And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume XII, Number 23 June 14, 2009
In this issue:
Obedience has never been popular among those who are intent upon doing their “own thing”. Despite the fact that obedience is a mark of respect and devotion, it is viewed by the rebellious and disobedient as unnecessary, restrictive, confining and demeaning.
In order to please God, the Bible (God’s inspired word) is clear that we must obey any number of things and people. We must obey:
1) God the Father, Matt 7:21; Heb 5:8; Acts 5:29
2) Jesus Christ, Jno 14:15; Heb 5:9
3) The Holy Spirit, Rom 8:1, 5
4) The faith (the gospel), Acts 6:7; 2 Ths 1:8; Rom 1:5; 16:26
5) The words of the apostles, 2 Ths 3:14
6) The truth, Gal 5:7; 1 Pet 1:22
7) Governing authorities, Rom 13:1-2
8) Your parents, Eph 6:1; Col 3:20
9) Your husband, Titus 2:5
10) Masters (employers), Eph 6:5-7
11) Elders of the church, Heb 13:17
It is one thing to say we must obey God, the government, our parents, our husband and/or our boss; it is another thing entirely to actually do it. It is in the doing – not the saying – that we obtain God’s approval (Matt 7:21).
What does it take to truly be an obedient person? While this list is not exhaustive, we hope it is well-rounded and Scriptural.
1) Obedience requires that we first listen to the one we are to obey. The Greek word translated “obedience” is hupakoe and literally means to hear under (hupo, “under,” akouo, “to hear”) (Vine). That is, obedience is placing oneself under the will of another by listening to what is said and then doing what has been said. One is not an obedient person until he or she listens to and complies with what is said by the one possessing authority. King Saul did not obey God because he did not listen and put himself under the “voice of the Lord” (1 Sam 15:22).
2) Obedience requires submission; the yielding of oneself to the one who has authority over us. This is often the sticking point with obedience; we hear what we are supposed to do, but we refuse to yield or submit ourselves to the established authority that deserves our obedience.
Submitting oneself to the will of another is at the heart of obedience. Paul the apostle spoke of obedience as “presenting yourselves” to the one you obey (Rom 6:16). Genuine obedience is an act of submission; the yielding of oneself to another. Obedience means submitting or yielding my will to the will of the one who has authority over me. This is illustrated in 1 Corinthians 14:34 where some women (who evidently wanted to speak in the assembly) were told to “keep silent”. They “are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive”. The King James Version translates “to be submissive” as “to be under obedience”. By failing to be “under obedience” they were not being “submissive”. Submission must be exist for obedience to occur. A mark of obedience is the submitting of one’s will, one preference and one’s desire to the will of the one who possesses authority to direct us.
Thus, as citizens we submit our will to the rule of the civil authority (Rom 13:1). Children are submissive to the will of their parents when they obey them (Col 3:20). The wife subjects herself to her husband “in everything” just as the church subjects itself to Christ (Eph 5:24). The Christian is submissive to the truth of God (Gal 5:7). Without a submissive heart we cannot be obedient people.
3) Obedience is marked by humility. Pride hinders and prevents obedience. It is exactly because Jesus humbled Himself to the Father that He fully obeyed the Father’s will and died on the cross (Phil 2:8). It is no wonder we must have the same mind as Christ (Phil 2:5). We must humble ourselves as little children in order to enter the kingdom of heaven (Matt 18:3-4). Obedient children conform themselves to their parents’ will (1 Pet 1:14).
Until we have a humble heart we will not submissively obey God or anyone else who should have our obedience. Disobedience is a trait of pride; genuine obedience flows from the humble heart.
4) Obedience is a manifestation of faith. The disobedient Hebrews died in the wilderness. God’s word says they “could not enter because of unbelief” (Heb. 3:18-19). God said He would give them the land of promise, but they did not believe Him (cf. Num 13-14). They did not obey God because they failed to trust His word and His power.
As a point of contrast, consider Abraham who “by faith…obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going” (Heb 11:8). My, what trust; to obey the word of God even when we do not see the rhyme or reason! Obedience is trust in action. Obedience trusts what God says although we do not yet see the end of our faith. Yet, we know whom we have believed and therefore, in faith we obey Him (1 Pet 1:8-9; 2 Tim 1:12). It was Abraham’s great trust in God that moved him to obey God’s word. We too must obey God’s word out of our trust in Him.
5) Respect is a crucial element of obedience. It is right to give honor to whom honor is due (Rom 13:7). Those we must obey should be given the honor of our respectful submission and our humble obedience. Titus had tender affection for the Corinthian brethren because they obeyed the word of God “with fear and trembling” (2 Cor 7:15). Obedience shows respect; it does not grumble and complain; it does not murmur and object (Phil 2:12).
6) Obedience is marked by deliberate and purposeful action. It is not haphazard, nor is it given only when it is convenient to do so. By hearing and believing God’s word we are to bring “every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor 10:5). Our thoughts, intents and motives are to be purposely given over to doing Christ’s will and not our own. That is genuine obedience.
It is said that Jesus “learned obedience by the things which He suffered” (Heb 5:8). It is not that Jesus failed to understand obedience until He suffered death. Rather, it is that even in the face of such tremendous suffering he continued to practice His habit of obedience. Regardless of the circumstance or consequence, His practice was to always do the things that pleased His Father (Jno 8:29).
We must develop the same habit of obedience. Whether to Christ, to our parents, to our employer or to one’s husband – obedience must be marked by a deliberate decision to bring our thoughts and our conduct under the control of the will of God.
7) Devotion of the heart is present in genuine obedience. Obedience “from the heart” delivers the sinner from sin’s bondage (Rom 6:17). Doing what God has commanded from an unworthy motive forfeits the power of obedience. Devoted obedience is not characterized by hypocrisy. Neither is it marked by a desire to be seen and praised by men or to gain a personal advantage. A heart that is given to God and His word will obey from a genuine desire to walk with God (Eph 2:10).
8) Love is the crowning aspect of obedience. “This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome” (1 Jno 5:3). When we find ourselves thinking that obeying our parents is too great a burden, we should examine our love for them. When a wife believes obeying her husband is beneath her, she should look again at the quality of her love for the man she vowed to honor until death. When a Christian objects to obeying the word of God, it is high time to reexamine his love for God (2 Cor 13:5). The very nature of love is to never seek our own selfish interests. Love always looks outward, giving itself in devoted service to others. It is altogether fitting that obedience fully expresses love. Obedience combines respect and humble submission with trusting devotion to the one we obey.
Obedience to God is not a burden; it is the expression of the heart’s devoted joy. Let us commit ourselves to being obedient out of love and devotion with a purposeful heart. Let us obey with respect and humble submission, always being careful to listen and yield ourselves to God. Then, the love of God will be displayed in us (1 Jno. 5:3).
Disease-Causing Bacteria Found in Some Hand Sanitizers
Perhaps you missed this bit of news. On Tuesday June 9 the FDA warned consumers “not to use skin products made by Clarcon because of high levels of disease-causing bacteria found during a recent inspection”. “Clarcon Biological Chemistry Laboratory Inc. of Roy, Utah, issued a voluntary recall of some skin sanitizers and skin protectants marketed under several different brand names, the FDA said in a statement.” (“FDA Warns of ‘High Levels’ of Disease-Causing Bacteria Found in Certain Hand Sanitizers”, AP, FoxNews.com)
This reminds us of the Lord’s warning of false prophets who “come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves” (Matt 7:15). Appearing as men who speak for God, they claim to bring messages that sanitize the soul from sin. But in truth, their false teaching corrupts the soul with the decay of error (cf. Gal 2:5; Matt 23:15). Could it be you are applying what you think is “soul sanitizer” when it is in fact carrying the “disease” (sin) of false doctrine?
For an example, consider the false doctrine of salvation by faith only. It appears to be “very full of comfort” (“The Articles of Religion," Art. IX; The Book of Discipline, 57, United Methodist Church). But, it contains the corruption of a false hope built upon dead faith (Jas 2:17, 24).
The false doctrine of “once saved always saved” hides the corrupting nature of sin from the one deceived by this error (Gal 5:7-9). Christians can fall from grace (Gal 5:4; 1 Tim 4:1-3).
False teachers with their false doctrines try to creep in unnoticed (Jude 4). Be constantly vigilant; false doctrine with its sinful corruption is eternally deadly. (2 Pet 2:1-3)
Created by Chuck Sibbing. 06/14/2009
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA