If you’re part of FBC, you hear this all the time — God’s people are called to a lifestyle of obedience (John 3:36). Jesus “became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation” (Hebrews 5:9). Sure, believers may disobey God for a time, but no true Christian will lastingly ignore or disobey their Savior (Hebrews 12:4-11).
Now–get this because this is where it often gets messed up — Salvation does not depend on such obedience, but rather springs from a love for the Redeemer. To be changed and changing is the Spirit-empowered lifestyle of every believer from the time of salvation until Jesus returns.
Isn’t it amazing then that, as the days and years of a Christian’s life continue, our way of thinking often begins to change?
We all automatically gravitate toward the assumption that we are justified by our level of sanctification, and when this posture is adopted, it inevitably focuses our attention not on Christ but on the adequacy of our own obedience. We start each day with our personal security resting, not on the accepting love of God and the sacrifice of Christ, but on our present feelings or recent achievements in the Christian life. Since these arguments will not quiet the human conscience, we are inevitably moved either to discouragement and apathy or to a self-righteousness which falsifies the record to achieve a sense of peace. — Richard Lovelace, Dynamics of Spiritual Life
Where does your security rest? The danger of the Bible’s call to obedience is that we take too much comfort in it. Have you begun to rest your justification by God on the level of your obedience? When your identity is defined by your achievements for God (or lack thereof), your joy in the Lord dissolves and your taste for the church often declines. And we all have a natural inclination towards this works-righteousness mentality.
A regular focus on the gospel of grace is the only means of combating this scourge of our souls. God’s acceptance and embrace of you is not contingent upon the quality of your obedience today. Don’t confuse justification and sanctification. God wants you to obey Him today, but His acceptance of you is not the result of your obedience. That hinges on Jesus. Your obedience today is simply the fruit of your faith in the gospel (James 2:22, Titus 2:11-14).
So don’t be discouraged and don’t be self-righteous. Instead love Jesus more and choose to live freely for Him today!