The principle of obedience is a central theme throughout the entire Bible. In every age of the world, God has called upon men to obey His Will, with the divine warning, "Every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward" (Heb. 2:2). The question, then, for us is: "How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?" (Heb. 2:3). If we neglect the salvation which is "in Christ" (2 Tim. 2:10), there is no escape.
God's Will must be supreme in our hearts if we would please Him. The prophet wrote, "Come now, and let us reason together saith Jehovah: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land" (Isa. 1:18,19). God has made many promises to us of His abundant blessings, but they are all predicated upon our obedience to His Will. Christ is "the Author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him" (Heb. 5:9). Jesus Himself said, "Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the Will of My Father Who is in heaven" (Matt. 7:21).
In the face of the plain teaching of the Lord, men offer many excuses for failing to render obedience to the commandments of God. The example of King Saul (1 Sam. 15) shows clearly that it is never safe to substitute our own will and desires for obedience to the Will of God: "Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams" (1 Sam. 15:22). But why doesn't man obey God? What are the reasons? Let us search the Scriptures for some answers:
Unwillingness To Submit To God's Authority: -- On the Mount of Transfiguration, God said of Jesus, "Hear ye Him" (Matt. 17:5). After His resurrection, Jesus told the apostles, "All authority hath been given unto Me, both in heaven and on earth" (Matt. 28:18). In these "last days" God speaks to us through His Son (Heb. 1:2), and we must submit to His authority and do His Will. If one desires salvation, one must submit wholeheartedly to divine authority and leave the consequences to God. Human authority has no place in the cause of Christ.
The apostle Paul wrote, "But though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach unto you any gospel other than that which we preached unto you, let him be accursed" (Gal. 1:8). Human opinions and what a person "thinks" about his standing before God should never be substituted for the gospel of Christ. The Bible is the only source for God's authority in our lives. We should receive the Bible as the only rule of faith and practice in our lives. God rejects all our excuses for a failure to submit to His Will, through Christ.
Because Of Hatred For The Truth: -- Why would anyone hate the truth? But the inspired record shows that many did. King Ahab said of God's prophet, "I hate him; for he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil" (1 Kgs. 22:8). That the prophet told the truth did not influence Ahab at all! The apostle Paul wrote of some, "And for this cause God sendeth them a working of error, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be judged who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness" (2 Thes. 2:11,12). There is no hope for one who prefers a lie to the pure truth of the gospel. To reject the truth is to reject Christ, and He says, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one cometh to the Father, but by Me" (Jno. 14:6). If one hates the truth, he rejects Jesus, who is "the truth."
Because Of Prejudice Against The Preacher: -- Some reject the truth and fail to obey it because of the one who brings the message to them. It is stated of Jesus, "And they were offended in Him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honor, save in his own country, and in his own house. And He did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief" (Matt. 13:57, 58). This same prejudice is found in the hearts of men today, and it keeps them from obeying the truth and accepting Jesus Christ. We should receive the truth because it is the truth, regardless of who the messenger is who brings it to us.
Look at the example of Samuel. The people clamored for a king to judge them, as the other nations had. And God told Samuel, "Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee; for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected Me, that I should not be king over them" (1 Sam. 8:7). God spoke through Samuel, and when people rejected him, they rejected God. This is a timely lesson for all men today. To turn away from the truth of the gospel because of prejudice against the one preaching it is indeed foolish. As the apostle Paul asked "So then am I become your enemy, by telling you the truth?" (Gal. 4:16).
Some Refuse To Obey Because Of Pride: -- When John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, "Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matt. 3:2), many of the leaders of the Jews came to be baptized of him. But he told them, "Ye offspring of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruit worthy of repentance: and think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham" (vss. 7-9). All of their national pride must be put aside, and they must bring forth fruit worthy of repentance.
Many fail to obey the gospel because of their intellectual and social pride. But one must lay aside all pride, and take God's Word at face value, if he would be saved. That means accepting by faith, what God says, just as Abraham did. As we read, "Abraham beleived God, and it was reckoned unto him for righteousness" (Rom. 4:3). It is not simply that Abraham believed in God, but that he "believed God." In other words, He believed what God told him. That is the kind of faith we must have. To be saved and be made right with God, we must believe what He says, we must live as He teaches, we must become what He wants us to become. "There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, And yet are not washed from their filthiness" (Prov. 30:12). And, "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man; But the end thereof are the ways of death" (Prov. 14:12). Obeying ourselves, doing our own will, is not the same as obeying the Word of God!
Some Disobey Because Of False Teaching: -- Jesus told the Pharisees of His day, "Ye hypocrites, well did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying, This people honoreth Me with their lips; But their heart is far from Me. But in vain do they worship Me, Teaching as their doctrines the precepts of men" (Matt. 15:7-9). The simple plan of salvation which Jesus reveals in His gospel is plain enough that anyone who wants to be saved can find what to do. His teaching about our worship of God is also simple enough that anyone can understand it, and worship acceptably. As was prophesied, "And a highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for (the redeemed): the wayfaring men, yea fools, shall not err therein" (Isa. 35:8).
False teaching and human tradition must be rejected, in order that the simplicity and the purity of the gospel of Christ may be received with faith and meekness. It is imperative that we do only what God commands in His Word, without any substitution or addition from human wisdom and purpose. The law of pardon and the rules of Christian worship revealed in the New Testament are safe for everyone, and are easily found and obeyed -- if our heart really seeks after God. Man cannot decide on his own which teachings of God are important and which are not. To fail to worship as God directs is (in effect) to worship another god. Jesus demands undivided loyalty: "If ye love Me, ye will keep My commandments" (Jno. 14:15).
Because They Love The World: -- The Lord tells us, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the vain glory of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the Will of God abideth forever" (1 Jno. 2:15-17). These three things "Lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and the vainglory (pride) of life" constantly fight against the spiritual values of Christ. As the Bible says, "Whence come wars and whence come fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your pleasures that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and covet, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war; ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may spend it in your pleasures. Ye adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore would be a friend of the world maketh himself an enemy of God" (Jas. 4:1-4).
I have known many people who indicated, and even stated, that they would like to give their lives to Christ and become Christians. But they just "could not give up" certain things in their lives -- pleasures that they knew would keep them from serving the Lord. Remember that Jesus said, with regard to the physical things of this life, "But seek ye first His kingdom, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matt. 6:33). You see, Jesus doesn't ask you to give up "the fun things" of life, but to refocus your life to those things that bring joy now and will last for eternity. As we read, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is yur spiritual service. And be not fashioned according to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect Will of God" (Rom. 12:1,2).
Some will not forego the "pleasures of sin for a season" in order to enjoy the bliss of heaven for eternity. But look at Moses "By faith Moses...choosing rather to share ill treatment with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; accounting the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt: for he looked unto the recompense of reward" (Heb. 11:25,26). But some will not renounce the present, temporary, joys of this world in order to inherit the eternal joys of heaven.
As the apostle Paul wrote, "For the invisible things of Him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even His everlasting power and divinity; that they may be without excuse" (Rom. 1:20). God makes it simple for us. If we seek to be right with Him, in fellowship with Him, and enjoy the salvation which He offers in Christ, then we must submit to His Will. There is just no other way. Christ is still "the Author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him" (Heb. 5:9). And all of the "reasons" or "excuses" we may have for not doing what He says will not suffice when we stand before Him in the Judgment.
By Clem Thurman in Gospel Minutes, Vol. 57, No. 49, Dec. 5, 2008.
Return to the General Articles page
Home / Bible studies / Bible Survey / Special Studies / General Articles / Non-Bible Articles / Sermons / Sermon Outlines / Links / Questions and Answers / What Saith The Scriptures /Daily Devotional / Correspondence Courses / What is the Church of Christ / Book: Christian Growth / Website Policy / E-mail / About Me /