How far can a believer go to demonstrate his or her obedience to God? Or, how much can one obey the Lord? Have you considered your degree of obedience to God? Everyone must evaluate frequently to see where we stand in our obedience to Him. Doing so means, we are willing to be on the track God designed for us. Also, we are alert to His instructions and desires. Obedience to God brings us into His realm. We see the things related to life and godliness from His view point. We come to understand that He has a reason for everything that goes on in our life and we realize that He works out all things for our good. Obedience to Him denotes we have humbled ourselves before the Almighty. In it there is overflowing grace availed. God works out everything for us.
The best way to evaluate our obedience is to consider Jesus. “Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil. 2:8). Now, no one can match His obedience, but we understand how important it is to obey God; it helps us to understand the awesomeness in it. God will be on our side, which means there is no power or enemy in this age or the next that can stand against us. Jesus’ obedience to the Father was perennial; He never lost it. Therefore, He went on to offer Himself on the cross for us. There is no limit to how much we should obey God. The more we obey, the more we get to know we can still obey. Obedience brings out hidden weaknesses in us, for God while helping us by grace to perfection reveals them. It also helps us envisage the weaknesses that lie ahead and compels us to overcome them. It is a scrupulous act that makes us conscious of our living for God. It identifies the things that should not enter our mind, heart and body.
Again, the more we obey God, the more we see the rewards of it and so, the more we know we can still obey Him. Once a conscientious obedience to Him becomes natural in us, we start to fully glorify Him in our bodies, with our mind and spirit. Constant lapses in obedience do not bring God’s full presence into our life. He’s aware we are His children, yet He does not risk fully working with us (or, use us fully for His works) knowing that we are attuned to disobey Him. For this reason, He sent His son as an example for obedience. He obeyed Him to death on the cross. Now, God is not saying that all who obey Him will face cruel death. For the death of Christ was unique in that it meant it was the only possibility for man to be saved. But, He is saying that we should recognize the measure of obedience which He desires. This was Paul’s message by the above verse. It is indeed sad when Christians do not think to obey God in the least of things. Many times they make their own decisions placing the onus on God to somehow reward them in the right way. It never works. Making own decisions means ignoring God’s view point (or, not seeking His counsel) and walking by the desires of the flesh. The effect is forthcoming.
- They end up going to places they shouldn’t go.
- They spend time with people they shouldn’t spend.
- They talk of matters that have no concern to them.
- They do the things they shouldn’t do and
- They develop grey areas for the truth when there are none.
They become less and less obedient to God, since the flame in them to fellowship with Him is put off. The following happened to them. “For once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was” (Jam. 1:24). In fact, when consequences arise, it is their own doing. One of them is the influence they bring on their family members and friends. If they do not obey Him in the least of things, there is no chance of obtaining the greater things from Him.
On the other hand, if we are obedient to God, we have not forgotten the kind of people we are in Christ. We conscientiously honor the sacrifice He paid for us. How sad it is, if believers forget the pure form God has given them! We are called to be proud of the perfect form He gave us in Christ. And obedience helps us enjoy that feeling. We have seen what keeps believers away from obeying God. And, the Word further tells how we can obey Him. “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16). So, our primary concern is having the Spirit. When we are obeying God or (His voice from) the Word, we become ready to follow the Spirit’s lead. When the Word directs to do or not to do a certain thing and we are complying, we are attuning ourselves to scrupulously obey God. Then, we receive the Spirit’s promptings, since He remembers our obedience. To be led by the Spirit is not a small matter. It is something that is acquired through thorough obedience. But, when it is acquired, there will be no need to look back, because the promptings of the Spirit will suit the Word which we obeyed and continue to obey. No wonder then Paul mentions it as a phenomenon that must be common in believers. After teaching the Galatians and equipping them as much as he has, he has every reason to say they ought to walk by the Spirit. He has brought them that far in Christ.
So then let’s see what obedience to God can bring you. It is remarkable.
- God changes your circumstances for the fulfillment of His promise to you. You will know it. “But as the time of the promise was approaching which God had assured to Abraham, the people increased and multiplied in Egypt” (Acts 7:17).
- You receive a higher calling in accordance to His desire. After a period of learning in obedience God will do it. He did it before. “In the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John, the son of Zacharias, in the wilderness. And he came into all the district around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Luke 3:2-3).
- You notice it is not vain to obey God. When you see all the things He leads you to, you only rejoice and thank Him. Your waiting in obedience meant you did not disdain His way of life to you. “You have said, ‘It is vain to serve God; and what profit is it that we have kept His charge, and that we have walked in mourning before the LORD of hosts?’” (Mal. 3:14). But as for you, you desire to obey Him.
- God makes you precious in the sight of all. He has pressed you for obedience and you humbled yourself before Him. “For the churning of milk produces butter” (Prov. 30:33).