Obedience to the Ten Commandments is impossible unless the first one is obeyed . . .
“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:2–3)
Lest I think I’ve never had other gods, I only need to look in the mirror.
In the New Testament, Jesus said that I cannot obey and produce the goodness of God unless I first believe and abide in Him.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:1–5)
Jesus later describes abiding as equivalent to obedience.
Then the Apostle Paul writes that I cannot do that either unless I am first yielded to God . . .
"Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness." (Romans 6:13)
This makes sense. A child cannot obey his mother unless he is willing. He could go through the motions, but if he is ‘standing up on the inside’ any ‘sitting down’ he might do is not genuine obedience. I am the same. Obedience to God is not a surface activity, but starts first in the heart.
As Tozer writes, Peter was of little use to God until he was delivered from his whimsical, temperamental and impulsive nature, his former self. When he was filled with the Holy Spirit and received a divine vision, he began to suffer for Jesus’ sake. His life was first yielded to the will of God and then he became useful in building the kingdom of God.
I too must first recognize and acknowledge the true character of my self-life and consent to its destruction. Christ was crucified and I was crucified with Him. My role is to live in that truth.
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
The old nature (which is my dead sinful self) will attempt to rise and rule, but I am never to let this god take the place of the Lord God. That old self will even try to produce fruit without abiding in Christ and apart from His righteousness. However, it is crucified and totally dead to the life of God, completely useless. This truth must always be the foundation for my life and my obedience.
Jesus, thank You for Your life in me. I cannot put You first without You being here, nor can I obey You unless I am yielded to You and trusting in Your righteousness. This Christian life is not about anything or anyone else but You.