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Why Obey God?

by David A. DePra

     Why should a Christian obey God? That is really like asking,

"Why should a child love a parent?" There really isn't any WHY to

it. The love simply happens because of a relationship.

     One would think that we could say the same thing about our

relationship with God, as our Heavenly Father. Instead of asking

WHY we ought to obey Him, almost as if it is some kind of imposed

obligation, we perhaps ought to ask WHAT to obey. Sometimes

we act as if God is at our disposal, rather than we at His.

     Obedience is, in fact, a fundamental part of our Christian walk.

But what part? This is an especially important question to ask when

you consider that we are saved by grace, kept by grace, and walk

in the grace of God. So where does obedience fit in?

     This, of course, brings up the issue of law vs. grace and also that

of license. It must. Christians need to get this straight. We are

talking here, not only about the gospel of salvation, but the gospel

and Truth by which we must live after we are saved.

Unto Good Works

     One of the scriptures which best describes the place of works,

or obedience, in the life of a Christian, is found in Ephesians. There

Paul, in a nutshell, describes the impact of the gospel on the

Christian life:

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves,

It is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we

are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works,

which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

(Eph. 2:8-10)

     Here Paul says that we are saved solely by grace, and not our

works. That's simple enough. Yet before we say, "I already know

all of that," and go on, let's READ what is being said here. It may

contain a bit more than we ever noticed.

     Paul is, in this verse, drawing a contrast. Yes, he is saying that

our works haven't a thing to do with our salvation. He says, "Not of

works, let any man should boast." In other words, if salvation were

of our works -- even a little -- then we could take some credit. But

it is not based on our works -- even a little. So we cannot boast.

So far so good. Nothing new there.

     BUT --- that is not the end of the thought. Paul then draws a

contrast. He gives the REASON WHY we cannot boast. He says,

"FOR we are HIS workmanship....." In other words, THAT is why

our salvation cannot be based on your works." We are HIS


     Can we possibly see what Paul is saying here? Ask it again:

WHY is our salvation NOT based on works? Because we are

GOD's workmanship. Get that. Rather than US doing works for God,

Paul is saying that GOD is doing a work in US. THAT is grace.

THAT is why salvation is not based on works. THAT is why

NOTHING is based on works. GOD is the one doing the work. Not


     Paul goes on to make this even more clear. He says, "For we

are HIS workmanship...." --- and then he describes that

workmanship. He describes exactly what God is doing. He says,

"Created in Christ Jesus UNTO good works, which God has

ordained that we should walk in them."

     Here we see that God does a work in us to create us, or birth us,

in Christ Jesus. But UNTO something. UNTO what? Good works.

In other words, the RESULT of salvation in Jesus Christ is good


     Now, you and I usually have it backwards. We think the good

works are supposed to come first. We think that good works will

create us in Christ Jesus -- either by saving us, or by earning us

something once we are saved. Some of us still think that God

accepts us based on our works, and that we must maintain our

standing with God through those works even after we are saved.

     Paul says no. That is error. It is really what it means to be "under

the law." The Truth states that rather than US doing works for God,

God is doing one in US -- that is -- we are HIS workmanship. We

are created in Christ Jesus solely by the grace of God. But not so

we can "sin that grace might abound." No. Rather, "unto good

works." These good works are ordained of God that we might

walk in them.

     This passage from Ephesians is so simple, yet contains the

essence of the Truth of grace. It is hard to believe we could read

it and miss the point.

A Good Tree

     Now, there is a reason why things have to work this way. Never

think that Christianity is simply a matter of God saving us and then

handing us a bunch of rules to obey. That is not the Christianity of

the Bible. It is dead religion.

     The Christianity of the Bible is a changed life, full of good works,

because it is a NEW BIRTH. New creations in Jesus Christ do

good works. But we do them because we have a new nature -- not

because we have a list of rules to obey.

     This is vital to see. It goes back to something Jesus said. He


For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt

tree bring forth good fruit. For every tree is known by his own fruit.

(Lk. 6:43-44)

     The Bible sends us a clear message: We cannot obey God.

We cannot. Indeed, God gave us His law to PROVE it to us. The

law continually shows us we cannot obey God, and exposes us as

dead sinners. The more we try to keep the law, the more we find

that we are a "bad tree."

     The only solution is to BECOME something other than a "bad

tree," -- i.e. -- a GOOD tree in Christ Jesus. God must do that. He

must create us in Christ Jesus, solely by His grace. Then, and only

then, are we a new creature -- God's workmanship -- created in

Christ Jesus. Then, and only then, are we created "unto good


     A Christian, therefore, obeys God -- not because the law

demands it -- but because it is his nature to obey God. He wants

to obey God -- despite all of the failures along the way. There is

a CHANGE as to desire and motivation.

Not to Earn

     If you were told that your obedience to God earned you nothing,

what would your response be? For some of us, it might be, "Well,

then why obey?"

     THAT is, of course, the question, isn't it? For if we are obeying

God simply because we think it is earning us something -- whether

it be His increased favor, some eternal reward, or some better

standing in the kingdom -- then how can we tell Him we love Him?

     Imagine our children obeying us as parents simply because we

pay them a weekly allowance. What love is there in that?

Obedience to God is supposed to be the outcome of a LOVE

relationship with Him. It is supposed to be the outcome of being

created in Christ Jesus. This is the Christianity of the Bible, and

thank God it is.  As Paul said, "I am what I am by the grace of God."

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