Introduction: One of the greatest blessings of my spiritual walk was
realizing that I was saved by grace alone. I’ve seen those who
struggle with obedience express great joy when they first understand
grace. They feel free! The great danger is misunderstanding the
reason for obedience. God does not call us to obedience as some sort
of test. He does not intend for obedience to be a burden. Rather,
obedience brings blessings to our lives and glory to God. God is
looking for followers who want to obey Him, those whose hearts desire
God’s will to be done on earth as well as in heaven. Let’s plunge
into our study of the Bible and learn more!

  1. The Life Motive

    1. In Deuteronomy 28 God lays out a simple rule for life.
      Obey God and be blessed. Disobey God and be cursed. Read
      Deuteronomy 30:1-3. What does this text assume? (That
      God’s people have suffered because of disobedience, but
      God is offering a positive future if they obey.)

    2. Re-read Deuteronomy 30:2. What kind of obedience does God
      desire? (Obedience with “all your heart and with all of
      your soul.”)

      1. What do you think it means to obey with “all your
        heart and all of your soul?”

        1. If obedience is annoying to you, if it is a
          burden to obey, is that what God desires? (No.)

        2. If obedience is annoying, what should we do,
          quit trying to obey?

    3. Have you ever worked hard for anything? If so, why? (The
      reward was worth the work. I recall sitting in the law
      library and looking out the window at the green grass and
      sunshine. I would rather be sitting out in the sunshine!
      But, I knew that if I just continued to work, instead of
      playing, that I would be a lawyer for the rest of my

      1. Is that an acceptable model for obedience? It might
        not be easy, but you want to do it because of the
        ultimate reward?

  2. Love Motive

    1. Read 1 Peter 1:3-5. What is the hope of the Christian?
      (“An inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.”
      This is the same kind of motivation that we just discussed
      – a blessed life.)

    2. Read 1 Peter 1:6-7. Here is some bad news about living a
      blessed life. What does it tell us may come our way while
      following Jesus? (Suffering through trials.)

      1. What is the reason for this suffering? (We are given
        two reasons. First, that being faithful through
        suffering shows that we are serious about following
        Jesus. Second, suffering results in “praise, glory
        and honor” when we reflect Jesus.)

      2. We recently studied the book of Job. One major theme
        of the book of Job was that the normal rules about
        obedience and blessings do not always apply. Why is
        that? (Because evil is in this world. Satan wants to
        harm us.)

    3. Read 1 Peter 1:8-9. What motivates us to obey? (Love for
      God and our goal of faith.)

      1. Why are we motivated by love? (We go back to the
        first text we read in Peter: Jesus gives us new birth
        through His death and resurrection. What Jesus has
        done for us causes us to love Him. He saved us from
        death and from the just penalty for our sins.)

    4. Think about what we have just discussed. One motive God
      gives us for obedience is enjoying a blessed life. A
      second, and natural, motive for obedience is that Jesus
      loved us and died to make a future life possible for us.
      If you combine these two motives, are they consistent with
      the call to obey God with all of our heart and all of our

  3. The Role of the Holy Spirit

    1. Read 1 Timothy 1:8. Does this mean that there is an
      improper use of the law?

    2. Read 1 Timothy 1:9-11. Let’s break this down. Paul says
      that the law is not made for the righteous. Would applying
      the law to the righteous be an improper use of it?

      1. For whom is the law made? To whom is it properly
        applied? (“Lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and
        sinful, the unholy and irreligious….”)

      2. From time to time people want to debate what is meant
        by “the law?” What law is being referred to here?
        (At a minimum, it refers to the Ten Commandments
        because it specifically refers to things condemned by
        the Ten Commandments.)

    3. Let’s assume that you at least tentatively agree with me
      so far. If you are someone who is highly motivated to obey
      because you love Jesus and want to live an enjoyable life,
      what, exactly are you obeying? If you are a righteous
      person, then applying the law to you would be an improper
      use of it, right?

    4. Read Galatians 5:13-14. What does this say that Christians
      should obey and what should they not obey? (We should not
      “indulge the sinful nature.” On the other hand, we should
      “serve one another in love.”)

    5. Read Galatians 5:16-17. If you desire to obey God with all
      your heart and all your soul, what do you need to do? What
      does this have to do with the Holy Spirit? (There are two
      attractions in the life of the Christian. One is to live
      in accord with the leading of the Holy Spirit. The other
      is to live in accord with the desires of our sinful

      1. Do you know what I’m talking about? Have you felt
        this conflict?

    6. Read Galatians 5:18. This accords with what we just read
      in 1 Timothy 1:9 that the law is not made for the
      righteous. How are the righteous, those lead by the Holy
      Spirit, not constrained by the law?

    7. Imagine that you had good parents, but they were not
      around all the time when you were a teenager. Which would
      be better: absent parents and a list of their rules; or
      your parents being with you and able to give you direction
      in life?

      1. Is “your parents living with you and giving advice”
        what it means to live a life led by the Holy Spirit?

    8. Well intentioned people will say “God calls us to keep His
      law.” I think this is a subtle, but grave,
      misunderstanding of God’s will. Why? Because the goal is
      too small, and the standard too low. Ask yourself, why did
      Jesus say in Matthew 5:21-22 and Matthew 5:27-28 that the
      Ten Commandments prohibit murder and adultery, but the
      thought process is just as important and deadly? Anger and
      a desire to commit adultery are also contrary to God’s
      will. God has a much higher goal for His people, and that
      is to live a life led by the Spirit of God. We need to ask
      the Holy Spirit to live in us and guide our thinking and
      our actions.

  4. Figuring Out the Difference

    1. How difficult is it to tell if you are living a life led
      by the Spirit or a life led by your sinful nature? One of
      the good things about the law is that it has a certain
      clarity. Can we enjoy the same clarity when living a
      Spirit-led life?

    2. Read Galatians 5:19-21. Is this a life led by the Holy
      Spirit? (No. These acts are what result from living in
      accord with our sinful nature.)

    3. Read Galatians 5:22-23. Aside from the prior list being
      bad and this list being good, what other important
      difference do you find? (The first is mostly a list of
      actions. Not completely, but mostly. The second is a list
      of attitudes.)

      1. Can you see why the law is relevant to someone who
        worships idols? You are doing it and it is on the
        list of legal misdeeds. What if your goal is love,
        joy and peace? Does the law help you with that? (Of
        course not. This is another illustration of why
        telling Christians to keep the law understates God’s
        goal for our lives. The only way we will have love,
        joy and peace is to have the Holy Spirit living in us
        and directing our actions!)

    4. Read Galatians 5:24-25. What needs to be crucified?
      (Passions and desires. Notice that it did not say
      “wrongful actions.” That goal is too low!)

    5. Friend, will you ask the Holy Spirit to live in you and
      direct your thoughts and desires? It may require
      determination, but you will bring glory to God and live a
      more enjoyable life!

  5. Next week: The Holy Spirit and the Fruit of the Spirit.