In our current series we’ve been going through an old list of questions and answers contained in the Westminster Larger Catechism published in 1648. In previous weeks we’ve seen that God made a ‘covenant of works’ with humans which we broke by sinning. But then God made a ‘covenant of grace’, which includes God graciously giving us his Spirit. We then saw that God’s Spirit produces faith and fruit in us. This week I want to show you that Holy Spirit also produces obedience in us.

This week I called a child in one of my Scripture classes ‘obedient’. One of the other children asked me ‘Isn’t that the word used to describe dogs?’ I think he’d never heard the word ‘obedient’ used in reference to humans.

Sadly, humans are not ‘obedient’. We are all born with a problem in obeying authorities who are placed over us, and particularly the authority of God as king over the world. Yet when we become a Christian through repentance and faith, God’s gift of the Holy Spirit takes disobedient humans and turns them into obedient people. Ezekiel tells us: ‘I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws’ (Ezekiel 36:26-27).

This is a wonderful truth. Not only does God graciously tell you how to behave by giving you his laws, God actually gives you the strength to be obedient to those laws. So often we are like this person described in James: ‘Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like’ (James 1:23-24). But by God’s Holy Spirit we can be the other person James describes next: ‘But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it–he will be blessed in what he does’ (James 1:25).

Are you obedient to God because you have the Holy Spirit?

Joel Radford