Active Discipline – Gospel in Life

Active Discipline

Tim Keller |  January 14, 1990

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  • Discipleship and Spiritual Growth
  • Christian Living and Obedience
John 8:31-39
RS 207-08


We’re now going to talk about, in some ways, the simplest of all of the disciplines: You have to obey. It’s the simplest and the hardest of all of the ways in which we grow, of all the tools for growth. We have to obey, and as we obey him, we change. We’re transformed.

In Philippians 2:12, it says, “work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” It doesn’t mean to be saved, to go to heaven, is something you have to be good and work for. It doesn’t say, “Work for your salvation.” It says, “Work it out.” This passage lays out with three basic principles about obedience–the person of obedience, the method of obedience, and the results of obedience.

Understanding John 8:31–38

True freedom and spiritual growth in Christianity are closely linked, needing us to follow Jesus’ teachings and allow His nature to shape our lives. People often misunderstand what real freedom is. It doesn’t come from being independent but from depending on God and obeying His rules. This obedience, an important practice on our Christian path, can change us into glowing, good people.

1. Following Jesus isn’t about what to do or not do, it’s about loyalty to Him

True turning away from sin means deeply understanding our natural tendency to do wrong and genuinely wanting to stop it. We need to realize that sin isn’t just about bad actions—it starts from the broken parts inside us. Turning away from sin is not a one-time event, but a constant journey of saying no to sin and yes to God. This requires being humble, honest, and relying on God’s kindness. In essence, real turning away from sin leads to change and a closer relationship with God.

2. Christian obedience is about training yourself to follow the truth

If we consider Jesus as our leader, we need to align our actions with His teachings. True obedience goes beyond just following God’s words, but it never falls below that standard.

3. Freedom comes through obedience

Obedience to God, relating to Him as someone rather than something, is crucial for true discipleship and a personal connection with Him. We should avoid making God serve us, dive deeply into His teachings, and make Jesus the main focus of our lives. True freedom and happiness come from obeying God’s will, following His instructions, and understanding that only He truly knows us and what’s best for us.



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