Obedience is required of all Christians. It has been from the very beginning and it will be to the very end. Genesis 2:16 recorded the beginning for us and the first commandment of God to man: “And the LORD God commanded the man.” Then in Genesis 3:11, just a short time later, God is saying, “Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”
God required and asked for obedience; but instead He received the disobedience of Adam and Eve. The result of their disobedience was swift in coming, as vv3:23-24 continues: “therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man, and at the east of the Garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.” Man had fallen and it was still only at the beginning. There had been only one condition for man’s life in the Garden of Eden, and man had disobeyed that one condition, that one command.
Reading Genesis and the account of the fall, a number of things are notable by their absence: God did not specifically require Faith from Adam and Eve; He did not require Humility from Adam and Eve; He did not even require Love from Adam and Eve. Why? Because Obedience to God contains and comprises all of these things! Obedience to God is the one and only thing which is absolutely necessary in man’s life; for God’s demand for obedience is like His authority, supreme above all else.
As we move from Genesis to Revelation, from the beginning to the end of the Word, we find in Revelation 22:14 “Blessed are they who do His commandments, that their authority will be over the Tree of Life, and they may enter in by the gates into the city.” God is unchanging in His ways and in His requirements of us. Our God is a God of second chances and here He is once more offering us access to the Tree of Life.
The first Adam lost the authority and dominion over the earth which God had given to him when he disobeyed God and was exiled from Eden. The second Adam, Jesus Christ, won back the lost authority on that cross at Calvary and now possesses forever, all authority and dominion over the earth. In the regaining of that lost authority, Jesus won back for us the right to access the Tree of Life, as Romans 5:19 says “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of One shall many be made righteous.” Note how it was won back for us, by OBEDIENCE, and it was the obedience of Jesus Christ Himself.
Christ redeemed us in and by His obedience to the Father.
The Old Testament extols obedience, as it indeed, it should; and all the great man and women of God in the Old Testament were known and acknowledged for their obedience. Noah, our common father, is acknowledged in Genesis 6:22 as obeying God and “according to all that God commanded him, so he did.” Three more times the Bible records Noah’s obedience to God in v7:5, v7:9 and v7:16. Of Abraham, we read in Hebrews 11:8a “By faith Abraham obeyed” and the blessings which Abraham received for his obedience also blessed his offspring Isaac, as Genesis 26:3 & 5 say “and I will establish the oath which I swore to Abraham your father….. because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My Laws.”
Failure to obey is also recorded and the results of disobedience are salutary, as we read in First Samuel 13:13-14 when God brings to account the Israel’s first king, His anointed Saul: “And Samuel said to Saul, You have done foolishly. You have not kept the commandment of Jehovah your God, which He commanded you. For now Jehovah would have established your kingdom on Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not stand. Jehovah has sought Him a man after His own heart, and Jehovah has appointed him to be leader over His people, because you have not kept what Jehovah commanded you.”
It is interesting to note how the contemporary Church chooses to ignore the examples of Adam, Eve and Saul; indeed, all the other men and women of the Bible, who suffered immediately, for their disobedience to God. Instead, they teach love and only love. But that is not what we learn here. First God in His Holiness and in His Righteousness, is Just. With God’s Justice come Love and Grace; but, without justice first, love and grace in all things and at all times, faith is rendered meaningless. As God required Obedience from Adam, Saul and Jesus, He also requires it from us.
Romans 5:19 makes very clear for us, our position and the position of Jesus, when it comes to obedience saying “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of One shall many be made righteous.” In other words, because of Adam, we were all made sinners; but in Jesus, we are made righteous. The words are clear – we owe it all to Jesus Christ and His obedience to His Father. Romans 6:16 adds to this asking “Do you not know that to whom you yield yourselves as slaves for obedience, you are slaves to him whom you obey; whether it is of sin to death, or of obedience to righteousness?”
Herein is the rub, herein is the truth which most Christians seem to miss; obedience to righteousness. Most Christians seem never to have studied the blessings of obedience to God, such that they can be transformed by it; such that they can learn to love it, such that they can learn to delight in it, such that they can learn to receive the full blessings of God, from and through it.
All Christians will have heard of the justification by faith as taught by Paul from Romans 3:21 to 5:11 and understand, to some degree, the blessings which flow therefrom. Paul taught that grace is a fee gift of God “But to him not working, but believing on Him justifying the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness” (Romans 4:5). But sin has power in this world because of disobedience and we are all inheritors of this disobedience, for as Ephesians 2:2b says we are “the children of disobedience.”
However, we can look at Jesus and see from His Word that His life in obedience had three clear elements, which we must understand:
- He came to personify a life of true obedience.
- He came to be our Surety (our deposit, our warrant our purchase price).
- He came to be our Head and, through the Holy Spirit, prepare an obedient nature in those who would accept Him.
In His death, Jesus demonstrated and personified ultimate obedience. As Philippians 2:8 says Jesus: “being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” Jesus willingly died for us and for God, so that in His death, we, sinners one and all, could be redeemed.
To understand obedience and the will of God in our lives for it, we must understand that obeying Christ is the open secret of conforming to God’s stated will and to the salvation, which we find in Him. Obedience can be seen as the very essence of that righteousness; and obedience, as salvation. For in total obedience to Christ, His obedience becomes our life power and the very nature of the “new man,” we have put on. “For if by one man’s offense death reigned by one, much more they who receive abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by One, Jesus Christ. Therefore as by one offense sentence came on all men to condemnation, even so by the righteousness of One the free gift came to all men to justification of life” (Romans 5:17-18). Our inheritance from Adam’s disobedience is death; our inheritance through Christ’s obedience is life and life abundantly.
Jesus clearly came to earth to do the will of the Father and be obedient to Him at all times and in all circumstances, as John 6:38 records “For I came down from Heaven, not to do My own will but the will of Him who sent Me.” Again in Hebrews the same theme is repeated as Jesus says in v10:9 “Lo, I come to do Your will, O God.”
As Jesus both did and lived the will of the Father in total obedience, He offers to help us do exactly the same, declaring in Matthew 12:50 “For whoever shall do the will of My Father in Heaven, the same is My brother and sister and mother.”
This is a Kingly declaration. It speaks the legal action into existence as soon as the time or the condition is fulfilled. Thus, when we do the will of God, we are the brother, sister or mother of Jesus. From this, we can see that not only did God want us to be obedient, Jesus did also, that we may be family to Him and He to us.
How important was obedience to Jesus? Let us look at His own words from John 4:34 as “Jesus said to them, My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to finish His work.” Doing the will of God is obedience, and that was the food of Jesus’ life. Obedience to the Father was not part of the life of Jesus: it was His life.
Perhaps it would be wise for us to follow Jesus and be obedience to Him, for indeed we are beholden to Him, for all we have, and all we are.
Amen and Amen.