What does it take to be obedient to God? Obedience is defined as “dutifully complying with the commands, orders, or instructions of one in authority.” Well John 14:15 says, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”
Is that all you have to do to be obedient to God? Just keep the commandments. Well, it’s pretty easy not to kill, or be in adultery, to honor your parents. We struggle a bit with the not coveting…Keeping up with the Joneses. But many of us have done a fairly good job with that one too.
It is important to understand that it is the spirit of obedience, not just the act of obedience, that is important. The Pharisees relentlessly pursued acts of obedience to the law and by doing so became self-righteous, believing that they deserved to go to heaven by what they had done.
Their hypocrisy in obeying the “letter of the law,” but not the spirit of it, characterized their lives, and Jesus rebuked them sharply for it:
Matthew 23:27-28 states, “27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. 28 Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity”
What if we look in the New Testament:
Matthew 22:37-40 “37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets”
So there we are! Love the Lord. Love thy neighbor, and we’re home free! Or are we?
James 1:22 – But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
Doers of the Word. What does it mean to be a doer of the Word? Maybe this will clarify it.
Luke 6:46-49 “46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? 47 Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: 4 8He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock:and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it:for it was founded upon a rock. 49 But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great”
So according to this scripture, if we’re willing to hear the sayings of Jesus by going to a service or reading our Bibles, but we don’t apply them to our lives and strive to live according to His Word, then we’re building our house, our lives, on a very flimsy foundation.
Matthew 7:24-29 states, “24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: 25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not:for it was founded upon a rock. 26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: 27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell:and great was the fall of it. 28 And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: 29 For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes”
If you hear the Word and do it, you are wise. But if you hear the word and do it not, you are foolish. Doing the Word builds your life upon a strong foundation, while not doing the Word builds your life upon a weak foundation. Have you ever known someone who just seems unshakable? Someone who when things go wrong in their life, they remain calm and just have this sense of peace about them? Those people have built their house upon a rock. They are doers of the word.
As I was researching this, I came across this example:
Let’s pretend that you work for me. In fact, you are my executive assistant in a company that is growing rapidly. I’m the owner and I’m interested in expanding overseas. To pull this off, I make plans to travel abroad and stay there until the new branch office gets established. I make all the arrangements to take my family in the move to Europe for six to eight months, and I leave you in charge of the busy stateside organization. I tell you that I will write you regularly and give you direction and instructions.
I leave and you stay. Months pass. A flow of letters are mailed from Europe and received by you at the national headquarters. I spell out all my expectations. Finally, I return. Soon after my arrival I drive down to the office. I am stunned! Grass and weeds have grown up high. A few windows along the street are broken. I walk into the receptionist’s room and she is doing her nails, chewing gum, and listening to her favorite radio station. I look around and notice the wastebaskets are overflowing, the carpet hasn’t been vacuumed for weeks, and nobody seems concerned that the owner has returned. I ask about your whereabouts and someone in the crowded lounge area points down the hall and yells, “I think he’s down there.” Disturbed, I move in that direction and bump into you as you are finishing a chess game with our sales manager. I ask you to step into my office (which has been temporarily turned into a television room for watching afternoon soap operas).
“What in the world is going on?”
“What do ya’ mean … ?”
“Well, look at this place! Didn’t you get any of my letters?”
“Letters? Oh, yeah—sure, got every one of them. As a matter of fact … we have had letter study every Friday night since you left. We have even divided all the personnel into small groups and discussed many of the things you wrote. Some of those things were really interesting. You’ll be pleased to know that a few of us have actually committed to memory some of your sentences and paragraphs. One or two memorized an entire letter or two! Great stuff in those letters!”
“Okay, okay—you got my letters, you studied them and meditated on them, discussed and even memorized them. BUT WHAT DID YOU DO ABOUT THEM?”
“Do? Uh—we didn’t do anything about them.”
~~~Why do we treat the Word of God like they treated the letters in this story? We read the Word, memorize scriptures or even whole chapters, get together and have Bible studies, listen to teaching and preaching of the Word – and yet we often fail to apply the Word to our lives. We often fail to be doers of the Word.
Isaiah 1:19 – “If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land:”
Once we realize that God wants us to obey His Word, it’s easy. We love God, so we want to obey Him. Does that mean we obey perfectly? No. We often fall short or struggle to do the things we know He wants us to do, but by trying to obey and living as closely as we can to His Word we show our obedience to God.