by Thomas Brooks
First, one type of obedience is legal…
…when all is done which God requires; and all is done as God requires, when there is one path of duty, but we do walk in it perfectly and continually. However, no man on earth does or can walk in all God’s statutes, or fully do what he commands. “We all stumble in many ways,” James 3:2. Just so, Eccl. 7:20, “There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins.” 1 Kings 8:46, “For there is no man who sins not.” Prov. 20:9, “Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?” Job 14:4, “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one.” 1 Jn. 1:8, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”
Secondly, another type of obedience is evangelical.
…such as walking in all the statutes of God, and such as keeping of all the commands of God through Christ, which is accepted of, and accounted of by God-as if we did keep them all. This walking in all God’s statutes, and keeping of all his commandments, and doing of them all, is not only possible-but it is also actual in every believer, in every sincere Christian. Evangelical obedience consists in these particulars-
Evangelical obedience consists in the approbation of all the statutes and commandments of God.
Consider Rom. 7:12, “The commandment is holy, and just, and good.” Ver. 16, “I consent unto the law that it is good.” There is both assent and consent. Psalms 119:128, “I esteem all your precepts concerning all things to be right.” A sincere Christian approves of all divine commands, though he cannot perfectly keep all divine commands.
But, evangelical obedience consists in a conscientious submission unto the authority of all the statutes of God.
Every command of God has an authority within his heart, and over his heart. Psalms 119:161, “My heart stands in awe of your word.” A sincere Christian stands in awe of every known command of God, and has a spiritual regard unto them all. Psalms 119:6, “I have respect unto all your commandments.”
But, evangelical obedience consists in a cordial willingness and a cordial desire to walk in all the statutes of God, and to obey all the commands of God.
Consider also Rom. 7:18, “For to will is present with me.” Psalms 119:5, “O that my ways were directed to keep your statutes!” Ver. 8, “I will keep your statutes.”
But, evangelical obedience consists in a sweet delight in all God’s commands.
Psalms 119:47, “I delight in your commands because I love them.” Rom. 7:22, “I delight in the law of God after the inward man.”
But, he who obeys sincerely-obeys universally.
Though not in regard of practice, which is impossible-yet in regard of affection, he loves all the commands of God, yes, he dearly loves those very commands of God which he cannot obey, by reason of the infirmity of the flesh, by reason of that body of sin and death which he carries about with him. Ponder upon Psalms 119:97, “O how I love your law!” Such a pang of love he felt, as could not otherwise be vented-but by this heartfelt exclamation, “O how I love your law,” verse. 113, 163, 127, 159, 167. Ponder upon all these verses.
But, a sincere Christian obeys all the commands of God
He is universal in his obedience, in respect of valuation or esteem. He highly values all the commands of God; he highly prizes all the commands of God; as you may clearly see by comparing these scriptures together, Psalm 119:72, 127, Psalms 119:128, Psalm 119:19:8-11; Job 23:12.
But, a sincere Christian is universal in his obedience, in respect of his purpose and resolution
He purposes and resolves, by divine assistance, to obey all, to keep all. Psa_119:106, “I have sworn, and will perform it, that I will keep your righteous judgments.” Psalm 17:3, “I have purposed that my mouth shall not transgress.”
But, a sincere Christian is universal in his obedience, in respect of his inclination
He has an habitual inclination in him to keep all the commands of God, 1 Kings 8:57-58; 2 Chron. 30:17-20; Psalm 119:112, “I have inclined my heart to perform your statutes always, even to the end.”
But,evangelical keeping of all the commands of God, consists in a sincere endeavor to keep them all
They put out themselves in all the ways and parts of obedience; they do not willingly and wittingly slight or neglect any commandment-but are striving to conform themselves thereunto. As a dutiful son does all his father’s commands, at least in point of endeavor; just so, sincere Christians make conscience of keeping all the commands of God in respect of endeavors. Psalm 119:59, “I turned my feet unto your testimonies.”
Zacharias had his failings, he did hesitate through unbelief, for which he was struck dumb-yet the text tells you, “That he walked in all the commandments of the Lord blameless,” Luke 1:6, because he did cordially desire and endeavor to obey God in all things. Evangelical obedience is true for the essence, though not perfect for the degree. A child of God obeys all the commands of God-in respect of all his sincere desires, purposes, resolutions, and endeavors; and this God accepts in Christ for perfect and complete obedience. This is the glory of the covenant of grace, that God accepts and esteems of sincere obedience as perfect obedience. Such who sincerely endeavor to keep the whole law of God-they do keep the whole law of God in an evangelical sense, though not in a legal sense. A sincere Christian is for the first table as well as the second, and the second as well as the first. He does not adhere to the first and neglect the second, as hypocrites do; neither does he adhere to the second and despise the first, as profane men do.
O Christians, for your support and comfort, know that when your desires and endeavors are to do the will of God entirely, as well in one thing as in another, God will graciously pardon your failings, and pass by your imperfections.
“He will spare you as a man spares his son who serves him,” Mal. 3:17. Though a father sees his son to fail, and come short in many things which he enjoins him to do-yet knowing that his desires and endeavors are to serve him, and please him to the full, he will not be rigid and severe with him-but will be indulgent to him, and will spare him, and pity him, and show all love and kindness to him. The application is easy, etc.
Meet the author and part of your Christian heritage: Thomas Brooks (1608–1680) was an English non-conformist Puritan preacher and author. Much of what is known about Thomas Brooks has been ascertained from his writings. Born, likely to well-to-do parents, in 1608, Brooks entered Emmanuel College, Cambridge in 1625, where he was preceded by such men as Thomas Hooker, John Cotton, and Thomas Shepard. He was licensed as a preacher of the Gospel by 1640. Before that date, he appears to have spent a number of years at sea, probably as a chaplain with the fleet.
After the conclusion of the First English Civil War, Thomas Brooks became minister at Thomas Apostle’s, London, and was sufficiently renowned to be chosen as preacher before the House of Commons on December 26, 1648. His sermon was afterwards published under the title, ‘God’s Delight in the Progress of the Upright’, the text being Psalm 44:18: ‘Our heart is not turned back, neither have our steps declined from Thy way’. Three or four years afterwards, he transferred to St. Margaret’s, Fish-street Hill, London.
As a writer C. H. Spurgeon said of him, ‘Brooks scatters stars with both hands, with an eagle eye of faith as well as the eagle eye of imagination’. In 1662, he fell victim to the notorious Act of Uniformity, but he appears to have remained in his parish and to have preached as opportunity arose. Treatises continued to flow from his pen