God’s grace: How does obedience work under grace?
All believers are already blessed and highly favored by faith because of Christ Jesus alone. They don’t have to do anything to earn God’s blessings. God’s blessings are already given to the believer freely simply because of what Christ has done. God loves the believer no matter how he or she behaves or what he or she does.
The question then is, is obedience necessary? If the Christian is blessed regardless of how he or she behaves, is there any motivation to do good? This question is very important because those who obey God frequently suffer many trials and tribulations that people who disobey God don’t suffer.
There are several different reasons why under grace we must obey God.In this post, we will look at just one.
There is gain in serving or obeying God.
Living in obedience is well pleasing to God and there is something to gain for pleasing God. In the past, I often thought that if God rewards what pleases him but doesn’t reward what displeases him, then that cannot be ‘complete’ grace. The effort of the one who pleases has something to do with it. Let’s look at a couple of examples that explain why that reasoning is not correct.
Let’s look at grace and giving. It has been said that “God blesses you so that you can be a blessing.” That is true. God doesn’t give any blessing to us because we obeyed any law. He doesn’t give because our previous giving has earned us a right to receive. Our previous obedience doesn’t impress God to give. God gives everything to us by grace. God gives to a child who gives because God desires to support the joy that the child has found in giving to others in his name, which is an attribute of God. He doesn’t give to reward your giving as much as to enable you to do what he enjoys doing—giving. It’s like a Father who desires that his son should become an avid reader. The father notices that the son was developing some interest in reading. Then the father begins to make available more books as the son was reading. The father wanted the son to be able to read a new book every two weeks on average. The more the son read and found joy in reading, the more the father gave until the father built a huge library so that his son and other children in the community can go and read. The father kept supplying the books out of grace, not because the first book the child read earned him the right to receive a second book. No. The father kept giving to support the development of a habit that he wants to see developed in his child. God wants us to become givers. He also wants to see us store eternal blessings where moth and rust doesn’t destroy. He gives to support that habit not because we can ever earn the right to receive from him. All we have belongs to God in the first place. There is no way giving a person something that is already his earns you the right to receive something from him! The same way, God may not give much to someone who is not generous because the giving only helps to destroy him and does not produce the outcome that God wants to produce. God wants to turn us into the image of Christ!!!
The kind of giving results that God wants to produce have more to do with the heart than with the obedience to the law.
God rewards obedience like he rewards prayer and worship. God rewards obedience to enable us in more extravagant obedience in his goal toward sanctification (turning us into the image of Christ).
It’s like a parent rewarding a child who eats vegetables by giving him more vegetables to eat. The vegetables are good for the child and the father takes pleasure in seeing the child do what is good for him. The act of the child eating the parent’s vegetable doesn’t earn him more vegetables per see. The parent doesn’t all of a sudden owe him another round of vegetables to reward his first round. No! The parent does it to enable the child. Vegetables are good for the child and the parent rejoices in what is good for the child.
God is fully happy. He delights in our worship because it is good for us. He doesn’t need our worship. We need the worship of God. We were made to worship. When we worship God, we are at our best, we are eating our vegetables which are good for us. When we worship God, we are doing what the woman with the issue of blood did to Jesus. We are touching the hem of his garment and that brings healing to us. [This is a revelation, that woman is a picture of the healing that the church gets in worship God by faith]. God rejoices that we are touching the hem of his garment, not because it makes him intrinsically different or better. In fact, power flows from him into us. He never runs dry, he is power in essence. But he loves to see us touch the hem of his garment and be healed!!!!
So every act of obedience thus has a grace reward, not because of the effort that we employ to do the act—that effort doesn’t earn us the reward, not at all, God’s grace gives the reward to enable our further transformation into the image of Christ. We don’t earn it. So there is gain in obedience, but it is not reward.
Grace doesn’t take away diligence, discipline, or hard work. It enables, empowers, and helps do it more excellently.
The only way for a man to give glory to God for something is to allow God to do it through him.
Grace enables prayer, enables fasting, enables all those godly disciplines and accomplishes it in a way that the heart pleases God, not only the actions.