II. Life: Obedience to Jesus
Obedience to God is to be found in Jesus and in Jesus only; I cannot obey God
apart from Jesus—“apart from me you can do nothing” says the Master. Obedience
is the very nature of Jesus, a fact validated by His Blood. Pride is the
ultimate enemy of obedience, for pride is the foundation of the love of self and
the gratification of self; when such is sought, the fear of men’s faces is the
fruit, for in our pursuit of keeping our ‘self’ gratified, we find
gratification’s measuring stick in the hand of men’s approval or disapproval.
Self-preservation is always deceptively measured by other men’s response to it.
It was Adam’s pride and his love for himself that prompted his move into
obedience; his desire to please Eve only consummated the sin. The resurrection
of the patience of Jesus in us, goes a long way in showing us how obedient to
Him we are; Adam used these keys to open the doors of disobedience and we are
still using them. But He who shuts that no man can open and opens that no man
can shut, namely Jesus, is the Key to the door of obedience. Jesus Himself is
the porter of the door that opens to obedience to God. We enter the door of
disobedience by Adam, and we enter the door of obedience by Jesus—no one can
come to our Father but by the Master. If this door is not entered, salvation is
not secured; He who does not enter the sheepfold by this door, has deceived
himself if he believes he has entered. Such a man is a thief and a robber, for
in his disobedience, he seeks to enter the sheepfold by climbing in some other
way—there is a way that seems right to a man, that will end in death—that way is
disobedience, steeped in presumption.
It was the love for our Father, and His will for our salvation, that animated
Jesus’ obedience, all the way to the Cross. Faith’s heart and vision is
obedience to the Master. The glory of God lights the road of obedience. Patience
is the Blood of obedience, love is the marrow of patience—we cannot lose one
without losing the other. Either you have them both or you have neither. Our
obedience will be in proportion to the resurrection of Jesus in us, for
obedience to God is the very Person of Jesus, nothing more, nothing less. It is
His resurrection in us that spawns self-contempt, and the move into obedience to
Him, the meat of which, is the will of God, the fruit of which is loss of life
for Jesus’ sake. Jesus endured self-affliction at the hands of men to carry out
His obedience to God. Jesus’ life shows us the road of obedience to God is paved
with the bricks of suffering. Jesus knows it is the narrow road that leads to
life, for it is the road he traveled Himself. And it was in the traveling of
that road that He opened it to us, becoming the Way, being the Truth of
suffering obedience, that leads to Life. Self love is outer darkness that hides
the door of obedience, but makes visible the door of disobedience, by concealing
and harboring pride, which is the nourishment of disobedience to God. It is
self-love that calls evil good and it is pride that calls good, evil., all under
the canopy of outer darkness, deceptively seen in the light of presumption.
The Old Testament Conception: Obedience to God
It was the one important relationship which must not be broken by
disobedience. While sometimes this relationship between Yahweh and His people
may have been formal and cold, nevertheless obedience to God was the one strong
tie which held the people close to God. The significant spiritual relation is
expressed by Samuel when he asks the question, “Hath Yahweh (God) as great
delight in burnt-offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of Yahweh?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams”
(1 Sam 15:22). It was the condition without which no right relation might be
sustained to Yahweh. This is most clearly stated in the relation between Abraham
and Yahweh when he is assured “In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth
be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice” (Gen 22:18).
In prophetic utterances, future blessing and prosperity were conditioned upon
obedience: “If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land”
(Isa 1:19). After surveying the glories of the Messianic kingdom, the
prophet assures the people that “this shall come to pass, if ye will
diligently obey the voice of Yahweh your God” (Zec 6:15). On the other hand
misfortune, calamity, distress and famine are due to their disobedience and
distrust of Yahweh.
This obedience or disobedience was usually related to the specific commands
of Yahweh as contained in the law, yet they conceived of God as giving commands
by other means. Note especially the rebuke of Samuel to Saul: “Because thou
obeyest not the voice of Yahweh, …. therefore hath Yahweh done this thing unto
thee this day” (1 Sam 28:18).
[One of the most important names for God in the Old Testament is Yahweh,
or Jehovah, from the verb “to be,” meaning simply but profoundly, “I am who I
am,” and “I will be who I will be.” The four-letter Hebrew word YHWH was the
name by which God revealed Himself to Moses in the burning bush (Ex. 3:14). This
bush was a vivid symbol of the inexhaustible dynamism of God who burns like a
fire with love and righteousness, yet remains the same and never diminishes.
Some English translations of the Bible translate the word as Jehovah, while
others use Yahweh.]
The New Testament Conception: Obedience to Jesus
In the New Testament a higher spiritual and moral relation is sustained than
in the Old Testament. The importance of obedience is just as greatly emphasized.
Jesus Himself is its one great illustration of obedience. He “humbled
himself, becoming obedient even unto death, yea, the death of the cross” (Phil
2:8). By obedience to Him we are through Him made partakers of His salvation
(Heb 5:9).This act is a supreme test of faith in Jesus. Indeed, it is so
vitally related that they are in some cases almost synonymous. “Obedience of
faith” is a combination used by Paul to express this idea (Rom 1:5). Peter
designates believers in Jesus as “children of obedience” (1 Pet 1:14). Thus it
is seen that the test of fellowship with Yahweh in the Old Testament is
obedience. The bond of union with Jesus in the New Testament is obedience
through faith, by which they become identified and the believer becomes fit for
discipleship. There cannot be faith without obedience to Jesus. Disobedience is
really an attitude of the mind and finds its essence in a heart of unbelief and
unfaithfulness (1 Pet 2:7-8; Eph 2:2; 5:6; Col 3:6). In the latter three
references “children (sons) of disobedience” are mentioned, as if one should
become the very offspring of such an unhappy and unholy state of mind. The
classic phrase–I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision (Acts 26:
19)—the apostle is saying he was not disobedient to the commands of Jesus
when he was dropped to the Damascus road by the Lord; he continued to minister
in direction given him by perceptions from Jesus as he carried out his ministry:
19 So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, He was received up into
heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.
20 And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them,
and confirming the word with signs following. Amen. Mark 16:19-20
So then, obedience here can be defined as carrying out the word and will of
God, at the direction of Jesus— the word ‘obey’ is related to the idea of
hearing the Lord, and lining up what we think we hear, with the written word,
acknowledging Him, and then doing it. Obedience is a positive, active response
to what a person believes God wants them to do. God summons people to active
obedience to His revelation. Man’s failure to obey God results in judgment. In
the Old Testament covenant between God and man, obedience was the basis for
knowing God’s blessing and favor (Ex. 19:5; 24:1-8). Samuel emphasized that
God’s pleasure was not in sacrifice but in obedience (1 Sam. 15:22). Even the
promise of a new covenant emphasized obedience as God’s gift (Jer. 31:33).
In the New Testament, the obedience of Jesus stands in contrast to the
disobedience of Adam; the obedience of Jesus’ disciples stands in contrast to
the disobedience of the unbelieving Jews and others. The disobedience of Adam
brought death, but the perfect obedience of Christ brought grace, righteousness,
and life (Rom. 5:12-21).This righteousness and eternal life is available
only to those who walk in obedience to Jesus: And being made perfect, he
became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him (Heb 5:9).
Obedience to Jesus is thus the link between redemption and salvation.
*OBEDIENCE: JESUS NOT ONLY SAVIOR, BUT LORD
And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?
Jesus challenged the rich young man in chapter I (Mt. 19: 16-22), to accept a
life of voluntary poverty by selling all he had and giving the money to the
poor; as we saw, the rich young man walked away from Jesus in disobedience to
the command of Jesus. Contrast that to the call of each of the Twelve—they
dropped whatever they were doing and followed Jesus–immediately; There are many
things that stood in their way, but they obeyed Jesus without question—their
only response, was to follow Him. In the call of Jesus, they somehow seized the
grace to obey, which is in the call. When we reason out the call, satan gets in
and uses everything at his disposal—including scripture– to keep us from
obeying the call of Jesus. We must understand, that compromising the call, also
compromises our fellowship with Jesus, for if we are in disobedience, we are in
sin, and if we are in sin, we need to confess it, repent of it, and obey Jesus.
We must literally take Jesus at His word—He always means just what He says, and
says just what He means. Obedience to His commands will strip us of everything
but Him, and put us in a position of relying only on Him—a position where true
faith is possible. The disciple thus finds himself in temporal
insecurity—although he is temporally and eternally secure in his obedience to
Obedience to the call of Jesus brings total liberty from all there is in
life—but Him; It brings us to the simplicity that is ours in Jesus (2 Cor. 11:
3). Relationship and intimacy with Jesus is validated by complete and absolute
obedience to Him, as He explains here:
John 14:15-16, 21-23
15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that
he may abide with you forever;
21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me:
and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will
manifest myself to him.
23 If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and
we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.
All that is in the world and in us, is to be overcome anew daily through our
intimacy and relationship with Jesus. It is in our obedience to love Him with
heart, mind, body, and soul, that true grace is bestowed upon us and we truly
overcome in, through, and by Jesus. He thus fulfills the law through us, as we
come to the realization that the word of Jesus proclaims us crucified with Him,
even though we live, yet not us, but it is Jesus who is indwelling us and
resurrecting in us (Gal. 2: 20). It is through our absolute surrender to Him,
and our absolute seeking of Him, that grace works self-denial and the laying
down of the life in us; For we are dead, and our lives are hid with Jesus in our
Father, and it is Jesus who is manifesting in our mortal flesh, for only He can
fulfill His commands—He always graces us to do what He commands us to do. When
we find ourselves graced to obey the commands of Jesus, we must give all the
glory to Jesus, for He is grace upon grace in us, wanting and fulfilling only
the will of our Father. We see by our Scripture in John that if we love Jesus,
His commandments will be kept—by grace He keeps them through us; if this
happens, the Spirit of Jesus has been given to us; the office of the holy Spirit
is to show us Jesus in all His commandments, His beauty, and His glory—in
short, all that Jesus is, and all that He has done, and, what He is doing and
telling us to do. Jesus manifests Himself to us by His Spirit, and it is by the
Spirit of Jesus that our Father, and Jesus, come into us and make their abode in
us. The whole word of Scripture, from Genesis to Revelation, summons us to
follow Jesus—to seek His face, to love Him, to walk with Him, sacrifice our
lives for Him and to Him, to minister at His direction only, and to make our
obedience to Him, absolute. We must always remember that obedience is not
perfection, but is a heart that is completely and absolutely committed to Jesus
and the will of Jesus. We must also remember that obedience to the call of Jesus
does not lie within our own power. We must not choose our path of ministry by
selecting Scripture that seems to fit us; we must be called—and it is the Blood
of Jesus that summons all; few are chosen because few really are willing to let
Jesus unfold their ministry, and few really are willing to pay the cost of that
ministry, for it costs all that you have—both inside and out.
*SELF-THE FIRST LINE ENEMY AGAINST OBEDIENCE TO JESUS
John 5: 41, 43-44
41 I receive not honour from men.
43 I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall
come in his own name, him ye will receive.
44 How can ye believe, which receive honor one of another, and seek not the
honor that cometh from God only?
The allusion made by Jesus here is most definitely to false prophets (VS
43); They speak what people want to hear, not what God is saying to them.
But the biggest false prophet the would-be disciple has to deal with, is the
false prophet within one’s self. For the would-be disciple, obedience is a
single-minded issue—that is, it is his whole meat, his whole sustenance; It is
when we come to our hearts in our own name—seeking to gratify that which is in
us that is of the flesh and not Godly—that we reject Jesus and fall into
disobedience to Him– I am come in my Father’s name, and you receive me not.
If another shall come in his own name, him you will receive (VS 43). The
would-be disciple becomes false when he comes to himself in his own name, seeking to
gratify his flesh by bearing witness of himself—publicizing his attributes in
the name of Jesus, being deceived into thinking that those attributes will draw
men to Jesus; such a man has fallen victim to the very hypocrisy Jesus warns
about for while he claims with his talents to be attempting to draw men to
Jesus, his heart is really looking for the honor of men, instead of the honor
that comes from God (VS 44). Jesus says here that such men cannot
believe for they seek the face and approval of men—they are men pleasers, not
God pleasers, giving testimony of themselves while proclaiming Jesus, and Jesus
Himself says they have been deceived and their witness is not true: If I bear
witness of myself, my witness is not true (Jn 5: 31);they have shunned He
who is the Truth, and have bought into themselves. Jesus charges such men with
pride and vain-glory, and unbelief (VS 44): This people draweth nigh unto me
with their mouth, and honoreth me with their lips; but their heart is far from
me. Matt 15:8.
Compromise of any kind in this area, can be eternally fatal: Ye did run
well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? This persuasion cometh not of Him that calleth you.
A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump (Gal 5:7-9). Men will be
enticed to inject themselves into their ministry effort, and as the apostle
explains here, a little, will go a long way—all the way; the whole lump will be
full of pride and hypocrisy, if a little leaven is let in through
compromise—-i.e. any hint of honoring self.
The worship of self involves a heart of ambition that seeks the honor of men;
Jesus despises such honor: I receive not honor from men (VS 41); It is
the proud man’s heart to throw honor upon others only that it may rebound upon
himself. Idolizing men
and their self-published talents and desiring to be idolized by them and
their praises, are pieces of idolatry that are absolutely contrary to Jesus, who
He is, and what He stands for. Men who harbor such desires are clothed in the
garments the Pharisees left behind: If I honor myself, my honor is nothing
(Jn 8: 54).
Obedience to Jesus, sacrifice of self
He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my
sake shall find it.
Obedience/obey: ‘hupakouo’ (Greek); “to listen, attend” (as in (Acts
12:13), and so, “to submit, to obey,” is used of “obedience” (a) to God, (Heb.
5:9; 11:8); (b) to Jesus, by natural elements, (Matt. 8:27; Mark 1:27; 4:41;
Luke 8:25); (c) to disciples of Jesus, (Luke 17:6); (d) to the faith, (Acts
6:7); the gospel, (Rom. 10:16; 2 Thes. 1:8).
John 5: 44
How can ye believe, which receive honor one of another, and seek not the
honor that cometh from God only?
If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my
servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honor.
This honor that comes from God comes when we truly submit to make a lifetime
pursuit of Jesus and total heart obedience to Him, and nothing or no one
He is a Jew which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in
the Spirit, and not in the letter; who praise is not of men, but of God
(Rom. 2:29);Circumcision of the heart, is a total cutting away of self, all
that is in the world– the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—a complete
and total forsaking of these things resulting when we absolutely submit and
abandon ourselves to the love of and obedience to, Jesus. This scripture tells
us we cannot believe if we seek the honor of men.
How can ye believe, which receive honor one of another, and seek not the
honor that cometh from God only? (Jn 5: 44)
The difficulty of truly believing, thus truly obeying, arises from ourselves
and our own corruption; The seeking of the approval and honor of men is an
absolute stumbling block to saving, believing, faith in Jesus; How can they
believe who make the praise and applause of men their aim and their idol? When
true persecution comes that shatters their image of their talents, most will
flee Jesus to save man’s applause and perception of those talents.
The call of Jesus is specifically individual—every man, every woman, must
discern and respond—face to face as it were—to the call of Jesus. Even though
there is one body, that body is made up of individuals, and though each
individual benefits from the body, each individual still answers the call of
Jesus, and follows Him in obedience, alone.
Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants
ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto
righteousness? (Rom 6: 16). If we yield ourselves to ourselves, we have
yielded to unrighteousness; if we lose ourselves in our total pursuit and
obedience to Jesus, we have moved into the obedience that proves our
righteousness is Jesus Himself for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is
he brought in bondage (2 Pet 2:19).Many proclaim and preach Jesus, while
being in bondage to themselves. The word of Jesus in the areas here-in
mentioned, proves Jesus is not Lord of such a life, but self is. Obedience is
also mandated in the fulfillment of God’s claims or commands–
For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience
of one shall many be made righteous (Rom 5:19)—again, this righteousness of
Jesus is imparted to us—its path to us, is the path of obedience to Him: And
being made perfect, He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that
obey Him (Heb 5:9).
All that lies at the door of your conscience must be taken captive by the
Master. If I do not love Him, I am but a banging gong and a tinkling cymbal–and
it is obedience that proves my love for Him—“He that hath my
commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me……..” John 14:21.
Again, obedience is not perfection, it is consistent trying out of love for
Him. It is in our trying, succeeding, and failing that grace abounds and aids;
The purest desires to do good are not with fruit but by obedience. Any desire
not surrendered to Jesus detracts from the peace, presence and Person of Jesus
in our lives, and gives the enemy an opening to harass; It is not faith in His
work, but faith in Him and His Blood that saves, delivers, heals, and sustains
peace and obedience. The salvation of the creature is the Creator Himself,
working and flowing through the creature; If we choose discipleship, Jesus will
open everything to us that we need to believe –we shall know the Truth
of everything we need to understand, and the Truth will then set us free, and we
shall be free indeed—free to obey Him.
It is obedience that grips firmly the shield of faith before God, in which we
ward off all unbelief or any thought of turning back; obedience is the Spiritual
sword that is always drawn and lays low every selfish longing and desire; the
iron breastplate of Meekness and Patience through obedience, wards off every
insult, every jab and missile; obedience is the protective prayer which is our
saving helmet. We do not stand with our feet close together, but one foot is
always advancing toward obedient service, while the other stays firmly planted
in its pursuit of Jesus. Our obedience lays the sword to the members of our
flesh, as the mind is transformed by the Master;
Obedience brings the submission that will not allow the demons to scatter
distrust in the face of the reprimand of our Godly superiors. To allow such
distrust to get in, is to fall, for whatever is not of the obedience of faith,
Obedience is unquestioned movement, death freely accepted, a simple life,
danger faced without worry, an unprepared defense before God, fearlessness
before death, the burial place of the will, and the resurrection of Lowliness
and Humility. Obedience buries us with Jesus in baptism, crucifies us though we
live—working us into a corpse that does not strive or debate, or, negotiate at
the table of the enemy. Obedience is our willing surrender to slavery. Obedience
to Jesus is total self-mistrust up to our dying day—in all matters, even what we
perceive to be good. Obedience graces us not to mistake the pool of pride for
the sea of service, the harbor of men’s honor for heaven’s approval; It is
obedience that graces us to pass the death sentence on ourselves.