Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. – 1 Samuel 15:22
MEANING OF OBEDIENCE
Last week we explained that obedience is the act of submitting (obeying) to the commands (laws) of God, the highest authority, creator, and Father of mankind. If we have faith in God and believe Christianity is the truth, obedience is the practice of living by faith, obeying the teachings of the Bible.
A sacrifice is a ritual transaction between a person and God that physically demonstrates a relationship between them. But if the person’s heart is not truly repentant or if he does not truly love God, the sacrifice is a hollow ritual.
1. WHY DO WE OBEY GOD?
We do not obey God because of fear, guilt, or a sense of duty. We obey God because of His love to us, because He loved us and saved us. Obedience to God is not a feeling, not knowledge, but rather, it is a choice and a decision.
SCRIPTURES ON OBEDIENCE
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But 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. – James 1:22-25
It is important to listen to what God’s Word says, but it is much more important to obey it and to do what it says. We can measure the effectiveness of our Bible study time by the effect it has on our behaviour and attitudes.
As Christians, we are saved by God’s grace, and salvation frees from sin’s control. As believers, we are free to live as God created us to live. Of course, this does not mean that we are free to do as we please. “Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves.” – 1 Peter 2:16. We are now free to obey God.
Again Jesus began to teach by the lake. The crowd that gathered around Him was so large that He got into a boat and sat in it out on the lake, while all the people were along the shore at the water’s edge. He taught them many things by parables, and in His teaching said: “Listen! A farmer went out to sow His seed. As He was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.”
Then Jesus said, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” – Mark 4:1-9
The hearing Jesus wants from us is not the kind we use when we listen to background music or when someone starts to recount a long story we have already heard. To truly “hear” Jesus’ words is to believe them, to use them immediately in decisions and attitudes, and to base life on them – our recreation and work, family plans and money matters, praying and singing. To hear Jesus’ words is to make Jesus your true Lord.
Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable? The farmer sows the word. Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.” – Mark 4:13-20.
Jesus is talking about receiving His word and obeying it. We are like the seed that fell on fertile soil because it is reproductive.
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” – John 14:15
As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. – 1 Peter 1:14
2. BENEFITS OF OBEDIENCE
As human beings we always think of what is in for us when we do something for others. Of course, we should never think of a quid pro quo with God! Nevertheless, God shows His faithfulness by rewarding us for our faithfulness. These are rewards for obedience:
- We become a friend of God. “You are my friends if you do what I command.” – John 15:14.
- We become holy as God. “And if we are careful to obey all this law before the Lord our God, as he has commanded us, that will be our righteousness.” – Deuteronomy 6:25
- We receive earthly blessings. “If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land” – Isaiah 1:19
- We have the assurance of salvation. “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” – Ephesians 6:13
- We receive answers to our prayers. “and receive from Him anything we ask, because we keep His commands and do what pleases Him.” – 1 John 3:22
- We are assured of the blessings, example Abraham. “If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God” – Deuteronomy 28:1-2
- We avoid punishment. “Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.” – Romans 13:2
The reality of this new covenant was portrayed in Jesus’ supreme example of obedience to the heavenly Father, when He gave Himself as the ultimate sacrifice for atonement of sin.
Jesus’ emphasis on being born again underscores the need of atonement for effecting forgiveness of sins. Jesus talks to Nicodemus about being born again or “from above” as the requirement for entering the kingdom of God (John 3:3-6). The way of death would be thus changed to the way of life.
Jesus prayed that His disciples would be sanctified, be made inwardly holy, and thereby be enabled to live a holy life outwardly (John 17:6-19). Provision for this inner holiness and cleansing requisite for true obedience was effected by His atoning sacrifice on the cross.
The Holy Spirit is provided to all who believe in Jesus. The Spirit’s abiding presence enables all God’s people to carry out God’s will and to live obediently before Him.
Please continue to join us on Asempa 94.7 FM – Sunday 5.30 am., Sunny 88.7 FM – Tuesdays 5:30 am; and Uniiq 95.7 FM – Saturdays 7:30 pm, YFM 107.9 – Sundays 6.30am; for our Radio Bible Study as well as Sunny FM 88.7 FM every Sunday at 3:30 pm. for Hymn and their Stories.