Christian Ethics 2022

The Blessings of Obedience in an Ethical Christian Life

Apr 24, 2023 2:20:00 PM / by Wayne Grudem

This General Session was recorded live at the Shepherds 360 Church Leaders Conference in Cary, NC on October 19, 2022. For information about the next conference, please visit




I want to talk about a topic that I think is important in the New Testament, but neglected by many pastors, many churches today.

I don't think I've ever heard a topic. A sermon on this topic is the blessings of obedience in the Christian life.

Imagine for a moment that you're facing a specific kind of temptation, you're tempted to deal decisively with some money at work.

Or with the money in a situation with a relative or dishonesty with the detail of your taxes.

Or your you're walking late for a meeting and you're tempted, tempted to tell a small lie.

The traffic was unusually heavy today when it wasn't, but you want to make an excuse for yourself.

You're away on a business trip, and you're attempting to linger too long in a conversation with an opposite opposite sex person who's not your spouse.

You tempted to visit an internet site that has pornography, or at least one of those Fox News sites that come up and say, Look at this famous woman in a new bikini, and you're tempted to click.

Your boss wants you to sign a form that you know, is untruthful.

You hear some interesting gossip. And you don't know if it's true, but you pass it on anyway, you're tempted to pass it anyway.

Someone at work has been promoted over you and you're tempted to speak poorly about the person just to get even.

You know that God has been prompting you to phone or visit another person or perhaps has been calling you to some ministry opportunity in the church or elsewhere. But you're tempted not to obey.

But you're tempted not to be honest about some details regarding an item, you want to return to a store attempting to exaggerate something. And we face little temptations every day, every week. And the situation is we face these questions. But the question is doesn't really make any difference what we do, you might even be tempted to rationalize by saying hasn't got already forgiven me? This probably won't make any difference to anything at all?

The answer is yes, it does make a difference. And that difference is what we'll discuss in this section in this session.

Paul said,

"What then shall we sin that grace may abound? By no means!" in Romans six. That's a mistake. We know that we're forgiven in Christ. And we're not going to lose our salvation if we've just genuinely trusted in Christ. But obedience and disobedience do make a big difference in the blessings that we experience in our Christian life and in the age to come.

So I'm going to list the number of blessings of obedience. Number one, the blessing of deeper fellowship with God. Jesus speaks about a direct correlation between obeying His commandments and ongoing daily experience of His love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in My love. We want to abide in his love. And we want that to be the atmosphere that surrounds us. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments, and abide in His law, Jesus's example.

John 14:23 – If anyone loves Me, he will keep my word. That's another way of saying, keep my commandments. 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 is an intensification of the dwelling of God within us as we walk in obedience.

And as Jesus and the Father and the Holy Spirit make themselves known to us in an increasingly strong measure.

We know the deepest Joy possible in this life, the joy of God's very presence. Psalm 16:11 – in Your presence is fullness of joy, and your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 34:8 – Taste and see that the Lord is good.

Bless it is the man who takes refuge in Him.

Psalm 36:7 – How precious is your steadfast love? Oh God, the children of mankind. Take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them a drink from the river of your delights. Because the joy of resting and being in God's presence.

Number two, the joy and blessing of bringing glory to God by imitating his character on Earth.

Margaret and I have a great daughter and our son, her father is a pastor.

And when she was, I think three, she announced that when she grows up, she wanted to be a pastor.

Now, I'm glad she didn't pursue that.

But it's natural for children to imitate their parents, one of my sons, when I was teaching Greek at Trinity divinity school in Illinois, we were out exercising one day he said, when he was about age six, Daddy, when I grew up, I wanted to be a Greek teacher. Children are like that they want to imitate their parents. So Cole says in Ephesians five one be imitators of God as beloved children, indicating that God wants to see his character reflected in our daily lives. If we tell the truth, we're proclaiming that God has a truth telling God, if we show mercy, we're proclaiming that God is a merciful God. If we're faithful, we pretend we proclaim that God is a faithful God.

He said, Let your light so shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. When people see our good works, they should be prompted to give glory to God and Heaven. Number three, the blessing of expressing our love to God by our actions.

We have in our hearts a sense of love for God and a sense of gratitude.

Jesus said, If you love me, you will keep My commandments.

Number four. The blessing of pleasing God.

I don't hear this talked about very much. But an old hymn had it right.

Living for Jesus, a life that is true,
Striving to please Him in all that I do;
Yielding allegiance, glad-hearted and free,
This is the pathway of blessing for me.

And I looked through the New Testament, and there are many, many verses about pleasing God in our conduct. Are you pleasing God right now?

Someone said, No. I think you are.

I think you're listening to the word being taught and you've registered and planned to come here and you're doing what God wants you to do. You have a sense of God's favor. You have a sense of his pleasure in you right now.

Or in general in your life pursue.

In your relationship with your family, in relationship with neighbors and friends, are you pleasing God?

Father says in Second Corinthians 5:9 whether we are at home or away we make it our aim to please Him.

Ephesians 5:10 – try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.

Philippians 2:13 – God works in you to will and to work for His good pleasure.

Philippians 4:18 – I received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.


Paul is saying to the Philippian church, you sent me a gift that was pleasing to God. God was pleased with it.

Colossians 1:10 walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him bearing fruit in every good work and increasing the knowledge of God.

Paul says the question Christians, they should live in a way of walking away that is pleasing to God. Are we doing that?

Try this Colossians 3:20 – Children, obey your parents and everything. Why? For this pleases the Lord.

I hadn't done this study verses on pleasing God until our our children are grown. They're now 42, 45 and 48.

But when we were growing, they were growing up. I don't think we ever said to them obey your mother and father for this pleases God.

But it does Colossians 3:20 – Children obey your parents and everything for this pleases the Lord.

Paul's preaching 1 Thessalonians 2:4. We speak not to please man but to please God who tests our hearts. He's speaking to please God who tests our hearts

1 Thessalonians 4:1 – as he received from us how you ought to walk into please God just as you are doing. You do some more and more.

Before he was taken Enoch was commended as having pleased God he visited heaven.

Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have. For such sacrifices are pleasing to God, Hebrews 13:16

Now may the God of peace equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. Hebrews 13:21.

First John 3:22 – whatever we ask this prayer, whatever we ask we receive from him because we keep his commandments and do what pleases Him.

Jesus said this, I always do. The things that are pleasing to Him, are an astounding statement. I always do the things that are pleasing to Him, the father.

Or if we could only say that sometimes Christians wrongly assume they can do nothing good in this life that will please God, they think God counts their faithful obedience as totally worthless, totally unworthy of his approval. But the New Testament so frequently speaks about pleasing God, that can't be right.

Such a view would maximize our sinfulness. So that's greater than Christ's redemptive work, who gave himself forced to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for Himself, people for his possession or zealous for good works. Titus 2:14.

Ephesians 2:10 – We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

Let your light so shine before others that they may see your good works, says Jesus. Let your light so shine before others that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. It doesn't say Let your light so shine before others that they may see your bad works.

It doesn't say in Ephesians 210 We were created in Christ Jesus for bad works. We created Christ Jesus for good works. So we're capable of doing good works. We're capable, walking not perfectly our hearts aren't ever perfect in this life.

But substantiallysignificantly, walking in a way that's pleasing God.

And I think most of you in this room are doing that now. In general in your life, you're seeking to follow in passive obedience. But are you enjoying a sense of pleasing God His favor on you?

Number five. The joy and blessing of making angels happy.

There is more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 righteous persons indeed no repentance.

And Paul tells Timothy that angels are watching his conduct because he commanded in the presence of God and in Christ Jesus and the elect angels.

Keep these rules without prejudging, doing nothing from partiality.

Westminster Confession of Faith was a great Protestant confession, published in 1646.

And it says,

The persons of believers

I think this may be on a slide that I passed over.

The persons of believers being accepted through Christ, their good works also are accepted in him, not as though they were in this life holy, unbelievable and unreal, provable in God's sight, but that he looking on them in his son is pleased to accept and reward that which is sincere, although accompanied with many weaknesses and imperfections,

Paul says, or Peter says that angels long to look into the things that have been announced to you. And I think that includes the specific ways in which the preaching of the gospel is worked out in specific situations in your lives, and those long to look into these things. First, Peter 1:12 angels are watching and we were obedient, they rejoice.

Number six. The joy and blessing of becoming a useful vessel for honorable use by God.

Paul says in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay.

So in a great house, there's fine china and then there's the bucket, use the scrub the floor and there's the dish to feed the dog.

Vessels not only a golden silver, but also wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable.

Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use. Set apart is wholly useful to the master.

The house ready for every good work.

This is a strong restraint, on giving into temptation and doing something that's unpleasant. It's not pleasing to God.

Many times throughout a week or a month, there are little temptations that come across my path to be harsh and responding to someone to exaggerate something. In the academic world, there are temptations always to. If you come across a bit of evidence in doing a word search, that doesn't fat fit your theory is temptation to ignore it and hope nobody notices.

So we face temptations or temptations to click on the wrong website or turn on the wrong TV show or the wrong movie.

A big restraint in that regard in my life is a sense of I don't want to lose God's favor and blessing on my life.

It wouldn't be worth it. Nothing would be worth that.

And I don't know if I would embark down the path of sin or disobedience. I don't know when God would withdraw his hand of blessing when he would withdraw his favor. I want to be a vessel for honorable use.

Set up prior to totally useful to the master of the house. Ready for any good work. Second Timothy 20-21.

I don't want to be in God's house still say that, like the bucket. Just scrub the floor or the bowl to feed the dog. So wouldn't clay for dishonorable use.

Number seven. The joy and blessing of being an effective witness to unbelievers.

Peter says Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable First Peter 2:12

The good deeds of Christians will have a positive result on the lives of non Christian critics. It's possible they will trust in Christ and glorify God at the final judgment. Keep your contract among the Gentiles honorable. So when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. I think that's the day when Christ returns. They see your good deeds become trust in Christ. And the day when Christ returns they glorify God because they've been saved, through watching your good works, your obedience.

Number eight, the joy and blessing.

The blessing of having God's eyes and ears attentive to us. I think there's a relationship between obedience to God, and hearing answers and find the answers to our prayers.

Peter writes this way in first Peter three,

"Whoever desires to love life and see good days,"


Do you want to see good days? Or get to the end of the day and say, That was a good day.

I saw the Lord's blessing. I saw the Lord's guidance, experience his favorite you want to get to the end of the day and say that was a good day. Peter says if you want to see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil, and his lips from speaking deceit.

Let him turn away from evil and do good and seek peace and pursue it for here's the reason. The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous.

And just ears are open to their prayer.

I think the eyes of the Lord being on the righteous means God is giving special attention to focusing on the circumstances that you are in. His ears are open to their prayer. His ears are ready to hear and answer your prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil. Peter is writing to Christians not to non Christians.

I could pause for a minute and say I think the reason we don't talk about these things very much is we're rightly afraid of telling non Christians. If you're good, you'll get to heaven – that you're saved by good works. We don't ever want to say that. We're saved by dressing in Christ alone.

But once we're saved as all these verses speak to this situation. God expects us Jesus wants us to live a life of obedience.

Peter does not imply that Christians who are obedient to God will have a trouble free life or he mentioned persecution and hostile opposition that many readers are facing.

And Paul faced frequent hardships.

But they're still the truth of God's favor being honest. His eyes be upon us to watch after us. His ears open to our our prayers

First John – if our heart does not condemn us, as if we don't have a guilty conscience, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases Him.

Number nine. The blessing of closer fellowship with other Christians.

If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another. And the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.


Number 10. The blessing of a clear conscience.

Paul says the aim of our charge is love the issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. He tells Timothy that he should be carrying on his ministry by holding faith and a good conscience.

And he says, interesting with 1:19 by rejecting their consciences, some have made shipwreck of their faith. But a good conscience depends on walking in obedience to God and resisting temptation.

Because I have a trivial example, but it's real.

When I taught at Trinity divinity school in Illinois, for 20 years, sometimes I would teach a class from six to 10 at night.

And then, about 10:15 I'd be headed home and I'd get on the Illinois Tollway and there's a basket where you have to throw in 35 cents tall. You're on the Illinois Tollway and then drive away. It's not attended.

And every time I put in the three dress and so I thought I have a clear conscience.

Is it worth 35 cents to have a clear conscience?

Yes, it is.

Margaret and I ate a Burrito and rally together night.

And it was it was a good, it was a very good meal. We split some chicken and paid the bill as we were walking out and looking at the receipt.

He didn't charge me for the lemonade.

Going back to the manager, you didn't charge me for the lemonade. Oh, don't worry, you had to wait long for your meal. Let's go ahead. But I didn't want to be dishonest and take. Well, in fact, I have a pastor friend. He'snow passed away. But you see the same breakfast, same restaurant, once or twice a week.

You'd meet people there and one day he walked out of the rest he paid his bill walked out the door was putting the money in his wallet. And this the cashier had given him the manager had given him $5 Too much. He went back and said you gave me $5 Too much.

And she said, just testing you, pastor.

The blessing of a clear conscience.

The first thing is God's peace.

Paul says in Philippians 4:9, what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

This echoes the words of Isaiah 48, If you would have paid attention to my commandments, then your peace would have been like a river and your righteousness like the waves of the sea.

Number 12. The blessing of discovering by experience that God's commands really are beneficial for our lives.

I want to talk about a Greek word here. It's called it's a dokizomai. So it's the word used of testing something to find out what it's like.

I bought a yoke of accent and I go to test them.

So I go into auto dealership and test driving a car.

It's testing something by trying it out, putting it to use and proving it. Do not be conformed to this world (Romans 12:2) but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. By testing you may discern what is the will of God. By testing you may discern what is the will of God. What is good and acceptable and perfect.

If we walk in obedience will begin to find this is this is really good for us. This is the best path of life to have. This is what my Creator made me for. I experienced you test and approve, test and prove.

Walking in God's way in obedience to Him is good and acceptable and perfect. Number 13. The blessing the experience freedom experiencing freedom from slavery to sin. Romans 611 You must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus, that not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to obey make you obey its passions for sin will have no dominion over you since you're not under law, but under grace.

I had a friend who said we didn't know anything about his background before he'd become a Christian, but he said, I had the fatherless mouth you could imagine, and profanity and other kinds of things were coming out of my mouth and when I trusted Christ as Savior, He took it away.

Sin will have no dominion over you since you are not under the law, but under grace. The joy of obedience includes recognizing a victory over sin or temptation that has been troubling us, but as a result of a new life in Christ is a changed life.


Number 14. The blessing of avoiding God's painful discipline.

Jesus says to the church allowed to see a revelation 3:19. Those whom I love, I reprove, and discipline. So be zealous and repent. This is to believers, as it said, Those whom I love, I reprove and shade and justify his house and repent, Hebrews 12 :1 – for the moment all discipline seems painful, rather than pleasant, yet later use the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

So I believe Romans 8:28 All things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose.

God's discipline works together for my good.

But I want to avoid it.

If possible, I'd rather have I'd rather be obedient first, then have the discipline and then be obedient.

So discipline works very good. But if we can avoid it, as I count that another blessing,

The blessing of greater assurance number 15 – the greater blessing and greater assurance of salvation.

By this we come, we know that we've come to know Him if we keep his commandments.

The way we live our life gives us assurance of salvation. 2 Peter 1 talks about that, in addition to that, I'm hurrying.


Number 16, the blessing of experience more of a foretaste of life in heaven.

Peter says in Second Peter 3:13, we are waiting for a new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells our life and heaven will be a life of perfect obedience to God's commandments. Therefore, obeying God's commandments in this life allows us to experience more of a foretaste of what heaven will be like. There'll be no sin or disobedience regarding the heavenly city to come, because nothing unclean will enter it nor anyone who's does detestable or false. Revelation 21:27

Number 17, The blessing of increased heavenly reward.

Paul says in Second Corinthians five, nine and 10, whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please Him, for we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is true for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

That's 17 blessings from obedience. And that's only the New Testament.

I didn't have time to do the Old Testament.

That's why now some practical questions.

How long until the last the last things will be restored? Someone might be saying, yikes.

I've been disobedient willfully disobedient. I hadn't thought it mattered because I knew Christ have forgiven me. How can I get in the path of these blessings?

Someone's instead, what if I get into temptation and choose to sin willfully and as a result, I begin to miss out on some blessings. If I repented by sin, how long will it be until I experienced blessings? Again? I want to make several points in response to that, you know, they will I can't see the clock and back. I'm thankful for that.

Why should I watch?

Point one, we should not think that all of God's blessings will be lost all at once because God is a wise father who seeks our good. Just as a wise human father will not always immediately discipline children for everything.

God seeks our good.

So God's corrective discipline will stop when we turn away from the temptation and begin to walk again in obedience.

Part of the Corinthian church that God had disciplined them, some are ill and some had died, because they were abusing the Lord's Supper, and not acting in love toward one another. Then he says, If we judge ourselves truly, we would not be judged as if we straightened out our conduct. We would not be disciplined by God. First Corinthians 11:31. If they stop the sin, God will stop the disciplinary judgment, steal the consequences from some sinful acts.

Transcribed by

Topics: Christian Ethics, Integrity Matters

Wayne Grudem

Written by Wayne Grudem

Wayne Grudem is Distinguished Research Professor of Theology and Biblical Studies at Phoenix Seminary in Phoenix, Arizona. He received a B.A. from Harvard University, an M.Div. and a D.D. from Westminster Seminary, Philadelphia, and a Ph.D. (in New Testament) from the University of Cambridge, England. He has published over twenty-five books, including Systematic Theology, Business for the Glory of God, and Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (co-edited with John Piper; Book of the Year for Christianity Today, 1992). He was also the General Editor for the ESV Study Bible (Evangelical Christian Publishers Association Book of the Year, 2009). His two newest books are Christian Ethics (2018), and Systematic Theology, 2nd edition (2020). He is a past president of the Evangelical Theological Society, a co-founder and past president of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, and a member of the Translation Oversight Committee for the English Standard Version of the Bible. He and his wife Margaret have been married since 1969 and have three adult sons.

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