Are we grace believers supposed to obey commandments? We understand that the Law (as perfect, just and righteous as it is) was not given for men to follow to the letter (that is not possible for fallen man); but to show that same fallen man that he is in desperate need of a Savior if he wishes to spend his eternity with his Creator outside of hell. We should examine carefully what Paul says about obedience and commandments.
1 Corinthians 14:37… “If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things I write unto you ARE the commandments of the Lord.”
If Paul is not the most misunderstood man in all human history, I don’t know who is… The Holy Spirit is telling us through Paul that the things he has written in his 13 epistles ARE the COMMANDMENTS for believers today, the church the body of Christ. What is at the core, the essence of Paul’s writings, that we are to obey; the goal being eternal life with God?
Romans 6:16… “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?“
It seems we humans have a choice. By the above verse we might choose what we are to obey; “sin unto death” or “obedience unto righteousness”. Let’s continue reading…
Romans 6:17-18… “But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered unto you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.”
We can see (by the past tense “were”) that the unsaved man who once chose to serve sin, obeyed from his heart “that form of doctrine which was delivered unto him” by Paul. God then made him free from sin because of that choice and he thus becomes the servant of righteousness (God). Thus God reminds that man…
1 Corinthians 7:23… “Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.”
That “form of doctrine” can be nothing other than the glorious gospel of Christ, the gospel of the free grace of God, as delivered unto the Apostle Paul by the risen and glorified Lord Himself. In this case then, a mans obedience is “belief” that he is a sinner in need of a Savior and “trust” that Christ died for that mans sin nature according to the scriptures and was buried and rose again for his justification, according to the scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).
Had that man allowed sin to reign in his mortal body by not obeying the doctrinal commandments given to Paul (the gospel of grace), that man would today be obeying the lusts of his mortal flesh and not the Spirit of God Himself.
Romans 6:12… “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.”
When we make the choice to obey the gospel of grace, God destroys our sin nature judicially by imputing (charging to the account of) His Son’s righteousness unto us. We are seen as dead, buried (therefore punished already) and effectively risen with Christ. We are freed of sins effects upon us because God sees only His sinless Son in us. We now have His righteousness, no longer any vestige of our own (as if there ever was).
Romans 6:7… “For he that is dead is freed from sin.”
To the Galatian believers, who were coming under vicious attack from men who would bring them under the subjugation of religious bondage by adding works to grace, Paul writes:
Galatians 3:1… “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?”
Again we see that the believer is to “believe in the truth” which is Christ crucified, in order to be obedient to the will of God in this dispensation of grace. To the individual who chooses not to obey (to believe what God says to us today through Paul) the news is not good at all. We see that explained to the very faithful Thessalonian believers who were remarkably troubled by such unbelieving men, thinking they had somehow missed the translation (rapture) of the church because of the severity of their present tribulations, Paul writes:
2 Thessalonians 1:7-10… “And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey NOT the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power; When He shall come to be glorified in His saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.”
I can only pray the saved reader takes these words as a call to arms if you will, to become that ambassador/soldier Christ through Paul calls us to be, so as to try and prevent as many people as possible from this most horrible and eternal punishment. A punishment so easily avoidable, simply by obeying the glorious gospel of Christ. God does not ask us to alter a thing about ourselves in order to come to Him. He has a gift, the most precious gift humanity has ever been presented with, the gift of His Son’s own Righteousness, imputed to any and all who would simply believe they are in need of it. God is NOT asking us to obey the 10 (actually 600+) commandments. He is NOT extending to men today the IF/THEN conditional covenant agreements He made with the children of Israel. He is not even asking the “Gentile” nations to bless Israel, as He is NOT dealing with nations today, but individuals. He is asking us through Paul to believe that Christ died on our behalf because that is exactly what we needed to be made right/sinless/perfect. He provided it all. It is a gift so few choose to take (I believe) because so few explain it correctly. “Christianity” has a bad name among unbelievers because of this.
You KNOW you have explained the gospel correctly when people answer with “that’s too easy” or “but anyone could do that” or “that sounds like a get out of jail free card”. Well yea, EXACTLY…!!! The gospel of free grace IS a get out of jail (hell) free card! God does NOT want you to choose hell; He wants you to choose Him! (And make no mistake, it is your choice.) It is the last card God is presenting to us. It is meant to be THAT simple because we humans are THAT easily misled.
2 Corinthians 11:3… “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the SIMPLICITY that is in Christ.”
This gospel is for the worst of us, the dumbest of us, the simplest of us and the rest of us degenerates and enemies of God, because God has tried everything else with mankind already. This is our last chance to demonstrate even a modicum of obedience to our Creator before Christ catches away His body of ambassadors (today’s obedient believers) and allows anti-christ to ascend to power in the world – before He comes back with all His mighty angels to finally make His enemies (those “left behind” and not blessing future Israel) His footstool.
We have it far easier than Adam had it. God told Adam NOT to do something Adam wanted to do. Adam of course, as all of us would have, chose to do exactly the opposite of what God said. God simply asks us to accept a gift… the gift of His Son; and most of us can’t even do this. We would rather “work” for our own salvation because we feel we deserve it. We are so proud of ourselves and what we feel we are worth…
Romans 4:4… “Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.”
Does the Creator God of Heaven actually owe us something other than eternity away from Himself in hell? No… He does not. We reject Him continually, why should He continually accept us? He will not. Sinners who reject a God who has reconciled Himself to them do not deserve eternity with Him. Even sinners like me who have accepted Gods gift do not deserve eternity with Him, but we get it anyway! God is just cool like that… 😉
Lets put a very fine point on the work versus grace argument.
Romans 11:6… “And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.”
Grace is either 100% pure, or it is not grace at all. Salvation is either the pure gift of God based upon absolutely zero merit of our own, or it is no gift at all.
Obey from the heart the form of doctrine which our Creator God Jesus Christ gave unto the Apostle Paul – it is a gift with no strings attached. Accept the gift He so willingly provides before it is too late and His longsuffering nature comes to an end as it surely someday will. Peter understood well what God was doing through Paul. Speaking to the Jewish believers in Christ about the dispensation of grace given to Paul, he writes:
2 Peter 3:15-16… “And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.”
We can also find cross-dispensational wisdom in the words of the prophet Hosea. He writes to the nation Israel (Gods nation of priests to the world with whom He had an if/then covenant agreement) about their lack of (Mosaic) knowledge; but a man in today’s dispensation will be destroyed for a similar lack or rejection of (Pauline) knowledge.
Hosea 4:6… “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no more priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.”
The Creator God is a very serious God. He demanded much of Israel because that’s what Israel wanted.
Deuteronomy 6:25… “And it shall (then) be our righteousness, IF we observe to do all these commandments before the LORD our God, as He hath commanded us.” I added the “implied then” to the verse to demonstrate more clearly the if/then nature of the agreement.
He demands next to nothing of us, save that we obey the information (knowledge) He gave to Paul on our behalf, which is to accept His gift. People today are destroyed in the same way, for lack of the knowledge of the gospel of the grace of God; and the fault lies at the feet of believers today, here on earth in Christ’s stead, for not communicating that glorious gospel more effectively. We don’t have to DO to be saved (indeed, this is an insult to Gods gift), we have to KNOW. The vast majority of “christian” churches tell people to DO things in order to be saved, and to DO things to “maintain” that salvation till they die and are judged. Wrong, wrong, wrong…
2 Corinthians 4:3-4… “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”
It is not satan who actively blinds their minds… their minds ARE blinded by satan BECAUSE they are lost, and they are lost BECAUSE they believe NOT. Should they ever decide to believe (obey the gospel of grace and accept Gods gift), there minds will be able to see clearly the stunning beauty of what God hath wrought on their behalf. So simple yet apparently so profoundly difficult…
Colossians 1:9-10… “For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;”
Walk worthy indeed. Men are dying eternally for lack of knowledge and it is only we, who are here in Christ’s stead and understand the message He gave to Paul, who can do anything about it. The stakes could not be more high.
2 Corinthians 5:20… “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.”
God has reconciled Himself to the world; men must now reconcile themselves back to God by accepting His gift… this is the ambassadors message. Grace and Peace (not YET judgement and wrath) from God the Father is the message! The sin debt is paid and God is wholly satisfied with the payment. Grow in that grace, grow in the knowledge of what God has done; share that knowledge with those you know and those you meet. One of two things will happen to the heart of a man who hears the pure gospel of grace presented to him. His heart will either melt and he will be saved by accepting Gods gift, or, his heart will harden and he will not. Either way the seed got planted and you will have obeyed the will of God for mankind today.
1 Timothy 2:3-4… “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.”
Colossians 4:2-6… “Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving; Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds: That I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak. Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.”
Next Post: “Walk Worthy, part 7 (as we ought).“