline them. Look at Hebrews chapter 12. Hebrews chapter 12 beginning in verse 4.

Hebrews 12 beginning in verse 4. He says, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons. My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when you are reproved by him. For those whom the Lord loves, he disciplines and he scourges every son whom he receives.

It is for discipline that you endure. God deals with you as with sons, for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? And so, when we sin and as we have remnants of our corrupt nature still abiding in us, over the course of time, there will be times where God disciplines us.

The word will convict and reprove us. Providentially, he will bring trials into our lives that expose the sinfulness of our remaining corruption so that that can be corrected, so that that can be changed. It's not that God is indifferent to the holiness of his people. Far to the contrary, part of the reason that God saved us is to make us holy. Now, with that said, so God blesses our obedience. When we sin, even as believers, we can expect his discipline, which is different beloved than saying we expect eternal condemnation as a result of that.

Romans 8, 1 says there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. When God brings discipline upon his children for their sin, he is still... he is doing so in love. He is doing it in a way that a parent disciplines the child, a father disciplines the son that he loves.

He's not suddenly become hostile. He's not suddenly turned from favor to condemnation against us because of our sin. Rather, he sees that which needs to be corrected in order to attain the goal of our salvation, which is Christlikeness, and disciplines us so that we might learn not to be that way. So, a true Christian will want to obey. He will obey. God blesses obedience, and he disciplines his children when they sin.

These basics are crucial. Here in this series, here today, we're talking about something else. We're talking about another aspect of obedience. We're not talking about earning your salvation.

We're not talking about earning the love of God, or somehow trying to cling to keeping God loving us through our obedience. We're talking about legalism, and we're talking about it in this series. We're addressing legalism as a way of thinking about God.

Huh, that's so very important, and it's in italics in my notes, so I probably ought to say it again. We are talking about a way of thinking about God. That's what we are addressing. To help us see areas where perhaps our thinking is flawed, it is corrupt. We are thinking wrongly about how our relationship with God works.

R.C. Sproul said this. He said some people seem to be preoccupied in the Christian life with obeying rules and regulations. They conceive of Christianity as being a series of do's and don'ts, a cold and deadly set of moral principles. He is not so much seeking to obey God or honor Christ as he is to obey rules that are devoid of any personal relationship. You see, legalism looks at rules apart from any context of the glory of God, desiring God or loving God. It's simply saying that I'm going to be concerned, I'm going to occupy my time, my thoughts, my thinking with keeping the rules that are laid out before me.

Some of you have come out of those types of environments, and you know how deadly and soul suffocating it can be. Well, let's just step back and remember what Christ said the greatest commandment was. The greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all of your heart, with all of your soul, with all of your strength, and with all of your mind.

A second is like it to love your neighbor as yourself. This principle of love animating the spirit of the response of the true disciple to his God. We obey God but not apart from our love for him, our love for God, our love for Christ, our love for what he has done for us motivates us and changes our motivations. A legalist doesn't see it that way. A legalist only has his code of conduct, his code of regulations, and seeks to live by that. A legalist may proudly believe that he is entitled to certain blessings from God because he's keeping the rules. I satisfy the standard, I'm doing the rules, I'm living the life, therefore God owes me. The spirit of his obedience is that I am putting God under obligation to deal with me in my preferred way because I'm keeping the rules. And then, when inevitably trials come, he complains because I didn't do anything to deserve this. That is the spirit of legalism that says I should be exempt from trials because I have kept the rules.

I don't deserve the this. Well, beloved, a mature understanding of Scripture and a mature understanding of the nature of man would never lead us there. It would never lead us there. Turn in your Bibles to Isaiah chapter 64. Isaiah chapter 64 verse 6 says, "'For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment, and all of us wither like a leaf and our iniquities like the wind, they take us away.'" When we have a right understanding of our obedience, the nature of our obedience, even as Christians, we realize that even our best obedience still falls short of the glory of God. It's offered sincerely, God blesses that obedience for the sincere heart that offers it up, but as a sinful fallen creature, we cannot intrinsically offer obedience to God that is worthy of His great glory. We can't offer Him obedience that apart from Christ deserves His blessing because our motives are mixed, our efforts are incomplete. I think about it this way.

I think about it this way. You know, my life kind of revolves around preaching, and I do my best to preach to the glory of God, but I know that my preaching in and of itself is not worthy of anything from God in and of itself. It's not a perfect obedience that I render to God because there's always more that I could have done. There was always more study, more reading, more that you could have done. You always could have prayed more in preparation.

There's always more, more, more that you could have done, and you just can't meet the standard of perfection that way. And yet, I preach, I honor it as a sincere act of worship to God, and I trust Him to bless what I have done because I offer it to Him not in its own merit, not in my merits. I offer it to God as a service to Christ and in the name of Christ and for the sake of Christ. And so, we realize that there is nothing that we do that demands and deserves to utter perfection a reward from God. He blesses us. He saved us in grace. He rewards our obedience in grace, and there is nothing that we do that merits that. It is blessing that He gives to us in Christ.

And so, what we're saying here, what we're saying here is that a legalist misses that point, believes that he's kept a standard, a legalist, a proud legalist, you could say, and then his misdirected thinking is exposed when trials come and he says, I didn't do anything to deserve this. Well, what did you do? What do you deserve? Why do you deserve blessing? Why do you deserve blessing? Why is God obligated to bless you? Because of what you've done, don't you realize that even your best is like filthy garments before Him? And so, this humbles us.

It draws us. It drives us back to Christ who saved us when we see it in this perspective. There's another side to legalism completely at the other end of the spectrum and yet driven by the very same principle of relating to God on the basis of rules rather than on the basis of Christ and on the basis of faith in Christ.

There is this legalist, I'm not, when I say this legalist, there is this kind of legalism where the legalist who fails goes into despair. He struggles with sin and he tries to multiply rules and he decides I'm going to try harder and harder and harder, trying harder apart from turning to Christ for grace and help and mercy in his time of need. And so, he goes into despair and he comes to this conclusion in his legalistic mind, God could never love me. God could never forgive me. My sin is just too great because the rules have crushed him so. And he comes to a conclusion that he's not worthy of the love of God and that God therefore will not love him at all under any conditions. Well beloved, let me just say this and to say it in love, say it in kindness, that preoccupation with self, that inward looking preoccupation with sin that comes to the conclusion that God could never love me, God will never love me, all is lost, woe is me, all of that is just a perverse form of pride.

It's a perverse form of pride. My sin is so great that even God can't forgive it. Well, Scripture addresses that mindset in 1 Timothy chapter 1. 1 Timothy chapter 1. And again, the problem here is looking at sin, looking at rules apart from Christ. When you look at your failure, you look at your sin through the lens of Christ, you come to a completely different conclusion.

And this is what we're trying to get at. 1 Timothy chapter 1 verse 15. Actually, let's go back to verse 12 here in 1 Timothy chapter 1 verse 12 and set the context. Paul says, I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has strengthened me because he considered me faithful, putting me into service even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. He said, I used to be a blasphemer. I used to persecute the church. I was violent against them and yet I was shown mercy.

I was shown kindness because I acted ignorantly in unbelief and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus. Verse 15. It is a trustworthy statement deserving full acceptance that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners among whom I am foremost of all. Paul says, I'm the chief of sinners.

I was the worst of the worst. I've outlined my sins for you. And you know what Christ did? He saved me. Despite my unworthiness, he saved me in grace and mercy. And he draws a principle that applies to all sinners everywhere henceforth and forevermore till Christ returns in verse 16. Yet for this reason I found mercy so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate his perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in him for eternal life.

We talked about five words of gospel hope a couple of years ago and you just find them woven throughout passages like this of mercy, of grace, of patience. And the gospel of Christ demolishes this legalism that leads to despair by coming and saying that Christ saves even the worst of sinners. Believe in Christ and even you will be saved.

Believe in Christ and even you will find yourself on the receiving end of his love and mercy, his patience, his kindness, his goodness. And so we realize from the reasoning of Scripture that if God saved Paul, he will save all kinds of sinners. He'll save all kinds of sinners including you.

You have not sent yourself beyond grace. The call of God goes out and says whoever believes in the Lord Jesus Christ will be saved. Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved, Romans 10. And see and legalism can't abide that offer of free mercy, can't abide that.

It has to weigh things down with conditions and with rules. And people that are trapped in this mindset I say this is a word of mercy not as a word of condemnation. People are trapped in that mindset have not entered fully into the meaning of the gospel. And so the answer if you're in that kind of legalistic despair, the answer to your sin, the answer to your guilt is not more rules and trying harder. The answer to your despair is to turn to Christ who says I have mercy, I have grace, I have patience on sinners of all kind and find mercy in him. And that wells up hope, that wells up joy in your soul.

I can be forgiven by a holy God through confession and faith in Christ and have my record wiped clean and know that I am accepted by a holy God. Hallelujah is right. But multiplying the rules will never lead you to that kind of joy and peace. And that's the problem with this legalism that leads to despair.

Ultimately, beloved, we need to name it and call it for what it is. If a man refuses to turn to Christ in that legalistic despair, he is simply manifesting another form of unbelief. And rather than being allowed to continue in that, he needs to be called to Christ as an unbeliever, as a believer weighed down with guilt and sin. If we confess our sins, he's faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. You say, but shouldn't there be a price paid for my sin before I can be reconciled to God? Well, beloved, isn't that the whole point of the gospel? The price has been paid not by you but by Christ at Calvary? Yes, there was a price to pay for your sin, and Jesus Christ, our blessed Lord, He paid it all, as we so often sing. And so we receive this forgiveness by faith, not through multiplying rules.

But now, now let's, having tried to set some parameters, set some understandings so that we can distinguish what is being said and what's not being said here today, let's put that aside for a moment. And now, think as Christians, address Christians here today, and help us to think biblically about the obedience that we do give to God as Christians. If it is true that if we love Him, we'll keep His commandments, we want to know, we want to ask and answer the question today, what is the place of that obedience in our lives? What is its role in the broad scheme of salvation?

What is its role in sanctification? What is the place of obedience? We'll find out the answer to the question Pastor Don Green just posed next time here on The Truth Pulpit.

Our teacher will in fact offer seven characteristics of true obedience, so be sure to join us for more of our series, Breaking the Bonds of Legalism. But right now, Don's back here in studio with a prayer request. Well, you know, my friend, I feel very blessed by God to be able to do what I do. I have a church that is loving and supportive of me, that love to hear God's word. I have this radio broadcast. I have the opportunity to speak to you in a personal manner like this.

What a wonderful gift that is. You know, I would just encourage you, if the Lord ever brings us to your mind, pray for us. We're like all men in ministry.

We feel our inadequacy. We realize that we need the power of the Holy Spirit to attend the work that we do so that there would be eternal fruit for your good and for the glory of Christ. So pray for us as the Lord brings us to mind. Pray for those that support The Truth Pulpit with the labor of their hands. We have a wonderful team and we're just so grateful for you as you listen to us day by day on The Truth Pulpit. Thanks, Don and friend. Remember, you have a standing invitation to visit to learn more about our ministry. I'm Bill Wright, and we'll see you back here next time on The Truth Pulpit.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-22 05:04:26 / 2023-11-22 05:13:00 / 9

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