Many of us grew up in environments where obedience was heavily emphasized. That isn’t all bad in and of itself. The problems with the way obedience was pushed were that we viewed the results of obedience as works righteousness and that we were arbitrarily selective on which things we needed to be obedient to. Let’s look at each problem for a second.

One popular way of looking at obedience was that you weren’t a proper Christian unless you did some things and avoided certain other things. There is actually some truth in that. The problem was, as mentioned above, the things that were selected were often quite arbitrary with little biblical merit. Some sins were elevated over others. Some acts of obedience were elevated over others.

That warps and twists obedience into something we don’t find in the Bible.

The effect of all of that was it put a bad taste in our mouths on obedience. So when we discovered grace it was like a breath of fresh air! Rightly so.

But finding grace doesn’t make obedience matter less. It just means we are able to have a more biblically robust view of how obedience operates in our lives.

In the great commission Jesus said that disciples were both people who were baptized and who were taught to obey what he commanded (Matthew 28:19-20). Obedience matters.

At the end of the sermon on the mount Jesus emphasized obedience,

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” – Matthew 7:34

Obedience is an essential part of being a disciple. This isn’t anything new. This is what rabbis in Jesus’ day taught – that their followers/disciples were to learn and obey their rabbi’s specific teaching.

As we listen to Jesus and learn to obey Jesus something happens in our lives. We are aligning our hearts and minds with the Holy Spirit who is then able to more effectively shape us (as willing participants) into the likeness of Christ!

Obedience won’t earn your way to heaven but it will help you become more like Jesus.

I want to challenge you to do one thing and watch the difference it makes. Every time you read the Bible, pick out one way to obey what you learn. Make a commitment to do that week and make sure to follow through on it. Then watch and see how God works in correspondence with your initiative toward obeying Him.

Remember, Jesus is “Christ” which means anointed on. It is a name that reminds us he is KING. He is king over a kingdom and we are subjects in his kingdom. The kingdom of God is what Jesus preached the most about. How does a loyal royal subject live in the kingdom of his king? In obedience.

What we ultimately find out is that obedience is good for us because God and His word are good for us. When we live aligned with God’s precepts we will live a life that is life to the full.

It is hard to explain how obedience works. You really have to experience it. Let us know what happens!

4 Responses

  1. As we started with a series of classes, beginning with Genesis, it is interesting to see how God requested obedience from the very first conversation He had with humanity. And it is the last piece of conversation in Revelation (Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done).
    It opens the discourse on the commandments (By doing these things, you show that you loved The Lord your God). There is both a blessing and a curse tied to obedience (I will bless you for keeping… Curse you for disobeying). At the basis of all these lies an obedience from a circumcised heart, showing the intent is the one and only foundation of this obedience. It is not keeping an open tab on God’s part (So much obedience, you (God) owe me so much blessing).
    There is a balance between obedience and grace. Grace does not, as you stated, Matt, wipe out obedience. But it seems many of ‘us’ have taken over a “saved by grace only” theology, considering obedience to be “works.”

  2. I have been preparing to teach this weeks Sunday School class – a end of term summary of “Finding the Will of God,”. I searched for all the occurrences of the word “Walk” and was amazed at the richness of what I found. There were beautiful admonishments to walk with God in his statutes, and there were serious warnings about choosing to walk in our own way. Since discovering grace I welcome the restraints of walking in God’s way and am overwhelmed at the joy found there.

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