Posted by: missionventureministries | September 7, 2017

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO OBEY GOD? – Philippians 2:8

And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. (Philippians 2:8)  

Obedience to God is an essential part of the Christian faith. Jesus Himself was obedient unto death, even death on a cross.  

The Bible says that we show our love for Jesus by obeying Him in all things: “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). And to those who were not obeying He asked: “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46). 

Obedience is defined as “dutiful or submissive compliance to the commands of one in authority.” And as we look into this definition in greater detail, we see the elements of biblical obedience. 

  • Dutiful – means it is our obligation to obey God, just as Jesus fulfilled His duty to the Father by dying on the cross for our sin.
  • Submissive – indicates that we yield our wills to God’s.
  • Commands – speaks of the Scriptures in which God has clearly delineated His instructions, and finally
  • Of one in authority, which is God Himself, whose authority is total and indisputable.

Therefore, for the Christian, obedience means complying with everything God has commanded. It is our duty to do so; however, it is important to remember that our obedience to God is not solely a matter of duty; we obey Him because we love Him (John 14:23).  

We must beware of reflecting an appearance of obedience to mask a sinful heart. Living the Christian life is not all about rules. The Pharisees in Jesus’ time relentlessly followed acts of obedience to the Law, but they became hypocrites, believing they deserved heaven because of what they had done. They considered themselves worthy before God, who owed them a reward; however, the Bible tells us that, without Christ, even our most righteous works are as “filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6).  

Isaiah also mentions man made laws where he writes: “The Lord said: “Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men” (Isaiah 29:13). 

The Pharisees’ external obedience lacked true submission, and Jesus exposed their heart attitude. Their hypocrisy was in obeying the “letter of the law” while violating its spirit and Jesus rebuked them sharply: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which indeed appear beautiful outside, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so you also appear righteous to men outwardly, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity” (Matthew 23:27–28). The Pharisees were obedient in some respects, but they “neglected the more important matters of the law” (Matthew 23:23). 

Today, we are not called to obey the Law of Moses, which has been fulfilled in Christ (Matthew 5:17). We are to obey the “law of Christ,” which is a law of love (Galatians 6:2; John 13:34). Jesus stated the greatest commands of all: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37–40). 

If we love God, we will obey Him. We won’t be perfect in our obedience, but our desire is to submit to the Lord and display good works. When we love God and obey Him, we naturally have love for one another. Obedience to God’s commands will make us light and salt in a dark, tasteless and evil world (Matthew 5:13–16). 

You might ask, “Why is obedience to God so important?” 

Because it is preposterous to disobey God and it is insane to worship any god but Almighty God. 

Obedience proves our love for God (1 John 5:2-3), demonstrates our faithfulness to Him (1 John 2:3-6), glorifies Him in the world (1 Peter 2:12), and opens avenues of blessing for us (John 13:17). 

Faith is necessary to please God (Hebrews 11:6), and if our faith is genuine and true, we will live a lifestyle characterized by righteousness, modeling the example set for us by Jesus Christ. We obey His commands, not because we have to, but because we want to, because we love Him. We are enabled to obey because, once we believe in Christ and are saved, we are made new. We are not the same people we once were, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). 

When we obey the Lord, we can live a life of joy, without shame, rooted deeply in Him and confident in our eternal hope. “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Corinthians 3:17). Our obedience is actually part of our assurance that we truly know God (1 John 2:3). 

When God’s children obey their Heavenly Father, He is glorified. Jesus told us that the plan is for others to “see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). Of course, performing “good deeds” requires obedience to the One who calls us to good deeds. A Christian’s testimony of holiness is a strong witness that God is at work in the world. 

“Blessed are all who fear the LORD, who walk in obedience to him” (Psalm 128:1). The Bible often tells us that God blesses and rewards obedience. James 1:22, 25 says: “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. . . . Whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.”  

God is forgiving. If we haven’t been living for Him, if we haven’t been following His commandments, if we’ve been living in and for the world, we can be transformed by the blood of Jesus Christ. We can ask God for forgiveness, and He will give it, and will choose to forget the sin, just as if we had never committed it. God is glorified when He grants forgiveness, because it is written, “I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds. . . . Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more” (Hebrews 10:16-17).

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