Just the very mention of the word ‘obedience’ can cause a quiet, internal stir of regret, doubt or even defiance. We would rather not be reminded of our failures or called into even the implied control of another. When mentioned in a religious context, the power of the word is even more profound.
Obedience as Law and Guilt-Driver
When God gave specific laws and instructions to the Israelites (Hebrews), He did so for a distinct purpose: to set aside a special people who would be the vehicle for the manifestation of His love, Word, ways and plan of redemption to right the destruction done by Adam’s original sin. The Law taught the Israelites to know and worship Him, survive in the desert, set up an orderly society and direct their safe guidance to the land of their inheritance and ultimately the homeland for the Savior of the world.
Additionally the Law served as a standard of perfection that highlights man’s separation from a perfect and Holy God. This was further emphasized by Christ Himself when noting entry to heaven is conditional upon righteousness exceeding that of scribes and Pharisees (Matthew 5:20). He then seems to put the nail in our coffin when he equated anger and lust with murder and adultery (Matthew 5:21-30).
When misunderstood in its larger context, we’re apparently set with a weighty (and impossible) check list of Do’s and Don’ts. Predictable failure to maintain a perfect standard, even amongst the best of us, leads to recurring guilt, shame, condemnation and even hopelessness. Thus is the plight of modern man.
Obedience in Surrender
Paul confirms our dilemma with his desperate cry “For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do, this I keep on doing…What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death that is subject to death? Thanks be to God who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:19, 24-25) One’s transformation begins with acknowledgment and confession that I cannot do this apart from the forgiveness and grace of Christ. In fact I actually can be delivered (set free!) from chains of guilt and bondage. There is really nothing that cannot be forgiven when true repentance intersects Holy God with a surrendered will and heart. Many men and women do not believe that God can love and forgive them for their wretched past and present. Let go and surrender. He can, does and will.
From Guilt to Freedom
I am set free when I acknowledge, confess and surrender my shortcomings to God. When we fess up, give up and release these to our good Father, we free ourselves from their burden and weight. We are not made perfect; we are in the process of being made perfect, although never in these bodies. Better yet, in this life, we are forgiven. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Romans 8:1)
Live free, in obedience, and “go and sin no more.”
“Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?” (Romans 6:16)