Basic Obedience: What’s the Issue?

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Basic obedience is at the heartbeat of basic Christianity.

Matthew 7:21 (Skinner paraphrase: “Not everyone that calls Jesus Lord really means it. Only those who do what Jesus says really mean it.”)

Did you know that spiritually, as a Christian, you are created to obey? Spiritually, you are built to obey–not command. Humanly, how are you built? To command. It is not your first nature to obey everyone. It is not your nature to do everything people tell you to do. Human nature is rather to take command or do things your way. For the Christian, spiritually, you are built in such a way that you want to obey and not command. Now if a Christian says, “that is not the way I function,”  we know where to find the problem. The problem is lack of obedience.

If you’re tired of obeying, you will not want to read this. Or if you have it all together on how to obey the Lord, you won’t need this. But if you’re like me, you’ll need more and more studies on obedience.

It is never impossible to obey what God asks you to do. Everything He asks you to do, He also gives you the ability to do.

Oswald Chambers said, “There are some questions God cannot answer until you have been brought by obedience to be able to stand the answer. Be prepared to suspend your judgment until you have heard God’s answer for yourself.”

Talking about what God has done for us through providing Jesus Christ His Son is a great thing to discuss, isn’t it? But, people can talk about those things for weeks and yet never obey the One being discussed. Obedience shows what is in your heart. Professing with your mouth does not necessarily mean that you believe He is Lord.

Obedience has to go beyond knowledge…beyond belief.

The demons believe there is a God, but they will not be in heaven—

You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe–and tremble! (James 2:19)

What you do reveals what you believe. So if you do nothing, it reveals you do not believe much. Let’s discover 3 simple truths.

First Of All, Basic Obedience Is Simple

Basic obedience is simple, but not necessarily easy. Christians sometimes wonder why God does not give them an answer concerning everything they pray about. Why does God help certain people during a crisis time and not others? One of the main reasons why is very convicting.

Suppose you are trying to make a decision about buying a house. What is God’s will concerning that situation? What are you going to do about it? You pray about it and yet you cannot close the deal on the house. So, you seek advice and ask, “Will you help me find my problem?” Asking a few questions may reveal that some things do not match up. A person may say, “Why can’t I get my prayer answered about buying this house?”

I ask, “Are you faithful in your giving to Christ?”

“No,” they say.

People may say they want their marriage to be put back together. But, when you simply ask that person, “Are you obeying the Lord by spending time with Him every day in His Word?” Many times their answer is, “No.”

Is it any wonder our prayers are not answered?

It is the simple basics of obedience that are often ignored. God is not looking for great obedience before He develops a relationship with you, He desires you to obey in the little things first. Disobedience keeps Christians from advancing any further in their faith. It is so simple, yet it seems as though it takes a thousand people and a thousand sermons to point out the problem. Basic obedience is simple. Obedience is simply following the commands of Christ.

People ask, “Why can’t I have greater peace in my life?” Ask them if they confessed their sins today and asked God to fill them with His Spirit. Many times the answer is, “No.” Is it any wonder that many of our prayers are not answered? Some of the basic, simple things of the Christian life are being ignored. Many Christians wish they could learn how to pray better or be a better witness. Yet, you wonder why they are not. The answer is simple. Obedience. The only thing that keeps you from becoming what Christ wants you to be–is disobedience. That’s all. It is so simple.

There are some things that God tells us to do that takes no special discernment or feeling in order to do it. Yet, people are simply trying to find out if they have the right command or if they do not have the right command. Is this what I ought to do in this situation, or should I do this? Would Christ want me to accept this job or teach this Bible class? By the time many finish asking the questions, there is no time left to do what needs to be done!

When you do not know what to do, keep doing the things you do know to do. The simple basics of staying in the Word, praying, sharing your faith, and fellowshipping with other Christians are what you should keep doing.

If you do not obey, it is simply because you have enough of an independent spirit that causes you to disobey.

Obedience Frees Your Spirit

Not only should obedience be simple, basic obedience frees your spirit.

“Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?” (Rom. 6:16) 

Everyone is going to obey something and disobey something else. When a person asks you to do something or tells you to do something, what is your response? Yes or no. You are either going to obey or disobey. The same thing happens in our spiritual life. If you choose to obey sin, it will lead to death. If you choose to obey the Lord, the result is righteousness.

When you obey, the Spirit frees your spirit to be what you should be in Christ.

But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. (Rom. 6:17)

Doesn’t it sound better to be a slave to righteousness than a slave to sin? You have been set free in your spirit. Jesus came to give you a full abundant, free, meaningful life. This comes as a result of being “freed” up.

Some people think they are going to learn to obey just a few of Christ’s commands at a time. They really believe it is acceptable to ignore those things they know they should do until they accomplish one or two commands. They believe that when they learn one thing well, then, they will work on the other ones. An example would be learning to pray. A person may think they can work on prayer until they get it right and then when proficient–they will begin reading their Bible. It doesn’t work that way. The commands are all inclusive. Many people just work on one area of their life at a time and they never get the fulfillment of living a trusting, faithful, complete life in Christ. If you have to stop and think which command you will obey, and which one you will not obey, you are choosing to disobey from the very beginning.

People feel guilty when they do not read their Bible. Do you know why? It is disobedience. It tightens your spirit, it doesn’t free it. When you get into God’s Word, it frees your spirit. All the commands of Christ are there not to hurt, but to help. They are not burdensome. His yoke is easy. When you act on His commands, it frees up life, it doesn’t make you tight. One writer said this, “We have to stop hesitating and take the first step. The first step is to stop hesitating.” We think on what to do so much that we never do anything about it. If you want to free up your spirit, stop hesitating.

Third, Basic Obedience Is A Relationship. 

“And Pharaoh said, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, nor will I let Israel go.”” (Exodus 5:2)

Pharoah did not know the Lord. If you do not know the Lord, you will not obey the Lord. If you know the Lord in a personal relationship, you will obey. Your natural tendency will not allow you to obey people you do not know.

Suppose a stranger knocks on your door. When you open the door he tells you to get out of your house and in the yard right now. Do you obey them? No. You don’t know the stranger.

If a dad says, son, get out in the front yard, hopefully there is an obedience that will follow. The son knows what he should do and he knows his father, so he carries out the instruction. Pharoah did not know the Lord, and therefore, he said, why should I obey Him? I don’t have a relationship with Him.

“If you love Me, keep My commandments.” (John 14:15)

Does that sound like a relationship? If you obey Jesus, it shows your love for Him. So here Jesus is showing there is a direct relationship between obedience and a person. Jesus replied,

“He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.” (John 14:24)

Christ is saying to us that if we don’t obey Him, then we are not His. Think about this relationship. My dad is my father. We have a father-son relationship. If I don’t obey him, am I no longer his son? Well, I certainly am not a son of obedience. My father doesn’t disown me, but the relationship is strained. The more you disobey Christ in the basics, the less you know Him. The less you know Him, the less you grow in Christ.

If a new Christian does not follow through in believer’s baptism, they already have missed the first step of obedience. Disobedience in this first step will not allow any deeper insight into their relationship with the Father whom they are supposed to be obeying.

Many Christians are like statues. People admire them. They walk around them and look at them. They observe them. They think how nice the statue looks. The statue is not doing anything. I believe there are many Christians just standing around looking good, but they don’t do anything! If that statue came to life and did something, it would scare everyone to death. There are hundreds…thousands on church roles who are like statues. They come to church every week, they dress nice, they drive a decent vehicle, have a good job. They are admired. But if they ever really did something in God’s work, it would scare everyone to death because they are not used to them doing anything. They are not in the obedience mode at all. They are in a statue mode. If we are going to get to obedience beyond belief, we have got to get out of our statue mode and get busy doing something.

You need never try to explain the things of God until you have obeyed Him. I cannot explain to you things about God until I have personally obeyed Him. If you want to get to know who God is, you do that by obeying Him. The only part about God that you don’t understand is the part that you don’t obey. When you chose deliberately to obey Christ, He will bring all His resources together to assist you in what you thought you could not obey. Some people say. “I can’t obey the Lord in my giving. I just can’t see how I can make it on 90 percent of my income.” So many people miss out on the grace of God because they don’t obey Him in the basics.