Saturday, March 24, 2007

Day Twenty-Six: Disobedience and the Gospel

“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).

If it is true that to obey Jesus’ commandments is to abide in his love and to disobey Jesus’ commandments is not to abide in his love, then how can the Father allow us to continue abiding in the vine of Christ when we disobey him even one time? Let us not make light of sin: when Adam and Eve disobeyed just one time by eating a piece of fruit, their sin was serious enough to fell the entire human race and to corrupt the created order (Romans 5:12-21, 8:19-23). And so I ask again: how can the Father allow us to continue abiding in the vine of Christ when we disobey him even one time?

Put simply, he applies to us the gospel of grace in Christ Jesus. Here is how Paul explained it in Romans 8:1-10 (I know this passage is a familiar one, but please read it carefully for without this explanation we could never continue to abide in the vine of Christ):

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.”

Does this mean that those who are in Christ are free to sin? Absolutely not! “Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4) The whole design of the gospel of grace is to make us holy as he is holy, to make us obedient as he is obedient. And in the heart of the true child of God, the gospel of grace breeds a great desire for holiness and repentance. Every time the true child of God sins, his passion is to repent and change by the grace and power of Christ. Or to put this another way, his passion is to respond to disobedience with obedience, for repentance is obedience responding to disobedience, by grace.

And the true child of God has such passion for obedience because he has such passion to see Jesus, and he knows that the process of growing in holiness and obedience is not an end in itself, but rather a necessary preparation to see and love and live for the glory of our great God and savior, Jesus Christ: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God,” and, “Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we will be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure” (Matthew 5:8, 1 John 3:2-3).

Prayer Focus: Pray that God will help us to tremble at our sin, trust wholly in the gospel of grace in Christ Jesus, and have the passion and ability to repent when we do sin.

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