S37P8 – Spare parts: obedience
In the same way, was Rahab the prostitute not justified by works, too, when she received the Hebrew spies as guests and protected them, and sent them away by a different route? For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead.
Obedience comes in two varieties. One variety is making sure not to do that which one should not do. In the garden of Eden, God told Adam and Eve not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. In that instance, they were given more information than simply a command. God told them that eating from this tree would ensure that they would die. When they both ate the fruit from that tree, they disobeyed. As children, we might see obedience in the same way. However, obedience as inaction is only part of the story. Obedience also calls us to action. When Jonah was commanded by God to go to Nineveh and tell its citizens that their ways would lead to their own destruction, he disobeyed by running in the other direction. God had work for him to do that he did not want to do. When Scripture tells us that works are needed in order for faith to remain alive, this is a reference to works of obedience to God.
The works that complement and complete our faith are acts of obedience. When we say that we believe in Jesus Christ and his good news, but we do not act in obedience to God to illustrate that faith and gave it life, then there is no faith. We show what we believe by what we do. If our confession of faith is that we have given ourselves for God’s glory and God’s work, then our proof of that confession is doing the works that He has ordained for us. But just like God gives us the faith He requires, He also gives us the capacity to obey as He requires. When we pray for an increase in obedience, we are asking the Holy Spirit to do more work within us and to impart to us that which we do not have on our own. Allowing God to continue to make us more obedient is an integral part of the process of sanctification. This is not work that can be completed by human hands but is work that must be completed by God himself.
Obedience to God is not something that we can make happen. For us to complete the work that He has laid out for us, and for us to steer clear of the things He requires that we avoid, we must enlist his help. Our efforts are not physical but spiritual. And even when we take on the fight against temptation or against inaction, it is God who gives us what we need to win that fight. What we must understand is that our heavenly Father will not ask of us anything that He cannot make possible for us to fulfill. He is more than aware of our shortcomings and inabilities. He knows that we can fulfill our work for him here only if He gives us what we need in order to do that. In his grace, He happily does just that. Father, thank You for the work of your Holy Spirit that gives us the power to obey You not only in what we should not do but also in what we should do.