Obedience has fallen out of fashion. But it is central to the Christian life.
It’s not unusual for us to hear even the best of people express a negative attitude towards authority, for we live in an anti-authoritarian age. Within the church what was once regarded as a sacred view of Scripture’s authority doesn’t rest happily in the minds of some. Yet in seeking to find freedom on our own terms and apart from God’s authority, we also remove ourselves from His blessing.
When Adam and Eve disobeyed the rule of God in the Garden of Eden, they were separated from Him; they forfeited the blessing of His presence. Rejection of God’s law has always brought about, and will always bring about, separation from our Maker and withdrawal of His blessings. In contrast, the restoration of God’s rule always brings about the blessing of communion and fellowship that God designed for His people.
This promise of God’s rule and blessing was fulfilled during Israel’s history in the giving of God’s law. The Israelites’ obedience to the law wasn’t meant to be a desperate attempt to achieve salvation; rather, it was a response to the salvation that had already been achieved for them. God first reached down and took hold of His people, redeeming them and liberating them from bondage in Egypt—and then the law was given to them.
In other words, God didn’t give the law as a mechanism for redemption or provide it as a pathway to becoming one of His people. Instead, having redeemed the Israelites, He gave them the law as a conduit of His grace so that they might know how to live under His rule and truly enjoy His blessing. If that principle is flipped upside down, everything goes wrong. We will live our lives in the fierce grip of legalism, thinking all the time that our endeavors can put us in a right standing before God. But equally, if we forget that God saved us so that we might enjoy life under His rule, and we continue to ignore His laws whenever they do not suit our own purposes, then we will live our lives wondering why blessing seems elusive.
God’s law does not save, but it is “the perfect law, the law of liberty,” and the one who obeys it “will be blessed in his doing” (James 1:25). As those rescued from sin by God, we are to respond to His salvation by choosing to walk in joyful obedience.