"What about obedience?" A question I hear frequently from those who (at least) partially opposing the message of grace. They usually pick a list of sins or a list of commandments from either OT or NT, and pose the question: shouldn't we abstain from these sins? shouldn't we do these things God has commanded us?
All throughout the Bible, starting from the garden of Eden, the consequences people suffered due to sin or disobedience was a direct result of unbelief. In other words, in all cases, the punishment is always directed towards unbelief.
Hebrews chapter 3 makes this abundantly clear. Talking about the Israelites,
Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the desert? And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief. - Hebrews 3:15-19
It's clear that those who disobeyed were those who disbelieved.
God's anger was toward those who sinned (the verse says). What kind of sin is He talking about? Is it the making of idols? Is it the rebellion against Moses? Is it the grudging toward God? Is it their demand that they want to go back to Egypt?
Why was He angry for forty years?
'Because of their unbelief'. They failed to believe His promise. If there was any disobedience, it was a direct result of their unbelief in God's promise. And God's judgment is always toward unbelief, because unbelief is the root of any sin.
When I stop believing God to supply all my needs, I might be tempted to steal. I might even steal.
For any disease, it's highly critical that we diagnose and treat the root cause. Treating the symptoms is not enough. So in case of stealing, should we treat the disease of stealing? Or should we treat the disease of unbelief?
All throughout the years, decades and centuries, the church is trying to treat the symptoms, not the disease. So they have all these temporary pain relievers and fever reducers in the form of self discipline, accountability, principles, values, traditions etc. They know it is temporary, but they still keep on prescribing the same thing again and again. None of these 'Tylenols' and 'Mortins' can never ever go deeper beneath the skin to the heart and fix the heart of unbelief.
Believing is a choice and when we are believing, we are indeed obeying.
Depression, worry and fear are some natural consequences resulting from an unbelieving heart. We can either believe God, in a moment by moment basis, which is nothing but walking by the Spirit or we can choose to walk by the flesh.
Major Ian Thomas, in his book titled, 'The indwelling life of Christ', says about this,
"If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit" (Galatians 5:25), and this is what it means to walk in the Holy Spirit: to take one step at a time, and for every new situation into which every new step takes you, no matter what it may be, to hear Christ saying to your heart, "I AM", then to look up into His face by faith and say, "You are! That is all I need to know, Lord, and thank You, for You are never less than adequate."