What does God say about obeying?
Merriam-Webster defines “obeying” as: “to follow the commands or guidance of another.” Why would anyone obey the commands or guidance of another? In the military, disobeying could lead to punishment. In a family, it could lead to an argument. On the streets, it could lead to a ticket, a fight, an arrest, or something worse. However, obeying a mentor can lead us to a better life. Where does God’s will fit into all of this?
God has told us His creation was the fulfillment of His Will, Col 1:16, “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:” everything was created for Him. This means there is a purpose for and a design in everything He created. When we obey Him, we intentionally live in harmony with His creation, and this is how we obtain His peace, Jn 14:27, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” This intentional living reminds me of swimming downstream, instead of fighting to swim upstream. We have all experienced days of frustration and the feeling of swimming upstream in an attempt to survive the day. Our bodies and our minds cry out for relief from the stress. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a mentor to go to in these times of trouble?
Think of God as a mentor and His Word as the best preventive medicine available in this world, Is 55:8-9, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Where will we go to get better advice? Jer 29:11, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” I recently heard a pastor explain how accepting God’s Word helps us live a more peaceful and happy life. He told a story of watching the replay of a football game he already knew his team had won. His team won the game; however, late in the replay, they turned the ball over, and it seemed as if all was lost. However, instead of being upset, he felt excited because he was about to see something special, and his team was going to pull off a miracle win. God has already seen the end, and He has told us about it, we just need to be excited that our team is going to win, Eph 2:10, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” All we have to do is obey His calling, and He will direct our paths, Prov 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”
His advice leads us to the expected end He has seen for us. He calls us to be patient enough to wait for His timing in this life. The end He has seen for us is the best one available, and all other paths lead to something less than His peace and joy, for they come from this world. God does not promise a trouble-free life, only one with His peace and an expected end, if we accept His love. Hearing Paul and Silas demonstrate this truth after they had been beaten and thrown into prison, could be helpful, Acts 16:23-25, “And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks. And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.” Paul and Silas had a choice, and they chose Jesus and His peace.
Understanding Who He is and why He created this world leads us to His peace, joy, and the expected end He has seen for us. He tells us that His Word is the conclusion of the whole matter, Eccl 12:13, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” He also tells us His Word provides answers to all of our important questions, 2 Tim 3:16-17, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”
Today, we question whether God deserves our obedience? 1 Pet 4:16-19, “Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf. For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.” If He truly is our Creator, He surely does deserve our obedience. He has told us we can know He is our creator by looking at what He created, Rom 1:20, “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:” Our eternal future depends on doing our own homework on this issue, we cannot accept someone else’s opinion, for we will be without excuse and unable to blame anyone else. There are plenty of scientists who willingly publish the truth about what we see in this world if we would only be willing to open our minds to the possibility that everything God has told us is true. We can start with the scientists at the website Answers in Genesis.
Does His Will provide the best advice? God asks us not to lie, steal, murder, etc. He asks us to love others as He has loved us because only then will we be fit to be part of His family, Ex 20:16, 15, 13, “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not kill.” and Jn 13:34, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” Is this bad advice, or good advice? The Bible has much more to say on the subject of learning to live the will of God, but we have to start somewhere. So, do we believe people have the right to lie to us, steal from us, or murder us? Is the Bible wrong about these things? We think the Bible gives bad advice when men twist God’s Word to serve themselves, Matt 19:8, “He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.” Jesus summarized all of God’s Will in just two commandments, Matt 22:37-40, “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.” If we learned to obey just these two commandments, we would be living within the Will of God. Again, we must read the Bible for ourselves, we cannot depend on another’s interpretation of it.
God gives each of us the choice of obeying His Will or not. Many have responded heroically, Joseph, Moses, Daniel, John, Peter, and Paul, to name just a few. How can we learn to obey His Will for our lives? It begins when we wash in His Word, which leads us to love Jesus and accept Him as our savior, Rom 10:9, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” Then, we can rest in His peace and follow the path He leads us to, Ps 32:8, “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.” Someone might enter our lives to give us an opportunity to serve, a relative could be in need, perhaps a cause is looking for a leader, or a brother or sister in the Lord needs a sidekick in Bible study. The key is being open to the opportunities the Lord continually brings us. A famous saying tells us opportunities are all around us, we just need to be aware of them, “Luck is when preparedness meets opportunity.” When we believe all things work together for good, Rom 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” we will stop resisting Him and surrender to His wonderful love.
Jesus is our example, He was always obedient to the will of the Father, Jn 4:34, “Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.” He tells us what we must do to become His brothers and sisters, Matt 12:50, “For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.” He wants us to be part of His family, one in Him and the Father, Jn 17:21-22, “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:” Obedience is not our surrender to a whip, but rather to His love.
God is not forcing us to obey laws, He is just telling us which choices are the best ones available to us, but does this mean we are responsible for our bad choices? Gal 6:7, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” Our bad choices do affect the quality of our lives and will also act as stumbling blocks on the path to God, His righteousness and His kingdom. God has given us this life to make a decision on eternity, Deut 30:15, “See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil;” Can we make the right choices while ignoring God’s advice? We can wrestle with His Word, as Jacob did and find the path to eternity. If we refuse, we will experience the sword of His mouth, Rev 2:6, “Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.” Can we imagine what God thinks when we refuse His advice, over and over, again? His patience gives us the free will to walk away from Him, but, it is never His desire, Deut 30:19, “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:”
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