<<compliance, submission>>

Obedience is submitting to authority, being responsible, and complying with an order or request to carry out another’s directions and wishes. Obeying God is of utmost importance and the key to our fulfilment while disobedience is submitting to another god – be it Satan or the deceptive flesh within which results in forfeiting God’s purposes (Ex 20:3; Rom 6:16; 2 Pet 2:19). We don’t have the liberty to weigh the options, examine the alternatives or negotiate the terms, we simply are to do what God tells us.

Humanity got into a predicament because Adam wasn’t obedient; we can get out of it because Jesus was! Christ’s obedience to death regained righteousness and fellowship with God for all who believe in Him (Rom 5:15-19; 1 Cor 15:22; 1 Jn 3:8).

Real freedom comes by obeying Him, not by doing what we selfishly want – the commandments and counsel of Scripture are given for our benefit. Obeying is our duty, as servants of God submitting to divinely established authorities, and is essential for the orderly running of affairs in the home, church, employment situation and nation for we are all under some authority structure (Mt 8:9; Rom 13:1-14; Eph 6:1,5-8; Col 3:20,22-25; Heb 13:17; 1 Pet 2:13-21).

It is the responsibility of those giving the orders to clearly communicate the message or words indicating the required response. As this is received and understood the responsibility then passes to the other party to fulfill the action.  It is the doing (obedient action) that results in the blessing, even though the outcome may not be immediately apparent (Mt 7:21,24-27, 20:1-16, 21:28-32).

Obedience often provides a learning experience for future occasions, besides understanding of the implications and cost involved (Deut 5:1). Children need to be taught to obey their parents for practical reasons, then as they mature they will be more likely to obey His delegated authorities too – and become useful and trustworthy citizens, contributing to society and His Kingdom (Ex 20:12; Rom 13:1-7; Eph 6:1-3; Col 3:20). 

Key to victory and blessing

God doesn’t force us to obey Him, He gives us a choice with our response determining our future. There are rewards for choosing to obey but consequences for choosing to disobey, yet understanding is not required to be obedient. Obedience always brings blessing, which is the favour of God – “Walk in all the ways I command you that it may go well with you” (Deut 6:1-15, 28:2; Jer 7:23). “I am setting

Obedience = blessing, disobedience = curse

before you today a blessing and a curse – the blessing if you obey the commands of the Lord …the curse if you disobey…I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses" (Deut 11:26-28). “What I am commanding you today is not too difficult…The Word is in your heart so that you may obey it...Now choose life – by obeying” (Deut 30:11-20). Being obedient to Him is the key that unlock blessings for us, both on earth now and later for all eternity. Without this discipline in the Christian life, progress will not take place. Obedience is acting when He says, not before or procrastinating.

Obedience grows out of a heart for God. “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching...He who does not love me will not obey my teaching”. Obedience is the only way that we can prove to God we love Him (Jn 14:15,21,23,24; 1 Jn 2:5). “This is love for God: to obey His commands” (1 Jn 5:3).

God said to Abraham, “Obey me and live as you should and I will...” (Gen 17:1,2). God leads ordinary people to great things when they hear and obey His call. God is no ‘respecter of persons’, if we meet the conditions we will have similar results (Josh 1:7,8; Act 10:34; 2 Pet 1:3,4). Obedience unlocks God’s provision, blessing and power in our lives. Those who obey God’s laws will not die spiritually but be called great in heaven (Mt 5:19; Jn 8:51; Jas 2:10).

Obedience is active

Obedience in the Christian walk involves faith and the testing of our belief that God’s ways are best as we are challenged to give up something we value, or do something we dislike – this is submitting our wants on the altar of sacrifice by denying our desires and carnality (Ps 119:1-16,57-64). Often there are progressive stages to move into what God has purposed and if we resist on one point, we can’t

proceed till that area has been revisited and conquered. Is there currently some issue the Holy Spirit is challenging me on?

Although our purpose in life is safeguarded and fulfilled by obedience, the actual obeying God is not always easy and may result in greater hardship in the short-term as we are not insulated from trials and testing (Act 14:22; Heb 11:33-40).  Abraham was tested – was he willing to love and obey God more than keeping the promised son Isaac (Gen 22:1-18)? Jesus learned from experience what it was like to obey even when it resulted in death, yet He will ultimately receive many redeemed souls into heaven because of that sacrifice (Phil 2:8; Heb 2:10, 5:8). Paul said, I was obedient to the vision from heaven, and even though I have experienced many hardships the Lord has been with me (Act 26:19-22; 2 Cor 11:23-33). To receive divine guidance and hear God's voice it is essential to spend time reading God’s Word, in prayer, faithfully living for Him and being responsible to the Holy Spirit’s leading already sensed; it is by knowing and doing God’s will the blessing comes (Heb 10:36). 

Orders and commands are not for discussion – they to be followed. We are only permitted to disobey those in authority over us if the instruction violates God’s laws, for “It is more important to obey God than man” while being prepared for any consequence of this failure to comply (Act 5:29).

Obedience or rebellion

God wants total obedience from us each time He communicates His instructions to us. We will ultimately give account to Him for how we respond (Rom 14:10-13). Saul compromised by being selective in obedience and had to face the consequences of his choice. God is more interested in obedience and doing right than in repentance and trying

Jesus said, if you love me you will obey what I command – John 14:15

to correct a past mistake because we did things our way, rebelling against what He said (1 Sam 15:3,8,9,19,22). God is more glorified and self is more suppressed by obedience than by any other sacrifice. Sometimes after repentance, God gives the initially disobedient person another chance, as He did with Jonah. However, there is no guarantee of this and there are always consequences for disobedience (Jnh 1:5, 2:1-9, 3:1). Jonah would say to us, ‘don’t run from God, obeying is the best option’. God can never reward disobedience. He waits for us to meet His conditions so He can fulfill His promises (Isa 30:18). Disobedience is sin and breaks relationship with God (Gen 3:1-13). When we hear and obey the voice of God there will be no need to repent (Ps 40:6). If we fail to do as He has asked we must accept the consequences, while we should not look for praise when “we have only done our duty” (Lk 12:47,48, 17:7-10).

Obeying Satan is rebelling against God, resulting in becoming a slave of Satan and his works of darkness but now, as believers, we are freed to be Christ’s slaves, doing works of righteousness (Rom 6:16-18). The OT listed various rewards for obedience together with the curses for disobedience (Lev 26:1-46). Faith in Jesus is obedience, while unbelief is disobedience (Acts 6:7; 2 Thes 1:8). “Blessed are those who hear the Word of God and obey it” (Lk 11:28). Pray for hearing ears and a heart that quickly and fully responds, for when God speaks, there is only one acceptable response and that is obedience. True obedience can only be shown if there has been an opportunity for disobedience.

Jesus is our example

“In everything, [Hezekiah] was obedient to the Scriptures, sought God and worked wholeheartedly, and so he prospered” – what an example! (2 Chr 31:21). When God speaks to us by His Word, there is only one acceptable response, and that’s obedience. How does my obedience rate – do I faithfully carry out what is asked and expected of me without complaining or arguing (Phil 2:14)? One purpose of temptation is to test allegiance, for a person has not shown true obedience until they have had the opportunity to be disobedient. Jesus said “I always do what the Father has shown me to do”, yet you call me Lord and don’t do what I tell you (Lk 6:46; Jn 8:28,29).

For those who keep His commands, there is great reward and they will be kept from destruction, so “Don’t just listen to the Word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says…Anyone who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins” (Ps 19:8-11; Jas 1:22, 4:17). Jesus said many people will consider they should be allowed into heaven, but alas

Obedience – the key to blessing in the Christian walk

only those who do the will of God will be allowed to enter heaven (Mt 7:21-27). It is not those who hear but those who obey who receive the Holy Spirit and are declared righteous (Act 5:32; Rom 2:13). The Bible counsels, ‘keep His commands so that it may go well with you’. His promises come to pass with blessing when we obey, but cursing when we disobey (Deut 4:40, 11:26-28, 28:2; Zech 6:15; Mt 6:33).

Obedience and trials

Complying to the Lord's directives does not necessarily mean the absence of trials or times of inner questioning 'did I make a good decision to follow Christ'. The Bible records an event when Jesus had said, "Let us go to the other side of the lake" and the disciples had obeyed, then a storm developed and the boat began to fill with water. The disciples were in the will of God, despite the wind and waves

Will I continue to obey Him regardless of the cost?

which threatened their lives (Lk 8:22-25). Our obedience to God may, at times, lead us into a storm which we would not otherwise experience, but it also leads to a compensating revelation of His power which we would not otherwise experience. Victory is not always found in deliverance from the storm, but in recognising the dealings of God within the storms. May we know His presence with us in the tests and challenges of life He allows. He is with us as He was with the disciples in their storm. In faith hold on to Him.

See also: authority, blessed or cursed, choice, commandments, consequences, control, decision, disobedience, freewill, guidance (divine), hearing God's voice, love, orders, rebellion, second chance, submission, trials.