• Obedience is an infringement on our freedom. Since we are free in Christ, we conclude that obedience must not be good. Yet we know it is good. Thus, we become confused.
• Obedience means works. We have been justified by grace through faith and are opposed to works, so we are also opposed to obedience.
• We have tried to obey and failed—frequently. Therefore, the only solution must be to disobey and confess.
• We confuse obedience to men with obedience to God.
Each of these statements is a misconception. Here are the corrections:
• Obedience is freedom, not an infringement of it. It is a voluntary act, which means it can only take place if the will is free. "Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (John 8:32).
• Obedience is not related to works. It is related to faith. "By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith. By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going" (Hebrews 11:7-8). Obedience does not earn us salvation; that has been paid for already. When we obey, we are acting by faith.
• Trying to obey is the opposite of trusting to obey. When we try, we are being self-centered, not God-centered. When we trust God, He provides the strength for us to obey.
• Although obedience to God and obedience to man can be the same thing (see Romans 13, 1 Peter 2 and 3, Ephesians 5 and 6, Colossians 3, and Titus 2), sometimes they are not (Colossians 2:20-23, Mark 7, 1 Timothy 4:1-5, and Acts 4:19-20). We can avoid confusion if we know the Scriptures well enough to differentiate between the commands of men and the commands of God.
When you set out to obey God, remember these things:
• God provides a way out of sin in every situation (1 Corinthians 10:13).
• We are indwelt with the Holy Spirit. Obedience is the natural way of life for those who live by the Spirit of God (see Galatians 5:22-23).
• Jesus died that we might be dead to sin (Romans 6, 1 Peter 2:24).
• God gave us the Scriptures to prevent sin (1 John 2:1).
God wants us to obey Him, and He knows that we cannot do it on our own. He wonderfully provides for our obedience by His death and resurrection and His gifts of faith, grace, the indwelling Holy Spirit, and a new and glorious nature.
Sin is based on two things: a lie and a rebellion. Many of us, like Eve, have believed a lie. Once we buy the lies, rebellion is the consequence.
"But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ" (2 Corinthians 11:3, italics mine).