Today we're going to look at a few passages that confirm that a person who habitually rejects obedience to the commands of Scripture has not received the new birth which comes from above.
We believe - with Jesus - that those who belong to Him have been given a new heart; that is, they have new affections, desires, and even a new will - one which seeks to please God through a life of intentional & deliberate obedience. Of course, we would never, ever say that these works are the basis of one's salvation (cf. Ephesians 2:8-9). Rather, such "good works" are the fruit of a new root (Eph. 2:10). As Jesus Himself tells us over & over again, the tree will be known by its fruits (cf. Matt. 7:17-18; 12:33). Hearts that love Jesus keep His commandments (John 14:15, 21, 23). Hearts that do not love Jesus, regardless of what their lips may profess, do not keep His words (John 14:24). It's as simple as that. Those who refuse to obey Jesus as Lord and Lawgiver betray that they have never been regenerated by the Holy Spirit and given a new heart that desires to obey Jesus as Lord. Such people disobey because their disposition (i.e. "heart" or "mind") is one of enmity towards God & His law (Rom. 8:7). Those who do belong to Jesus, that is, those who have the Holy Spirit, make it their aim to walk in obedience (8:4-5). Those whose minds are not set on Christ, are not children of God (8:9). Those who are children of God do not make it their practice to live according to the flesh (8:12); rather, they are led by the Spirit (8:14). Paul couldn't make it any clearer.
Some other passages, from the very lips of Jesus Himself, that destroy the notion that one can be a forgiven child of God despite the fact that their lives are characterized by perpetual disobedience are:
Matt. 7:21-23 = "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to Me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and cast out demons in Your name, and do many mighty works in Your name?' And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness.'"
Matthew 7:24-27 "Everyone then who hears these words of Mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it."
Matthew 21:28-31 "What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, 'Son, go and work in the vineyard today.' And he answered, 'I will not,' but afterward he changed his mind and went. And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, 'I go, sir,' but did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?" They said, "The first." Jesus said to them, "Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you.
Luke 6:46 "Why do you call Me 'Lord, Lord,' and not do what I tell you?"
Luke 9:23 "And He said to all, "'If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.'"
Luke 14:34-35 (see the context of vv. 25-33) "Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear."
John 14:15 "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments."
John 14:21 "Whoever has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me."
John 14:23-24 Jesus answered him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love Me does not keep My words. And the word that you hear is not Mine but the Father's who sent Me."
John 15:2, 4-5. "Every branch of Mine that does not bear fruit He takes away...the branch cannot bear fruit unless it abides in the vine. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.
John 15:10 "If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love."
John 15:16 "You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you, so that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide."
John 17:6 "I have manifested Your name to the people whom You gave Me out of the world. Yours they were, and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word."
I'm not sure how much more clearly the Lord Jesus could have made this. If it were a few passages taken out of context, a formidable argument could be leveled against my proposition. But over and over, Jesus makes it very clear that those who do not desire to walk in obedience to Him or His commands do not, nay, have never truly loved Him. The mark of one who has been sovereignly made a true disciple of Jesus by saving faith is this: they do His commands (cf. Matt. 28:20).
In our next blog, we will look at the NT letters to see if the inspired apostles were in agreement with their Lord's teaching.
Finally, we will deal with the accusation that such teaching inevitably promotes "salvation by works and not grace through faith." Like all the other strawmen, Scripture will easily and definitively demolish such insipid strongholds.
In Christ, for the sake of His renown to the ends of the earth,