Romans 6:17. But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed,
Obedient from the heart.
Let’s let that soak in shall we. Obeying God because we genuinely want to obey God. Not obedience from guilt, or shame, or obligation, or duty, or fear of disappointing, or to avoid punishment, failure, or judgment. Not manufacturing a motivation to obey. No selfish gain in view. No righteousness to obtain.
In Christ we obey God because it is truly what we want to do.
This is everything the scriptures have been pointing us toward for millennia. Moses predicted this day:
Deuteronomy 30:6. Moreover the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live.
And the prophet Jeremiah:
Jeremiah 32:40. I will make an everlasting covenant with them that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; and I will put the fear of Me in their hearts so that they will not turn away from Me.
And Ezekiel too:
Ezekiel 36:26. Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
And now it’s here! The new heart! It’s in us. Christ’s desire to obey the Father is now our very own desire to obey the Father. We have died with Christ and been raised to new life. The new creation. Christian, you have a new heart. As a result, you love God and others from the heart.
Thanks be to God!
God didn’t try to convince you to obey so that over time your heart would change. No. He changed your heart in one bold move – at the cross. In your death and resurrection with Christ, God gave you a new heart instantly by his grace. A pure heart. A heart that is one with Christ’s. Whether you realize it or not, your deepest desire is for God and for his righteousness. His justice. His love and mercy. This is the promise of the New Covenant – “I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” God has given us a heart that treasures him and his truth above all else. Back in chapter 2 of Romans Paul spoke of this need for the new heart. The circumcision of the heart by the Spirit.
Romans 2:29. But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.
And now the Spirit has done his surgical work. He has cut away the power of sin at its deepest level in our heart. He has freed us from Sin and he has empowered us for obedience. Pure obedience. True love. Real righteousness. Obedience with no other goal in mind other than the glory of God. No self-promotion for we are already promoted. No self-righteousness for we are already righteous. No self-worth for we are already worthy. Only obedience for the sake of God’s glory and the good of others. This is your new heart.
With the new heart comes a new affection. Not just new behaviors, but a new desire to obey. A new slavery to God freely chosen by his grace. Like the Hebrew slave that could choose to stay with his loving and kind master forever (Ex. 21:5-6), we have embraced a new imprisonment to Jesus, the master we would never run away from, and freely give our lives to. Why? Because he is the only master that won’t destroy us. He is the only master that can bear the weight of all our needs, wants, and desires. Only Jesus.
And so brothers and sisters we are slaves. But we are slaves who want to be slaves. Our obedience is from the heart. It is wholehearted trust that becomes wholehearted obedience. Obedience under grace is always voluntary. Never coerced. Just like Christ himself, who obeyed from his own will, we too obey from our freedom.
“To live is Christ” is to be so enthralled with Christ that all obedience flows from this new affection. Not law. Just love. Love that comes from knowing that we are loved first and forever.
Do you see your obedience as “heartfelt?”
You in Christ
How does knowing that you have a new heart make you desire to obey Christ more?
Christ in you
Where have you seen yourself obeying from the heart more and more lately?
Playlist: Obedient from the heart.