Our inheritance as sons of obedience is the good things God already has planned for us.
“Oh how great is Your goodness, which You have laid up for those who fear You, which you have prepared for those who trust You in the presence of the sons of men! You shall hide them in the secret place of Your presence…secretly in a pavilion…” (Ps. 31:19-20)
Ephesians 2:10 tells us that “we are [God’s] workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (emphasis mine). Keep in mind that this verse comes right after the verses talking about our old status as children of wrath and our having been saved by the gift of God’s grace. God can easily promise the good “future and the hope” in Jeremiah 29:11 because He already has good things planned for each person He has made (i.e. everybody).
It is not as though we obey and then God says, “Oh! Wonderful! Now let me think of something good I can do for those who obeyed!” God is not our fairy godmother; He does not have to think up blessings for us because His plans for our best were set in place before the beginning of time. God has already done good things for us and asks only that we obey Him in order to walk in those abundant blessings. When we obey God we are walking in our destinies, but when we disobey we are outside His will for our lives and in our rebellion refuse His goodness.
We have beautiful verses like Jeremiah 29:11 and Romans 8:28 – another popular but commonly misapplied verse – because God is good and He loves us. We do NOT have them because we can blithely disobey and then expect everything to “all work out in the end.” Romans 8:28 tells us that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.
What do you do if you love Him? “If you love Me, you will keep My commands” (John 14:15). Obedience, then, is tied very closely to love.
What is His purpose for you? His will is that you be sanctified (1 Thess. 4:3), that is, be made holy and pure, which you do by walking in obedience.
Purity, holiness, fear of God, righteousness, obedience to God – these concepts are intimately linked with God’s love, God’s kindness, and His goodness. It is, in fact, “the goodness of God that leads [us] to repentance” (Rom. 2:4). Furthermore, by not recognizing this aspect of God’s work in our lives we literally “despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering” (Rom. 2:4). The overwhelming love of God should spark in us a desire to obey Him simply because He is good.
People only disobey God because they think that they can find something or achieve something better than that which He offers. This is a lack of faith (unbelief) in God’s goodness, His sovereignty and wrath, and His ability and desire to provide abundantly for His children. Think of the Garden of Eden for a moment. God lavished Adam with abundant blessings (Gen. 2:8-15), and all Adam had to do was walk in obedience, caring for what he had been given. Adam and Eve, however, thought that God was holding out on them, that there was something better than the perfection of God’s creation and relationship with Him, and so they chose the sin of disobedience (Gen. 3:1-6). In truth, all sin is just a form of disobedience.
Disobedience to God = Unbelief
However, to obey God is to walk in faith, trusting in His matchless goodness and total power to provide. This is why we read in Hebrews that “although the works were finished from the foundation of the world” (4:3), only those who walk in faithful obedience enter God’s rest; the unbelieving (the sons of disobedience!) do not.
Obedience to God = Faith
There is one vital concept that we must grasp in regard to obedience: obeying God is always for our benefit in the long term; it is never about God’s benefit. I know that is a bold statement, but Jesus says in Luke 19:40 that even if we were to be silent, the rocks would cry out, and according to Psalm 19:1 the heavens themselves declare God’s glory. In light of that, do you think the God who created all things out of nothing – the God who is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent – really needs you to obey in order to accomplish His purposes? (Think back to my story about running into the road: whom did my obedience benefit?) Obedience is always ultimately to our benefit because God has our highest and best interests always on His heart. His best plan for our lives is that we obey Him because “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning” (James 1:17). Proverbs 10:22 tells us that “The blessing of the Lord makes one rich, and He adds no sorrow with it.” Walking in God’s blessing requires nothing more and nothing less than obedience to Him.
We must each choose to live no longer as disobedient sons, as though we are still slaves to the wrath our old natures stood to inherit. Rather we must choose to live as sons of obedience, children of God who inherit every good thing our heavenly Father predestined us for.
“Let us therefore be diligent to enter [God’s] rest, lest anyone fall according to the [Israelites’] example of disobedience.” (Heb. 4:11)