Obedience

by Mike Ratliff

22 Samuel said,
“Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
As in obeying the voice of the Lord?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
And to heed than the fat of rams. 1 Samuel 15:22 (NASB) 

When my son was about 5 years old we had a Revival team visit our church in Tulsa for about three weeks. Each evening the adults would go to the auditorium while all of the children were in the gym or class rooms. The team had two or three teenagers who took care of the children by age group. Over those three weeks my soon started singing a new song almost constantly. It was a song called “O-B-E-D-I-E-N-C-E.” He would sing this song over and over. It was during this time that we bought him his own tape player and several “Psalty” tapes. However, no matter how much he loved Psalty and those songs, he would default to the “Obedience” song most of the time.

We must admit that we are all guilty of rebellion against God’s sovereignty, His will, and His commandments. Obedience is something we tend to give lip service to, but in reality, we give in to our own special interests. All through the book of Jeremiah, God tells the Judeans, through His Prophet, to repent by turning from their idolatry to Him. He was calling them to obey their part of the Covenant.

9 God said further to Abraham, “Now as for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations. Genesis 17:9 (NASB) 

The Jews did not keep this covenant as they should have. Instead they disobeyed God which resulted in their exile from the land of promise. I am not a Dispensationalist so I view the Church (The True Church) to be spiritual Israel. There is plenty of scriptural evidence that this is so. If this is true, then what is the implication for the Church. Are we liable to keep our side of Covenant with God? Yes, we are! All in Christ are partakers of the New Covenant. God’s part in this Covenant is to save and keep those He saves. Christian’s part in the Covenant is their obedience to the Lord’s Commandments.

This obedience is not ceremonial or liturgical. It is not a set of rules to keep. Instead, it is obedience borne from a Heart that loves the Lord God with its entire being.

16 “This day the Lord your God commands you to do these statutes and ordinances. You shall therefore be careful to do them with all your heart and with all your soul. Deuteronomy 26:16 (NASB) 

45 When Moses had finished speaking all these words to all Israel, 46 he said to them, “Take to your heart all the words with which I am warning you today, which you shall command your sons to observe carefully, even all the words of this law. Deuteronomy 32:45-46 (NASB) 

Does God bless those who disobey His commandments? Does He punish those who obey Him? There is a clear cause and effect with obeying the Lord. There is no guarantee that we will be problem free if we obey God. In fact, we are promised that we will suffer persecution if we live a life of obedience to the Lord. However, there is a promise of success to those who obey God with a whole heart.

8 This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. Joshua 1:8 (NASB) 

In the previous passage we see that we are not to just obey God, but we are to meditate on it, day and night. This is God-focus. This is walking in the spirit. This is being spiritually minded rather than temporally minded. God promises those who dedicate themselves to this, following through in obedience, that He will cause them to prosper and have good success. Of course, this is speaking of being prosperous and successful within obedience to God.

The Church in the USA seems to be rapidly going down a path of man-focused religiosity. Churches focus on man and his needs rather than God and His glory. Some of these churches become quite large. Why? They offer a substitute to people to become religious, get fire insurance to avoid Hell, all while having a great time being entertained with worldly displays of flesh oriented music and non-threatening sermons. These people are sacrificing, being religious, thinking they are pleasing God. What does God say?

22 Samuel said,
“Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
As in obeying the voice of the Lord?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
And to heed than the fat of rams. 1 Samuel 15:22 (NASB) 

166 I hope for Your salvation, O Lord,
And do Your commandments. Psalms 119:166 (NASB) 

10 Who is among you that fears the Lord,
That obeys the voice of His servant,
That walks in darkness and has no light?
Let him trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God. Isaiah 50:10 (NASB) 

23 But this is what I commanded them, saying, ‘Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you will be My people; and you will walk in all the way which I command you, that it may be well with you.’ Jeremiah 7:23 (NASB) 

Religiosity does not please God unless it is accompanied by our obedience. Our religion should flow from our faith and obedience. It is not the other way around. Good works do not produce salvation, but genuine salvation always results in good works. What are our good works except our obedience to God? When genuine believers, the regenerate, live out their salvation this way, they prove their genuiness. They don’t earn their salvation by doing the good works. Their good works are the markers of their obedience which is a product of their regenerated hearts. These good works of obedience are the evidence of their acceptance by God into His Kingdom.

21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Matthew 7:21 (NASB) 

21 But He answered and said to them, “My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it.” Luke 8:21 (NASB) 

Lastly, our obedience to God is our duty. His commandments are to be obeyed not ignored. Not long ago I watched a video of a new Bishop over the American Episcopal Church blessing people in the Washington Cathedral. This Bishop is a woman. She believes the church needs to ordain homosexuals. She believes that it also should marry and support same-sex couples. I could write much on what is wrong in this, but you get it. What is this? Isn’t this to ignore direct commandments found throughout the Bible? This is what happens when churches fall into apostasy. What causes this? It always starts by discounting the veracity of scripture. Once God’s Word is discounted it can be ignored. Once this happens, society’s values creep in in order to please the most people. Society applauds these moves, but we must stand and not fall. We must declare the truth in love. What do we say?

29 But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. Acts 5:29 (NASB)

6 And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, that you should walk in it. 2 John 1:6 (NASB)

We speak the truth, which is obeying God. We do not have to “win” each argument over theology or doctrine or whatever. We are to obey God in all things fully knowing that the vast majority of people will think we are nuts as they ignore or ridicule us.

We must take a close look at our walk. We must examine ourselves. Are we obedient with a whole heart or are we simply being religious? What are our motives? We must weed out all compromises. Our obedience must be pure and bound to a humble, devoted heart. When we obey God then we must not try to get people to notice. Yes, that’s right. Isn’t it all bound up in our motives?

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let’s repent of our self-seeking, self-absorbed, self-gratifying pursuits. Even if they appear like good works to others, if our motives are self-oriented then we are not doing the good works of obedience by the grace of God. Instead, we are making sacrifices void of obedience and that does not please God.

Soli Deo Gloria!

2 thoughts on “Obedience

  1. AMEN! This characteristic of obedience is sorely lacking or more accurately – totally non existent in much of the visible church. I hope and pray that this is not the case with the true invisible church who still desires to please their Lord. this article reminded me of a couple of cases where the “pastor”, married believers (supposedly) to unbelievers. One case was the (Baptist) pastor at a church I attended for a few years a while ago, who married off his two “believing” daughters to known unbelievers. What kind of example is that to the flock?
    There is an excellent article at CRN posted by Marsha West entitled “A Call to Separation.” I think it ties in well with what you have written here.
    Thank you Mike for your continued writing!

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