Originally posted on August 18, 2009.
...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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