Is the Discipline of Obedience Working in You?
Principle Scriptures on the Discipline of Obedience: Deuteronomy 13: 4; 1 Samuel 15:22; Proverbs 19:16; Acts 5:29; John 14:14; 15; 2 Corinthians 10:5; Romans 6:14; Galatians 4:19; Hebrews 13:17
Here is how you can find out. Take a careful look at this Discipline of Obedience from God's most precious Word by examining your life and the passages above. Now ask yourself:
1. How do I exhibit a life of Obedience in my daily life now?
2. How can I develop the willingness to be more disciplined as one who is faithfully obedient to Christ as LORD?
3. What blocks Obedience from working and being exhibited in me?
4. How can I initiate Obedience, and discipline myself to carry it out?
5. What can I do to make Obedience function better, stronger, and faster, even in times of uncertainty and stress?
· Here are positive examples from Scripture: 2 Chron. 17:1-6; Acts 8:26-40; Phil. 2:1-11; James 1:22-25
· Here are negative examples from Scripture: Josh. 7:16-21; 1 Sam. 15:17-23; Jonah 1:1-3; Matt. 15:1-9; Heb. 3:7-19
The Discipline of Obedience is the practice of our pure loyalty to our Lord to go all out in faith. It helps us focus on Him and what He has done for us so we change from the inside out, our inward renovation becoming Christ-like to undergo His will, mind, and precepts. Obedience means having perfect confidence in Christ so we daily present ourselves to God as our LORD. We are essentially putting our faith into practice. We carefully seek what God requires of us and then align our lives with Him and His standards and call to the best of our ability. We seek Him first, not what interests or pleases us or others' demands of us. This Discipline is used by the Spirit to inspire us to keep our Lord first and foremost, cleaving to Him, regardless of the circumstances, so we will be able to keep His precepts and be loyal to His call. This helps us see our sinful nature and how Christ has rescued us from self destruction so we will know from whence we came and have no desire to go back. We are enabled by the Sprit and the cooperation of our faith to stick with Him even in times of dire suffering. This Discipline also helps us with our interpersonal relationships by recognizing authority and direction from others, such as the pastor and church, so the results will be winning situations.
What Obedience is not is slavery to God, or a loss of what is good for "me." Obedience frees us from sin and keeps us on the best that God has for us. True happiness is not based on what pleases us; rather, it is being in the center of God's love and will. When we focus on Him, we see that with His Lordship comes more insights, resources, and privileges than we could ever understand. This gives us deeper, richer joy. When we refuse to obey Him, we just sin and keep on sinning, refusing to submit or acknowledge our sins, hurts, anger, or agendas, or repent from and grow away from them. When we have the maturity to change and grow for the better, seeking and following Him and not our pride or the world's ways, we will become victorious. Our faith will be firm! We must listen to Him and remove anything that hinders purity in our faith and devotion to Christ.
Obedience is not Willfulness, or having a strong-willed mindset; rather, it is our lining up with His precepts and call. It is the self-surrender of our will so we become less in our spirit and more in His Spirit. Even in the Old Testament, God was more concerned with people's trust and obedience than with their offerings and sacrifices. God delights in our obedience. He does not demand it, nor is it required for our salvation. It is something we do because, as the hymn goes, "there is no other way!"
The counterfeit to obedience is creating our own opportunities with the devotion and zeal to go with them. The raging euphoria that sporting events generate is a substitute for the devotion that we should have to our Lord. There is nothing wrong with sporting events and nothing wrong with cheering for them, but why can't we do that for God? Enthusiasm paves a dangerous path when it refuses to learn and yield to God's glory.
What happens when we do not practice this discipline? We will, in effect, be ignoring our salvation and what we have been given by Christ; the consequences bring great loss to us. Our focus becomes comfort; we strive to seek personal betterment though careers and money, and when we do not get what we want, we resort to manipulation and greed. Christ's focus is how to sanctify and perfect us, not to just please and pamper us! We have to see how important putting our faith into practice is. If we do not, we will lose out on His opportunities and learning experiences. We will not seek His love and precepts, and thus, will ignore His call. This will produce the rotten fruits that move us to Disobedience, Defiance, and Rebellion. As a result our attitude, we will flee from God, and we will just end up doing our own thing. We will have no fear of God; we will do as we please, thus placing ourselves on the paths of chaos, strife, and destruction in all we do in life; this leads to a depressed and disconnected life. We will have no desire to serve Him or do the right thing outside of obligation. We will sin! We will miss out on true intimacy, destroy relationships, hinder growth in ourselves and others, and miss out on maturity and the wonder of His plan.
1. How would you define the Discipline of Obedience? Are you a person who tends to be Obedient? If not, why not? What gets in the way of your obedience? What does it mean to you to go all out in faith?
2. What part does Obedience play in your relationships with church members, friends, coworkers, and family?
3. How does focusing on emotions and hurts counteract God's call? What is the cost to your life, personally and to the people around you, when you refuse to obey Christ as Lord?
4. What happens when your church leadership refuses to be Obedient or teach and encourage its people to be obedient to Christ?
5. What happens to your relationship with God, with others, and with the opportunities God gives you when you refuse to agree with His precepts or practice faith with more determination?
6. When have you exercised Obedience the most? What is the difference between disobedience and misplaced Enthusiasm?
7. In what situation did you fail to engage in Obedience when you should have? What does it mean to your dally life, with all its stresses, that you realize His death was necessary to give you life?
8. How are you showing true acceptance of Jesus as your Lord? You can know this by…. (Luke 6:46)?
9. How would Obedience help you in distinguishing between what is good and what is bad in life? What would real, authentic Obedience look like in your life?
10. What issue is in your life that would improve with more Obedience?
11. How can you speak and model to others so they might be inclined to accept the authority of Jesus Christ? How does Obedience play out here?
12. Think through the steps that you need to take to put Obedience into action in a specific instance. For example, how can you use this Discipline of Obedience to improve your faith, Fruit, character, relationships, confidence, leadership ability, parenting, and/or relationship with Christ and others? God's desire is for all Christians to have-and use-great faith. What do you need to do to make this more of a reality in your life and in your church? What would your church look like if you and the leadership were more obedient to Christ? What will you do now?
This Discipline of Obedience is part three of a trilogy of Submission, Surrender and Obedience. Each one of these Disciplines begets the other and is "synergistic" to the other. This means each of these disciplines combines and cooperates for a greater total effect than if they stood alone. Thus all of these Disciplines spur our Obedience, and Obedience to our Lord spurs on our faith fueled from the Spirit and the practice of Submission and Surrender to communicate the elements of our faith. In all, they produce a vibrant, effectual, lasting, and impacting faith that is better than if we did not practice them.
Keep in mind the Disciplines are not a form of "synergism," a theological belief that our human will cooperates with the Holy Spirit in Christ's work of regeneration. Many Christians feel that the Disciplines are some sort of "synergism," but this is not the case. The correct biblical theological position is called "monergism" which means that the Holy Spirit acts independently by the will of the Father and work of the Son, who is our Redeemer, to bring us the work of regeneration. This grants us the right and ability to obey God and His precepts because of the covenant of grace we are given (John 1:13; 3:5-6, 6:37-39; Acts 2:39, 13:48; Rom. 9:16; 1 Pet. 1:3). Thus, these Disciplines have nothing to do with our salvation or regeneration; rather, this is about our "sanctification," our growth in our faith. And, in our growth, we do coordinate our efforts with His for His glory (Gal. 2:20-21; Eph. 2:1-10; Luke 24:26; John 15; 17:2; 2 Cor. 1:39; Phil. 3:10; 1 Thess. 4:3; 5:23-24; Heb. 2:10).
This discipline of Obedience is not just a synonym to Surrender or Submission; it is more of a continual application of our faith. We are giving up our will; when we are willing to relinquish our plans, agendas, and desire for control, then Christ is in control. It is the ultimate application of our trust that leads to a life of real obedience. We abandon our self-centered life so it is Christ-centered; this requires continual striving on our part. Thus, it is a discipline as we have to always work at it. As more sin and the resulting choices come into our minds and lives, we have to realize His love, plan, and percepts; we must focus on Christ and surrender to His Lordship so we can be a person of faith and obedience.
When we submit, we place ourselves at Christ's feet. When we surrender, we give Him our all. And, when we obey, we put it all into action and continue at it all because we believe and trust Him as LORD and are filled with reverence and gratefulness to the Lord, Creator, and Sustainer of the universe-and also of ME!
Why should we be obedient? Consider the cost and acts of our Lord Jesus Christ! What did He give and pay for us to have salvation and eternity in heaven? Consider that the only human made things in heaven are the scars of our Lord made by the hands of men-by you and me. Consider the fact that His birth was for His death, and His death was for our birth! The bottom line is that God is much more concerned with our spiritual growth than anything else. This growth comes through the synergistic work of the Spirit and our practice of our faith that develops our maturity and character and seasons our relationships that glorify and make Him known.
This Discipline of Obedience shows our worship and appreciation to Christ by our identifying with Christ as our Lord. Obedience is not just in words, but also in deeds that demonstrate our words through practice and action (James 1:22-25)! When we read and/or hear the Word of God, we will have the desire and heed the call to put it into action. There will be times we do not feel like it, but our obedience will override our feelings so that we remain steadfast and secure (1 Thess. 2:23). This helps us see what is important in life. It helps us become more established and grow us further and firmer in the faith as all the Disciplines do. But this one is the clincher; it is the application of all the Disciplines.
When we practice the Discipline of Obedience, it means we are not ashamed of the Gospel, as Paul proclaimed in Romans 1:16, so that our devotion becomes contagious to those around us. Obedience is not something we dread, or feel we have to do, nor is it bondage in a negative sense. It is the joy of knowing our Lord and staying with Him so we can partake in His love and grow in Him further, deeper, and stronger. The result is that we become more mature, become of more use to His glory, and become willing to express His love with eagerness to others.
Our human sinful nature leads us to do our own thing. Our society thrives on it. We tend to see life in terms of the power and possessions we have, but God sees the value of life in spiritual growth that leads to the character and relationships we form. There is no real profit in money and treasures-only in who we are in Christ. Jesus plays on the words to say, how can you play with your stuff if you are not alive (Psalm 49:7-9; 15). But, perhaps a better way is to sacrifice ourselves in devotion for God and not let other substitutions get in the way. The false devotions that get in the way (such as family, school, work, and career) are sometimes good, and even necessary; but, we cannot let their cause get in the way of our obedience to the Lord. Because, if this is all we have (these other devotions), we end up having nothing.
Obedience is also the willingness to cooperate with God and with others in their godly directions and plans. It is working together as a community to further the Kingdom, shining with the glory of our Lord together. We may sacrifice our will and pride, for these things result in separation and strife. Whereas, when we work tighter together, we bring and build community and relationships. We will see that because we "deny ourselves" we are taking a stance of real commitment. Commitment is remaining obedient in our trust and faith regardless of our feelings, false opportunities, or oppression (Matt. 16:24-28). When we are obedient, we can take comfort and learn from our setbacks and experiences as they bring Christ glory and prepare us for the reality of the Kingdom (1 Peter 4:19; James 1:2-4). The great Benefit? Hope! Hope is the effect of obedience and trust in our Lord (Heb. 6:18). If you have no hope, then you have no vision and purpose, no trust in the One who loves.
Hope allows us to take hold of Him in a deeper, firmer way. We must make a conscious decision to give ourselves to Christ. This is not a suicide clause; not at all! It is about a life filled with giving, wonder and excitement about our Christian life. Yet, it goes against our natural way of thinking and this is where our will collides with God's will. We have the choice to obey or face difficulties. So, let us do it with cheerfulness and wonderment in our hearts.
The Discipline of Obedience helps us keep our eyes on God, not on people! If you only seek God for your "felt" needs, you will never understand or rely on God for your "real" needs! Neither will you understand yourself, or His wonderful plan for you (John 17:22)! Your faith will be on your terms only. How sad that would be! How much you would lose (Gal. 2:20-21)! This Discipline helps us confine our motives, obedience, and persevering to His precepts so we can continue to be in love with Him! Seek His presence, and be persistent in your prayers. If you fear this, take comfort and realize it is a journey of a lifetime; go to Him, and as you draw closer to Him, you will learn the right things to ask and do. Prayer is persistence and learning!
The Discipline of Obedience also gives us a sense of duty that rises from our obedience, as well as a sense of heroism. The Christian walk is not always on the mount of transfiguration, but in the valleys below. Where we shine is not recorded by our fellow people, but in heaven above. So, our obedience is not based on human recognition, but on heavenly endowment.
Obedience must permeate everything; it is the capstone to our stones of faith and life in Christ. All that you do in life must be a reflection of a life surrendered to Christ. If you are so self-willed that there can be no room for the living Christ, this may mean that others will use you, take advantage of you, get mad at you, ignore you, go around you, ridicule you, and persecute you! But, remember, what they do to you, they do to Him! Make sure you are not the one persecuting the Lord! God wants us first. So, let God work in you and have Him open your eyes to the fallacies to avoid; embrace the wonders of His truth!
When God touches us, our eyes are open to Him. Yet, remember the struggle of our sin nature. If we love Jesus with passion and conviction, then the outcome will be obvious. If we are determined to do something else, as we warm the pews with our rears, then our eyes become closed. The closure of our eyes is our choice and our choice alone. "Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds." (John 12:24). Will you allow your life to be rooted in the soil of Christ and what He has done so you can rise in maturity by complying and learning in His word?
Remember, the Christian life is not about you; it's about God. It's not what we do that makes us a Christian; it's what Jesus has done for us! Our Obedience is merely a response and this Discipline is a tool for our endeavor to respond to Him in gratitude and faith.
Thoughts on Obedience
· Our natural selfish will must be sacrificed through discipline; this is hard but the rewards are plentiful!
· We are called to obedience, but God will not make us obey; it must come out of our free will.
· We can disobey God out of our free will and He will give us His grace. What good would we be?
· Obedience does not get us right with God; it is what God has done for us. Obedience is merely the response.
· It is easy to be a frantic devotee of a sporting event, but what does it take to be a devotee of Christ?
· Our obedience may cause difficulties that are not meant as a personal attack upon us. Rather, they enable us to be better used by God and so we can identify with a plight of others.
· Remember your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. So, live your life responsibly (1 Cor. 6:19).
· Our confusion and toils in life can only be solved by obedience!
· We are to bring every thought, concern, and argument into the captivity of obedience because we are responsible (2 Corinthians 10:5).
· Making the choice to martyr ourselves or undergo undue suffering is a very wrong move unless it comes from choosing God's will. God is in control!
· Knowledge and insight happen only by obedience, not just from our experiences.
· If you do not understand something spiritual, it is usually because of a lack of obedience.
· We cannot pretend to comply. God will uncover our falseness.
· Do not be an imitation Christian; our Lord does not need more impostors!
· Perfect obedience is also perfect trust. Discernment comes out of obedience! So, let your rest be in Jesus, not in unrest!
When you are going through the joys of life, the mundane, or suffering, God knows and cares. He is there for you. Let your effort of focusing on the difficulties and uncertainties of life fall away. Why should we worry when the Creator of all things is in charge? In the midst of difficulties, it may appear God has abandoned you, but He has not. His love and grace remain the same (Matt. 11:28)!
By our obedience in faith, we may suffer temptations, trouble, persecution, and condemnation from the world. It may seem our foundation has shifted by that constant beating, but He will remain steadfast in us when we remain steadfast in our faith! Keep your faith real, valuable, and practical on His solid Rock. He will not leave you, nor forsake you (1 Cor. 3:11; 10:4; Eph. 2:20; 1 Pet. 2:4-6; Heb. 13:5). So, let Him be the Rock-solid foundation of your life (Matt. 7)!
One of the interesting aspects of the Christian faith is that our obedience may cause others to suffer. Our faith may have a cost that others will have to pay, such as the sacrifices of a wife for her husband's ministry, or a child's sacrifice to move to a foreign land because of his or her missionary parents. At the very least, other's plans will be disturbed. Our lives may be used by God to convict and to convert. A cost may be required, but we have to see that cost as glorious, as it is for the Lord. And, we can never compare it to the cost He gave for us!
We are urgently called to accept the absolute authority of God; we come under His authority whether or not we acknowledge Him, so we might as well acquiesce. It does no good to fight God, as Jacob discovered (Gen. 32:22-32). The subject of submission often refers to fights and quarrels so they do not build and take us over. Jacob's dispute with his brother had to be resolved; connecting with God enables us to connect with others, a gift that comes back to us and into all of our relationships which cannot happen unless we acquiesce to God (Gen 33; Phil. 2:5-8; James 4:1-6).