Friday, August 28, 2009

A SENSE OF OBLIGATION

Free in Christ. We are freed from sin and the associated guilt. In Christ we are free from the futility of works salvation. Yes, we are free. "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus," (Rom. 8:1). No one really knows freedom until they have this kind.

We are free, but freedom doesn't mean freedom from obligation. We are obligated to give thanks. “We give You thanks, O Lord God, the Almighty, who are and who were, because You have taken Your great power and have begun to reign" (Rom. 11:17). I think this idea is building on my last post on accepting the rule of Christ in our lives. Only an ingrate would be anything but thankful for what God has done to free us from sin and death. Without appreciation for God's grace, we will act foolishly and fail to be like Him. When we consider what God has done for us, we must give thanks. Jesus indicated that not giving thanks is a failing when he healed 10 lepers and only one returned to give thanks. "Then Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine—where are they? 18 “Was no one found who returned to give glory to God, except this foreigner?” 19 And He said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has made you well" (Lk. 17:17,18). Jesus answered the one, saying your "faith has saved you". SOZO translated "well" in verse 19 relates to the spiritual condition of the man. The ten had been healed physically, but only one was thankful and saved by his faith. Thankfulness ought to be automatic, but apparently it was not for the nine. God's awesome works makes us obligated to give Him thanks.

We are obligated to do God's will. "Doing" is not about earning salvation since Jesus says it is about love. He said, "If you love me, you will keep my commandments." It's not possible to separate AGAPE love for Jesus Christ from obedience to His commandments. The Apostle Paul said that he was saved by God's patience and love. " 13 even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; 14 and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus" (1 Tim. 1:13-14). Paul was grateful to God for his salvation. But the gift did not negate the Apostle's obligation to God. When he was converted, Saul was told, "14 and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name." 15 But the Lord said to him, "Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; 16 for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake" (Acts 9:14-16). God didn't leave any impression in Scripture that free salvation meant freedom from obligation to serve Him. It's impossible to go through life without a Master. If we choose to be a slave to righteousness, we are servant to do righteousness. The Apostle spoke of this obligation in Romans 1, saying, "14 I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. 15 So, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome" (Rom. 1:14,15). Paul wasn't under any illusion that he was free from obligation to serve Jesus Christ and preach the Gospel to the lost world.

If we love Jesus Christ and have even a minimal understanding what He did for us, we know how man is obligated to give thanks to Him and to do His will. Anything less will be unsatisfactory on the day of judgment.

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