A few years ago, I got wind of a guy who was telling people he only obeyed God’s Word when the Spirit led him. I asked to meet with him to inquire if this was accurate, since he had sat under our teaching. He confirmed that it was and reiterated it.
Since he was married, I asked him whether he was to love his wife as Christ loved the church according to Ephesians 5:25. This is New Covenant Scripture, mind you. His response was disturbing. “I will only do that if the Holy Spirit leads me to do that.”
This is a twisted understanding of grace. Grace does not mean we only obey Jesus when we are led by the Spirit. The Holy Spirit will always lead us to obey Jesus. In fact, the more I understand my Abba’s love for me, the more I want to obey Him. This is not a legalistic obedience where we obey with hopes that He will love us more. It is a grace-based obedience because we are so grateful for His love. Obedience under grace is our Abba instructing us to live like who we already are in Christ. It is also not dependent on our will-power or fleshly strength. This obedience is dependent on Christ in us.
A friend of mine shared a beautiful example of this truth. His wife home schooled their three children. Their 9 year-old son disobeyed his mom every day during school. My friend shared that he pulled him into his room one evening and closed the door, telling his son he needed to obey his mom. (This is New Covenant teaching is it not? Children are instructed to obey their parents in Ephesians 6:1 and Colossians 3:.20.) His son broke down and cried, saying, “I want to obey mom but I can’t do it.” My friend wisely responded, ‘You are correct. You cannot do it on your own but you can depend on Jesus in you to do the obeying through you.” The light bulb went off and my friend told me his son has been a totally different kid ever since!
New Covenant obedience is not loosey-goosey, nor is it legalistic. It’s grace-based; motivated from our desire to love our Abba; an expression of our identity in Christ; and dependent on Christ in us.