A few weeks ago I wrote a post "What Does It Mean to Delight Yourself in the Lord?" In that post I wrote that delighting yourself in the Lord means that your thoughts are constant towards God and that everything you do is in obedience to Him.
Hebrews 5:8 (NLT) Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered.
We can’t just say we have faith; we must show our faith by doing what God tells us to do.
Deitrich Bonhoeffer, an influential theologian who was martyred under the Nazi regime, says, “For faith is only real when there is obedience, never without it, and faith only becomes faith in the act of obedience.”
Faith is the Key
God doesn't want us to obey Him because He's an overbearing Father it's because He loves us and wants the best for us.
You might say “well obeying really isn’t that hard”. It’s not when things are going great...no financial difficulties, no problems in your marriage, your children are doing well, your health is great, and God hasn’t told you to do anything but to live a simple life of faith. Nothing too stressful, nothing that requires you to do anything other than to go to church every Sunday, read your Bible everyday, or give your tithes.
What if God told you to leave your comfortable surroundings and to someplace you have never been like He did Abraham? Thine He wouldn't do that to you? Well how about obeying if God tells you to quit your job and go into full time ministry, or to trust Him when a loved one is seriously ill, or give your car to the sister whose car just broke down and now she can't get to work? Then obedience may not be that easy.
Is it Even Possible for Man to Obey God all the Time?
Obedience is a choice that you make to follow God regardless of the consequences. Seeing His will done in our lives is the most important thing. We give the consequences to God. Here’s a great Charles Stanley quote “Obey God and leave all the consequences to Him.”
You already know that you can’t do that on your own. It’s impossible for man, or our own to obey God all the time. As human beings, although saved, we still have fleshly weaknesses plus we have to deal with all the negativity thrown at us by Satan and the world. In order to make the choice to leave the consequences to God every time you need to change your way of thinking.
Romans 12:2 (HCSB)2 Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.
This transformation of our minds is through the work of the Holy Spirit, which is a gift of God by grace through faith.
John 14:26 (HCSB)26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit—the Father will send Him in My name—will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have told you.
The Holy Spirit enables us to obey which is the key to our faith. When we decide that we are going to obey God we are stepping out in faith but we know we are not alone when we do.
Galatians 2:20 (HCSB)20 and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
While we have the help of Christ and the Holy Spirit we have a part to play too. He won’t force us to obey. We have to cooperate with Him.
Colossians 1:29 (HCSB)29 I labor for this, striving with His strength that works powerfully in me.
Everytime we obey in faith and we see the results of that obedience the more faith we’ll have to obey the next time.
Romans 1:17 (HCSB)17 For in it God’s righteousness is revealed from faith to faith, just as it is written: The righteous will live by faith.
When we make the choice to obey in faith it then that we really know what Paul meant when he wrote;
Romans 8:28 (HCSB)28 We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.
Examples of Faith and Obedience
Genesis 12:1, 4 (HCSB) 1 The LORD said to Abram: Go out from your land, your relatives, and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 4 So Abram went, as the LORD had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was 75 years old when he left Haran.
He obeyed and left his home, his relatives, and his friends, not really knowing anything other than God told him to go. But that's not all.
Genesis 22:2, 9 (HCSB)2 “Take your son,” He said, “your only ⌊son⌋ Isaac, whom you love, go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.” 9 When they arrived at the place that God had told him about, Abraham built the altar there and arranged the wood. He bound his son Isaac and placed him on the altar on top of the wood.
Abram, now Abraham, obeyed because he had faith that God can do all things. He had experienced that God had done what He said He would do in every instance.
Hebrews 11:17-19 (HCSB)17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac. He received the promises and he was offering his unique son,18 the one it had been said about, Your seed will be traced through Isaac.19 He considered God to be able even to raise someone from the dead, and as an illustration, he received him back.
Genesis 6:13-14, 22 (HCSB)13 Then God said to Noah, “I have decided to put an end to every creature, for the earth is filled with wickedness because of them; therefore I am going to destroy them along with the earth.14 “Make yourself an ark of gopher wood. Make rooms in the ark, and cover it with pitch inside and outside. 22 And Noah did this. He did everything that God had commanded him.
Noah obeyed even though the people must have thought that he was crazy because it had never rained before, and in addition to that, there was no ocean or sea near the place he was building this boat, and it was a big one. It may have taken Noah 100 years to build the ark (The first time that Noah is mentioned in the Bible he is 500 years old Genesis 5:32, and he was 600 when God told him to enter the ark, Genesis 7:6) yet he continues to work and build following God’s instructions. Noah’s perseverance proved that he had faith in God as he obeyed Him. He waited a lot of years before he sees the results of what God told Him.
After a remarkable supernatural experience with Christ Paul willingly left his profession as a big time Pharisee to serve God.
Acts 22:3 (HCSB)3 He continued, “I am a Jewish man, born in Tarsus of Cilicia but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel and educated according to the strict view of our patriarchal law. Being zealous for God, just as all of you are today,
Acts 26:5-7 (HCSB)5 They had previously known me for quite some time, if they were willing to testify, that according to the strictest party of our religion I lived as a Pharisee.6 And now I stand on trial for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers,7 ⌊the promise⌋ our 12 tribes hope to attain as they earnestly serve Him night and day. King Agrippa, I am being accused by the Jews because of this hope.
Paul suffered big time after he obeyed.
Acts 14:19-21 (HCSB)19 Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and when they had won over the crowds and stoned Paul, they dragged him out of the city, thinking he was dead.20 After the disciples surrounded him, he got up and went into the town. The next day he left with Barnabas for Derbe.21 After they had evangelized that town and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, to Iconium, and to Antioch,
Notice that after being stoned and and thought dead Paul went back to the same town. Paul was willing to suffer and even give his life because of his faith in God.
It was faith that caused him to obey becausemhe knew that he will receive a reward for his obedience.
2 Timothy 4:6-8 (HCSB)6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time for my departure is close.7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.8 There is reserved for me in the future the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me, but to all those who have loved His appearing.
Abraham, Noah and Paul, were examples of faith. They they fully trusted and then obeyed.
How Do We Demonstrate Faith and Obedience?
John 14:15 (HCSB) “If you love Me, you will keep My commands.
John 14:21 (HCSB) The one who has My commands and keeps them is the one who loves Me. And the one who loves Me will be loved by My Father. I also will love him and will reveal Myself to him.”
John 14:23-24 (HCSB)23 Jesus answered, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word. My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.24 The one who doesn’t love Me will not keep My words. The word that you hear is not Mine but is from the Father who sent Me.
The Rewards for Obedience Through Faith
From Word of Life Ministries, Bible Studies
Deuteronomy 32:46-47 (HCSB)46 he said to them, “Take to heart all these words I am giving as a warning to you today, so that you may command your children to carefully follow all the words of this law.47 For they are not meaningless words to you but they are your life, and by them you will live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess.”
Proverbs 3:1-2 (HCSB) My son, don’t forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commands;2 for they will bring you many days, a full life, and well-being.
Ecclesiastes 8:5 (HCSB) The one who keeps a command will not experience anything harmful, and a wise heart knows the right time and procedure.
Acts 2:41, 46-47 (HCSB)41 So those who accepted his message were baptized, and that day about 3,000 people were added to them. 46 Every day they devoted themselves ⌊to meeting⌋ together in the temple complex, and broke bread from house to house. They ate their food with a joyful and humble attitude,47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to them those who were being saved.
Psalm 119:165 (HCSB) Abundant peace belongs to those who love Your instruction; nothing makes them stumble.
5. THE ASSURANCE OF SALVATION.
1 John 3:24 (HCSB) The one who keeps His commands remains in Him, and He in him. And the way we know that He remains in us is from the Spirit He has given us.
6. ANSWERS TO PRAYER.
1 John 3:21-22 (HCSB)21 Dear friends, if our conscience doesn’t condemn ⌊us⌋, we have confidence before God 22 and can receive whatever we ask from Him because we keep His commands and do what is pleasing in His sight.
7. THE PRESENCE OF CHRIST
John 14:21 (HCSB)21 The one who has My commands and keeps them is the one who loves Me. And the one who loves Me will be loved by My Father. I also will love him and will reveal Myself to him.”
Matthew 28:20 (HCSB)20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age”
By Faith We Obey and Obedience is the Most Secure Path to God’s Favor
According to Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology finding God’s favor means,
gaining approval, acceptance, or special benefits or blessings. Favor is often associated with grace and mercy. God’s favor is only available to those who by faith accept the gift of salvation through the finished work of Christ on the cross which is the ultimate gift of favor...eternal life.
Do you remember the widow of Zarephath when the prophet Elijah asked for bread and she told him that all she had was a little flour left and that she was going to bake it, make some bread for her son and herself, eat it and die because that was the last of everything? What we forget sometimes is what it says in verse 9 of 1 Kings 17;
1 Kings 17:9 (HCSB)9 “Get up, go to Zarephath that belongs to Sidon and stay there. Look, I have commanded a woman who is a widow to provide for you there.” (Bold mine)
She obeyed and what happened was God’s favor as a result of her obedience.
1 Kings 17:13-16 (HCSB)13 Then Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid; go and do as you have said. But first make me a small loaf from it and bring it out to me. Afterward, you may make some for yourself and your son,14 for this is what the LORD God of Israel says, ‘The flour jar will not become empty and the oil jug will not run dry until the day the LORD sends rain on the surface of the land.”15 So she proceeded to do according to the word of Elijah. Then the woman, Elijah, and her household ate for many days.16 The flour jar did not become empty, and the oil jug did not run dry, according to the word of the LORD He had spoken through Elijah.
You say that was then what about now?
Let me give you an example from my life.
Many years ago because a series of circumstances, some of them self inflicted, my wife and I were in a new city, I was out of work, and because I was an independent contractor there was no unemployment insurance compensation. My wife had been disabled for many years and although she received long term disability it was barely enough for us to pay our rent, let alone buy groceries, pay utilities, or buy gas for the car.
We had decided years before that we would at the very least tithe but to give more than a ththe when possible. Even during these times we gave. When we couldn’t tithe we would do what it said in scripture to do when you didn’t tithe and that was to add one-fifth. Well we were somehow able to survive and in the middle of this time I got a call from “out of the blue” from a man that I had worked for years before who wanted the retain me as a consultant. That retainer lasted until I retired and we were able to give much more that a tithe not only to our church but other ministries,and to help friends, family and others that were in need.
That’s the favor of God because of our obedience in giving. I could give you example after example from my life and others of God’s favor because we and they obeyed. It was our faith that enabled us to obey. We believed God when He said;
Hebrews 13:5 (HCSB)5 Your life should be free from the love of money. Be satisfied with what you have, for He Himself has said, I will never leave you or forsake you.
FAITH IS THE KEY!!
Psalm 1:1-6 (NLT)1 Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers.2 But they delight in the law of the LORD, meditating on it day and night.3 They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.4 But not the wicked! They are like worthless chaff, scattered by the wind.5 They will be condemned at the time of judgment. Sinners will have no place among the godly.6 For the LORD watches over the path of the godly, but the path of the wicked leads to destruction.
This blog is for you! If you have any questions or topics you would like me to address please use the comments section or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Donald Jacobs is an ordained minister with the spiritual gift of teaching. He is the Associate Pastor of a non-denominational church in Los Angeles, CA.