We covered the subject of obedience to God as ultimate authority, His proxies in secular government, in the church and in the work place. Then we covered obedience to authority in the family context of parent, elders and husbands. In this blog we shall cover the subject of how do we obey? and when do we obey? The end result of willing obedience can be vastly different from unwilling, grudging obedience without honour and respect.
How do we obey?
A. We must obey promptly
Gen. 6:22 Noah did everything just as God commanded him.
Isaiah 6:8. Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
Here were two men who were examples of full trust and obedience. Their response was prompt and they seized the moment of challenge and opportunity and impacted their families and generations to come. We cannot obey promptly if we do not trust.
1. Positive example – David.
Acts 13:22 After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’
What has been our history? Have we done everything the Lord wants us to do like David did?
2. Negative example – Saul-1 Sam. 15 :10 – 23 Then the word of the LORD came to Samuel: 11“I regret that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions.” Samuel was angry, and he cried out to the LORD all that night.
12Early in the morning Samuel got up and went to meet Saul, but he was told, “Saul has gone to Carmel. There he has set up a monument in his own honor and has turned and gone on down to Gilgal.”
13When Samuel reached him, Saul said, “The LORD bless you! I have carried out the LORD’s instructions.”
14But Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of sheep in my ears? What is this lowing of cattle that I hear?”
15Saul answered, “The soldiers brought them from the Amalekites; they spared the best of the sheep and cattle to sacrifice to the LORD your God, but we totally destroyed the rest.”
16“Enough!” Samuel said to Saul. “Let me tell you what the LORD said to me last night.”
“Tell me,” Saul replied.
17 Samuel said, “Although you were once small in your own eyes, did you not become the head of the tribes of Israel? The LORD anointed you king over Israel. 18 And he sent you on a mission, saying, ‘Go and completely destroy those wicked people, the Amalekites; wage war against them until you have wiped them out.’ 19Why did you not obey the LORD? Why did you pounce on the plunder and do evil in the eyes of the LORD?”
20 “But I did obey the LORD,” Saul said. “I went on the mission the LORD assigned me. I completely destroyed the Amalekites and brought back Agag their king. 21The soldiers took sheep and cattle from the plunder, the best of what was devoted to God, in order to sacrifice them to the LORD your God at Gilgal.”
22But Samuel replied:
“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. 23 For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has rejected you as king.”
Saul’s disobedience was costly as the dire consequence was God rejected him as king.
Late obedience could rank as disobedience and partial obedience is disobedience. Let us be careful not to give excuses for disobedience by employing delaying tactics with the Lord.
C. We must obey willingly and cheerfully
Ps. 40:8 I desire to do your will, my God, your law is within my heart.”
A positive attitude of willingness and cheerfulness in obedience will breed positive results.
D. From the heart
Rom. 6:17,18 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.
When we are earnest and willing there is true obedience, not half-hearted but full hearted. The Lord honors a sincere obedience and gives full reward.
When do we obey?
In every case except when the authority over us asks us to do something which is contrary to God’s word. Even then we must not disobey in an arrogant and rebellious manner.
Dan. 1:8-13 But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.9 Now God had caused the official to show favor and sympathy to Daniel,10 but the official told Daniel, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you.” 11 Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah,12 “Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink.13 Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.”
It was not direct rebellion but disobedience was accomplished discretely and with favour from the authorities.
Dan 3:13-18 Furious with rage, Nebuchadnezzar summoned Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. So these men were brought before the king, 14 and Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up? 15Now when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?”
16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us[a] from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”
Daniel and his friends stood firm because they knew the God they believed in – His power, His reliability and His faithfulness. They trusted in Him and experienced the miraculous deliverance of the Lord. How many times have we wished for a miracle and yet have not the faith to believe for it?
Dan 5:111,12 There is a man in your kingdom who has the spirit of the holy gods in him. In the time of your father he was found to have insight and intelligence and wisdom like that of the gods. Your father, King Nebuchadnezzar, appointed him chief of the magicians, enchanters, astrologers and diviners. 12 He did this because Daniel, whom the king called Belteshazzar, was found to have a keen mind and knowledge and understanding, and also the ability to interpret dreams, explain riddles and solve difficult problems. Call for Daniel, and he will tell you what the writing means.”
When we are obedient and courageously stand up for the Lord, we will have a good reputation even among the heathens. Yes, it pays to be obedient to the Lord. When it is time to disobey the secular authorities we should do it advisedly and with honour. A good reputation brings glory to God.
The Lord cares how we respond to His authority agents. If not there would not be any retribution. If we have erred in any area, let us confess, repent and ask the Lord for forgiveness. Let us purpose in our hearts to do according to His Word and requirements. He will hear us for our obedience. Praise the Lord.