Obedient from the Heart
Rom. 6:15 ¶ What then? Should we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!
Rom. 6:16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?
Rom. 6:17 But thanks be to God that you, having once been slaves of sin, have become obedient from the heart to the form of teaching to which you were entrusted,
Rom. 6:18 and that you, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.
Rom. 6:19 I am speaking in human terms because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to greater and greater iniquity, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness for sanctification.
Paul understood the dramatic change which could occur in the life of God’s children. No longer were we to live as slaves as under the law, but we were to be adopted as children. The attitude or relationship toward the Father immediately changes. No longer do we serve him simply out of obedience to the law, but we desire to serve him as children. The heart is changed and there is an understanding that we are a part of this family and as such, we desire to act like and be like the family; and this family is a holy family. Therefore to be sanctified means to become holy and take on the very nature of the family. This adoption is not just on the outside, but on the inside as well. We become like the Father, in essence, taking on the DNA of the family — which is holiness. This is nothing that we achieve on our own, it is something that is given to us through the presence of the Holy Spirit. That’s why we want to present ourselves, wholly and completely to the Father so that we become slaves from our hearts.
Yesterday, May 24, was Wesley day. It was the day in which he was on Aldersgate Street and heard the Luther’s preface to the Commentary on Romans 1 being read. It was during that time that this man who had been trying so hard to find a method to know God finally had his heart “strangely warmed” and something empowering happened in his life. He suddenly had confidence in his salvation. No longer did he have to live in doubt as to whether he was saved, but instead, his heart gave him this assurance. The change that occurred was an obedience from the heart — from a heart of love toward God in Christ. While he went on to employ his “methods,” they were now for those who were assured of their salvation so that they could grow as members of the family.
Motivation has a great influence on our behavior. If I am motivated by simply needing to fulfill a list of items out of a sense of duty, then I do it begrudgingly. However, if I am motivated by a deep and fulfilling love, I do what I do only because it is my desire.
I think of the old illustration of the woman who had a very difficult husband. During the time of their marriage he made a list for her of all the demands he had in terms of their relationship. It included her providing food at the right time, caring for his clothing, keeping the house in the right condition, etc. She begrudgingly tried to keep the list, all the while feeling discouraged and angry. It was a difficult list and rather unpleasant. Eventually this husband died and after a period of time she remarried. A few years after her second marriage she was cleaning out some cupboards when she found the old list. Much to her surprise she was doing everything on that list, only now there were no demands. She simply had a husband who deeply loved her and she loved him and it was her desire to make him happy. She was now obedient from the heart.
This is God’s call to us in our personal relationship with him. We serve a very loving God who simply wants to adopt us into his family and in doing so wants us to have this assurance from our hearts that we are his. The result is an obedience from the heart that is motivated by holy love.
Lord, your incredible love toward me is overwhelming. I thank you, praise you, and worship you. Amen.