D – Desire
O – Obedience
In the last post I wrote about desire—to honor God we must have the desire to honor God. After our desire is focused on honoring God, the next logical step is to obey God. God is honored more when sincere desire leads to obedience rather than obedience without the desire. This principle is clearly seen with the religious leaders in the Gospels of the New Testament. They were obedient to what they understood God’s law to be but their obedience was more about achieving righteousness through their own actions than about honoring God.
Obeying God is always better than not obeying God, but, obeying God because of a sincere desire in our hearts to please and honor God is what truly honors God, and in fact, what God desires of us.
Obedience is a fundamental requirement for a relationship with God. The Bible is filled with commands to obey God. Also, there are numerous examples of the positive and negative consequences of obeying God.
To show the importance of obedience let me share some facts with you. Every verse in Psalm 119 is about the importance of the Law of God. The word “obey” appears 17 times in the NIV version and 20 times in the NLT version of this Psalm. The writer of the Psalm 119 knew the importance of obeying God.
The word “obey” appears 66 times in the King James Version, 109 times in the New King James Version, 162 times in the New International Version, and 352 times in the New Living Translation. I didn’t take the time to check other, similar, words like obedience, obeyed, obeying, not to mention any synonyms. The point is, the concept of “obeying God” is not an occasional thought throughout the Bible--it is a fundamental part of every verse in the Bible.
Here are a few specific passages that relate to obedience:
“During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. 8 Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered 9 and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him 10 and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.” Hebrews 5:7-10 NIV
This passage from Hebrews is fascinating. Speaking of Jesus, the writer says, “he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him. Jesus learned about the meaning of obeying the Father in Heaven through his suffering. He submitted himself to beating and death to become “the source of salvation for all who obey him.” This verse clearly indicates the role of obedience in salvation. To be saved, I must obediently, confess my sin and my need to a Savior. Obedience is part of everything you will do as a Christian.
“Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. 24 Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We're going to drown!” 26 He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. 27 The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!” Matthew 8:23-27 NIV
Even the winds and the waves obey him. There will come a day when every knee will bow and every tongue confess Jesus is LORD. There will come a day when every living thing will be made to obey Jesus whether they want to or not. I would rather obey out of love for God and give Him the honor and praise he deserves.
“Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20 NIV
Jesus clearly wants us to teach obedience to the people we bring into His fold.
“If you love me, you will obey what I command.” John 14:15 NIV
“Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.” John 14:23-24 NIV
“If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love.” John 15:10 NIV
These 3 passages from John 14 and 15 express clearly that Jesus expects us to obey Him.
“But Peter and John replied, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God's sight to obey you rather than God.” Acts 4:19 NIV
This last passage is when Peter and John are brought before the Sanhedrin for teaching and healing in the name of Jesus from the Book of Acts. Obeying God is ALWAYS the right answer.
One of the reasons obedience is so important in our relationship with God is there are times when we won’t understand why God wants us to do something. When we clearly understand that God is telling us to do something we must obey without questioning, arguing, ignoring, or, my personal favorite, negotiating. I say, negotiating is my personal favorite in sarcasm since that seems to be the one I have tried to do most in the past. It has taken me a long time to let go of my stubbornness and become more obedient. Notice, I didn’t say completely obedient since I am human and make my share of mistakes. I am getting much better but still not there yet.
We must make becoming more obedient a priority in our Christian walk. I encourage you to spend some prayer time seeking God’s guidance in your life related to being more obedient to His will.