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What is True Obedience?
Written by Charles Bedwell
A lot of division exists today in modern Christianity in relation to obedience to God. Many today teach that there is no "one" path to the gates of Heaven, while many others teach very stringent ritualistic "work" related salvation doctrines. Both of these extremes couldn't be further from the truth, the truth which is contained in the real gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Beyond all controversies among Christianity, the Bible Sabbath of the Lord, the 7th day, surely poses the greatest burden to nominal Christians.
- Many say, "God doesn't care which 'day of the week' you choose to give Him worship. The choice is yours."
- Others say, "Well, I choose to worship God on Sunday like everyone else, 'The Lord's Day.'"
Christians always try to make their own way, but WHEN do we stop and ask ourselves, "What does GOD want us to do!?"
Have you considered that question for yourself? It's easy to just choose on your own what you will do, "feeling" comfortable with the freedom to choose. However, God giving us the freedom to choose what we will do does not acquit us of what He expects us to do. Truly being obedient to God involves placing God's will ABOVE your own, out of love.
Matthew 22:36-40 ...'Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.'
Now have a good think about that: What does it mean to "love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind"? Jesus is saying that we need to place our God HIGH above our own selves in all things that we do. THIS is true love. Now many professing Christians are able to easily quote this greatest commandment, but how many actually truly LIVE according to it?
Take this parable in mind to apply the full meaning of this commandment:
"A young boy wakes up one Sunday morning, not knowing exactly what to expect for the day. His mother cooks a big breakfast, and his father looks over at his son and tells him, "Son, I need you to do something important for me today, okay? I have to go out of town this morning to take care of important business and I won't be back until this afternoon. Since I have to go right back to work tomorrow, I won't have time to take care of something that the neighbors have been complaining about recently. I need you to cut the grass for me. It's already about 18 inches tall." The boy nods and agrees to do what his father asks him to do. After he primes the mower and fills it with gas, he begins to look over at the barn. Now, the barn was starting to get to the point where it was needing to be re-painted. Instead of mowing the grass, he acquired all of the tools he would need to paint the barn and he began doing that (since he actually much preferred painting over mowing grass and he also justified this to himself by saying, "Well, the barn actually needs to be painted more than the grass needs to be cut."). He finishes his work, steps back away from the barn, and smiles to himself - proud of his accomplishment, sure that Dad would be pleased with the fine job he did."
"The father returns home, seeing the painting that had been completed for the barn, but also still seeing the same knee-high blades of grass all over the yard. The boy runs up to his father and excitedly points him toward the barn, but his father merely crosses his arms and says to his son, "Son, I see that you painted the barn, but that is NOT what I asked you to do. I asked you to cut the grass for a specific reason, and I trusted you to do this in my absence. Why did you take it upon yourself to do what you wanted to do instead?"
Question: Was the boy's Dad pleased or upset with the work the boy accomplished? It is true that the boy did some positive constructive work for his father, but he didn't pay attention to do what his father ASKED him to do. Therefore, his father showed that he wasn't pleased at all.
The boy decided that HE knew what was best instead of lovingly obeying his father.
And this example is confirmed in the Bible with the story of King Saul. In 1 Samuel 15, Saul is told to go and destroy the Amalekites. Now Samuel told Saul that God wanted him to destroy EVERYTHING. But what did Saul do? He decided to bring back the King of the Amalekites and the best of the cattle for an offering to the Lord. I mean, come on, the Lord would be pleased with this right? Because they were going to do a "good" thing in offering the cattle to God. Saul even said himself, "I have performed the commandment of the LORD." No, this was a bad thing. Why? because God gave a SPECIFIC command to Saul, and because Saul didn't carry out that command in the SPECIFIC way that God requested, the Lord rejected Saul as king.
And look at what Samuel said to Saul ... "For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king." (verse 23). Are you obeying the SPECIFIC commands of our Heavenly Father? Was God serious about the SPECIFIC day we are to keep as the sabbath? Well, was He serious about the SPECIFIC tree that Adam and Eve were not to touch? Yes my friend, God IS serious about the specific commands that He gives.
Let's look at another example in scripture to see this portrayed as well.
Genesis 4:2-7 ...'And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.'
Did both Cain and Abel offer a sacrifice to God? Yes, but take a close look at the differences between their sacrifices.
- Cain offered "fruit of the ground" to the Lord, symbolizing his "works" at trying to earn the Lord's approval.
- Abel simply obeyed God out of love and offered a blood offering to the Lord. He sacrificed not only a sheep, but the FIRSTBORN, or the BEST of his flock.
Abel's offering was a true offering from the heart, a SIN offering. He showed that he believed that the Lord deserved THE best of what he had to offer. The very "ground" itself was already cursed because of sin entering the world after Adam and Eve took the "fruit" of the tree they were forbidden to eat from.
Genesis 3:17 ...'cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life.'
1 John 3:11-12 ...'For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous.'
After looking closely at this, we can see that this all boils down to ONE thing, the heart. It is the evil that was in Cain's heart that led him to doing what HE wanted to do rather than obeying the specific commands of God. And it was the evil in his heart that led him to killing his own brother out of spiteful jealousy. Out of the heart is where all manners of evil are derived from.
Ezekiel 28:15-17 ...'Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee. By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee.'
Where was iniquity found within Lucifer? In his heart!
What Does God Want us to Do?
After saying all of this, it may seem that God wants you to jump through many hoops and hurdles to get to the Kingdom of Heaven, but that is not the case. After a person believes upon Jesus Christ as the Son of the Living God and is baptized, what He expects from us is relatively easy to see, but is not easily accepted.
We've already seen that God wants His children to be lovingly obedient. What does Jesus say about entering into the gates of Heaven, to receive eternal life?
Matthew 19:16-22 ...'And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.'
Jesus gives us some important information in just these few verses.
1 - He tells the rich man that Keeping the Commandments leads to eternal life.
2 - He specifically lists the last 6 Commandments of the 10 in this example, all of which deal with love for your neighbor. He does this to illustrate a point.
3 - The point he illustrates is found in verse 21 - "If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me."
Jesus is saying, "I want you to go even further beyond the mere words written in the Commandments. I want My Commandments to be written on your heart."
It's not a blind, robotic servitude that our Lord desires from His people, but a true fervent loving desire that comes from their hearts, friend!
Revelation 14:12 ...'Here is the patience of the saints; here are they who keep the commandments of God AND the faith of Jesus.'
Having a love in your heart for Jesus is wonderful and should be the start of your journey as a Christian. However, it is not only love for Jesus, but also obedience to Yehovah by keeping His Commandments that completes the Christian.
A true Christian will not have one of these characteristics without the other. They are BOTH part of the Christian walk of faith.
If we do love our God truly, if we really do accept His Son Jesus Christ as our Savior, then obedience will come naturally.
John 14:12,15 ...'Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father ... If ye love me, keep my commandments.'
God is preparing a people in these very last days who will be able to stand in this terrible time of trouble we have lying quickly ahead of us. He is looking for a group of people, refined in the fire, who will KEEP/hold onto their faith and their steadfast obedience. These people will be utterly unshakeable and rock-solid unto the very end. Does your current Christian walk reflect this Biblical description of faithful, loving obedience? Don't wait for tomorrow, friend. Stand firmly with us today and give your all for our Lord Jesus. He surely is coming back soon for His elect!