Posted On July 5, 2021

How to Obey God

by | Jul 5, 2021 | Theology


True believers are actually being made holy by the power of God. The work of Christ didn’t just purchase a legal declaration but also a practical application of holiness. This is another blessing the believer possesses in Christ. J.C. Ryle elaborates:

The Lord Jesus has undertaken everything that His people’s souls require: not only to deliver them from the guilt of their sins by His atoning death, but from the dominion of their sins, by placing in their hearts the Holy Spirit; not only to justify them, but also to sanctify them.[1]

Christ’s work on the cross actually sets captives free so that we can die to sin and live to righteousness.[2] Grace doesn’t cause us to desire to continue in sin, but to live our lives for the glory of God.[3] His sheep hear His voice and follow Him.[4] Choosing righteousness as a Christian isn’t being a Pharisee. It is being a Christian.[5] This reminds me of the Geico commercials currently airing: “If you’re a cat, you ignore people. It’s what you do.”[6] Well, if you’re a Christian, you love to follow Jesus, it’s what you do. The Bible knows of no Christianity that says “Oh, how I love Jesus” while simultaneously refusing to do what He says for us to do. The awesome reality of justification doesn’t create Believers who care nothing about holiness. Instead, it produces Christians who strive after it.[7] (All the above is an excerpt from my book From Death to Life: How Salvation Works).

But how do we actually obey God? I’ve been reading Lou Priolo’s book The Complete Husband recently, and he gives some great encouragement. He writes:

God never asks a Christian to obey Him without providing three powerful resources.

  • God promises to give you the wisdom to obey Him. (James 1:15)
  • God promises to give you the ability to change. (Philippians 2:13)
  • God promises to give you the desire to change. (Philippians 2:13)

All three of these promises are made only to Christians, who in dependence on His Spirit and in conjunction with HIs Word, receive and implement them. (p. 27)

So, if you are a Believer, you desire to obey God. It’s what you do because that’s who you are. You can act on those desires by trusting God’s supply of grace in granting to us wisdom to obey, ability to change, and desire to change. Understanding the mechanism for how this works isn’t all that difficult. It’s the carrying it out that is the challenge. But know this: if you are a Christian you have a God who is for you in Christ. He is not scowling at you waiting for your next failure. Trust Jesus, look to Him and obey. Be in the word regularly, seeking God to show you areas where you need to grow in obedience. Ask God to give you the power to change (which He has promised) and the ability to change (which He has also promised), and then carry out His working in you.

Will you stumble sometimes? Yup. And maybe even often at times, like a young child learning to walk. But God is for you in Christ. And He will finish in you what He began (Philippians 1:6). His grace is sufficient for sanctification too, so keep it holy.

[1] Ryle, J.C. Holiness (Faverdale, England: Revell, 1979), 16.
[2] 1 Peter 2:24
[3] Romans 6:1-2
[4] John 10:27
[5] 1 John 3:10
[7] Hebrews 12:14

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