The Bible has much to say about obedience, from Genesis to Revelation. We see how important the concept of obedience is to God in the story of the Ten Commandments. Deuteronomy 11:26-28 sums it up as follows: “You will be blessed if you obey. If you disobey, you will be cursed.” The example of Jesus Christ in the New Testament teaches us that believers are called to a life of obedience.
Definition of Obedience in the Bible
- In both the Old and New Testaments, the general concept of obedience refers to hearing or listening to a higher authority.
- In the Bible, one of the Greek terms for obedience conveys the idea of positioning oneself beneath someone by submitting to their authority and command.
- In the New Testament, another Greek word for obey is “to trust.”
- According to Holman’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, biblical obedience is defined as “hearing God’s Word and acting accordingly.”
- Eerdmans Bible Dictionary states, “True ‘hearing,’ or obedience, involves the physical hearing that inspires the hearer, and a belief or trust that in turn motivates the hearer to act in accordance with the speaker’s desires.”
- Thus, biblical obedience to God means to hear, trust, submit, and surrender to God and His Word.
- Jesus Calls Us to Obey
Jesus Christ is the perfect model of obedience. As his disciples, we follow Christ’s example as well as his commands. Our motivation for obedience is love.
- Obedience Is an Act of Worship
While the Bible emphasizes obedience, it is important to remember that obedience does not justify (make righteous) believers. Salvation is a gift from God, and there is nothing we can do to earn it. True Christian obedience springs from a heart filled with gratitude for the Lord’s grace.
- God Rewards Obedience
Repeatedly we read in the Bible that God blesses and rewards obedience.
- Obedience to God Proves Our Love
The books of 1 and 2 John clearly explain that obedience to God demonstrates love for God. Loving God implies following His commands.
- Obedience to God Demonstrates Faith
When we obey God, we show our trust and faith in Him.
- Obedience Is Better Than Sacrifice
“Obedience is better than sacrifice,” as the saying goes, has often perplexed Christians. It can only be understood through the lens of the Old Testament. The Israelites were required by the law to offer sacrifices to God, but those sacrifices and offerings were never meant to replace obedience.
- Disobedience Leads to Sin and Death
Adam’s disobedience brought sin and death into the world. This is the concept behind the term “original sin.” However, Christ’s perfect obedience restores fellowship with God to all who believe in Him.
- Through Obedience, We Experience the Blessings of Holy Living
Because only Jesus Christ is perfect, he can walk in sinless, perfect obedience. However, we grow in holiness as we allow the Holy Spirit to transform us from within. This is the process of sanctification, also known as spiritual growth. The more we read God’s Word, spend time with Jesus, and allow the Holy Spirit to change us from within, the more we mature as Christians in obedience and holiness.