Blameless: Sinless or Obedient?

Note from Genesis 17.1-2 what God commanded of Abraham: “When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, ‘I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless, that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly.’

Notice that the command to “be blameless” was the condition upon which the covenant rested; it was the “rock,” the foundation upon which the blessings would come. The condition of “be blameless” has characterized every covenant offered to man by God.

Was obedience possible of Abraham? What does “blameless” mean? Whatever definition is put forth, one thing does not change: It was a command given to Abraham by God. Being a command, would Abraham have been incapable of obedience?

The fact that it was commanded of Abraham provides the evidence as to what “blameless” cannot mean, as well as what it must mean. “Blameless” cannot mean “sinless” (remember Romans 3.23), but rather “obedient.” Obedience is only possible because of God’s grace. But obedience is commanded!

However, grace (and mercy) are not commanded of man, but promises from God. A promise cannot be obeyed; a command, however, can be. In connection with obedience, there is a command to repent, and it is this that God commands of all (Acts 17.30-31). 

By this we understand another aspect of God’s grace/mercy: The long-suffering of God (2 Peter 3.9). God’s long-suffering demonstrates his desire for man to repent of his sins and become obedient to his Son. In turning from sinful living to a submissive life of obedience, each does that which God commanded of Abraham: “Walk before me and be blameless…

This was what God purposed for man. In this, we understand the teaching of the apostle Paul in Ephesians 2.8-10: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.