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Building up believers and the New Testament church

The Discipline of Obedience

Some Important Trouble Areas

If obedience is so important, why don't we always obey? Why would anybody stop and not go on? Let us consider a few areas that often trip us up. One critical area is that we must see clearly that all obedience is unto God. If Christ is our head, and we have come under the authority of God, then in reality there is only one authority in our lives, not two. We are always dealing with God, never with man. When we lose this foundation, then we cannot move in faith, and a thousand questions come to our minds. Fear enters in, we sit in the judge's seat instead of the learner's seat, and ministry cannot help us. We must remove ourselves from the judge's seat, and come back to a place of faith where God is in control of everything in our lives. If our hearts are not at rest, seeing that all authority has been given to Christ and that we can trust Him fully, then we cannot benefit from God's servants and we will only obey when it is convenient or seems right to us. This is not the spiritual obedience that we are speaking about, and it will not bring spiritual increase in our lives.

One other area that hinders us in obeying is a wrong concept of what we must see before we can obey. Often we want to see everything before we obey anything. Understanding usually does not come until we obey. When we obey we understand, as we go through the circumstances. We must know the lives of those who are leading us, and we must know how to hear God by the Spirit in our hearts so that we can recognize the spiritual authority of God when it comes to us. God only gives us enough understanding or vision to obey the one step that He is putting before us. Each step of obedience brings us to another place where we can see the next step. But if we never take the first step, our vision does not grow, our understanding does not increase, and we do not mature. We remain babes, ready to be taken in by the deceiver when he comes as an angel of light. The trials of life will overtake us, and we will not finish the race. These are not small things, because we are talking of issues of life and death. We need to deal with the issues, and get obstacles cleared out of the way so that we can obey with a clear heart and conscience before God.

Another reason we may not progress is that we are looking for a large area in which to respond--one that seems important to us. The steps God is putting before us do not seem significant in our eyes. We wanted to obey in some big area that would be seen before others. But the steps God puts before us are hidden, known only to Him and to us. We think that they do not really matter, but God thinks so, and He is the one who has made it plain to us. God usually does not put big steps before us, but only a series of little steps. The "big step" is really just one more little step at the end. But if we are not faithful in the little things, how will we ever get there? We won't, if we don't obey. Are we willing to obey, knowing that God knows best?

Sometimes we are waiting for a feeling or some big inspiration to motivate us. Can we do the will of God from the heart whether we feel like it or not? Do we only obey when we feel like obeying? Obedience that is based on feelings will not persevere in difficult times and reach the goal. Christ did not "feel" like going to the cross. The flesh indeed is weak, but perhaps the most critical time to obey is when we feel the least like doing it. You may be tired from a long day at work, but God says to rise and give yourself as Christ did. Love your wife. Serve your husband. Train your children. Wash your brother's feet. Can we obey when we don't feel like it? We must, if there is to be spiritual progress in our lives. God is there to strengthen us in those times it we are looking to Him properly.

Consistency in obedience is the price of realizing the goal of God in our lives. In Matthew 21:28-31, Jesus told the story of a man who had two sons who were told to obey. The first said he would not, but afterwards changed his mind and went. The second said he would go, but did not. Which one did the will of his father? Good intentions or promises do not profit. It is obedience that profits and brings the increase. Sometimes we get excited for a few days, but then we forget all about what God made real to us. How long can we walk in the word that God has brought to us? How long did Abraham have to walk in the word God brought to him before he received the promise? God says we are the sons of Abraham if we do as he did.

A proper relationship with God brings us to the place of doing the will of God from the heart. Anything less than this misses the purpose of God. Let our hearts rise in faith before God this day, filled with His love, doing His will in all things. Let us obey.