«For your obedience has become known to all» (Romans 16:19).
ALMOST AT THE END of the letter to the Romans, the apostle to the Gentiles, the one who taught that we are saved by the grace of Christ received by faith, praised the believers because everyone had heard of their obedience. ‘Ihus, Paul rejoiced because of their obedience, that is, their submissiveness to receive the faith; and he also rejoiced because that obedience was well-known: it testified of their faith.
There are several types of obedience. We talk about the obedience of a child; of solidary, sociological, voluntary, and «dutiful» obedience; of obedience as self-discipline; or of blind, forced, and religious obedience, which arises as a result of accepting divine regulations for life. This religious obedience has often been taken to extremes—on the one hand, thinking that obedience is what allows us to win God’s favor and our salvation, and on the other, that it is as unnecessary as it is impossible.
Obedience to God is a supreme duty and is a consequence of recognizing Him as Creator, Sustainer, and Redeemer. It is always a positive response to God’s love and the gospel; it is the fruit of the Holy Spirit that acts in life. It must be heartfelt and permanent.
We do not obtain salvation through obedience, but by grace.
«Faith and obedience are bound up in the same bundle. He that obeys God, trusts God; and he that trusts God, obeys God. He that is without faith is without works; and he that is without works is without faith.
Do not oppose faith and good works to one another, for there is a blessed relationship between them, and if you abound in obedience your faith shall grow exceedingly»
Obedience is the true test of discipleship; it is a loyal service offered out of love, and it is through that love that we keep the divine commandments. Faith does not exempt us from obedience; on the contrary, it is faith that makes us partakers of Christ’s grace and empowers us to obey.
Salvation is God’s free gift that we receive by faith: «Here is the true test. If we abide in Christ, if the love of God dwells in us, our feelings, our thoughts, our purposes, our actions, will be in harmony with the will of God as expressed in the precepts of His holy law» (Steps to Christ, p. 61).
It is by walking continually with the Lord that we become like Him.
The more we contemplate Him, the more we resemble Him. «Lord, may You be well known, so that there will be less of me and more of You that is seen. Amen.»