All people are obedient. Burglars, rapists, murderers, thieves, drug dealers, drug addicts, cops, preachers, cookie baking grandmas and Sunday school teachers are all obedient. All of them. We like to think of ourselves as rebels – either with a cause or without one. But that self-image isn’t entirely accurate. You will inevitably obey something. And if you are obeying something, then you are submitted to that thing, and therefore not a rebel in regards to the thing that you obey.
In fact, Paul teaches this very idea. In Romans 6:16-18, he persuasively argues that you are either a slave to sin, or you are a slave to righteousness. And a slave obeys.
If you’ve ever been addicted to anything, you know this truth firsthand. The cigarette calls your name at work, and you obey its call. The bottle calls you into the club or bar, and you obey its call. The caffeine calls your name, and you dutifully amble over to the coffee pot. The sugary pastry calls your name, and you obey that call over and over again. This is the case with all sin to which one has submitted oneself. And it also is the case with your larger sin nature – the nature that tells you to resist God’s calls or commands. To obey your sin nature puts you in rebellion against God. To obey God, puts you in rebellion against your sin nature.
God has set up the universe in such a way that both of these rebellions have consequence. Consider, for instance, Isaiah 1:18-20, where the prophet tells Israel that if they are willing and obedient they will prosper, but if they resist and rebel then they will be consumed by violence. His statement is made within the context of describing their sin. God is telling his people that even though they have sins that are scarlet, he can wash them away if only they will obey his way. Not to obey, however, is to resign themselves to a world that will devour them. That Old Testament prophecy holds true for today’s Christians even more so than it did for those ancient Heberews. The spiritual connection is much more pronounced. To rebel against God is to step into a world where Satan is looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). Such a consequence is hellishly undesirable. It will touch every life domain. However, to obey the gospel, and therefore rebel against your sin nature and a world that hates God is to set yourself free from the chains of sin and death. Every life domain will be freed (Psalm 107:10-14). For if the son has set you free, then you are free indeed (John 8:34-36).
What chains are holding you in slavery?