More Reflections on Obedience by God’s Grace
Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? . . . Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God. (Gal_3:3 and 2Co_3:5)
Once again, let’s reflect on previously studied passages that show how obedience to God is related to His grace. Galatians 3:3 fits in this helpful category.
Our beginning with God was brought about by the work of His Spirit. “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit” (Tit_3:5). We humbly admitted our sins, casting ourselves upon the mercy of God. The Holy Spirit brought us new birth, new life. This work of the Spirit is linked to the grace of God later in this same sentence: “that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Tit_3:7). Thus, starting out with God is related to His Spirit applying His grace to our need.
Now, having experienced spiritual birth by the Spirit (by grace), would we be so foolish as to think that we could be spiritually developed by the flesh (by mere human activity)? “Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? ” The only way that spiritual growth can follow spiritual birth is by the work of the Holy Spirit (that is, by the grace of God continuing to impact our lives). These same terms are the only explanation for the development of obedience in the life of a child of God. It must come from the Spirit applying grace to our hearts. “It is good that the heart be established by grace” (Heb_13:9).
2Co_3:5 is another passage that carries this same message about obedience. “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God.” We are hereby reminded that Christians are not the source of any godliness that is to develop in their lives. This would include obedience. We do not have within our own resources what it takes to produce an obedient life. Yet, we do have available to us daily all that we need to grow in pleasing God and doing His will. God is to be our source always for all things spiritual. How do we draw upon His comprehensive sufficiency? Humbly depend upon Him. God pours grace into the humble heart (Jas_4:6), and faith accesses grace (Rom_5:2).
Heavenly Father, would You develop obedience in me the same way You brought new life to me—by Your Spirit, by Your grace. I again confess my need for Your sufficient resources for growing in obedience, and I rely on You, Amen.