Vol.XIV No.V Pg.2
July 1977

Perfect" Obedience

Robert F. Turner

"In Rom. 1:9 Paul said, in essence, "I serve God — with my spirit — in the gospel of Christ." Compare this with Rom. 7:25 where he says, "I serve the law of God — with my mind." In context "Mind" becomes "will," "inward man, " "law of my mind," and "spirit" — his spirit. When he says (Rom. 8:16), "The Spirit himself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are children of God;" he is saying essentially the same thing said in 1:9, viz., God knows that I am sincerely striving to serve Him. Paul was a true Jew, one "inwardly" with a "circumcised heart" (Rom. 2:28-29).

Much has been written, and needs to be written, about man's imperfectness and his inability to be justified on the basis of law. In the absence of perfect obedience we all stand condemned before God, and must trust in Christ as Savior, throwing ourselves upon the mercy of God. But we may be overlooking one thing that we can do, perfectly, and that we must do, if we are to expect God's mercies. We must give ourselves, with out reservation, wholeheartedly, to the Lord. We must TRY perfectly.

Paul did not consider himself to have attained or to have laid hold on the perfect life in Christ — the new life, lived unto God, which his death and burial with Christ had portended (Rom. 6:5-11, Phil. 3:10-15). (Serious students, give thoughtful consideration here.) But this one thing he did. He tried: He forgets the past, confident that God had forgiven; and he PRESSED toward the mark. And he wrote, "Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded."

If we do not perfectly know and do all the things Christ wants us to know and do — and we do not — there is a frame of mind, an attitude we must have, and without which we have no hope. It is not amiss to say this is something we must do perfectly.

It is sometimes called giving ones heart to God (Matt. 22:37), loving Gad more than all else (10:37-39), denying self (16:24), or seeking first His kingdom (6:33); but in every case its requirement is absolute. There is no "relatively speaking" to this requirement. I think one could even call it "faith" and do the term no injustice. In fact, this might teach some what is really involved in being "justified by faith."

Can we say, "if the heart is right, external details do not matter"? We must say, if the heart is right we would not ask such foolish questions. The right heart strives to do all, even while recognizing unworthiness and praying forgiveness (Lu. 17:3-10).