Consider language like the following: “Your obedience means nothing because it accomplishes nothing.” Now, if this is aimed at unbelievers, those who have not been born from above, those who have not been saved by the finished work of Christ, then it is 100% spot on. However, if it is aimed at Christians, or if it is stated in an ambiguous manner that doesn’t distinguish between the quickened and the unquickened, then it is exceedingly dangerous. Why? Because it flies in the face of clear Scripture concerning the brethren. Consider, for instance,
Romans 6:15-19 “What then? shall we sin [i.e. transgress the law, practice lawlessness], because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. 16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to OBEY, his servants ye are to whom ye OBEY; whether of sin unto death, or of OBEDIENCE unto righteousness? 17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have OBEYED from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. 18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. 19 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now YIELD YOUR MEMBERS SERVANTS to [i.e., that which is obedient to, subject to…] righteousness unto holiness.”
In light of the above, should any true Christian dare say concerning God’s people “Your obedience means nothing because it accomplishes nothing.”
Romans 16:17-19: “Now I beseech you, brethren, MARK THEM which cause divisions and offences CONTRARY TO THE DOCTRINE [e.g., including the doctrine of obedience] which ye have learned; and avoid them. 18 For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple. 19 For YOUR OBEDIENCE is come abroad unto all [men]. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil.”
Again, in light of the above, should any true Christian dare say to fellow saints “Your obedience means nothing because it accomplishes nothing.” I think not, given that their obedience clearly meant enough to the Apostle Paul, operating under the influence of the Holy Spirit, to commend them for their obedience!
2 Corinthians 10:3-6 “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: 4 (For the weapons of our warfare [are] not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the OBEDIENCE of Christ; 6 And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your OBEDIENCE is fulfilled.”
Is this passage any different? Should any true Christian dare say to the brethren “Your obedience means nothing because it accomplishes nothing” when the depths of that passage is seriously considered?
Should we say to our sisters in Christ: “Your obedience means nothing because it accomplishes nothing” — when we read in…
1 Corinthians 14:34 “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but [they are commanded] to be UNDER OBEDIENCE, as also saith the law.“
Should we say to born again servants: “Your obedience means nothing because it accomplishes nothing” — when we read in…
Colossians 3:22 “Servants, OBEY in all things [your] masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God…”
Is obedience deemed to be of such little value in…
1 Peter 1:13-16 “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14 As OBEDIENT children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: 15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so BE YE HOLY IN ALL MANNER OF CONVERSATION [i.e., obey God’s word as it relates to your character conduct, ever striving to improve in this area]; 16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy”
I don’t think so. I believe this passage, and numerous others like it, make very clear the absolute importance, the absolute value, of obedience IN LIGHT OF the salvation (the perfect justification, righteousness, and sanctification) established, and procured, by the Lord — for His people.
Finally, notice the clear pattern in so many books of the New Testament. You will find the writers start off with the Gospel truth, the wonders of Christ, who He is, and what He has done, particularly as it relates to salvific matters. However, in light of the finished work of Christ, the writers often proceed to tell you how to live IN LIGHT OF Christ, His work, His Kingdom, and His glory. The Bible abounds with imperatives, exhortations, admonitions, and reproofs concerning our walk and warfare. The Bible abounds in instruction on character and conduct; commandment keeping; adorning the truth via our conversation/behaviour/etc.
Seeing this, knowing this, having so much evidence to this effect at our fingertips, why do so many “preachers of the word” feel the need to downplay such things, setting them at naught, and making it so easy for others to do the same? No one who seriously, and sincerely, cares about these things is putting human obedience (even the obedience of the saints in Christ) above the Obedience of Christ Himself (to the Father, in the fulfillment of all for which He was sent to accomplish)… No sincere believer is doing this, or even desires to do this. However, there is a demonic sentiment that seeks to ever slander, to ever impute false motives, to ever twist intents and purposes, and this should not be tolerated within faithful, Gospel circles — not even for a moment, and especially not when the Bible clearly instructs us, as follows:
Hebrews 10:24 “And let us consider one another to PROVOKE [paroxysmos; G3948; literally to incite, contend, provoke, and even “irritate”] unto (agape) LOVE [which is the keeping of God’s commandments towards Him and others with an unfeigned heart] and to good works” [which is clearly synonymous with provoking one another unto obedience to the will of God, as revealed in Holy writ].
I think it is fair to say (without overstepping) that we ought to beware of, be wary of, and even be weary of (in a very real sense), all those who would repeatedly work to undermine godly provocation, incitement, and warning. We do not need mere soundbites; we do not need over-simplified memes; we do not need vain/vacuous/trite babblings… what we need is faithful instruction concerning God’s word, instruction that encompasses the whole counsel of God, and not just the hobby-horsing of the fundamentals (to the exclusion of all else). Of a truth, people love milk-men, they love those who will keep them ever as babes, ever encouraging them to avoid feasting on the meat of God’s word. Milk is for babes when milk is the exclusive meal. Truly, we need to encourage, even provoke, one another to grow up, to grow in grace, to grow in love (agape and phileo), and to grow in obedience, even unto a manifest sanctification that abounds, that truly abounds (saying this more to myself than to anyone else; it is a very real struggle). God help us.
To God be the glory,