Obedience includes the humble and sincere acceptance of the authority and will of God. It's not only conforming, but also demonstrating our devotion through our thoughts, words and deeds. The general concept of compliance both in the Old and the New Testament is based upon us yielding our will in order to do God's will. If we choose to advance in our spiritual relationship with Christ, we can understand a lot more about personal accountability.
One of the Greek terms for obedience conveys the idea of positioning oneself under someone by submitting to their authority and command. Another Greek word for obey in the New Testament means "to trust." According to Holman's Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Christian obedience means "to hear God's Word and act accordingly." Eerdman's Bible Dictionary also states, "Obedience involves physical hearing that inspires the listener to believe, and in turn this motivates the hearer to act in accordance with the speaker's desires."
Some might believe it does not really matter what we do in this life, but nothing could be further than the truth. Whether we are a follower of Christ or not, disobedience is caused by rebellion toward divine truth and choosing to follow our own desires instead of seeing God's will accomplished. We realize that we cannot earn our salvation by our works. However, if we are serious about our relationship with him, we will always have a strong desire to please him. In Luke 6:46, Jesus says, "Why do you call me Lord, Lord, and do not what I say?" We can always ask God to forgive our past, and today we can also make the choice to develop a determination to obey him in all things.
Most of us remember a man in the Bible by the name of Elijah, and we see that he was a person who knew something about the power of obeying God. I want us to look at a time in his life where God told him to do something and, even though it seemed impossible, he did not hesitate to follow God's instructions.
In I Kings 17:1, he had just prophesied to King Ahab that it would not rain for the next three years. The Lord then told Elijah to hide in the mountains by a stream of water and that God would send ravens to bring him meat and bread — and they did. This shows us that if we will simply listen and obey, God will take care of our needs.
In the following verses, we find that the brook finally dried up from the lack of rain, so the Lord told him to go to a certain city and there he would find a poor widow who would supply him with food. When he entered the town gate, he found the woman and asked her to bring him a drink of water and a piece of bread. We pick up the story in verses 12-14, "As surely as the Lord your God lives, she replied, I don't have any bread, only a handful of meal in a barrel and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it and die.
"Elijah said to her, do not be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first, make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says, 'The barrel of meal will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land.'"
Remarkably, she did as Elijah said and even though no meal or oil was ever added to the containers, there was an endless supply. This was an amazing miracle; however, it's also not the end of the story.
After a while, the widow's son became very sick and eventually died. Of course, the mother felt like God's judgment had for some reason fallen upon her, and she was very upset. Elijah had compassion and asked God to please heal the child and the boy came back to life!
In the first chapter of James, we are reminded there is no substitute for obedience and that possessing knowledge about what the Lord wants us to do is not the same as doing it.
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