Why Obey God?

Why Obey God?
 - By David A. DePra

Why should a Christian obey God? That is really like asking,"Why should a child love a parent?" There really isn't any WHY to it. The love simply happens because of a relationship. One would think that we could say the same thing about our relationship with God, as our Heavenly Father. 

Instead of asking WHY we ought to obey Him, almost as if it is some kind of imposed obligation, we perhaps ought to ask WHAT to obey. Sometimes we act as if God is at our disposal, rather than we at His. Obedience is, in fact, a fundamental part of our Christian walk. 

But what part? This is an especially important question to ask when you consider that we are saved by grace, kept by grace, and walk in the grace of God. So where does obedience fit in? This, of course, brings up the issue of law vs. grace and also that of license. It must. 

Christians need to get this straight. We are talking here, not only about the gospel of salvation, but the gospel and Truth by which we must live after we are saved.

Unto Good Works

One of the scriptures which best describes the place of works,or obedience, in the life of a Christian, is found in Ephesians. There Paul, in a nutshell, describes the impact of the gospel on the Christian life:
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, It is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Eph. 2:8-10)

Here Paul says that we are saved solely by grace, and not our works. That's simple enough. Yet before we say, "I already know all of that," and go on, let's READ what is being said here. It may contain a bit more than we ever noticed.

Paul is, in this verse, drawing a contrast. Yes, he is saying that our works haven't a thing to do with our salvation. He says, "Not of works, let any man should boast." In other words, if salvation were of our works -- even a little -- then we could take some credit. But it is not based on our works -- even a little. So we cannot boast. So far so good. Nothing new there.

BUT that is not the end of the thought. Paul then draws a contrast. He gives the REASON WHY we cannot boast. He says, "FOR we are HIS workmanship" In other words, THAT is why our salvation cannot be based on your works." We are HIS workmanship. 

Can we possibly see what Paul is saying here? Ask it again: WHY is our salvation NOT based on works? Because we are GOD's workmanship. Get that. Rather than US doing works for God, Paul is saying that GOD is doing a work in US. THAT is grace.

THAT is why salvation is not based on works. THAT is why NOTHING is based on works. GOD is the one doing the work. Not US.

Paul goes on to make this even more clear. He says, "For we are HIS workmanship...." --- and then he describes that workmanship. He describes exactly what God is doing. He says, "Created in Christ Jesus UNTO good works, which God has ordained that we should walk in them."

Here we see that God does a work in us to create us, or birth us, in Christ Jesus. But UNTO something. UNTO what? Good works. 

In other words, the RESULT of salvation in Jesus Christ is good works. Now, you and I usually have it backwards. We think the good works are supposed to come first. We think that good works will create us in Christ Jesus -- either by saving us, or by earning us something once we are saved. Some of us still think that God accepts us based on our works, and that we must maintain our standing with God through those works even after we are saved.

[our good works are like filthy rags!]

Paul says no. That is error. It is really what it means to be "under the law." The Truth states that rather than US doing works for God, God is doing one in US -- that is -- we are HIS workmanship. We are created in Christ Jesus solely by the grace of God. But not so we can "sin that grace might abound." No. Rather, "unto good works." These good works are ordained of God that we might walk in them.

This passage from Ephesians is so simple, yet contains the essence of the Truth of grace. It is hard to believe we could read it and miss the point.

A Good Tree 

Now, there is a reason why things have to work this way. Never think that Christianity is simply a matter of God saving us and then handing us a bunch of rules to obey. That is not the Christianity of the Bible. It is dead religion.

The Christianity of the Bible is a changed life, full of good works, because it is a NEW BIRTH. New creations in Jesus Christ do good works. But we do them because we have a new nature -- not because we have a list of rules to obey.

This is vital to see. It goes back to something Jesus said. He said: For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. For every tree is known by his own fruit. (Luke. 6:43-44) 

The Bible sends us a clear message: We cannot obey God. We cannot. Indeed, God gave us His law to PROVE it to us. The law continually shows us we cannot obey God, and exposes us as dead sinners. The more we try to keep the law, the more we find that we are a "bad tree."

The only solution is to BECOME something other than a "bad tree," -- i.e. -- a GOOD tree in Christ Jesus. God must do that. He must create us in Christ Jesus, solely by His grace. Then, and only then, are we a new creature -- God's workmanship -- created in Christ Jesus. Then, and only then, are we created "unto good works."

A Christian, therefore, obeys God -- not because the law demands it -- but because it is his nature to obey God. He wants to obey God -- despite all of the failures along the way. There is a CHANGE as to desire and motivation.

Not to Earn 
but by Grace

If you were told that your obedience to God earned you nothing, what would your response be? For some of us, it might be, "Well, then why obey?" THAT is, of course, the question, isn't it? For if we are obeying God simply because we think it is earning us something -- whether it be His increased favor, some eternal reward, or some better standing in the kingdom -- then how can we tell Him we love Him? 

Imagine our children obeying us as parents simply because we pay them a weekly allowance. What love is there in that?  Obedience to God is supposed to be the outcome of a LOVE relationship with Him. It is supposed to be the outcome of being created in Christ Jesus. This is the Christianity of the Bible, and thank God it is.  As Paul said, "I am what I am by the grace of God."