Obedience from the Heart

There is a very interesting verse in Romans 6 that precipitates what I consider confusion about the relationship between grace and law.

For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. (Rom 6:14 ESV)

According to verse 13, we are to present ourselves to God (see my last post), and that sounds a lot like obedience. We might call battling the seven deadly sins a quest for obedience. But this verse seems to imply that we have a choice about how we obey. We can either practice obedience motivated by law, or we can practice obedience motivated by grace. Here is my suggestion of what obedience motivated by law looks like, and I will overstate it to make a point.

Relative to sinful behavior, law makes up a few rules, some do’s and don’ts. Then law encourages us to hold each other accountable to those rules. When we fail, we get together and beat each other up, heap on some guilt, challenge each other to repent, and then leave our group with a determination to try harder. Now I said I was overstating this, but I think there is a good deal of truth in this scenario. The result of these types of groups – discouragement, because law just doesn’t deal with the real issue. The real issue is found in Romans 6:17-18.

But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. (Rom 6:17-18 ESV)

The key phrase is that true believers who are under grace and not under law obey from the heart!! They understand that they are dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. They understand that sinning is not the way a person who is in Christ is to live. They are motivated from the heart to obey. Obedience that sets us free is obedience from the heart. Obedience from the heart is obedience empowered by grace not by law. Obedience empowered by grace results in a life where sin has no dominion over us – we are set free.

Here is Paul’s description of obedience motivated by grace.

Do not let sin reign in your bodies.

Do not present you bodies to sin.

Instead – motivated from the heart and empowered by grace:

Do present your new self to God.

Here is a great verse that unpacks this command. It comes from the lips of Jesus.

If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. (Luke 9:23-24 ESV)

To deny our selves is to deny who we used to be in Adam.  To take up our cross is to present our new self to God in obedience to God from the heart.

Do present your bodies to God – (Rom 6:12-14- obedience from the heart)

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. (Rom 12:1 ESV)

If we learn to obey from the heart and to be empowered by the grace given to us in justification, sin will have no dominion over us. We will break free from the seven deadly sins.

For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification. (Rom 6:19 ESV)

The daily battle against sin is a constant battle.  But we do not wage it from a position of defeat.  We wage it from the position of being In Christ.  I close with my life verse.

(My identity in Adam) have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me (My identity in Christ). And the life I now live in the flesh (I present my new self to God in obedience from the heart) I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Gal 2:20 ESV)

I am preaching a series of messages titled, Breaking Free From The Seven Deadly Sins. As I progress through this series, I will make specific application of these principles and we will continue to learn together how to win the daily battle against sin.

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