Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Obedience Leads To Freedom...

...or does it? I was listening to Steve Brown the other day. He was speaking about a teaching that I had heard all my life and fully believed, until about a year or so ago. This was the idea that obedience leads to freedom. I heard the story about how the fence around the yard allowed the little dog the freedom of running around the whole yard and protected it from the big dogs outside the fence. I also remember preachers talking about how the train tracks allow the train the freedom to run without wrecking. All of this was to emphasize how we need rules and regulations in our lives and how obedience led to freedom.

Now, it is true that rules do allow many things, including our lives , to run smoother in a lot of ways. Sporting events run much smoother with rules, and obeying those rules does bring freedom as you compete. The problem with applying this to our spiritual lives is that is just not true. The Pharisees rigidly obeyed the Law. They even came up with rules to keep people from even coming close to breaking the rules. They not only had no freedom, they didn't realize they were in bondage. We all know people who obeyed all the rules while they were growing up and rejected the faith as soon as they got out on their own. Many of us also know folks who obey and stay in church, yet are obviously not free. Of course, that brings up the question of whether they are obeying God's commands or man's rules, but that's another topic.

We aren't free because we obey. We obey because we are free. Because God has been gracious to us, and has set us free, we can now obey him. Because we are free, we can also choose to disobey. But, because God has given us his Spirit, he works in us to make us more and more like Jesus. That is not to say that we have no responsibility to learn and be a disciple, but rather to say that the strength to do that comes from God and the motivation to do that arises out of gratitude and love. God puts in us the desire to obey. We often fail miserably, but the desire to do what is right and become more like Jesus is from our Father.

It is good for us to realize that it is not our own effort that brings freedom. We are free because of what Christ has done for us. As we sink deeper and deeper into the love the Father has for us, and seek to be more like the Master, we will more naturally do what God wants us to do.

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