Updated: Apr 1, 2022
"Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God, (Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,) Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead: By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name: Among whom are ye also the called of Jesus Christ: To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ." -Romans 1:1-7 KJV
If there is one subject that is brought up the most as the antithesis of how grace works, it is obedience. I have heard many whose mind is set on legalities bring up the objection to grace teaching in the form of a question like, "I understand that we are under grace, and grace has afforded us everything in the sight of God, BUT we still need to be obedient."
I would totally and completely agree with that statement depending upon the context in which it is contained.
Obedience Under The Old Covenant
Under The Old Covenant, obedience to God for the Jews meant keeping The Law. That is what they agreed to. They had to keep it. They were not saved by it. Grace has always been free. However, The Law was a shadow of the very image of what was to come, even though it was not the image (Hebrews 10:1).
Read what occurred between the people and God when The Old Covenant was made.
"Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: ... And all the people answered together, and said, All that the LORD hath spoken we will do. And Moses returned the words of the people unto the LORD." Exodus 19:5, 8 KJV
This context is to the children of Israel, until the promise that was made to Abraham would come. Jesus is born, completes the Old, and begins The New!
Obedience Under The New Covenant.
The Apostle Paul was all about The New Covenant. He probably wrote more letters to the church explaining why The New was superior to The Old than any other Apostle. He also explains what obedience is under The New Covenant.
"And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead: By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name:" (Romans 1:5 KJV)
Paul, as a part of the unearned blessing and favor of God through Jesus on His life, received His apostleship and grace from his obedience. Say what???? Yes! Paul obeyed the faith! His trust was resting in Jesus' performance, and not his own! This is New Covenant obedience and this is what Paul begins the letter to the Romans with.
He then ends the treatise with obedience: to the faith.
"The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:" (Romans 16:24-26 KJV)
Did you just read that? Paul said that The Gospel of Jesus Christ was given for the purpose that all nations might become obedient to God by their faith, not their performance! When we trust Jesus, our faith then produces great performance through Christ in us!! Amazing!
You Are Obedient To God.
Did you know that if you have believed on Jesus, you became obedient from the heart that very second? This obedience was not hinged on law-keeping or trying to keep some moral code. Jesus' obedience BECAME your obedience. Your heart now contains the Spirit of Christ who leads you and produces the behavior that God is producing in you through His grace. Relax Christian! You are already fully obedient! Now, go choose Jesus!
"But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you." (Romans 6:17 KJV)