I saw this quote on Facebook today:
“Our obedience to God is not going to get us to heaven. It’s the fruit we live out because we are headed to heaven. Paul calls it ‘spiritual worship’ in Romans 12:1. It’s the service we know we should do, but we sometimes need a reminder to do. We don’t work for our salvation, but rather from it.”
Using Memes to Communicate Messages
I Googled the name of the stated author of the quote and the first line of the quote, and I could not find a match, so I can’t verify that the person who was quoted said this, but that is not relevant. It doesn’t matter who said it. Anyone could have said it, and many are saying it in many different ways.
I just got back on Facebook after being off of it for about seven years, and I discovered that most of what is on there, from what I can tell so far, are memes. And a meme is “a unit of cultural information, as a concept, belief, or practice, that spreads from person to person in a way analogous to the transmission of genes” (Source: Collinsdictionary.com).
In other words, they are not usually the posters’ original thoughts being expressed, but they are usually catchy quotes or humorous pictures or jokes being passed from person to person to person. But what is often taking place is that the posters are adopting these quotes as their own thinking.
And for followers of Jesus Christ that is dangerous. For, many people are making bold statements about God and the Scriptures. But what many are teaching is not true, or it is partially true, and if intentional, it is a lie. Or else they may twist the Scriptures, which also makes what is said a lie.
Let’s Break it All Down
So, let’s look at what was said in this quote, and let’s compare it to what Scripture teaches, and we will see if it adds up or not.
“Our obedience to God is not going to get us to heaven.”
Jesus said that if anyone keeps (obeys) his word, he will never see death. He also said that if anyone loves him, he will keep (obey) his word and the Father will love him, and they will come to him and make their home with him. He also said that if we keep (obey) his commandments that we abide in his love, and if anyone does not abide in him, he is thrown into the fire.
And Paul said that we are slaves of the one we obey – whether we are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness and sanctification, which then results in eternal life with God. And the writer of Hebrews said that Jesus became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.
And John wrote that we know that we have come to know Jesus/God if we keep (obey) his commandments. If we say that we know him, but we do not make it our practice to keep (obey) his commandments, then we are liars, and the truth is not in us. And he said that if we claim to have fellowship with God but we walk (in conduct, in practice) in the darkness (sin), we are liars who do not practice the truth.
Now going back to Paul, he wrote that if we make sin our practice, i.e., if we walk according to the flesh and not according to the Spirit, that we will not inherit eternal life with God, but that we will die in our sins. But if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the body (flesh), and if we are walking according to the Spirit, then we will live.
So, we are not to be deceived, for we will all reap what we sow (sow to the Spirit, reap eternal life; sow to the flesh, reap destruction, decay, death). For, we will be judged of God by our works. For those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath.
[Jn 8:51; Jn 14:23-24; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; 1 Pet 1:2; Heb 5:9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 1:5-9; Gal 5:16-24; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; 1 Co 6:9-10; 2 Co 5:10; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-11; Rom 8:1-17; Heb 3:6, 14-15]
“It’s the fruit we live out because we are headed to heaven.”
So, the person who said this is basically saying that our obedience to God has no impact on whether or not we go to heaven, but that our obedience is merely the fruit we live out because we are headed to heaven (guaranteed). So, whether we obey or we don’t obey, we are still headed to heaven.
So, that has already been debunked by the Scriptures referenced above. But let us look at the subject of our “fruit.” Jesus said this in John 15:1-6:
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit…
“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.”
And then there is this part about our “spiritual worship”:
“Paul calls it ‘spiritual worship’ in Romans 12:1. It’s the service we know we should do, but we sometimes need a reminder to do.”
So, what is our “spiritual worship”? It is to present our bodies (our lives) to God as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God. It is to give our lives to God as he requires, on his terms, living lives which are separate (unlike, different) from the world because we are being made into Christ’s likeness.
And it is to do so in a manner as God prescribes and which is pleasing (acceptable) to him. And what is pleasing or displeasing to him?
“For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Rom 8:6-8).
So, if our minds are set on the flesh, and if we are making sin our practice, and if we are not obeying the Lord’s commandments, it ends in death, not in life eternal with God. So, this isn’t optional. This spiritual worship, therefore, is not just the service we know we should do and need to be reminded to do. It is required of God. If we do not obey him, we will not see life everlasting.
“We don’t work for our salvation, but rather from it.”
Now, I agree with this one, provided it is properly understood in biblical context. We do nothing in our flesh to earn or to deserve our own salvation. We cannot save ourselves, and that includes we cannot make up our own gospel to suit our own lifestyles, either, and then expect heaven guaranteed.
But works are not absent from our salvation, but they are the works of God which he gives and which he empowers us to do by his Spirit. And if we do not do them, and we go our own way, instead, heaven is not guaranteed us as our eternal destiny, for we will die in our sins. But if we walk according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh, then we have eternal life with God.
[Rom 2:6-8; 1 Co 15:58; 2 Co 9:8; Eph 2:10; Phil 2:12-13; Col 1:9-14; 2 Tim 2:21; Tit 2:11-14; Tit 3:8; Jas 2:17; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 8:1-17; Lu 9:23-26; Jn 10:27-30; Jn 6:35-58; 2 Co 5:15; Rom 6:1-23; Eph 4:17-32]
By Jonathan Foreman
I give you my destiny
I’m giving you all of me
I want your symphony
Singing in all that I am
At the top of my lungs
I’m giving it my all
So, I lay my head back down
And I lift my hands and pray
To be only yours I pray
To be only yours I pray
To be only yours
I know now you’re my only hope
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Disclaimer: This is not an endorsement of the singers nor of all their music