Friday, July 25, 2014


The word translated "Obedience" is also translated in the Hebrew text as "to hear", "to listen reverently" and in the Greek text as "to put one’s trust in", "to harken submissively", "to listen to", "to obey" and "to follow".

The Bible is conspicuous in its many graphic depictions of the responses of men to the words and will of God. Responses that are avowably favourable to such a degree that one is persuaded to act are called “hearing”; believing or more simply “obeying”.Other responses that are apathetic or disregard God’s word are characterized as rebellion, unbelief or disobedience. Obedience can either be external or more informally, internal.

The External Nature of Obedience

An external and somewhat formal approach will tend to focus attention on observable circumstances or inferrable causes and consequences of the act.

The most evident aspect of obedience is the presence of a person with authority who commands or requests another to comply with his expressed will. This authority can be recognized because usually it is expressed through the media of accepted customs and traditions of venerated ordinances and laws, whose value to human life are unquestionable. To obey is to adjust to demands judged to be worthy. Obedience thus can be seen as being motivated by such things as convention, habit, fear of punishment, and hope of reward. When Moses says “If you obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all His commandments which I command you this day, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you if you obey ...” (Deuteronomy 28:1-2; see also 30:9ff) it seems evident that the response of obedience frequently occurs in a matrix of external causes and inducements similar to those listed above.

A word of caution is necessary for it is easy to make the inference that the Biblical writers advocated obedience to God only for practical reasons. Such an inference would be too naturalistic in its understanding of the Old Testament and New Testament and ignores the deeper spiritual aspect of obedience found even in the Old Testament, as in First Samuel 15:22 where Samuel told Saul “to obey is better than sacrifice”. Undoubtedly most of the obedient responses of man in Scripture included an element of obeying because of what was commanded: religion in the Bible is never looked upon as impractical. The Biblical idea of obedience is distorted if it is not recognized that men also obeyed because of who commanded. God’s will was thought to be definitive for the establishment of all practical wisdom and law. Hence, Biblical writers could present practical reasons for obedience and speak of desirable consequences, while all the time they knew that true obedience to God’s word took place without thought of reward. I would want to add that this was the devil’s distorted view of the obedience when in Job we read; Job 1:9-11: “So Satan answered the LORD and said, “Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!


The devil here contended that man’s obedience depends on reward. The manner in which the obligation to obedience is developed and applied is a formal element of obedience. The Psalmist is urging obedience when he stresses the dependence of man, the created being upon God, the uncreated Being (Psalm 95:6-7). The Law of God  likewise is seen as placing men under an obligation to obedience because it was graciously given (Exodus 19:5; Psalm 119:1-40 In the New Testament man is under the same compulsion to obedience, but only because of the knowledge of God revealed in Christ. Similarly a promise of blessing is expressed, but it is more specific concerning the hope of appropriating the glory and excellencies of Christ (Second Peter 1:3-7) God’s common goodness to all men is a formal basis for obedience (Psalm 145; Acts 14:17) and God’s special work of redemption is pressed as the ground for loving obedience (First Corinthians 6:20) Love for the Saviour is another basis for obedience (John 14:21; Second Corinthians 5:14 and First John 2:5; John 14:15; 15:10, 14)

The Internal Aspects of Obedience

When Jesus rebukes those who outwardly comply with the law but inwardly do not (Matthew 6:2, 5, 16; 23:23-25) he is exemplifying Samuel’s perceptive insight about the internal aspect of obedience when he said: “to obey is better than sacrifice” (First Samuel 15:22). The obedience is more than subjection to an authority in a formal manner, for a person can be subservient without a corresponding inner disposition of obedience. This is fear. Biblically, to obey is to hear in such a way that inner assent is inseparable from outer activity. In the New Testament hearing or obedience of this internal sort, is associated closely with believing; it is to be joined to Christ. (Romans 15:17-18; 16:19; First Peter 1:2) A commonly Biblical formula pointedly says: “faith comes from what is heard” (Romans 10:17 cf First Thessalonians 2:13). The thought is that the word of the Gospel calls forth faith from those who hear it; which is then labeled as an “obedience to the faith” (Romans 1:5; 16:19, 26) Speaking in parables and in direct discourse, Jesus portrays the believers as those who hear the Word of God and do it. (Matthew 7:24; Mark 4:20; 7:32-37; Luke 8:21) Obedience is the hallmark of the personal decision, trust and commitment which are involved in faith.

The Obedience of Christ

Obedience in both its external and internal senses underlies the Biblical explanation of how man has been reconciled to God. Paul describes Christ’s work of redemption as an obedience unto death (Philippians 2:8) and as an obedience that will make many righteous (Romans 5:19). Christ’s work as the True High Priest is conjointly His life of obedience in the days of His flesh (Hebrews 5:7-8) and His offering of His body in sacrifice as an obedient response to the will of God (Hebrews 10:7-10). These are the active and passive obedience of Christ. Not only Christ’s work, but also His Person can be understood in terms of His obedience. For John, Jesus is the Son of God, because of His perfect unity with the Father. Such unity is established upon the basis of the perfect obedience of Jesus, whose meat and drink it is to obey the will of God (John 4:34) and to do the things that are pleasing to God. (John 8:29) the Christian receives the benefits of Christ’s obedient life and death through faith in Him, that is, so vital that it will “take every thought captive to obey Christ” (Second Corinthians 10:5)

In Acts 26, we see Paul’s obedience to God’s call typifying what every Christian’s obedience should be. The call of God came through and the voice was heard in (Acts 26:14); this gave to Paul the vision of the lost thousands in Macedonia (26:18). Like in our society today, millions are lost, blind and in darkness, under Satan’s control, guilty and disinherited. Because of this, God’s call requires that we respond with obedience. This vision of the lost gave to Paul, the vocation of a life time for he described himself as a minister and a witness (Acts 26:16). Paul thereafter responded in obedience. Let us quickly look at what characterized his obedience;

  1. It was immediate “whereupon O king Agrippa” (Verse 19)
  2. It was implicit – “I was not disobedient” (verse 19)
  3. It was impelling –”but showed myself and preached unto them that they should repent” (verse 20)
God today is calling for people who would rise up in obedience to go forth to the millions of the lost in the world.

Very quickly let us look at the reward of obedience as we turn to Genesis 22:15-18. God has promised among others:

  1. The Blessing of a Productive life – “I will multiply your seed” (Verse 17)
  2. The Blessing of the Possessive life – “Your seed shall possess the gates of his enemies” (Verse 17)
  3. The Blessing of the Progressive life “In your seed shall all nations be blessed” (verse 18) 

These and more shall be ours if today we shall rise in obedience quick, implicit and impelling to do the will of Him who has loved us and gave us His life for our redemption.

May the Lord help us –”If you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts!”
God bless you all.


  1. Excellent post. "To obey is better than sacrifice." Obedience is not easy, but it's soooo worth it.

    1. Indeed it is is worth it! Thank you for stopping by Kathleen