The Obedience Of Christ
By Andrew Murray
“...By the obedience of one shall many be made righteous” (Rom. 5:19). These words tell us what we owe to Christ. As in Adam we were made sinners, in Christ we are made righteous.
The words tell us, too, to what in Christ it is we owe our righteousness. As Adam’s disobedience made us sinners, the obedience of Christ makes us righteous. To the obedience of Christ we owe everything.
Among the treasures of our inheritance in Christ this is one of the richest. How many have never studied it, so as to love it and delight in it, and get the full blessing of it!
As we study the place the obedience of Christ takes in His work for our salvation and see in it the very root of our redemption, we shall know what place to give it in our heart and life.
“For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners...” (Rom. 5:19). How was this?
The one thing God asked of Adam in Paradise was obedience. The one thing by which a creature can glorify God, or enjoy His favor and blessing, is obedience. The one cause of the power sin has got in the world, and the ruin it has wrought – is disobedience. The whole curse of sin on us is owing to disobedience imputed to us. The whole power of sin working in us is nothing but this – that as we receive Adam’s nature, we inherit his disobedience – we are born “the children of disobedience.”
It is evident that the one work a Christ was needed for was to remove this disobedience – its curse, its dominion, its evil nature and workings. Disobedience was the root of all sin and misery. The first object of His salvation was to cut away the evil root, and restore man to his original destiny – a life in obedience to his God.
How Did Christ Do This?
First of all, by coming as the second Adam to undo what the first had done. Sin had made us believe that it was a humiliation always to be seeking to know and to do God’s will. Christ came to show us the nobility, the blessedness, the heavenliness of obedience.
When God gave us the robe of creaturehood to wear, we knew not that its beauty, its unspotted purity, was obedience to God. Christ came and put on that robe that He might show us how to wear it, and how with it we could enter into the presence and glory of God. Christ came to overcome, and so bear away our disobedience and to replace it by His own obedience on us and in us. As universal, as mighty, as all-pervading as was the disobedience of Adam, yes, far more so, was to be the power of the obedience of Christ.
The object of Christ’s life of obedience was threefold: (1) As an Example, to show us what true obedience was. (2) As our Surety, by His obedience to fulfill all righteousness for us. (3) As our Head, to prepare a new and obedient nature to impart to us.
Obedience Is Salvation
Let every one of us who would know what obedience is consider well: it is the obedience of Christ that is the secret of the righteousness and salvation I find in Him. The obedience is the very essence of that righteousness: obedience is salvation. His obedience, first of all, is to be accepted and trusted and rejoiced in, as covering and swallowing up and making an end of my disobedience. This is the one unchanging, never-to-be-forsaken ground of my acceptance. And then, His obedience – just as Adam’s disobedience was the power that ruled my life, the power of death in me – becomes the life-power of the new nature in me.
My subjection to obedience is the one way in which my relation to God and to righteousness can be maintained. Christ’s obedience unto righteousness is the only beginning of life for me; my obedience unto righteousness, its only continuance. There is but one law for the head and the members. As surely as it was with Adam and his seed, disobedience and death, it is with Christ and His seed, obedience and life.
The one bond of union, the one mark of likeness, between Adam and his seed was disobedience. The one bond of union between Christ and His seed, the one mark of resemblance, is obedience.
Marks of the Obedience of Christ
In Christ this obedience was a life principle. Obedience with Him did not mean a single act of obedience now and then, not even a series of acts, but the spirit of His whole life. “...I came…not to do Mine own will...” (John 6:38). “Lo, I come to do Thy will, O God” (Heb. 10:9). He had come into the world for one purpose. He only lived to carry out God’s will. The one supreme, all-controlling power of His life was obedience.
He is willing to make it so in us. This was what He promised when He said, “...Whosoever shall do the will of My Father which is in heaven, the same is My brother, and sister, and mother” (Matt. 12:50).
The link in a family is a common life shared by all and a family likeness. The bond between Christ and us is that He and we together do the will of God.
In Christ this obedience was a joy. “I delight to do Thy will, O my God...” (Psa. 40:8). “...My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me...” (John 4:34).
Our food is refreshment and invigoration. The healthy man eats his bread with gladness. But food is more than enjoyment – it is the one necessity of life. And so, doing the will of God was the food that Christ hungered after and without which He could not live, the one thing that satisfied His hunger, the one thing that refreshed and strengthened Him and made Him glad.
In Christ this obedience led to a waiting on God’s will. God did not reveal all His will to Christ at once, but day by day, according to the circumstances of the hour. In His life of obedience there was growth and progress; the most difficult lesson came the last. Each act of obedience fitted Him for the new discovery of the Father’s further command. He spoke, “...Mine ears hast Thou opened…I delight to do Thy will, O my God...” (Psa. 40:6, 8).
It is as obedience becomes the passion of our life that the ears will be opened by God’s Spirit to wait for His teaching, and we be content with nothing less than a divine guidance into the divine will for us.
In Christ this obedience was unto death. When He spoke, “I came…not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me,” He was ready to go all lengths in denying His own will and doing the Father’s. He meant it. “In nothing My will; at all costs God’s will.”
This is the obedience to which He invites and for which He empowers us. This whole-hearted surrender to obedience in everything is the only true obedience, is the only power that will avail to carry us through. Would God that Christians could understand that nothing less than this is what brings the soul gladness and strength!
In Christ this obedience sprang from the deepest humility. “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who…made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant…He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death...” (Phil. 2:5-8).
It is the man who is willing for entire self-emptying, is willing to be and live as the servant, “a servant of obedience,” is willing to be humbled very low before God and man, to whom the obedience of Jesus will unfold its heavenly beauty and its constraining power.
There may be a strong will, that secretly trusts in self, that strives for the obedience and fails. It is as we sink low before God in humility, meekness, patience and entire resignation to His will, and are willing to bow in an absolute helplessness and dependence on Him, as we turn away wholly from self, that it will be revealed to us how it is the one only duty and blessing of a creature to obey this glorious God!
In Christ this obedience was of faith – in entire dependence upon God’s strength. “I can of Mine own self do nothing...” (John 5:30). “...The Father that dwelleth in Me, He doeth the works” (John 14:10).
The Son’s unreserved surrender to the Father’s will was met by the Father’s unceasing and unreserved bestowment of His power working in Him.
Even so it will be with us. If we learn that our giving up our will to God is ever the measure of His giving His power in us, we shall see that a surrender to full obedience is nothing but a full faith that God will work all in us.
Let us turn and gaze upon and study and believe in Christ as the obedient One, as never before. Let this be the Christ we receive and love and seek to be made conformable to. As His righteousness is our one hope, let His obedience be our one desire. Let our faith in Him prove its sincerity and its confidence in God’s supernatural power working in us by accepting Christ, the obedient One, as in very deed our life, as the Christ who dwells in us.
– From The School Of Obedience by Andrew Murray.