Steps to Christ
We can choose to obey God. We should choose to obey God. But we are His workmanship and the true obedience will be His that He puts in us.
To their utter chagrin and joy, the Reformers, the apostles and prophets, and everyone else who have ever come to Christ, have discovered that in spite of all their great acts of righteousness, none of it ever made them feel acceptable to God. None of it ever gave them the assurance of eternal life. Deep down inside, in spite of the wonderful front which everyone saw and praised them for, they were lost and without God.
Yet it was, that without that fledgling obedience they never would have come to God. That sounds like a paradox or even heresy to some Evangelical Christians. But the inside scoop is that the apostolic Christians came to faith through the Law! (Gal. 3:22-24). Now that begs a question! And that question is this: How did they come to Christ through the Law, but the Pharisees didn’t? “I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God,” says the much acclaimed apostle. Through the what? The Law. The Law of God.
Was it through theological convolutions and treatises that Paul was able to rid himself of the curse of the Law of God? No. Paul wasn’t the kind who stayed purely intellectual or the type who did anything half-way. He took upon himself the accomplishment of it, and all of it! And (please excuse me, Evangelicals) the keeping of the Law was his only salvation! It was because he ventured to believe and fear God enough to obey Him and keep all the light he had of God, that Paul was led to the cross. It was because he was genuine, with a sincerity which was God-given. He did all his persecutions out of ignorant unbelief. Jesus forgave him because he didn’t understand what he was doing, but was willing to be corrected.
How could Paul have truly arrived at faith unless he had already been striving with all his heart to keep God’s commandments, standing in terrible awe of God, quaking like Moses, Daniel, and other true greats Paul loved to speak of? It was only thus that he could look up at the real Jesus in vision and immediately learn that he was on the wrong track. And it was his responses to the Holy Spirit up to that point, albeit falsely interpreted, that ultimately prepared him to be instantly submissive and humble before Christ, that saved him from instant destruction for the stoning of holy Stephen, and that allowed him to comprehend the mercy side of godliness, the righteousness of faith.
God expects obedience, whether from the saved or the unsaved. And He will use His Law to bring us to Himself. But it must be obedience to His Law, not one of our own construction. We can’t delete the commandments that aren’t a pleasure to us, or destroy the holy precept and the messengers who bring it to us because it exposes some practice that we were hypocritically trying to appear hateful toward. We can’t substitute the rough-hewn principle of self-sacrifice for a self-indulgent one like this fallen world follows. Any other set of principles except God’s won’t lead us to God because only His has His characteristics. Any other man-made law has the devil’s characteristics. It only makes sense that the latter law will never lead people to God. It simply cannot. But God’s can and will and does every day by their genuine respect for Him and His character.
So let’s choose to serve God, even if we don’t seem to have the spiritual wherewithal to do it. Let’s obey Him, trusting in His grace to see our hoping and desiring to please Him, trusting in His never-ending grace. Let us seek Him with the whole heart by keeping His whole Law and waiting before Him in repentance. And His promise is that He will meet us more than half-way, turn us around on our road to Damascus, and work His grace into us, making our obedience acceptable. (Jer. 29:13,14; Is. 55:7,8)
So let our prayer be, “I believe, Lord, help my unbelief. I will obey, help my disobedience. Thank You for all your benefits, but help my ingratitude. I worship You, help my presumption and ignorance of real worship.” Always in an attitude of repentance and sorrow for our lack. Always yearning for more of God’s grace. Poor in spirit, yet possessing the kingdom of God, His undeserved, unspeakable gift.
So I'll cherish the old rugged Law,
till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged Law,
and exchange it some day for a crown.