Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? But God be thanked that though you were slaves to sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you become slaves of righteousness. (Romans 6:16–18—NKJV)

“Obedience” is a word that can either bring a smile to your face in the right context, or it can send shivers up your spine when you see obedience take the form of blind submission to an evil person or ideology. Our text uses just such terms in a very matter-of-fact way. You must either obey sin leading to death or display obedience leading to righteousness. Without exception, you must serve one or the other.

On the one hand, there are evil religions, evil systems, and evil people in this world because there is an evil being who is over the world’s system (Ephesians 2:2). Satan is a master of subversion and subjugation through substances, greed, lust, blindness, coercion, or “stinkin’ thinkin’.” Is it any wonder that there is a worldly religion, styling itself as “submission,” that quite commonly (and seemingly with permission of its “holy book”) erupts in self-immolation and heinous violence? Isn’t religion, by definition, supposed to morally benefit mankind, defeat evil, ethically elevate, preserve innocent human life, and cause man to strive for nothing but good for his fellow man? Even the pseudo-religion of humanism, in its many forms, follows in Satan’s train, drinks at his fountain, and bows in obeisance to him as it lends its influence to diminish human dignity and deconstructs high moral standards for the poor substitute of brazen self-interest.

On the other hand, there are beautiful illustrations of obedience which cause the heart great joy. What is more pleasing than seeing loving, self-sacrificial parents surrounded with children who have been taught to value and conduct themselves in willing obedience? Do you remember the joy you experienced when you were given a task from someone you had learned to respect and you happily worked with all your energy to complete the job? You served out of love and there was a distinct sense of accomplishment for good when the task was done.

Interestingly, there are some who denigrate this kind of joyful obedience by calling it “blind obedience.” When someone accuses a godly Christian of blind obedience (the same as any zealous practitioner of any other religion on this earth) he is actually telling you a lot about his own heart.

First, he is revealing his personal belief that God wants to rob men of joy. Isn’t this the same attitude that is heard from a child who does not want to obey and accuses his parents of spoiling his fun? Immaturity is always blinded by its own self-interest, only seeing authority over him as saying “no” to fun. God’s covenant-keeping love produces in the authentic believer an humble recognition that God desires to keep His children from evil and harm. Obedience to His laws promotes good in them and His blessing upon them.

Second, the accuser is insensible to the fact that blind obedience is inconsistent with the very heart of Christianity. Incidentally, any religion that demands blind obedience cannot hold a candle to real Christianity, for Christians are invited and equipped to know their heavenly Father. This is far from blind obedience. It is joyful obedience produced out of a heart of love and thanksgiving to the God who loves him. The sublime, transcendent laws of God’s Word are demonstrably consistent with a growing, close relationship with your Creator (Ephesians 3:15–19).

The eternal love of God is displayed in the substitutionary death of His dear Son by which He draws men into a right relationship with God. Have you been born again and been placed into God’s family? Is God your Father? Do you have a joyful heart of loving obedience to the will of God? Trust and obey.