Sunday, January 18, 2009

Growing in Obedience as a Result of Grace

Matthew 7:24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

The question of obedience comes up a lot. “Aren’t we saved by grace, not a result of works?” YES.
And yet, I find myself being confronted on this very issue. Pastor Rick Warren in his 8 Principles based on the beatitudes lists this very idea in Principle 5.

Voluntarily submit to every change God wants to make in my life and humbly ask Him to remove my character defects. "Happy are those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires"

Paul is clear about this in Romans 6:1 “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?”

This is a huge part of sanctification, that part of the doctrine of grace that flows out of our justification and adoption in Christ.

I am convinced however that it is a process.

CS Lewis adds an interesting idea in that , at the beginning, we somewhat pretend or rehearse this new life.

In Book IV Chapter 7 of Mere Christianity, he says these very interesting words:

So that, in a way, this dressing up as Christ is a piece of outrageous cheek. But the odd thing is that He has ordered us to do it.
Why? What is the good of pretending to be what you are not? Well, even
on the human level, you know, there are two kinds of pretending. There is a
bad kind, where the pretense is there instead of the real thing; as when a
man pretends he is going to help you instead of really helping you. But
there is also a good kind, where the pretense leads up to the real thing.
When you are not feeling particularly friendly but know you ought to be, the
best thing you can do, very often, is to put on a friendly manner and behave
as if you were a nicer person than you actually are. And in a few minutes,
as we have all noticed, you will be really feeling friendlier than you were.

In reality, of course, it is God who does everything. We, at most, allow it to
be done to us. In a sense you might even say it is God who does the
pretending. The Three-Personal God, so to speak, sees before Him in fact a
self-centered, greedy, grumbling, rebellious human animal. But He says "Let
us pretend that this is not a mere creature, but our Son. It is like Christ
in so far as it is a Man, for He became Man. Let us pretend that it is also
like Him in Spirit. Let us treat it as if it were what in fact it is not.
Let us pretend in order to make the pretense into a reality." God looks at
you as if you were a little Christ: Christ stands beside you to turn you
into one. I daresay this idea of a divine make-believe sounds rather strange
at first. But, is it so strange really? Is not that how the higher thing
always raises the lower? A mother teaches her baby to talk by talking to it
as if it understood long before it really does. We treat our dogs as if they
were "almost human": that is why they really become "almost human" in the

John Frame adds these thoughts in his study of Cornelius Van Til:

"He (Van Til) calls for an increase in the soul’s resolve to do God’s will. But that resolve needs to become more and more spontaneous, fixed, and growing in momentum. What he means is that spiritual maturity brings more internal and less external constraint. Growing in Christ means that we become more and more willing to do His will; our obedience becomes more delightful, more the passion of our own heart. It becomes habitual, in a good sense. A mature servant of God does not need to be browbeaten into seeking God’s righteousness."

So here I am, a believer in Christ since the summer of 1980, and I am still wavering in this idea of obedience. I’m thankful for grace and so dependent on my Lord’s mercy. But isn’t it time I seriously consider my areas of clear disobedience?

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