“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love” (John 15:9-10).
Yesterday we learned that the only way we are able to continue abiding in the vine of Christ is by the steadfast love of the Father, as he applies the gospel of grace to our lives and covers our sins by the blood of his son. Given this foundation of the gospel, the lesson for today is this: to grow in Christ is to grow in obedience. The process of sanctification is the process of learning to obey Christ from the heart, and when sanctification finishes its work we will be perfectly and joyfully obedient, by the grace and power of Jesus. Consider the following Scriptures, and notice the link between holiness and obedience:
“Consecrate yourselves, therefore, and be holy, for I am the LORD your God. Keep my statutes and do them; I am the LORD who sanctifies you” (Leviticus 20:7-8). “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you” (1 Peter 1:1-2). “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy’” (1 Peter 1:14-16). “Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to live and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification…” (1 Thessalonians 4:1-3).
Of course, this is not to say that we earn our sanctification through obedience. The process of sanctification is just as much blood-bought by Jesus as is the faith we exercised when we first believed in him. Our sanctification is accomplished by God the Father through the life and sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the ever-present help of the Holy Spirit, the word of God, faith, and the body of Christ (John 17:17, Acts 20:32, 26:18, Romans 15:16, 1 Corinthians 1:2, 30, 6:11, Ephesians 5:26, 1 Thessalonians 5:23, 2 Thessalonians 2:13, Hebrews 9:13-14, 10:10-14, 13:12). It is God who provides the means of and the power for sanctification, and it is God who guarantees its ends.
So, I am not saying that we earn our sanctification through obedience, but I am saying that heart-felt obedience is the aim of sanctification and the necessary display of the fact that we are becoming holy as he is holy, by the grace and power of God. I am saying that as the fruit of the vine makes the nutrients of the vine visible, obedience makes the process of sanctification visible.
Therefore, brothers and sisters, as we pursue Christ let us pursue heart-felt obedience! Let us pursue a heart that trusts our Father and believes that what he says is for his glory and our good, and let us pursue a heart that is quick to walk in his ways and to forsake our ways and the ways of the world.
Prayer Focus: Pray that God will help us to see the link between sanctification and obedience, not just in our minds but in the way we live our lives. And pray that he will change our hearts so that we will be quick and glad to obey him in all things.