Obedience: The Key That Opens All Doors - page 1

From the Winter 2011 issue of Knowing & Doing


Obedience: The Key That Opens All Doors Timothy Keller

by Thomas A. Tarrants, III, D.Min.
Vice President of Ministry, C.S. Lewis Institute

Obedience is not a positive word these days. For some it seems cold and harsh. For others it carries overtones of legalism in religion or control in other venues. Perhaps for all of us it challenges our inherent drive toward autonomy and the individualistic bent that pervades our culture. As Americans we do not want anyone telling us what to do—not even God.

But how many of us have stopped to think that our wariness of obedience may be keeping us from one of the great keys to the enjoyment of God and the transformation of our lives? Are we aware that the Bible and the saints throughout history affirm the insight of John Calvin that “all true knowledge of God is born out of obedience”?

The High Cost of Disobedience
It takes only a moment’s reflection to realize that the cost of disobedience has been high. The world as we know it is not the good world God originally created, nor do we human beings much resemble the image of God in which we were first made. Tragically that image has been shattered, and the world is filled with sin, sorrow, and suffering. The “break” began with one act of disobedience by our first parents. By a deliberate choice, rooted in pride and unbelief, they acted in defiance of God’s revealed will. And their self-centered drive for autonomy has passed down to every human being. Perhaps Woody Allen spoke for us all when he famously said, “The heart wants what it wants.”

With our own hands, we forged the chains that bind us, and we now lack the power to free ourselves from them. We want to do what we want to do and cannot escape. Our only hope lies outside ourselves, in the One who loves us and gave himself up for us.

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