Tag Archives: Obedience

Obey Rules

We are naturally inclined to bending and breaking rules. Disobedience is not seriously viewed by many. Children should obey parents, citizens should obey the laws of the country, and workers should follow the rules of the enterprise. Laws govern the life of every society. As Christians, it is as important to abide by the rules of the earthly government as it is to follow the laws of God.

We often take for granted traffic violations like, jumping signals, parking in the wrong places, over speeding, riding without helmets, etc. Accepting and offering bribes, employing illegal and unethical methods to make profits, exploiting the poor and the helpless for personal gains, cheating the government by evading taxes, are all amounting to the violation of God’s laws.

“Everyone must obey the state authorities, because no authority exists without God’s permission, and the existing authorities have been put there by God…. That is also why you pay taxes, because the authorities are working for God when they fulfill their duties. Pay, then, what you owe them; pay them your personal and property taxes, and show respect and honor for them all.” (Romans 13:1-7 GNT)

As God’s children we must be examples before others. Children should be taught to abide by rules or else they will grow up as rebellious people.

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Tradition often leads to hypocrisy

Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat. He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?

 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone. (Mt. 15:1-20)

Tradition often leads to hypocrisy and legalism. This was the problem the Pharisees of Jesus’ day had. This can happen to anyone. Traditions become meaningless without an awareness of their origin and purpose. This was the reason the Old Testament instructed the Israelites to explain the reasons behind their practices, like festivals, sacrifices and so on, to their children.  

Tradition is outwardly
It focuses on the external appearance and performance. Obeying God is always above observing traditions. Pharisees tried to escape from obeying the Law by observing traditions, so they created traditions of convenience. They gave an impression that their external performances were the signs of faithfully keeping the Law. Jesus confronted the Pharisees who questioned him on this.

Jesus replied, “And why do you, by your traditions, violate the direct commandments of God? For instance, God says, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and ‘Anyone who speaks disrespectfully of father or mother must be put to death.’ But you say it is all right for people to say to their parents, ‘Sorry, I can’t help you. For I have vowed to give to God what I would have given to you.’ In this way, you say they don’t need to honor their parents. And so you cancel the word of God for the sake of your own tradition. (Mt.15: 3-6 NLT)

Jesus quoted the prophet Isaiah (Isa. 29:13) who foretold about the hypocritical attitude of people.

Obedience is inwardly
It springs from the submissive attitude within. It demands commitment, and being faithful to it. It is always above traditions and rituals. It is to please God than men. In 1 Samuel 15:22 we read prophet Samuel’s reminder to king Saul. Obedience originates from trust. Without faith or trust it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6).

Going to God in Need or Greed

Then he said to the crowd, “Don’t be greedy! Owning a lot of things won’t make your life safe.”

Your Father knows what you need. But put God’s work first, and these things will be yours as well.

Make sure your treasure is safe in heaven, where thieves cannot steal it and moths cannot destroy it. Your heart will always be where your treasure is.(Lk.12: 15, 30,31, 33,34 CEV)

Religiosity is often with selfish motives. People go to God in their greed, to get all they want. But, the Bible emphasizes the need to be free from greed. People came to Jesus with various motives. Here is a man asking Jesus to be the arbiter between him and his siblings in settling their property dispute

Seeking God for material benefits

Jesus questions the integrity of this man’s prayer. He sounds to him that He is not here as anyone’s arbitrator to justly distribute material wealth or earthly benefits. Rather, He is here with a different mission. His goal is eternal and other-worldly. He admonishes people to give away worldly possessions or to trade it for eternal riches. This world is temporal and what this world gives also is fragile. What is stored in heaven is eternal and indestructible.

The rich man’s story reveals the unreliable nature of wealth and the sorry state of those who labor day and night to amass worldly treasures. All these can vanish in a moment. We will have to leave this world we don’t know when. It would look foolish to have struggled for things that are of no value to you anymore. Even God will consider him a fool.

Seeking God for eternal benefits

God has promised those who seek Him sincerely that He will take care of them. After all, it is He who knows our future. To those who acknowledge His Lordship He has given assurance about their eternal destiny (1John 5:13). Jesus reiterates that God would care for His children much better than He cares for the rest of creation. He has put the priorities clearly in order. Put God and His kingdom first, then God will keep His promise to take care of your needs. He may not fulfill your greed but provide your every need (Phil.4:19).

By focusing on God’s kingdom we will be gathering riches and rewards in heaven. When our concern is about earthly things we worry about it in vain because worry is unproductive and often destructive. Our heart will always be where our possessions are. Our focus will be on things that we value the most. We will be disappointed if our eyes are set on the things of this world because they cannot accompany us in death. But all that we did for God’s kingdom will follow us into eternity and result in eternal rewards.

Godly Wisdom Versus Human Intelligence

When we tell you these things, we do not use words that come from human wisdom. Instead, we speak words given to us by the Spirit, using the Spirit’s words to explain spiritual truths.But people who aren’t spiritual can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means. Those who are spiritual can evaluate all things, but they themselves cannot be evaluated by others.    (1Cor.2:13-15)

Worldly wisdom can not fathom God’s Wisdom

Much of the Christian ministry today is being done according to worldly wisdom. They follow worldly principles rather than Biblical principles. They adopt secular strategies than following the Spirit’s instructions. Christian workers want to appear on par with the CEOs and Executives of multinational corporations in their lifestyle but forget the fact that they are called to be different. They are called to suffer for the sake of their Savior. They are sent out like sheep among wolves. Instead, they take cover under ‘prosperity theology’, quoting Bible verses out of context, drawing heavily from the Old Testament. God’s wisdom is available to those who have surrendered themselves to His Lordship, because of the indwelling presence of the Spirit of God.

Being an example of a servant who has absolute dependance on God’s power, Paul makes this clear in his writings (2Cor.1:12). Wisdom of God is foolishness to the intelligentsia (1Cor.3:19). The worldly wise do not realize that it is God who wired their brains and their intelligent conclusions about Him is utter foolishness in his sight. The greatest irony of human history is that man the finite creature, claiming to know everything, is trying to make the infinite Creator a non entity. Man does not even comprehend what is happening to him in the now and here but is trying to discover what happened in the past and draw conclusions about the future. This is true with all those who have not discovered and yielded to the amazing grace of God.

Worldly wisdom can not fulfill God’s purposes

But for men and women called to be His representatives here in this temporal world God grants the wisdom to carry out His mission. They don’t mind the ridicule and the humiliation they receive from the world because their eyes are fixed on their eternal home. Only when they begin to consider themselves worthy of honor and respect from the world, they will have to prove the same to the world. That is when they will begin to employ worldly wisdom to accomplish a heavenly mission. Then, they will begin to copy secular strategies and methods that are foolishness in the sight of God. God has His way of doing His work and He does not allow anyone to teach Him what they think is a better way. God wants His people to follow His strategies and methods in His service. Our work for God has to stand His ‘fire test’ on the day of reckoning (1Cor.3:12-15).

In spite of having credentials that placed him on par with, if not above, many of the contemporary scholars, Paul did not consider himself to be wise enough to handle the God-given mission (1Cor.2:1-5).

Consequences of one man’s sin

“Israel has sinned and broken my covenant! They have stolen some of the things that I commanded must be set apart for me. And they have not only stolen them but have lied about it and hidden the things among their own belongings. That is why the Israelites are running from their enemies in defeat. For now Israel itself has been set apart for destruction. I will not remain with you any longer unless you destroy the things among you that were set apart for destruction.” Joshua 7:11-12 NLT

Sin restricts God’s presence

The defeat at Ai was far more ridiculous than the military strategy employed to conquer Jericho. After the fall of the Jericho wall the Israelites were in a hurry to conquer the next town Ai. There was no instruction from the Lord on how to go about with the attack. God was obviously silent and was holding Himself from helping them. Yet, in their own enthusiasm they concluded that it was like a child’s play and needed just a couple of them. But the result was disastrous. Joshua was instructed to practice the presence of God in their fight against the enemy. He was reminded about the need for obedience and holiness within the community for a continuous experience of the presence of God. Sin was to be taken seriously and never to be over looked, no matter how insignificant and harmless it may appear to be.

Sin must be dealt with before God’s power can be experienced

The entire community had to bear the brunt of one man’s sin. Achan and his family along with all their belongings had to be removed to cleanse the community. This is seemingly harsh as it was practiced during the Old Testament days. We must get rid of things in our lives, habits or lifestyle or temperaments or anger or whatever, that are displeasing to God. Thank God that we have a substitute in Jesus who bore it on His body and died for us. Now we can confess our sins and repent in obedience to experience the power of God’s living presence.


Get back on the track

In the eighteenth year of his reign, after he had purified the land and the Temple, Josiah appointed Shaphan son of Azaliah, Maaseiah the governor of Jerusalem, and Joah son of Joahaz, the royal historian, to repair the Temple of the Lord his God….

While they were bringing out the money collected at the Lord’s Temple, Hilkiah the priest found the Book of the Law of the Lord that was written by Moses. (2Chr.34:1-18 NLB)

The Christian communities around the world have slipped into a kind of sluggishness. Many have lost the joy of their salvation, struggling to cope up with the world. Several have succumbed to the temptation of following the crowd. The demarcation between them and the world has faded away. The Church has been compromising on the teachings of the Word of God to satisfy those who are trying to satisfy their own flesh. There is more of mammon worship than worship of the true God. (But, glory be to God, there is a remnant spread all over the world, that still honor God and follow His Word.)

There is only one way to experience the joy of the Lord-get back into the fellowship. That is why there is a constant call from God to His wayward children to return to Him. Some of the ancient rulers reinforced this in their kingdom. One of such was king Josiah of Judah. He ascended the throne as an eight year old lad but he desired to follow the Lord like his forefather David. So he destroyed everything in his life and the life of the nation that was an abomination to the Lord.

Get rid of whatever is detesting to the Lord

It is not a literal instruction to the Church today. This does not mean that you go around destroying others’ property, attack religious places or cause inconvenience to others. We need to understand the principle. How do we decide? Go to His Word. As you read and meditate the Spirit will convince you of things in your own life that need to be thrown out or destroyed. Just obey. There is nothing more pleasing to God than to see His children obey Him, because obedience comes out of trust. Josiah did just that. A cleansing is required before the joy of the Lord can reclaim our lives.

Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple. (1Cor.3:16-17 NIV)

Repair and Restore the Temple

The temple of God represents the worship of God. The worship of God has been interrupted, lost its meaning or perhaps stopped in your life. This needs immediate attention, repair and restoration. When the worship of the Lord is restored the glory of the Lord will continue to descend up on the temple in such a way that others would see it.

Seek the Law of the Lord

The restoration of worship will naturally lead to the rediscovery of God’s book of Law, the Bible. The high priest discovered the book of the Law and introduced it to the  king and officials. That revolutionized the lives of the people. Though it did not last for long before the king died and people slipped back into sin, the principle for restoration and spiritual growth remains the same.

Rid your life of every sin. Don’t try to define your actions or justify them. The simple formula is to keep away from whatever that raises a doubt or question in your mind. Read the Bible, meditate on it. Follow the Law of the Lord. And when you fall, gather yourself up and get back on the track as early as possible.

Allowing God to work through you

Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than men! The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead—whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel. We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.” (Acts.5:29-32) NIV

Ignoring an eye-opener

Peter and John were locked up in prison for doing the ministry as God directed them. God was with them and He commands His angel to unlock and free them, not for a comfortable ministry, but to be booked again. God directed them to the Temple and they start teaching there. Meanwhile the authorities summon the prisoners for investigations and probably with the idea of silencing them. But God has His purposes fulfilled in all these unpleasant situations. The Apostles let God have His way through their lives and the authorities were confused about the missing prisoners. To their surprise they discover that the Apostles are still free and doing what they had prohibited. This was more than an eye opener for any open minded truth seeking individual regarding what the Apostles were proclaiming. However, they chose to ignore it and secure their seats of power.

Opposing God

The authorities obviously recognized the supernatural element in the message of the Apostles. They also realized the influence these men had up on the lives of the people. So the police behaved gently with the Apostles (Acts:5:26). The Council blamed the Apostles for teaching in the name of Jesus while the Apostles blamed the Council for the killing of Jesus. Peter in his explanation asserted that Jesus was the Messiah who rose from the grave and is alive and willing to forgive the nation for their sins when they turn back to Him. However, the Council was not ready to accept the Apostles’ explanation. They wanted to get rid of them because of their stand to “obey God rather than men”. One among the Council was a wise and mature man named Gamaliel. His advise was more of common sense. He said,

“…Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.” (Acts 5:38-39)

Gamaliel probably had the inkling that the Apostles were on a supernatural mission as their message and the attesting miracles revealed. This message had the power to transform lives and opposing it will be opposing God Himself.

The Church has been commanded to proclaim this message of salvation to the entire world. As opposition and threat mounts we must remember that we should be obeying God rather than men. The fear of men will cause us to water down the message or conveniently alter it to suit the situation. Let God’s message be proclaimed as God intended it to be. Allow God to do His work. If you fear men, don’t meddle with God’s business, better keep away. The Apostles were warned and whipped but they never stopped proclaiming the message of salvation through Jesus Christ. They allowed God to work through them. They were happy that God found them worthy to suffer for the sake of Christ.

Peril of serving God my way

David again gathered all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand. And David arose and went with all the people who were with him from Baale-judah to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the name of the LORD of hosts who sits enthroned on the cherubim. And they carried the ark of God on a new cart and brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. And Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, were driving the new cart, with the ark of God, and Ahio went before the ark.

And David and all the house of Israel were making merry before the LORD, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals. And when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah, and God struck him down there because of his error, and he died there beside the ark of God. (2Sam.6:1-7)

Following the crowd or obeying God

It was the unchangeable law of God that the Ark of God’s Presence must be carried by the Levites on their shoulders (1Chr.15:15) until it was installed in the Jerusalem Temple. Before (Solomon’s) Temple was dedicated the Ark rested in the Tent or the Tabernacle wherever it was set up. But the transport of it was the sole responsibility of the consecrated (set apart) servants of God, the Levites.

When the Philistines conquered Israel, they carried away the Ark thinking it was Israel’s idol, like the ones they were worshipping. They thought having their ‘god’ in custody would give them power over their enemy. Israelites too had slipped spiritually to the level of equating the ‘box’ to the Almighty God. They were drifting away following the pagan nations around. They asked God for a king to rule them because they wanted to be like the other nations. They were forgetting the command that they should not follow the ways of the other peoples. Now they saw how the Philistines carried the Ark around in style, mounted on a cart, instead of being carried by people. They tried the same when they wanted to bring it back. Neither David nor the Levites cared to follow the instructions God had handed down to them as Law.They thought it OK to serve God their way.

Good intentions or God’s intentions

The Ark and the people were doing fine until the oxen stumbled and the cart shook. Uzzah reached out and held the box that it shouldn’t fall. But God was angry at that and smote him. Why?

First of all, God of the Bible, unlike many other gods, doesn’t require humans to protect Him, His possession, or His prestige. He can take care of Himself. Secondly, if someone wants to serve Him or His purposes, it has to be done His way. Good intentions are not sufficient but a total obedience. He is specific about the end as well as the means to the end.

God’s Laws

And God spoke all these words: “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. “You shall have no other gods before me. “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; …”You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, …”Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. (Ex. 20:1-11)

This is the first part of the Ten Commandments God gave to His people through Moses. This reveals God’s demands regarding His people’s relationship with Him.

God’s Laws are for God’s people

This is not emphasized as a universal code of conduct, though God is the Owner and Master of everything. It has specific reference to God’s own people, people chosen by God to be His own possession from among all the peoples of the world. This is not for them to observe, and by doing so, be adopted as God’s people. Rather, it is for them to live up to because they have been chosen to be God’s people. In this case, one had to be born as a descendant of Abraham to be a member of God’s people.

So in the Church, the body of Jesus Christ. One has to be ‘born again’ as a child of God, by the regenerating power of the Spirit of God. Those who are thus born into the family of God are given the Word of God. Others can go through it and find the God it reveals. No one can gain acceptance into God’s family by trying to follow the book. Obedience is the prerogative of God’s people. Others are brought into the family through the obedience of His children.

God’s Laws reveal God’s standards

This reveals God’s heart, His plan for His own people and the rest of the world. It reveals God’s holy standard and calls us to grow towards it. It is God’s expectation of His people. God made it clear that by obeying the Law no one could be justified before God. What was revealed in the Old Testament was a foreshadow of the final and perfect, revealed through the Lord Jesus Christ. His blood alone, not that of animals, could atone for the sins of mankind.

They should not give the place of their God to anyone or anything else. This is blasphemy because their God has no equals, He is the Creator of everything, the Eternal One. They should not be carried away to make models and images of mysterious or incomprehensible objects. They should not take the name of their God lightly, for He is an awesome God. He should be worshiped and time should be set apart to be away from all other occupations and to be in His presence together as a community of God’s people.