There is much confusion in the religious world concerning which is important to salvation, obedience or grace, or both, or what?
Even though some may say that obedience is very important, they still will insist that one is not saved by his works. Obedience is works, so why is obedience of importance if works do not save? Some also say that commandments must be obeyed but simply the law or writings are not necessary to obey for salvation. But if this is true, then why did Paul write the following?
If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord. (1 Corinthians 14:37 KJV)
Apparently the inspired apostle believes all the instructions given by the Holy Spirit, are commandments. The fact is, one cannot deny that any of the commands, or instructions, in the New Testament are not required to be obeyed. The reader is advised to read the entire chapter 6 of Romans, which contains the title question above. Here is the first few verses to show what the apostle is trying to get over to us.
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. (Romans 6:1-6 KJV)
God is not the author of confusion and certainly, to have had his inspired writers fill the New Testament with instructions for our Christian life, that did not have to be obeyed is ludicrous. Peter said in answer to the penitent Jews on the day of Pentecost who asked “Men and brethren what shall we do”?
Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. (Acts 2:38 KJV)
You don’t suppose Peter followed that with, “but, if you prefer, you can omit that and let grace take care of it.” Do you? An unbelievable number of professing Christians will answer that with a “yes”.
Also, the inspired writer James gives us a solid answer to this question:
What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. (James 2:14-26 KJV)
Why would Jesus learn to be obedient if it was not necessary? In the book of Hebrews, 5:8-0, it tells us that Jesus learned obedience by the things he suffered, even though he was a Son. And then, being made perfect he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them who obey him. What about those that choose not to obey him?
Now with all that said, why then does God offer us grace? Very simple. We are weak people, all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. We sin. God has a law of pardon, for alien sinners which consists of hearing (learning) the word of God (Romans 10:17), believing (faith) that God is (Hebrews 11:6), repenting of sins (Acts 2:38), confess belief in Christ (Acts 8:37), be baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38)
Once those past sins are forgiven, they are forgotten, never to be remembered against the new-born Christian again. However, even though one is totally free from sin at this point, it does not mean that he cannot sin, or that he will not sin. It is the Christian’s duty to avoid any further sin as diligently as possible for the rest of his life. When we inadvertently sin, God’s grace takes care of us providing we have striven to avoid such. This is where grace protects us. Not at all when we willfully sin or disobey. If we do sin knowingly and recognize that fact, read these scriptures:
My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. (1John 1:1-2 KJV)
And we have an example of one who had been baptized into Christ, when he sinned, he was instructed by Peter, what he should do:
But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. (Acts 8:20-22 KJV)
So, once one has become a child of God through obedience to the commands which place him in Christ, he has the authority given by Jesus to pray directly to the Father and ask forgiveness. Repentance and prayer, will resolve one’s sins once they have attained the new birth and have become a child of God.
God’s grace is extended to all His children who are striving to live an obedient life for Him, but have missed the mark. It is not a license to sin. Willful and unrepentant sin will condemn the erring child of God. God knows our hearts. When we are doing our best, inadvertent sin will not be charged to us.
Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin. (Romans 4:8 KJV)