By Laura Bailey
“Well then, am I suggesting that the law of God is sinful? Of course not! It was the law that showed me my sin. I would never have known that coveting is wrong if the law had not said, “You must not covet.” Romans 7:7 NLT
Like most teenagers, the last thing I wanted to do was clean my room before I could go out with my friends. Within minutes of rolling out of bed, a chore list was promptly placed in my hands. But, what annoyed me most about my mother’s lists was the smiley face she always put on the end. I routinely ripped the smiley face off the bottom of the page and proceeded to tear the paper into itty bitty shreds. Yes, I embodied the example of obligatory, unjoyful, self-seeking obedience.
Fortunately, when I am greeted with a task at work, asked to volunteer in the nursery, or simply clean the house, I can outwardly control my dissatisfaction. But inwardly, my eyes roll, my feet stomp, and I begrudgingly complete the chore. I recently finished a Bible study on the ten commandments; the author encouraged us to obey God's Word joyfully. As we moved through the various laws, each one convicting and challenging, I realized I often obey out of obligation instead of delight.
My Christian walk had become a task list, just another thing, a benchmark of validation that at least I am better than ( or not as bad as) her. I began to wonder, am I capable of delightfully obeying God’s Word? I'm wondering if you can relate.
Has your Christian walk become a task list or benchmark you use to seek validation? Do you find yourself excusing a lousy attitude by comparing yourself to others who seem worse off than you? And when the Spirit finally convicts your forced obedience do you wonder if you are even capable of serving with joy?
While God's holiness does elicit our obedience, we miss the mark when we obey outwardly but inwardly rebel. God's intention when giving us the law is essential to consider before forcing ourselves to comply when we lack the understanding to do so with joy. As Paul points out in Romans 7:7, the law is meant to expose our sins and highlight our desperate need for a Savior. Paul reminds readers that the law is holy and pleasing and intended for our benefit, and its intention was for our benefit.
It is through understanding what God requires of us and the knowledge that, on our own, we are not capable of perfectly keeping the law. God’s law helps reveal to us all the ways we sin against a holy God. We all enter the world as sinners, yet, the law shows us our continued desire to sin and rebel against God’s commandments.
Now that we've discussed the bad news, let's get to the good news! Humans can’t perfectly keep the law, but we still have an opportunity for redemption. The realization of our depravity has paved the way for our redemption! Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, we can receive salvation through faith. And that's not all; this salvation also provides those who believe with the gift of the Holy Spirit, who helps them in their weakness (Romans 8:25-27).
I’d lost my delight in keeping God’s laws because I neglected to remember the message of the gospel. Our commitment to God’s authority is an outward expression of faith resulting from our response to His mercy and grace. Mercy means He didn't give us what we deserved, and grace means He has given us much more than we could ever merit. We can joyfully submit to the will of the Father, not out of duty or obligation, but out of gratitude and love for His gracious gift of forgiveness of sins and eternal life.
Even with the power of the Holy Spirit, delightful obedience is a daily struggle. Paul shares with us the internal conflict we face as Christians, doing what we know we shouldn’t and not doing what we know we should ( Romans 7:15-20). But, through sanctification each day, we can choose delightful obedience as we fill our minds with the Scriptures, live in the Christian community, and prayerfully ask God to conform our will to His.
Intersecting Faith and Life:
The Scriptures tell us the importance of our heart’s motives. We can do all the “right things” for the wrong reasons. Take some time today and examine your motivations for serving the Lord. Ask God to help you delight in keeping His commands.
For Further Reading:
Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Bohdan Bevz
Laura Bailey is a Bible teacher who challenges and encourages women to dive deep in the Scriptures, shift from an earthly to an eternal mindset, and filter life through the lens of God’s Word. She is the author of Beyond the Noise, and loves any opportunity to speak and teach women of all ages. She is a wife and momma to three young girls. Connect with her on her website, www.LauraRBailey.com
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