Thinking about obedience. Listening . . . harkening . . . submitting to a command. And I’m thinking there’s a number of places obedience can come from. You can obey because you fear the consequences . . . you can obey because you covet the reward . . . you can obey because you are forced into submission. I’m reminded of the story of a toddler who wouldn’t sit down in his high chair despite his mother’s directive to do so. Eventually she prevails (as mom’s are prone to do) . . . he unlocks his knees and slides to his seat . .. . but then he looks up at mom and says, “I may be sitting down on the outside . . . but I’m standing up on the inside!” As I’m finishing up this morning in Romans 6, I’m a bit in awe that God has enabled me to be “sitting down on the inside.”
But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.
(Romans 6:17-18 ESV)
But thanks be to God, that you . . . have become obedient from the heart.
That is the work of the gospel . . . that is the manifestation of God’s abundant grace . . . that is evidence of the indwelling Spirit of God . . . an obedience not driven by fear . . . not embraced for personal gain . . . not submitted to because of external compulsion . . . but an obedience which is sourced in the depths of a regenerated heart.
I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.
(Ezekiel 36:25-27 ESV)
A heart of flesh . . . a heart rewired . . . a heart infused with heavenly presence . . . a heart awakened to the things of light . . . a heart, having tasted living water, thirsting for more . . . a heart made alive to the things of heaven, desiring less and less the things of earth . . . a heart so in love with the Savior that its greatest delight is to be “sitting down on the inside.”
I’m not talking perfection here . . . to be sure there’s a battle . . . “The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions” (Gal. 5:17 NLT).
But I am talking about power. Through the finished work of Christ on the cross . . . through the victory over sin and death declared in His resurrected life . . . because the righteousness of His perfect being has been imputed to our account . . . enabled by the Spirit, the believer has been wired for obedience from the heart. We are not forced into submission, but freely bow the knee . . . it is less about the reward than it is about pleasing the Rewarder . . . fear of failure is cast out by His perfect love, replaced with an increasingly innate desire to bring Him glory simply because He is worthy of all glory.
No boasting . . . just awe. Obedient from the heart . . . sitting down on the inside. May it be more so, Lord . . . by Your grace . . . for Your glory.