Maybe you are like me and you have gone through the exact same thing that I am about to explain. I’m swimming in the ocean of God’s grace and the thought hits me; “well, what I am supposed to do about obedience now?”
Like a flood all of the memories of sermons, lectures, principle offices, family meetings, “come to Jesus” moments at Summer Camp and at Marine Boot Camp come rushing in like an under tow. “You can do better!” “What is your major malfunction?!” “What would Jesus do?!” “Remember your promise, promise keeper!” “You bear the name of Christ, Christian! It’s time to live like it!” “How can you do this?” “Not in my house!” “I am very disappointed in you!”
What on earth do we who have been set free from the Law of sin and of death (Romans 8:2) do with obedience? I HATE it when I do not obey the Law. I HATE IT I HATE IT. It’s like I am in a fight with myself or something. Which is truer than you think. The Old Adam verses the New Man in Christ. It’s like when it hits you that you are not being obedient and you are all like
You sin that same sin for the umptienth time in 1 week and your inside doing this
Someone asks you how your spiritual growth is going and you are all like this
You are failing at this obedience thing big time. “You? A Christian?”, you imagine coworkers, family members thinking. The gospel set you free! You have grace! You are no longer bound to and under the Law! You should be happy and doing better right? You have joy in the Lord right? What about your light? Aren’t you gonna let it shine? Can’t you finally take that bushel off now, you smoldering wick you?
Yet there I am, the sad sack of out of shape spiritual fat body. Feeding on Christ and his bread? More like feeding on a disobedience filled
New Years resolutions shot, spiritual growth chart goals gone and I’m right back in the confessional booth like Pre-Tower Experience Martin Luther.
To really make matters worse, what if you are a preacher who has taught the gospel of God’s grace and unmerited favor all courtesy of Christ’s cross and blood and are now tasked with speaking about the Christian life and Christian obedience on Sunday and right now all you have planned to share on that is
Well, you are not the only one. Even if you are not preaching on Sunday, maybe you have run into a friend who has asked you the same questions. Well now that you are a Christian, saved and set free by grace what do you do about obedience? Feel free to be a fly on the wall reading on the following modified conversation between ummm lets say Cack Zole and Brad Chird
I have had a few things gnaw on me, to try to tell me that things such as a theology of the cross, grace, Law and Gospel distinctives are ultimately too good to be true. I have had the pull to question and ask “what about holiness? what about godliness?” Are these things not to be pursed for the sake of resting in Christ?” I fully believe that by faith I have been given the righteousness of Christ. I have faith that sanctification and any pursuit of anything holy or godly is all Christ doing his work in me. So it feels very dangerous for me to move towards an emphasis of the intentional and conscious pursuit of holiness and godliness. I do not trust myself in the pursuit of either and only trust in the hope that Christ is working both in me himself. I often fall back on Galatians 2:20, that it is not me who is living and doing things that could be counted as “holy, godly, etc” but it is Christ who lives in me….
I find it so very hard and quite honest repulsive to go back to a mindset that produces in me a desire to show that I am approved, to display that I am regenerate, and to be as dismissive as I was when looking through the lens of glory rather than cross…
Is the command to a pursuit of godliness meant to crush to cause us to run to Christ or is it a command for us to try?…
I humbly ask counsel all of this, appreciating and valuing your thoughts and understandings on the matters such as these. I often have come across moments where deep questions are presented to me in a spirit of “I-believe-that-I-am-right-but-I-am-going-to-ask-a-challenging-question-to-prove-that-you-are-wrong-so-that-I-can-feel-more-pride-in-my-original-stance-and-feel-victory-over-revealing-to-you-how-stupid-you-are.” I cannot stress enough that this is not the case. My questions have no motive of quarrel or argument but a genuine thirst for counsel and good news.
Because He Lives,
Good morning Cack,
You’re caught in tension we all feel in this life as those who are simultaneously saints and sinners, who feel the law at work in us and yet find comfort in the grace of God.
The call to lead a holy life, to pursue godliness, is nothing more than the demands of the law. Yet these demands are good. The law is not bad. It is given by God to show us the life that he desires for us. Yet, as you well know, as you experience in your daily life, no matter how hard you try, you always fall short of the law’s demands. That’s why we say that the law always accuses. It always finds something in our thoughts, words, deeds, and desires that convicts us. The law will never give us rest. And the law will always kill.
That’s why the Gospel defines our life. This Gospel not only forgives us, but also fills us with the Holy Spirit, who produces fruits in us of which we may not even be aware. The Gospel is that life of Gal 2:20. We have died (by the law) and it is not longer we who live, but Christ who lives in us (by the Gospel). And since Christ lives in us, we are pleasing to God, even if we are not pleasing to ourselves. His righteousness, his life within us, and for us, is all that matters.
The life of holiness is a gift. You are made holy, your life is made holy, exclusively in Christ. He is your sanctification, as Paul says in 1 Corinthians.
The struggle between the Old Adam, who is always under the law, and the New Man, who is always free in the the Gospel, is a daily struggle. God is always putting us to death and raising us to life. Every day is Good Friday and Easter for us. It can feel almost schizophrenic at times, pulled this way and that. But above all this is Christ. His opinion of you is all that counts. And he says, “You are holy in me. You are righteous in me. Your are godly in me.”
The theology of the glory will always take you back to yourself. The theology of the cross will always bring you to Christ. It is the way of life through death, resurrection through crucifixion.
I hope this helps. Blessings to you, brother!
After hearing this Cack was like this
Man that is good news isn’t? You are free! And then leave it at that….Fight the good fight, telling fellow sinners the good news of God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Let’s attack licentiousness and sin with more grace so that Fundy’s can always be like