Honoring the Family Name

Deuteronomy 6:6–7

Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them.

James 1:22

Be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves.

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One of the most helpful clarifications having to do with obeying God’s commandments has to do with the issue of identity. If we are sons and daughters of God then we live that out in obedience to him. We may never do that perfectly, but when we depart from his commands and ways we are not living out our true identity. Our failures don’t define our identity as God’s people; they simply testify that God has adopted broken people into his family.

On the other hand, however, we do not obey our way into becoming God’s sons and daughters. That’s the error of the Pharisees and all self-righteous people. To think that we can ingratiate ourselves to God and make ourselves appealing to him by our obedience is not only folly; it is an insult to God’s grace and Jesus’ death.

We become God’s children – brothers and sisters in Christ – by means of Jesus’ sacrifice and redemption. We become children of God because God moved toward us; not because we moved toward him or impressed him with our godliness. Otherwise, why did Jesus have to die if we can gain God’s favor by our acts of obedience?

Make no mistake about it, however: We need not prove God to be gracious by adding to our sins (cf, Romans 6:1-4). Nor ought we to pander to God’s grace by making too little of God’s call to obey. That would be to deny our identity and deceive ourselves. As God’s sons and daughters we do well to honor his name by hearing and obeying his word, thanking God all the while for his grace, redemption, and adoption through faith in Jesus Christ our Lord.

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