What is your motive for obedience?
Is your motive for obeying God done out of your fear of punishment or is it out of your unconditional love for God and people? I believe that it is our motive for obedience, not the obedience itself, that means everything to God.
A person who obeys out of (A) a motive of fear of punishment or hell, or (B) a desire to obtain favor from God, blessing today or blessing eternally, is obeying for reasons of self-protection and self-gain. This person obeys in order to be awarded heaven (self-gain) or so he can avoid hell (self-protection). These selfish motives both tend to increase, rather than to diminish, the human ego. They are an obedience under law which God does not honor. It is a self-righteousness. They are works done out of a selfish motive. Paul refers to these works as "dead works" (Heb 9:14; 6:4) or "works of the law" (Rom 9:32). These works are sourced in Self and not in the self-sacrificial love within us, the love of Christ and His cross. These dead works do not come from a person who is dying to self. They are not sourced in faith. Gal 2:20.
Example: two people drive thru a 15 mph school zone. One is in a hurry but slows down because he is AFRAID the cops will give him a ticket. He slows down because of law and fear of punishment. The other driver is in a hurry but slows down because he LOVES children. He does not really focus on law or fear of punishment. God honors one act but not the other. One act flows from the loving life of God within the obedient person. The other flows out of a carnal self and is regarded by God as a dead work or work of the law. On the surface thou both acts look like obedience. God however looks on the heart. He looks at the motive behind the act.
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