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Once we have trusted in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, does it matter to God what we do from that point on? Is obedience truly optional?

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Gal. 6:7-8 ESV

So many people within the church these days would have you believe that obedience to God (to Christ) is optional. So many professing Christians and church leaders are teaching a gospel of Jesus Christ absent of the cross of Christ in the life of the believer. They are teaching that we don’t have to repent of (turn from) our sins, and that we don’t have to walk in obedience to God to be saved from our sins and to have eternal life with God.

Yet, while it is true that we are not saved from our sins by works of the flesh, and that we cannot do anything to earn or to deserve our own salvation, works are not absent from the gospel. It is just that they are works of the Spirit.

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” Eph. 2:10.

We are not saved by our works, but we are saved for good works, which God will work in and through our lives as we yield to the Spirit’s control, and as we follow our Lord in obedience. We were created in Christ Jesus, when we believed on him, that we should walk (live) in these good works of God. Jesus died, not just so we can escape hell and go to heaven, but he died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24).

So, it absolutely does matter what we do, for scripture teaches us that if we walk (in practice) according to the flesh, we will die in our sins, not live with Christ for eternity. It says that if we make a practice of sin, that we don’t have eternal life with God, but a fearful expectation of judgment. It teaches us, too, that love for God is obedience to his commands, and that if we do not obey God, we do not know him or love him.

So, it doesn’t really matter what we profess. But, it does matter what we do. If we want to live with Christ for eternity, then we must walk according to the Spirit, and by the Spirit we must be putting to death the deeds of the flesh (Rom. 8:1-17). For, if we sow to the flesh, we will reap destruction (decay). But, if we sow to the Spirit, we will reap eternal life with God.

Don’t Give Up!

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. Gal. 6:9-10 ESV

When Jesus Christ died on that cross, he who knew no sin became sin for us. Thus, when he died, our sins died with him, and when he was resurrected from the dead, he rose victorious over sin, hell, death and Satan. So, this battle between flesh and Spirit has already been won for us. Satan has been defeated! In Christ Jesus, by faith in him, we are more than conquerors. We have all that we need in Christ, and in the power and working of his Spirit living within us, to live victoriously over Satan and sin. We just have to live like we believe that by yielding our lives over to Christ.

So many people live defeated lives, feeling powerless to tell Satan “NO!” Although they may profess Christ as Savior of their lives, he is not truly Lord (owner-master) of their lives, for they are still living by the flesh, and they are still operating in their own strength. They use God’s grace as a cover-up for continued and willful sin against God and for maintaining sinful practices (addictions). They will often make a show of faith in Christ, but their hearts are far from him, for they have not let go of the flesh, and they are not walking according to the Spirit.

The only way we are going to live victoriously over sin, and walk (live) according to the Spirit, is via the empowerment of the Spirit in our lives, as we yield our lives over to God and we willingly let go of the flesh. Otherwise, we will be beating a dead horse if we try to do good, but if we are still doing it by the flesh, and not in the power of the Holy Spirit.

A New Creation

But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God. Gal. 6:14-16 ESV

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Co. 5:17 ESV

When we have truly believed in Jesus Christ, the old us is crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to a new self, a new creation in Christ Jesus, not like the old self (flesh). This new creation is now submitted to Christ, surrendered to his will, contrite over his or her sin, and hungry to now do what is pleasing to the Lord.

We don’t put on Christ in the sense that we just add him on to our old fleshly lives. Now he becomes our lives. Now he lives his life in us and through us. We are changed from caterpillars to butterflies. We don’t operate in the flesh the same way we did before we trusted in Christ. This is not to say that we will never be tempted again to sin, or that we will never sin again, but that sin no longer has rule (mastery) over our lives. Now, we want to please Christ and let him change us from the inside out.

So, our boast is not in our flesh. God is not interested in what WE are willing to do for him. He is interested in whether or not we are willing to yield to him and obey him and follow him in the way he would have us to go. If we are still walking according to the flesh, we cannot please God. We can never be good enough. We can never perform well enough. We do not have the power within ourselves to change our own hearts. So, we just have to empty ourselves of ourselves, and yield our lives over to the ONLY ONE who can change us and make us into the people of God he wants us to be.

This will mean being honest with God and with ourselves and not trying to please God by human effort, especially if the human effort is intended to serve as a cover for continued willful sin against God. God is not impressed by our external performances or our attempts at appearing righteous. What matters to him as that we are a new creation in Christ Jesus, dead to our old lives, and alive to God, surrendered to him, and walking by the Spirit.

So, if you are trying to get by, but doing things to look spiritual, or to appear as though you are following Christ, yet you are still operating in the flesh, and not in the Spirit, then I pray that today you will humble yourself before God, own up to your own human effort, confess any known sin in your life, and then submit to God, surrender to his will, and yield to the working of the Spirit in your life. Only in Christ will you find perfect peace.

The Battle for Truth / An Original Work
May 18, 2013 / Based off Malachi 1-4

Truth is marching, truth is marching.

I love you. Honor me.
Tell the truth. You’ll be free.
Sing My praise all your days.
I will give all you need.

Truth is marching, truth is marching.

Turn from sin; cleansed within.
Stand in awe of My Name.
Teach what’s true. Walk in peace.
Follow Christ, in His ways.

Truth is marching, truth is marching.

Show to God faithfulness.
Do not be adult’rous.
Do not shed shallow tears.
Do not be insincere.

Truth is marching, truth is marching.

I have sent messengers,
Who have giv’n my address.
They call for repentance,
And they warn of judgment.

Truth is marching, truth is marching.

I, the Lord, do not change,
So return – blessings gain:
Healing comes; joyfulness;
Freedom from your distress.

Saturday, January 20, 2018, 11:15 p.m. – Thank you, Jesus, for this teaching from your Word. May we all yield our lives to you.