“…..and put on the new self, the one being renewed into fuller knowledge, according to the likeness of the One creating him” (Colossians 3:10).
Christ is the one creating the new man in each of us and, as we yield to His work, we will be renewed into the deeper knowledge that He has. The problem for those Christians who are always learning and never being able to come to this deeper knowledge of the truth (2 Timothy 3:7), is that they won’t put off the old man; they cling to self. In that state, the divine power that is in the truth is not available, lest it be used by the old man for his own purposes.
Christ came to do what Adam didn’t; obey God. During the course of His life He sought to know the Father’s will so that He might do it. He was made perfect through His obedience; not only did He lay down His life each day, He laid it down ultimately upon the cross.
This example is before us so that we might follow it, but it would be of absolutely of no avail were it not for the great gift that He arranged for us; the Holy Spirit. It is only as we engage the power of God in the Holy Spirit that we can do what Jesus did – obey God.
But why obey God? There are two motives, one towards self and one towards God.
Firstly, as to ourselves, if we obey God we will be free, at last, from the frustration, shame and disgrace of the divided life of disobedience; we want to obey because, unless we are totally deceived, our Christian conscience disturbs us and we know that there is no other way to avoid the misery and shame caused by disobedience; we are convicted that we won’t truly have peace with God and rest from the life and death struggle between the flesh and the spirit, until we make His obedience our own. That is one reason and it is quite valid as far as it goes.
But there is a higher reason.
We obey because only thus can we be, for God, what He has called us to be; it is through those that He has called that He has chosen to fulfill His purposes in the world. Only as we are obedient can we be vessels of honour to be used as channels of His love and grace, interceding as required and being salt and light to the world. This higher calling meets both God’s needs and our own.
Finally, there is the highest reason; Christ is glorified in our obedience in the same way the Father was glorified in the obedience of Jesus.
But the power of obedience cannot come from self; indeed seeking to obey from the self will is a sure path to frustration and despair; the power of obedience lies in the personal presence of God; nothing else will suffice. As long as we seek to take our knowledge of God’s will from men, or from a book, we can only fail; it is only as we partake of the continuous presence of Jesus, that we can have the strength to obey. It is His strength, not ours.