Is Obedience to God Necessary?

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]

Only Hope

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

Caution: This link may contain ads
Disclaimer: This is not an endorsement of the singers nor of all their music

17 thoughts on “Is Obedience to God Necessary?

  1. It amazes me how Christians are blinded by the scriptures regarding obedience. They continue to misinterpret Paul and do not realize that what they are peddling is a form of Cheap Grace. Yet, when you present them with scriptural truth regarding our need to walk in obedience to God’s will – they accuse you of twisting scripture. Some even go so far as to willingly accept their position where Christ and Paul are contradicting each other and themselves.

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    • Timothy, I agree that many people (professing Christians) are ignorant (many willfully) of what the Scriptures teach regarding obedience. I agree that many misinterpret Paul and are peddling cheap grace as though it is the true grace of God. And I agree that if we teach the truth regarding obedience that we will be falsely accused of all sorts of things.

      But I don’t understand your last sentence. Paul did not contradict Jesus. Please explain what you mean here. Thanks.

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  2. An interesting posts of Facebook, memes, and what the quote says regarding obeying. I definitely agree with, as you sow so shall you reap. I believe God guides us, so helps us sow the right actions of goodness helping us reap goodness.

    I enjoyed reading your analysis too much to think about, but so important to contemplate Even if I am not Christian.

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      • Pk, we will all be judged by our works – Rom 2:6-8; Gal 6:7-8; 2 Co 5:10; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; 1 Jn 2:3-6. If we live in sin, we will die. If we live to Christ and to his righteousness, in walks of obedience to his commands, then we will live. God’s grace trains us to say “No!” to ungodliness and fleshly passions and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives while we wait for our Lord’s return. His grace delivers us from our slavery to sin and it empowers us to live holy lives. We will all reap what we sow. If we sow to please the Spirit, from the Spirit we will reap eternal life. But if we sow to please the flesh, from the flesh we will reap destruction (our lives will be destroyed).

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      • That’s true and we have to warn those who are perishing . But God sent his son that whoever believes in him should not perish but will have everlasting life.

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      • PK, yes, but belief as defined by God and as given and persuaded by God, which submits to Christ as Lord, and dies with him to sin, and lives to him and to his righteousness, and which walks in obedience to his commands, and which walks according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh., and which continues in him to the very end of time. For the Scriptures are clear that if we walk (in practice) according to the flesh, we will die in our sins. If we don’t obey him as a matter of practice, we don’t know him. We won’t have eternal life with God even if we say we believe in Jesus. Belief in Jesus is proved genuine by what we do (by our works, which are the works of God he prepared in advance that we should walk in them). And we will be judged by our works – all of us will (Rom 2:6-8; Gal 6:7-8).

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  3. Saved by grace, hallelujah!

    13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
    14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility
    15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace,
    16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. – Ephesians 2:13-16

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    • PK, you can’t ignore all the Scriptures in this blog entry on the subject of obedience. Yes, we are not under the Old Covenant. Yes, we don’t have to obey all those liturgical, ceremonial, and/or purification laws that the Jews had to obey. And we don’t have to go through physical circumcision, although I am fairly sure that was the men only.

      Also, regarding the law, laws, commands, and obedience, we need to read all the Scriptures in the New Testament under the New Covenant (including Jesus’ words) which teach on this subject so that we have a proper understanding on what the Scriptures teach. And there is much to be learned, and I admit that it can sometimes be confusing.

      Although we don’t have to adhere to all those physical and external requirements of the Old Covenant, God did not remove his requirement for us to obey him, nor has he removed his requirement that we obey his moral laws. Those are repeated for us in massive detail all throughout the New Testament.

      Please look up the Scriptures I noted in this blog post, because they will help you to understand what is required of us for salvation from sin and for eternal life with God. For, the Scriptures are quite clear that if we do not obey our Lord’s commands (New Covenant), and if we go our own way, instead, that we don’t have salvation from sin or eternal life with God. And this is salvation by God’s grace, for his grace frees us from our slavery to sin, and his grace empowers us to live godly and holy lives, pleasing to him.

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      • Who are you addressing this post to? People who are saved or the unsaved ? Saved people know the truth and that is what obedience means . People who go their own way (habitually sin without guilt ) are not saved and thus do not obey (believe) the truth . Jesus is the way, the truth , and the life . He is our salvation. Without faith it is impossible to please God. I hope we are on the same page with this . Context is key .

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      • PK, there are many people today who are buying into a cheap grace which does not require repentance, obedience to Christ or submission to Christ as Lord. The meme quote I shared was of the cheap grace variety, for it stated that our obedience to God has no impact on whether or not we go to heaven when we die. But obedience to God is required for our salvation from sin and for eternal life with God, which I proved to be true via the Scriptures that I shared.

        Yet, I believe the topic here has been discussed enough between us, so I am going to put our discussion to rest. Thank you.

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  4. The verses you mentioned are to show the unsaved why they need to be saved . Further down he explains how to be saved . 21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it-
    22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction:
    23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
    24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,
    25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.
    26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. – Romans 3:21-26

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    • PK, No, most of these verses are not to show the unsaved why they need to be saved. Some of them are instructing them how to be saved. These Scriptures I referenced were mostly all written to Christians (or professing Christians) reminding them what it means to be saved from their sins and to have eternal life with God, and warning them that if they do not continue in that same faith (provided what they were taught was correct), and if they went back to living in sin or they continued living in sin after professing faith in Christ or if they didn’t walk in obedience to the Lord and if they didn’t continue in him until the very end, that they would not inherit eternal life with God. And they were to remind them that we will all be judged by our works.

      [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; 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; Lu 9:23-26; Jn 10:27-30; Jn 6:35-58; 2 Co 5:15; Eph 4:17-32]

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