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Introduction: Obedience: What does God expect of me? Certainly, we would affirm that God expects us to obey Him. If He is Lord then, we are expected to obey His commands. I came across some interesting words written by Charles Spurgeon concerning obedience. Listen to what he writes…
- Make no reserve, exercise no choice but obey his command. When you know what he commands, do not hesitate, question, or try to avoid it, but “do it”: do it at once, do it heartily, do it cheerfully, do it to the full. It is but a little thing that, as our Lord has bought us with the price of his own blood, we should be his servants. Obedience is but a little thing considering who He is, and who we are. So Just Do It.The obedience that God demands involves more than just meeting a set of exact requirements. God has always designed outward obedience to be a reflection of a person’s inner submission to God Himself. Jesus challenged His disciples by telling them that their righteousness (doing of right things) had to exceed the righteousness of the Pharisees.
What Are the Elements of True Obedience?
I. Do it All – Comprehensiveness –Does God require you to keep all his commandments? There may not be an easier question to answer from the scriptures. God has always measured obedience by the full extent of His word.
A. After the crossing of Red Sea the Israelites come to Marah and complain because the water in unusable. God miraculously cleanses the water and offers these words…Ex 15:26 …”If you diligently heed the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the LORD who heals you.”
B. After the giving of the law concerning the Sabbath an Israelite was caught gathering sticks on the Sabbath, a clear violation of the law. They appealed to Moses as to the response and Moses commanded that he be put to death. Then God spoke to Moses with some further instructions. Num 15:37-40 Again the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 38 “Speak to the children of Israel: Tell them to make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a blue thread in the tassels of the corners. 39 And you shall have the tassel, that you may look upon it and remember all the commandments of the LORD and do them, and that you may not follow the harlotry to which your own heart and your own eyes are inclined, 40 and that you may remember and do all My commandments, and be holy for your God.
C. Jesus said if you love me keep my commandments. James gives us the true parameters of obedience in James 2:10 For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.
II. Do it Now – Immediacy – God expects us to respond now. When God commanded Abram to offer his only son as a sacrifice on an altar… – So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son; and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. (Gen 22:3)
A. Felix is the classic example of one who postponed doing the right thing –Ac. 24:25 – 25 Now as he reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and answered, “Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you”.
B. I am impressed with Jesus expectation of immediate obedience in the calling of His disciples. Matt 4:18-22 And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. 19 Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 They immediately left their nets and followed Him. 21 Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. He called them, 22 and immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him.
C. The believers in Acts 2, The Ethiopian in Acts 8, The Jailor is Acts 16, all stand as examples of those who responded immediately (same hour of the night) to the call to be baptized.
III. Do it No Matter What It Costs – Sacrifice – What Does God expect you to give up? After admonishing the disciples to “count the cost” of being His disciple Jesus said… So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple. (Luke 14:33)
A. David recognized this principle of obedience & personal sacrifice. 1 Chron. 21:22-25 Then David said to Ornan, “Grant me the place of this threshing floor, that I may build an altar on it to the LORD. You shall grant it to me at the full price, that the plague may be withdrawn from the people.” And Ornan said to David, “Take it to yourself, and let my lord the king do what is good in his eyes. Look, I also give you the oxen for burnt offerings, the threshing implements for wood, and the wheat for the grain offering; I give it all.” Then King David said to Ornan, “No, but I will surely buy it for the full price, for I will not take what is yours for the LORD, nor offer burnt offerings with that which costs me nothing.” So David gave Ornan six hundred shekels of gold by weight for the place.”
B. What does it cost you to obey God today? At the least it will always cost you time, energy, your pride, and your money. Those things must come from you personally – there is no obedience through proxy – that is called institutionalized religion and God has never sanctioned that.
1. Would God ever expect you to change jobs or move away from your friends? It can be easy to require of others what we fail to require of ourselves.
2. Jesus spoke seriously about our struggle to fight against disobedience and be holy when he said…If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. Matt 5:29-30
IV. Do it from the Heart – Sincerity: God is looking for those who exhibit genuineness in their actions. This unhypocritical response is often described as “of the heart”, or “from the heart”. He wants us to mean what we do. To exercise the heart or inner person in obedience. 2 Cor 9:7 So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. The principle is expressed in Paul’s admonitions to servants – Eph 6:5-6 – Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ; 6 not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as Bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart,(Ananias & Saphira vs. Barnabas).
A. True obedience indicates a desire to please God above all else. We do not always obey, and our hope is not based on perfect obedience. But true obedience reveals the heart of a person. Paul seems to touch on these two elements in Rom 6:17-18 – 17 But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. 18 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. The life mission of the slave or servant is easily defined. His aim is to please his master. Paul’s use of this terminology is not to denigrate our person, but to help us recognize the single-minded devotion that God requires.
1. Gal 1:10 For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.
2. Paul also likened the responsibility of the Christian to obey God as that of a soldier enlisted in the army. 2 Tim 2:3-4 – 3 You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 4 No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.
V. Do it Without Fear – Courage: – Do you believe that God would call on you to stand all by yourself? If He did, would that be fair?
A. Fear fosters disobedience. So many people are lead into the paths of sin because others around them were leading the way.
1. Peter denied knowing Jesus because of those around him (Matthew 26:69-75).
2. Several followed Jesus while he was on earth, but they did so secretly for fear of others (John 19:38).
3. Revelation 21:8 – 8 But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”
B. Our salvation comes through our willingness to take a public stand for our Lord (Romans 10:9-10 – confess Him.) There is no such thing as a secret disciple. It is unfortunate that some people value their position with men more than their position with God.
1. The chief rulers – John 12:42-43 “Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.”
2. Peter – Galatians 2:11-13 “Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy.”
3. Refusal to obey because of embarrassment is really denial of the Lord – Mark 8:38 “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”
C. God’s call for obedience is a call to stand alone among men. Your obedience to God is not dependent on any other person. Joshua & Caleb stood alone. The people wanted to stone them for giving a positive report. Notice how the scriptures describe Caleb inNum14:24 But My servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit in him and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land where he went, and his descendants shall inherit it.
Conclusion: What is the Objective of True Obedience? 1 Peter 1:13-15 “Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct”. Peter links obedience (“as obedient children”) to the pursuit of holiness. We are to strive to be holy because God is holy.
A. The struggle to obey is the struggle to be like God – they are one and the same endeavor. We do not become, nor can we anticipate, perfection. But the holiness of God is the aim of obedience.
1. Jesus validated His own life through His obedience: After skipping lunch to teach the Samaritan woman, the disciples “urged Him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” But He said to them, “I have food to eat of which you do not know.” Therefore the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought Him anything to eat?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work. (John 4:30-35) Jesus obeyed the commandments of His Father, and recognized that obedience as a fulfillment of His mission. John 14:31 – “But that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave Me commandment, so I do…”
2. Obedience to God is what you were created to do. It has intrinsic value to your whole life. The wise man once wrote in “Eccl 12:13 – Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.
Are you truly obeying the Lord?