I would ask you to ponder this statement please, “We are all forced to obey God.” True or false?
If you base your faith in works, you said true, if you base your faith in love, you said false. So, how did you do, did you pass the test? This is indeed a much deeper statement than many would like to contemplate, for it is in one sense very true, the Sovereign Lord of all creation is just that, the Lord and Ruler of all that is, all of reality obeys His command.
This goes much further than just the times when the Lord said to the sea, “Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further: and here shall thy proud waves be stayed?” (Job 38:11) It goes beyond when He created the dust to make man with, (Gen. 2:7) nothing, not one thing would exist without Him. “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” (Rev. 4:11)
So then, by default, all that is in the truest sense of the word obeys God. Yet here we have the conundrum, as they say, man has been given free will, which infers within itself the ability to either obey or disobey, we have a choice, but again, only for so long. “The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.” (Psalm 90:10) Now of course some live longer, but no man alive today is two or three hundred years old, so, according to the Scriptures, “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” (Heb. 9:27)
Here then is one of the tests of obedience, did you obey here in this life, and if so, for what reason. If your faith is based in works not only does it dishonor the sacrifice of the shed blood of the Lamb of God, but it is by default then based in fear. The fear of the possible repercussions, not only in this life, but of the possibility of ever entering into the next life in the right place, shall we say.
As I have stated before, there are only two reasons for obedience, because we are forced to or because we choose to, and the path of works is the path of “forced to.” Forced obedience never occurs because of love, it is always the opposite of free will, and is usually done to attempt to coerce favor from the One that is forcing that obedience upon us, more obedience, less punishment, that is how works thinks. Those who follow the path of religious tyranny, for that is what it is, always follow the path of works, and only for two reasons, to keep the wrath of God at bay, and to not end up in hell. There is very little hope, if any, in that path.
“If ye love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15) Here is the foundation of the path of obedience for the sake of love, it does not defer to fear, it is not concerned about the consequences of disobedience save for one reason, it would dishonor the name of the One who loves us. This obedience can say in all honesty, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him.” (Job 13:15) This obedience because of love can say without any hesitation “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Phil. 1:21) It accepts chastisement without question, it rejoices in trials and tribulations, (Romans 12:12) it continues to obey in pain and suffering, it holds no grudge. (Lev. 19:18)
This is how the slaves of Christ find their freedom in servitude, this is how we show what meager love we have to offer to Him who first loved us, (1 John 4:19) by obeying, without question. Works based faith does not trust in Christ, it seeks to add by mortal effort to what only the immortal God could accomplish. Faith based obedience is rooted in love, sees itself of not being worthy of the love that is poured out upon it, and glories in the One who paid the price in full for a debt that He did not owe. Go back to the start of this letter, read that question again, and see if you now have a different answer to it.