God is dealing with us on a principle of love that comes from within His own character, not in our own merit. Well then, why do we obey then? What's the point of obedience if God has already saved us apart from our merit?
Well, I'm going to give you seven things really quick here. We welcome you again to the Truth Pulpit with Don Green, founding pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. Hi, I'm Bill Wright and we're continuing our series, Breaking the Bonds of Legalism. Don has part two of a message titled, Putting Obedience in Its Place. Last time Don noted that our obedience to God should flow not from a desire to follow a list of do's and don'ts, rather our love for God through Christ motivates us and changes our motivations.
Today our teacher will provide seven characteristics of true obedience. So have your Bible open as we join Pastor Don Green now in the Truth Pulpit. 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? Well, let's clarify first what it's not one more time. Let's clarify first what your obedience as a Christian is not. And when we say what it is not, we say what we're trying to clarify is what motivates you to obey as a Christian. And how do you think about your obedience in relationship to the Christ, the God who saved you?
Here's what it is not, beloved. You do not obey as a Christian in order to get love that God would otherwise withhold from you. Beloved, God accepts you in Christ. If you are saved, Ephesians 1 says, He has given to you every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. He has given Christ to you and all of the love that God the Father reposes in His Son, you become the recipient of that because you are joined, you are unified to Christ by faith.
And so you're not trying to get more love from God, He's already freely given you all things, Romans 8. To be a Christian means that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, Romans 8 verse 1. We still feel the weight of our sin, we still want to grow in Christ, we still need to grow in Christ, but God has poured His love out on us in Christ. There is no condemnation for you in Christ because, beloved, go back to the cross, Jesus bore the curse for you in His body on the cross, Galatians 3. And therefore, we're not obeying to try to forestall the hand of judgment against us as if God's judgment would come down on us, His eternal fury would still threaten us, not in Christ it doesn't, because Christ has paid the price of that judgment. He absorbed the wrath of God, He drank the cup to the full, He drank it to the dregs, He paid it all, that's why He could say at the end of His time on the cross, it is finished. The work of redemption is done, the penalty of sin has been paid in full, which is what that term means.
Paid in full, stamped, no further obligation left, the law no longer condemns you. Jesus Christ satisfied the demands of the law on our behalf, He paid the penalty of sin in full, and so our obedience could never be about, never be related to our threat of the fear of that kind of punishment. 1 John 4 says, there is no fear in love, perfect love casts out fear, and the context of that is that God sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
We have messages on that that you can look up online. And so, beloved, when we say that you do not obey to get love that God would otherwise withhold, let me quote someone else, our friend John MacArthur, who says this. Listen carefully, he says, and I quote, the Christian pursues practical holiness not to enter a relationship with God or to earn His love. He pursues practical holiness because he has already entered a relationship with God by grace through faith in Christ. And because he is already the recipient of God's love and favor in Christ.
End quote. If you are in Christ, if you are a Christian here, God has set His love upon you in an irreversible irrevocable way as a result of His free sovereign choice. It is what He wanted to do. And His love came to you because He wanted to show grace to you, like the Apostle Paul. He wanted to show mercy to you.
Well, bless His name for that. And He did that, Romans 4-5 says that God justifies the ungodly. David prayed in Psalm 51, God have mercy on me because my sin is great. The point of David's request for mercy, the premise of it, was not God be merciful to me because I've been a pretty good guy.
The point in that petition was God have mercy on me because my sin is great. Jesus said, I did not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance. The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.
It's not those who are well who need a physician, it's those who are sick. And so when we come to Christ and we lay before Him our sin-broken souls, our sin-judged souls, our guilty beyond what we understand and recognize our guilty souls, and we come to Christ and say save me, we do that apart from any personal merit of our own. We don't bring merit to the table that causes God to respond to us. He saves us for the sake of Christ. He saves us in love. He saves us in grace. He saves us in kindness, in mercy, in patience. He brought you into His family. And your obedience did not contribute to motivate Him to do that at all because there is no boasting.
The principle of grace excludes any idea of boasting. And so God brings us to Christ. He draws us to Christ. He saves us in Christ. He deposits the Holy Spirit within us, the guarantee of our future redemption, our final redemption.
And He does all of this for us as an act of grace, of kindness and mercy. And He did that even though you had no obedience to merit that, to obligate Him to do that. You were a beggar. You were bankrupt. You were poor in spirit before Him.
And He did that. And in response to that understanding of grace, we're humbled. We bow before Him. We thank Him for that. And we realize that somehow God is dealing with us on a principle of love that comes from within His own character, not in our own merit.
Do you see that? That is crucial to everything. This determines everything going forward. Now, with that being true, we ask the question, well then why do we obey then? What's the point of obedience if God has already saved us apart from our merit?
Well, I'm going to give you seven things really quick here. You obey because it advances multiple kingdom goals. You obey because it is a proper response of love and gratitude to such an undeserved act of mercy on your soul. You obey because God, these aren't the points yet, I'm just introducing them. You obey because it flows out of the new nature that God has given to you in Christ. You've got a new principle of life.
You've been born again and your life now operates out of that new principle of spiritual life that is in you rather than according to the old man. And you obey not on a principle of legalism as we've defined it here, but on a principle of faith, of love, of response to what's been given. So why do we obey as Christians? How can we put obedience in its place? Number one here, obedience brings glory to God. Obedience brings glory to God. Now, here's what we can say about that.
We're going to go through this really quick. Christ delivered you from the power of sin in your salvation. He did that so that your life would glorify God by showing forth the holiness of God, that your life would become a display where, however imperfectly, there would be a display of the glory of God, the holiness of God through your life. I'm just going to read these Scriptures.
Let me encourage you to just write down the Scripture reference and look them up later as you listen to the message twice in the future. 1 Peter chapter 1, beginning in verse 14. 1 Peter 1 verse 14, we're saying obedience brings glory to God. Why do we obey? We obey because obedience brings glory to God. Why do we want to bring glory to God? Because we're so grateful that He saved us, that He deserves glory, that we want our lives to be a reflection of praise to the one who showed such great love, grace, mercy, kindness and patience toward us.
It's the only way we know how to live. Our affections have been captured by someone so much greater than us, and we respond to Him in love, not according to rules. But yet, while we respond to Him in love, there is an element of obedience that marks our response of love.
1 Peter chapter 1 verse 14. Why do we obey God? Because obedience brings glory to God. The Bible says this, as obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lust which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves in all your behavior because it is written, you shall be holy for I am holy. Your obedience, your holy life is a reflection back to the source found in the glory and the holiness of God. 1 Peter 2 verse 12 says, keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles so that in the thing in which they slander you as evil doers, they may, because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.
That's 1 Peter 2 verse 12. Our obedience, God at times is pleased to use our obedience to testify to unbelievers and cause them to give glory to Him. Number two, why do we obey God? Well, number two, obedience is a primary purpose of your salvation. Obedience is a primary purpose of your salvation. Friends, brothers and sisters in Christ, our Lord Jesus did not save you because you were good. He saved you even though you were not good, but He saved you in part to cleanse you so that you would become obedient, so that your life would grow in the likeness of the one who saved you.
Scripture is abundantly clear on this and the antinomians that are out in the world I don't believe can deal honestly with these texts at all. Ephesians 2 10, we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. God, before time began, purposed what your life would look like. He purposed to save you in Christ, and as part of saving you, His purpose was that you would walk through the life that He has appointed to Him in a way that shows forth good works, that shows forth obedience, and He appointed things in advance that as you go through time and meet them, you would respond with obedience that would show forth the purpose of your salvation. Titus 2 verse 14, 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. At the core of the saving purpose of Christ was to make a people who were zealous for obedience to Him, who were zealous for His glory, that were passionate, that lived for Him, that were motivated by His purpose, not self.
And one of the ways that you can recognize a true Christian is that somewhere in their makeup, somewhere in their animating life principles, somewhere in their affections, there's this desire that says, I really want to honor Christ with my life. I want to live an obedient life because, not because it'll save me, not because I need to earn God's love. God already loves me. He loves me in Christ because of that. Not to get that, because God has been like that toward me, because I am in this union with Christ, because I am soaked in love beyond compare. Oh, I want to obey Him.
I want to please Him. I want my life to bring honor to the one who had such grace, mercy, love, kindness, and patience toward me. That's why we obey. It's a primary purpose of our salvation.
Christ defined it for us in His Word. Here's why I saved you. I saved you in part so that you'd be zealous for good works, so that you'd walk in the good works which God prepared for you beforehand. I don't struggle with needing a purpose in life. I know what my purpose is. However badly I fulfill it, my purpose is to glorify the one who gave His life for me. And if you're a Christian, that's your purpose in life too. And that's the noblest, highest purpose that any man could ever have for his existence.
Number three, got to keep moving here. Obedience strengthens your assurance. Obedience strengthens your assurance. Now, we've already said a thousand times, I'm not going to repeat myself except for this once more, and the other times that I'll repeat myself in the future. Yeah, you got that.
I'm glad. Biblical obedience does not build up merit before God, but it does display the reality of His grace in our lives. It shows forth what's already true inside. Obedience shows forth the work of God that is hidden in the depths of the human heart when a man is truly saved. 1 John 2, 3. 1 John 2, 3. By this we know that we have come to know Him if we keep His commandments. It's not that we come to know Him by keeping His commandments, but rather the obedience of a Christian displays the pre-existing reality.
We have come to know Him as obedience flows out of our lives. James 2, verse 18. James 2, 18 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. He says, I can display to you the reality of my faith. It's shown in the works of my life. The works that are however imperfectly patterned after what God commands in His word.
Point number four. Obedience expresses love and thanksgiving to God. Obedience expresses love and thanksgiving to God. Now, we give thanks with our lips. Lord, thank You for my salvation. Thank You for Christ. Thank You for the cross. Thank You for the shed blood which paid the price of my redemption. God, I thank You, thank You verbally. I ascribe my praise and thanksgiving to You. But the thanksgiving is expressed also in life with how we live. John 14, verse 15.
I quoted it earlier. If you love me, you will keep my commandments. Jesus ties obedience to love to Him. This is an expression of, again, it is the obedience is an expression of a pre-existing love relationship with Christ. And He says, If you love me in reality, it'll be displayed in your obedience. Don't put the cart before the horse, but understand that the cart follows the horse when it's attached by faith.
Hebrews 13, verses 15 and 16. Through Him, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name, and do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices, God is pleased. So what have we said?
We've said four things so far. Obedience brings glory to God. Obedience is a primary purpose of your salvation. Obedience strengthens your assurance. Obedience expresses love and thanksgiving to God.
Point number five. Obedience adorns the gospel. Obedience adorns the gospel.
A believer's obedience makes the gospel attractive. It makes it look good. I had a boss who said, Your job is to make me look good. As my subordinate, I don't know if this was my boss, for I'm remembering somebody else, but it doesn't matter, the principal's the same. Your job as my employee under my supervision is to make me look good, he said. Well, you do your job well, you make your boss look good. Well, in a like manner, when we are obedient to Christ, it makes the gospel look good.
It makes it attractive to others. Matthew chapter five, verse 16. Matthew 5, 16. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
Titus 2, 9. Urge bond slaves to be subject to their own masters in everything, to be well pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith so that they will adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect. Let them see your good works that they would glorify your Father who is in heaven. Please obey your masters so that you'll adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect. Obedience adorns the gospel, it makes it attractive.
Number six. Obedience silences the opponents of the gospel. Obedience silences the opponents of the gospel in certain settings. Obviously it doesn't silence them.
Silence all everywhere at all times forever. Christ will only do that when He returns. But our lives, our obedience may silence ungodly critics where arguments will not. First Peter 2, verse 15. Let's turn there just to give your mind a break as you turn to the Scripture here. I've got two verses out of First Peter here.
First Peter 2, 15. For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. And in chapter 3, verse 16.
Chapter 3, verse 16. Keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame. Notice that it's your behavior that puts them to shame. Notice that it's by doing right that you silence the ignorance of foolish men. Obedience has a silencing effect on the opponents of the gospel.
Finally, number 7. Obedience stimulates other Christians to faithfulness. That's right. Your obedience stimulates other Christians to faithfulness. They see your example and maybe it calls them to a higher standard. Say, I need to be living more like that. I'm convicted. I need to be more like that. I need to obey myself. I myself need to obey.
That's what I mean by that. There is a broader sphere to our obedience. You shouldn't simply think about your obedience as a silo vertically before God.
Your life has an impact on those around you. Hebrews 10, verse 24 and 25. Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, but encouraging one another and all the more as you see the day drawing near. So what we've tried to do today is put obedience in its place. It does not give you merit before God. God did not save you because you were obedient. But now that God has saved you, obedience is the response of the redeemed heart, a response of love, of gratitude, of desire, where grace and faith, this is my last sentence here, where grace and faith are operative, where God's grace in Christ is recognized and the man has put his faith in Christ for his or her salvation, then obedience has great purpose as a reflection of that prior greater reality. And in the context of grace and faith for you and me as Christians, obedience is a great delight. Today on The Truth Pulpit, Pastor Don Green has given us seven reasons for obedience, all of which bring glory to God, none owing to merit on our own part. Don will bring you more of our series, Breaking the Bonds of Legalism, on our next program.
Be sure to join us then. Right now, though, Don's here again with some exciting ministry news. Well, my friend, it's always meaningful for me to be able to preach God's Word to God's people and to share it with you here on the radio.
Recently, I completed a series that is one of my all-time favorites. It's called The Bible and Roman Catholicism. It was several messages designed to test Catholic teaching by what Scripture says. We'd like to share a copy of that with you, a full, complete CD album of ten messages. Just go to our website and request it or you'll find the downloads. We just want you to have this material at no cost as our gift and ministry to you. Just visit us at thetruthpulpit.com and click on Radio Offers to learn more. I'm Bill Wright, inviting you back next time when Don Green presents more from The Truth Pulpit.
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