by Jonathan Daugherty
“Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?” Romans 6:16
Do you wonder sometimes if there is a “payoff” for obeying God? I mean, doesn’t it seem like everything He asks us to do just flies in the face of what the culture promotes and even demands? It often feels like swimming upstream without any relief in sight. What is the payoff, if there even is one?
The good news is that God isn’t a killjoy. In fact, He is just the opposite. Jesus said, “I have come that you might have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10) Abundant life doesn’t sound like a downer! But with all these boundaries that God expects us to live within, what benefit derives from faithfully obeying His restrictions? In a word, righteousness.
There are certainly many additional benefits to obeying God, but I really want to focus in on righteousness because it is becoming less and less familiar in our world as our attentions are drawn away toward all that appeals to our fleshly appetites. We often don’t even realize how distracted we are, and the terrible consequences of the enslavement to sin and death.
Righteousness is defined as “the quality or state of being morally upright.” How can anyone be in a state of “moral uprightness” apart from God, the supreme moral Lawgiver? (That’s a rhetorical question, by the way…) If we are incapable of righteousness apart from God, then what connects us to God? Faith! “The righteous will live by faith.” (Rom. 1:17b) And faith in God is not disconnected from our obedience to Him. In fact, our faith is expressed through our obedience. Take a look at how this beautiful progression works:
What a beautiful process that paints a clearer picture of what Jesus meant by “abundant life.” This isn’t a self-seeking life or life merely of pleasure, but rather a life of righteousness born out of faith in the Creator God. And as we are “enslaved” to obedience a rich harvest of righteousness is produced in us. What a payoff, here and in eternity!
What are you “enslaving” yourself to, sin or obedience? Cast off all your lusts and self-pleasing desires and embrace obedience to God’s Word. As you are shackled more tightly to obeying the Lord of heaven and earth, a righteousness from God will be produced and your faith will grow. And the payoff is a beautiful thing…