Why You Cannot Do What the Bible Commands
Too many people, Christians and non-Christians, believe Christianity is a religion. They believe the Bible is an instruction book for being a good Christian. A good Christian, in their view, is one who obeys God.
The truth is that no one, Christian or non-Christian, is obeying God. God has revealed Himself through the things He has created (Rom 1:19–20). He has revealed Himself even more specifically through the Law of God (Ex 20; Dt 5). Furthermore, He has given us the perfect man to show us God. Jesus Christ is the God-man (fully God/fully man). He was sent from heaven and lived a perfect sinless life. He was entirely without sin (Heb 4:15).
Jesus Christ obeyed everything commanded by God, with no exceptions (Jn 5:19; 10:37). He kept and fulfilled the Law to the letter and fully in the Spirit (Mt 5–7). The only hope any person has for eternal life is to be in union with Christ (Jn 3:36; 1 Jn 5:12). Only the merits of Christ imputed to one’s account can secure right standing before God.
The application of Christ’s merits is entirely the will and work of the Holy Spirit (Phil 2:13). In the judgment of right standing, if one has the indwelling Spirit of Christ (Rom 8:9, 11), one has the Son of God, which means she has life — new (Rom 6:4; 2 Cor 5:17), abundant (Jn 10:10), and eternal (1 Jn 5:11–13).
The new life of the Christian is Christ living in her by the Spirit. The life she lives is now by faith in the Son of God (Gal 2:20). She puts no confidence in the flesh to perform any good works (Phil 3:3), nor does she trust in any obedience to what God has commanded. The fact is that she is ever failing to obey all that He has commanded.
The imperative to be obedient is always correct. We must agree with the Law (Rom 7:12, 16; 1 Tim 1:8), and we must agree in the requirements to keep the Law. We must confess our utter failure to love God and to love our neighbor, however. Who is the Christian who would make such a bodacious claim as obedience? Who wishes to judge another when one’s own record is soiled beyond comprehension (Mt 7:1)?
The fact is all men are condemned already (Jn 3:18). We are free to not judge our non-Christian neighbor for his homosexuality or her abortion. Condemnation is universal; and one mere breach of God’s Law is enough to demand each of us in eternal hell. Further, our father, Adam, has already provided everyone ever conceived with that necessary breach (Rom 3:23; 1 Cor 15:22).
The Christian is saved by grace (Eph 2:8–9). Grace is God’s work to save his undeserving people from their sins and the consequences (Mt 1:21). No Christian could ever boast in anything of their own, to have secured right relationship with God. Woe to you free will decision maker (Jn 1:13)! All you have done is steal glory from God with the boast of your choice to be saved by Jesus.
God saves His people (Titus 3:5). He does all the work (Is 26:12; Rom 11:36). He gets all the glory. Because salvation is entirely by God (Ps 3:8; Jon 2:9; Rev 19:1), it has to be entirely by grace (Eph 2:8–9). Salvation began before the foundation of the world (Eph 1:4, 5; Rom 8:30); and it transcends all of human history and continues through the glorification of the saints, following the resurrection from the dead (Jn 5:28–29; 1 Cor 15). In other words, today, you are being saved, Christian. He who began a good work in you is continuing that good work (Phil 1:6). He will bring His work to perfection on that day of glory, but the Potter is still molding the clay (Jer 18; Rom 9:21). You are a work in progress.
It is wrong to say, “You were saved so you could be obedient to the Law.” No one was, is, or will be obedient to the Law, except Jesus Christ. You were saved, in truth, for the purpose of being the object of salvation. This means you were saved to display the riches of His glorious grace (Rom 9:23).
Where there is any obedience in a Christian, it is the Spirit willing and working that obedience, by causing the saint to walk in God’s statutes (Ezek 36:27). Simply put, you are commanded to do every act of obedience, but you are still in the flesh, in which dwells no good thing. It is the Spirit who is glorified for everything and anything good in us.
Christian, stop stealing glory from God. Give credit and praise to God in everything. You can do nothing apart from Christ (Jn 15). He will do all His good pleasure in you. Trust Him and never yourself. In this, He is glorified.
Spokane Valley, Washington
February 23, 2022