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7. Obedience and disobedience

My life (put) alongside God's word. The Christian disciple section.


by Israel Angelo Adeldong

Obedience is the willingness and readiness to do what one

is told to do. It is listening to the advice of others and

immediately acting accordingly. Obeying God is an emblem or badge of our faith in the wisdom and power of the highest authority, God Himself. Obedience to God is crucial and must be taken seriously.


There are dangers. Without a genuine love for our God the Father, obedience can become legalism. Moreover,

obedience for its own sake can become nothing more than perfectionism, which quickly leads to pride and arrogance. Genuine love for God leads to wholehearted obedience to Him. The first sin of man was pride which led to the fall of mankind (Adam) and to failure to do what God had told him to do: “But you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die”, Genesis 2:17. Instead of Adam obeying God’s

command, he chose to disobey and listen to his wife, Eve, and the serpent, Genesis

3:1-24. Obedience becomes disobedience every time we fail to do what we are

commanded to do.


Timing obedience

Often as Christians we struggle to act immediately God invites us to do His will. Our struggle may not be in deciding whether we obey Christ or not, but in obeying Him

immediately He invites us for His work, Matthew 8:21. As soon as God reveals His will for us, that is the time to obey! Be aware that God’s revelation of His invitation requires

immediate response and obedience from you. The timing of our obedience is crucial. Often the invitation from God comes with a limited opportunity. Some opportunities to

serve Him, if not accepted immediately, will be lost. Occasions to minister to others may pass us by. When God invites us to intercede for someone, it may be crucial that we stop what we are doing and immediately adjust our lives to what God is doing. Missing any opportunity to serve the Lord can be tragic. When an invitation comes from God, the time to respond is now! If we do not seize the opportunity to act, we may lose it forever!


At the time of the fall Satan persuaded Adam and Eve that forfeiting their obedience to God would gain them everything. Instead, their disobedience robbed them of all they had. For the rest of their lives they experienced only a fraction of the blessings God had intended for them. The Bible is replete with accounts of those who forfeited their

inheritance as children of God in order to gain that which was transitory and empty, Genesis 25:29-34; 27:38-40.


People around you may seek to convince you that you will find fulfilment if you disobey God and adopt a worldly standard of morality for your marriage, for raising your

children, for advancing your career, or for pursuing pleasure. If you believe them and disobey God, you will never experience the blessings God intended for you. The sin of disobedience brings death, Romans 6:23. It is tragic to listen to the voices of the devil and worldly people instead of God’s voice. God created life to its fullest.

Jesus wants us to obey and live our lives with security, knowing that we are children of God. If anyone is not experiencing love, joy, and peace, then he/she has settled for less than God intends for him/her. If you have been making excuses over why you are not experiencing an abundant and joyful life, check your obedience in relationship to God.

Determine today to settle for nothing less than obedience in order to experience God’s best for your life. Stop following the world’s way of finding satisfaction. Instead, listen to the Saviour’s voice, and you will find the true meaning of life and fulfilment.

Obedience to God’s commands that comes from a believing and loving heart has great reward and many blessings, and always brings fulfilment. This means blessings come as a result of our obedience, as we walk closely with God,

regardless of whether we seek and ask for them. When our Lord Jesus Christ gives us a command or instruction, it is mandatory to obediently respond without delay. Do not wait to figure it all out or to make sure everything is perfectly in place and makes full sense to you. While

waiting and thinking the time and opportunity may be lost never to come back again.


Trusting obedience

Please know that sometimes God may lead you to perform His will and work at a certain time, even though you may not fully understand until after you have accomplished it. He will tell you, giving you enough instruction and explanation for you to trust Him. Then He will guide you and enable you to accomplish your task with the ability He gives you. God does not always manifest all the details of His will when He first speaks to you. He withholds enough information so that you must continually depend upon Him for help and guidance. Your earnest and prompt response to God’s calling will affect what He will next perform in your life and in the lives of those around you. He wants all to experience the love of God and to confess Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Saviour. Therefore watch out and respond immediately when God commands.


If, at the time of reading this work, you sense that there is any directive the Lord has given to you to accomplish for Him and until now you have disobeyed, please obey immediately so that you may personally receive abundant blessing and watch God’s perfect plan unfold in your life. This way you will become a blessing for many.


Testing obedience

The father of believers, Abraham, obeyed God without hesitation when He told him “Go to the land I will show you”, Genesis 12:1. He acted in faith and trust. He learned patience in obedience to follow God’s directives through a number of tests over several years, including waiting for his promised son who came after twenty-five years, the battles with kings, God’s destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and through the significant pinnacle test of sacrificing his only beloved son of promise, Isaac, who meant more to him than anything else. His previous willingness and readiness to follow and to obey God

indicated that he would have quickly and decisively sacrificed anything else other than his son. From the human perspective it would be extremely difficult to fulfil this request from God, yet Abraham obeyed totally affirming his absolute faith and trust in God’s promises to him. So he was called a friend of God. Like Abraham, our pilgrimage as we travel the Christian life on earth is full of tests and difficulties, but our Father will always help us out, deepening the level of our relationship with a stronger trust in Him. As we develop more deeply to love, trust, obey and serve God, He will develop our character to match bigger tests and temptations in our lives. With the greater tests, like sacrificing a loved one, greater and deeper knowledge of His ways, stronger trust and love for Him will take root in our hearts and help us to remain faithfully confident in our following, obeying and serving Him.

The obedience of a father will bring God’s blessings upon him and it will also extend to his children generation after generation. We know this is true as God promised Abraham that his obedience would bring blessings to all nations of

the earth, Genesis 12:2-3. As proof of God’s

trustworthiness, God blessed Solomon because of his father David, whose heart was according to God’s heart as he walked and obeyed the Lord. In Deuteronomy 28:1-68 we read about the blessings that the Israelites will enjoy when they obey, do and follow God’s commands. “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 upon you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God”, vs1-2. But notice, they will suffer many curses and much suffering if they fail to do what they are told.


Obedience becomes disobedience and a curse when we do not do or act in accordance with God’s Word. “However, if you do not obey the Lord your God and do not carefully

follow all His commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come upon you and overtake you”, vs15.


As the Israelites were preparing to enter the Promised Land, God set before them a choice: heed His voice, obey His commandments, and experience continued victory. Or

turn from God, disobey His word, and experience repeated resounding defeats. It was a simple choice yet the decision they made would be evident by its results on the battlefield. The assurance of victory did not mean that the Israelites would never have to strap on their armour and go into battle. It did not guarantee them effortless victory. At times their enemies fought fiercely and the battles raged back and forth. Nevertheless, as the Israelites walked closely with God, they always knew that their efforts would ultimately result in victory.


Clear choice

God gives us the same choice He gave to the Israelites. If we will walk with Him, in obedience to His Word, He will stand with us and ensure victory for us over our challenges. We face the battle, but God promises us victory if we remain and abide in His will. However, if we choose to disassociate ourselves from God, we surely will be overtaken by difficulties and defeats. As with the Israelites, our decisions will be evident by the outcome we experience and face. If you are continually being defeated by everything you face, it is undoubted and unequivocal evidence that your heart has departed from God.


If you have been experiencing defeat in the challenges you face, examine your heart, confess and repent from any sin that caused you to yield and succumb to temptation. When you are buffeted by the crises of life, your heart may have shifted away from God.

Choose to listen to God, then obey what He tells you, bearing in mind that no matter what you face, you will experience victory. Be sure that your obedience is based on your own free choice. As God’s agent you can obey and please your God or disobey, turn your back on His commands to you, and merely please people around you.


Repeatedly for forty years in the desert Moses encouraged and admonished the unbelieving, stubborn, strong-necked Israelites to keep God’s commands and to act according to God’s statutes and judgements, Deuteronomy 4:1, 2, 5, 6, 9. If they did so they would live and go in to possess the Promised Land. But they constantly disobeyed, provoking God and Moses into the anger that caused Moses to miss his privilege of inheriting the Land of Promise.


We should always be alert and take heed to the Word of God, applying it to our lives daily. Rather than just speaking God’s Words, live them, remembering to match our own words with the strength of our actions. That is we should not just be hearers of the Word, but be doers as well, James 1:22-25, being honest with ourselves over who we really are, always endeavouring to diligently walk in God’s ways, will, and plan for us, in order to save ourselves and guide others to know and accept Jesus as their personal Lord and Saviour.


Dear friend let me encourage you to choose to obey God more than men. The apostle Peter and his colleagues were brave enough to declare to the Jewish Sanhedrin, “We must obey God rather than men!”, Acts 4:1; 5:29.


Costly choice

As important as it is to keep and foster good relations with others, it is even more important to maintain a steadfast, genuine, and obedient relationship with Christ. Disobeying God to maintain peace with other people is never a wise

choice. Peace with God is always paramount and beneficial. Choosing to obey God may cause you to forfeit relationships with your best friends and even with your family members. Jesus Himself tells us that obeying Him

might cause division in our relationships with family or friends. It may set us at odds, being misunderstood by others, when we choose to obey God and follow His

Lordship, Matthew 10:34-38. Your family and friends may disown and oppose you, yet your obedience to God reflects your loyalty and identity as a child of the Living God. This is important. Jesus declared that those who obey and do the will of His Father are His mother and brothers, Luke 8:21.


Please be informed that God does not intend to divide your family or break the relationships, but He is pleased to place obedience before domestic harmony if it comes to a choice. It is important for you to determine to please God by obeying Him regardless of the opinions of other people around you. Joshua made a wise and correct choice when

all others chose to disobey God, “But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord”, Joshua 24:15.


Choice has consequences

Disobedience to God’s clear commands results in severe and critical punishment with disappointment. As an example of disobedience, God directed the prophet Jonah to go to the city of Nineveh, which was a hostile nation to the Jews and a centre of evil idol worship. The prophet’s assignment was to warn the people of God’s impending

judgement on them, and urge them to repent. But because the Hebrews hated the people of Nineveh, the rebellious prophet disobeyed God’s command and fled in the opposite direction. He possibly feared for his own life or he wanted God’s judgement to fall on his enemies. However, God was determined that His word of command to the prophet must be obeyed, Isaiah 55:9-11. During his attempt to escape from God, Jonah was faced with adversity and hardship.


Buffeted by storms he even travelled in the stomach of a fish for three days. Eventually from the belly of the fish under the deep waters, Jonah confessed his sin of

disobedience and became ready to follow God’s instruction and do His bidding. At his arrival in Nineveh, Jonah began his mission. In three days all the people of Nineveh, from

the king to the least person and all the animals fasted, and the people repented from their sins. God forgave them and did not inflict on them what He intended to do if they failed to confess their sins and repent. When we disobey God’s word for us we may end up in a situation that will compel us to confess and return to God. If you choose to disobey God then be prepared to face the consequences of your disregard for God’s Word and His commands.


Disobedience reveals that we grossly underestimate and are dissatisfied with the God we say we serve. To ignore God’s Word or to disobey a clear and direct command from Him is to dismiss and ignore the magnificent nature and Lordship of Jesus Christ. When we fear people and deny Jesus Christ the Lord of all creation before mankind, we prove that we do not understand the awesome Lord we serve. He walks with us daily side by side, behind and in front to guide, strengthen, protect and bless others through our witness and service as we share His Gospel.


When you find yourself struggling with obedience to Jesus Christ, or succumbing to temptations, remember to take a close and deep spiritual look to see how the apostle John portrayed Him, Revelation 1:14-15. Be certain that your Lord is the powerful One, the Great and Mighty I AM! Who dwells in you. Then you will decisively and dramatically experience His power that works wonders in your life.

Excuses for disobedience

Disobedience shows itself in the excuses we make when we fail to do and follow God’s commands, excuses such as: “I am not prepared to follow Jesus now”, “I will follow Him when I get married or after I become old”. Such excuses are proof of our lack of faith and our rejection of God’s grace, even His gift of salvation. It is clear that when we procrastinate or rationalise our excuses, our procrastination and our rationalisation are nothing but

disobedience.


In 1 Samuel 15:1ff. we read about King Saul who disobeyed God and took the matter into his own hands, offering a sacrifice instead of waiting for the prophet Samuel to arrive and make it. To his deep dismay and disappointment, King Saul realised that other acts of piety do not replace the priority of obeying God when He clearly gives a command. Like King Saul and others in the Bible and in our contemporary time, we should take heed. Be

careful never to be side-tracked by any spectacular or dramatically appealing incidents that come across our way, when we have already clearly received a command from the Lord to do His will and work. Sidetracking can cause us to disobey God’s commandments. We must be more careful and watchful with our successes and accomplishments, because we may become distracted, misled and enticed by our own selfishness and pride in such a way that we become reluctant to complete what God originally assigned us to do.


Therefore let us all be alert and watchful. God expects us all to obey His commands and do exactly as He tells us. Only our obedience satisfies God’s desire for our obedience!

Price of obedience

Our obedience to Jesus Christ is costly, because it requires us to take up our cross even if it brings suffering, agony, fear and death. Those you love may even have to pay the greatest cost. Jesus was prepared to obey God, even though He knew that the excruciating pain and suffering of the cross would cause agony and distress to His mother, His aunt and His close friends. As well as bringing dismay and pain to them it caused His beloved disciples to be scattered in terror and confusion. Yet He deemed it best to obey His Father’s command and will for the salvation of all mankind.

In like manner we should be prepared to obey the Lord’s commands even if this will result in pain, suffering, agony, distress, dismay, doubts, the loss of our worldly properties,

and even death to our families and friends, Luke 14:26-27. We must be mindful that our obedience to Jesus Christ demands that each one of us should be ready to carry

his/her cross. We follow the Christ who understood that His Father’s will for Him led Him to the cross, meaning a shameful, humiliating, heinous, brutal, excruciating and

devastating death. We should beware lest we are tempted to try preventing our loved ones from taking up their crosses, fearing that the cost will be too great and costly for

them. We should never try to protect those we love by disobeying God. Rather, look to Jesus as your model and see what it cost those around Him for Him to be obedient to His

Father. Let us all accept and realise that the cost of disobedience is always far greater than the apparent cost of obedience, because it will cause us to miss and to forfeit the

blessed eternal life of glory with our heavenly Father.


We should also be continually mindful that, as Henry Blackaby writes in 'Experiencing God Day by Day', “Satan will exert all his powers to convince us that obedience carries much too high a price, but he will never tell us the cost of not obeying God. We should also not be deceived into thinking there is no cost involved in obedience”. If we are sure of our calling to follow Jesus Christ and to be used in God’s service, then we should always expect temptations to come which will deceive us into disobeying our God in order to escape misunderstandings, ridiculing, mockery, malicious hatred, persecutions, pain, suffering, distress, agonies and disappointments. The prophet Jeremiah, who was

wholeheartedly satisfied knowing that he was a faithful and beloved servant of God, experienced many hardships and ordeals without giving in to the temptation of disobedience.


He faithfully served his God and accomplished God’s purpose for his calling, to the extent of enduring imprisonment and mockery even from those whom God had sent him to, warning them of impending judgement because of their wickedness and disobedience to God’s commandments. As we continue to serve God in this world we will certainly face hardships and opposition. They will surely come while we remain faithfully aligned with our God. We should take heart and firmly stand, enduring to the end, believing that our victory is accomplished through Christ’s obedience and victory over the devil and death,

when He rose again to live forevermore in the eternal glory, Hallelujah!!! Praise, glory, honour, majesty and power all belong to Him. We can assuredly know that “Our reward

will be the same when we choose to fully obey Christ regardless of the cost.”


Who is really in charge?

Obedience requires us to always bear in mind Who is in charge and Who is giving us our commands and instructions. Like a team of horses trained to work together for their master and follow his instructions, it is important that we learn how to listen, to obey and to do without question what our Master wants us to do for Him. The Word of God must control and direct us like the harness and the mouth-bit, both of which are keys to directing a horse, compelling it to follow its master’s directives. If a horse decided to disobey the rider it would suffer pain from the bit and even a beating from the angry master. Their teamwork would remain unaccomplished. In like manner, if a believer ever thinks that he/she does not need to obey the will of our Master, Jesus Christ’s, commands and instructions then our mission work will soon totally crumble. We will all suffer the consequences of the disobedience of one member in our team.


Jesus Christ is the Leader and Master of our evangelism, our witnessing, our teaching and our discipleship. He expects each one of us, individually and collectively, to follow, obey and do what He tells us to do, and avoid what He tells us not to do. He knows better than all of us. The only way for any one of us to know that we are always doing the right thing is for us to be obedient and to follow the Master’s lead. Spiritually the horse’s harness and bit can be likened to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. He always whispers into our innermost heart with a gentle voice that helps us to discern between wrong and right, thus enabling us to follow His guidance and directives. The tug can be likened to the still, small voice with which our Lord speaks to us, urging and spurring us to take heed and fulfil our assigned work.


Christian men and women, young and old, who follow their own way and choose to ignore the gentle voice promptings of the Holy Spirit, will eventually learn to obediently follow God through the compelling consequences of their disobedience. Like the prodigal son who came through riotous living, when natural calamity exhausted his own

resources, humbly came to his real self. He heard the whisper of the Spirit urging and encouraging him to return to his father’s house, Luke 15:11-32. Let me urge, encourage and spur all of us to be always ready and willing to receive the gentle tug of the Spirit whenever we veer off our course”. It is very important that we should always watch out so that we will never be guilty of more serious wrongdoings. We must allow God the Holy Spirit to guide us in all of our decisions and choices. We must always be sensitive to the “spiritual bits” in God’s hands which must be allowed to control all of our bodies, James 3:3. We must be willing to obey our Master completely and alter our course. We must discipline our bodies to join our spirits working together in obedience to God’s commandments.We must take heed of the gentle promptings of the Holy Spirit, which will definitely unite our spirits and bodies in a purpose that will guide us back to our eternal home to live with our Eternal Father in heaven.


Choose which example to follow

Abraham’s faithfulness and obedience remain an outstanding, marvellous and amazing event in human history. Humanly speaking it appears to be an impossibility. But through the eyes of Christian faith and trust in God’s promises, Abraham’s faith and trust in his God is seen to empower him to follow God’s lead in his life exactly up until the miraculous moment when an angel called out to him from heaven. He had passed his impossibly agonising test. God gave him a substitute, a ransom that preserved Isaac’s life, Genesis 22:1-19.


Too often our tendency in obedience leans towards passiveness and thoughtlessness as we follow the order or dictates of a higher worldly authority. We can assume this is of God

without checking it out. At its best our obedience to God is an emblem, badge or mark of our faith in the wisdom and power of the highest heavenly authority, Almighty God

Himself. Like Abraham our father in faith, who demonstrated his unwavering faithfulness and obedience to God, we too can succeed in demonstrating our faithfulness through obedience and the power which results in ultimate rescue when we are faced with trials and hardships. Our human self-inclinations and personal fallen desires will always try to limit and thwart our obedience and faith toward our Father. Therefore we should tap into God’s insight, power, guidance and the spiritual gifts He offers us. By strong and proactive obedience we can declare our faith in God and qualify ourselves to receive the blessings and powers of heaven.


Obedience is a choice between relying on our own limited knowledge and puny power, or on God’s ultimate wisdom and absolute omnipotence. It is the choice of a living

Christian faith that helps us to follow “the spiritual bits in our mouths”. As we follow our Master’s directives and leadership with faithful obedience, He gives us the privilege of attaining the true blessings of eternal life that are available to everyone who is faithful and obedient to God.


Obedience is a matter of spiritual life and death. Do you choose to obey God and live eternally or do you choose disobedience and so perish and live in hell eternally? You

have free will to choose bearing in mind the consequences of your choice. One day you will come to the judgement throne of Jesus Christ and give account of what you have

done in this mortal life. Let me exhort, encourage and spur you on to choose obedience every moment of every day. You are saved so that you can ultimately enjoy eternity and

live forever with God and the saints in the bliss of His blessed glory. Practice it now with a life of obedient, God-fearing and God-honouring, Christian discipleship.


Discussion questions

1. What is the difference between delayed obedience and disobedience?

See Matthew 8:21.

Why is timing important?


2. “Disobedience reveals that we grossly underestimate and are dissatisfied with the God we say we serve”.

Do you agree with Pastor Israel, or not?

Why?


3. How does the example of the Lord Jesus best show us the cost of true Christian discipleship?

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