Sunday Sermons

Sunday Sermons



Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.”
(1 Samuel 15:22)

I long for Your salvation, O Lord, And Your law is my delight.”
(Psalm 119:174)

I delight to do Your will, O my God; Your Law is within my heart.”
(Psalm 40:8)

... fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person.”
(Ecclesiastes 12:13)


One of the foundations of faith in God is the concept of obedience (Jeremiah 7:23-28ff, Romans 2:1-13). When understood in its proper context and with its proper motivation, obedience is perhaps the most elemental of all facets in the Christian life. When improperly applied, yielding to allegiances outside of God's will, obedience is perhaps one of the most difficult parts of us to bring into subjection. As we explore obedience this morning, my hope is to better understand its role in our salvation and in the salvation of those around us.

Few are there who live free from the expectation to obey. Nearly all children grow up with parents who expect them to obey – though those expectations vary widely among extremes. Most people who work, work under the expectations of obedience to some sort of job description, measure of performance or method of feedback. Society also puts on its members obedience expectations, from unspoken social norms to clearly stated laws. It's safe to say that all of us know full well what it's like to be expected to obey – and in fact, most of us do a pretty good job of it.

That's where the subtle differences between worldly obedience and Godly obedience begin to diverge.

Obedience From the World's Point of View

Obedience from a worldly perspective isn't necessarily wrong and in fact ought to be applauded, most of the time. Many people who are well intentioned and basically 'good' have a positive handle on obedience. They obey their parents, their boss or teacher, they obey the laws of the land – we wouldn't necessarily label them as complete rebels with no regard for authority. Like most people, they may not like being told what to do, but they realize the expectations put upon them and meet those expectations anyway. However, like most people, they have their limits.

When it's inconvenient or difficult or unclear, people with a worldly point of view do have a tendency to look for loop holes, the do tend to be selective in their obedience if not downright disobedient. Driven by situation, poor example or a substitution of themselves for authority, many have no qualms with rounding off the edge of expectations and proceed with willful disobedience. They make up their own rules and follow those instead. Sometimes only when the occasion demands it, sometimes habitually. Sometimes in regard to only certain expectations, and sometimes with a very broad brush. Still, even in the most extreme cases, the desire for obedience in others, if not in themselves, is often desired and even expected.

Obedience then makes a dangerous turn. People exchange “the truth of God for a lie” (Romans 1:25) and they begin to walk “each one, in the stubbornness of his evil heart” (Jeremiah 11:8) .

The truth remains, but they choose not to follow it and instead, follow its antithesis (Romans 2:8; 6:12). It's no surprise then, that God has had to deal with the problem of disobedience (Psalm 119:21; Deuteronomy 28:15, 45, 62).

God's Commandments

It's important to begin this section with the realization that God's commandments are perfect (Psalm 19:8). They illustrate God's hope, love and knowledge of what's best for His creation (Matthew 11:30 “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” and 1 John 5:3 “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome” also Deuteronomy 5:1-2; 6; 11; 27:10; 28:1-2; 30:8-20).

God has not been unclear on what to do (2 Timothy 3:16). He's not shrouded how we are to be obedient in mystery or complication. Like any good parent, God has been clear in His expectations. He's been clear about the rewards and consequences, both in this life and the life to come. He's done what anyone would need to have done in an effort to be obedient – It's our job then, to gain knowledge of His desires for us, through earnest and careful study of His word, and to fulfill His expectations through applying what we've learned in an effort to conform our lives to His will (Joshua 1:8).

You would think that the professed 'religious' would be immune to cases of misplaced obedience, but that isn't the case today, nor was it the case in the time of Jesus (Matthew 15:3, Mark 7:8-9). The denominations, for all their strengths – lack when it comes to complete and unadulterated obedience of God's will, making all those strengths completely wasted weakness. The same is true for us. If we are incomplete in our obedience, we are ultimately weak. We don't show love or respect as God would have us.

Exhortations to Obey

God implores our obedience. He doesn't just expect us to obey and then heartlessly watches us fall short. He knows it's within our reach and He cheers us on toward fulfillment of His will. (Exodus 19:5; Deuteronomy 4:1; Joshua 22:5).

God gives us great examples of obedience. Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, rather than bowing down to Nebuchadnezzar, faced the furnace in favor of obeying God (Daniel 3:16-18). Peter and the Apostles, rather than bowing to the pressure of the Sadducees Council, clearly stated their allegiancewith God rather than man (Acts 5:17-29). Christ, our example in all things, also showed us His example in obedience through His relationship with God the Father (John 10:18; 12:49-50; 15:10; Mark 14:36, John 8:28) ultimately giving us the chance of salvation (Hebrews 5:8-9; Romans 5:19).

God links obedience with love. Love itself is a commandment (John 13:34; John 15:12; 1 John 4:21) and it's a motivator and indicator of obedience (John 14:15, 21; 1 John 3:23; 5:2-3; 2 John 1:6)

God allows us access to Him through our obedience. We seek redemption and salvation, but miss the mark if all we do is seek – we can't 'play church' or 'warm the pew' – we must act and bring true and complete obedience to fruition (James 1:19-25; Matthew 19:17; 5:19; 1 John 2:3-4; 3:24). Obedience without follow through is, at best, only good intentions, and we end up just as lost for lack of action.

Considerations & Applications

Obedience is not a one time event – it is a life long perspective, attitude and effort.

Humility leads to obedience (Psalm 25:9; Issiah 66:2, Zephaniah 2:3).

We cannot place conditions on our obedience, just as we cannot place conditions on our love, assistance or time. We cannot put God to the test (Psalm 78:17-20) asking Him to do thus and so before we follow Him. Though we have expectations of obedience of parents (Ephesians 6:1), in the workplace(Colossians 3:22), of government authorities (Romans 13:1-5) and of the church Elders (Hebrews 13:17) – our primary obedience goes to God Himself. Following an immoral order is not obedience as it's not obeying God (Acts 5:17-29).

Obedience takes guts, self-control, self-examination, concerted effort and desire. We must be of the mind that we choose obedience even when its hard, inconvenient, unpopular, expensive, when we're busy, would rather do something else, don't have the energy (Matthew 7:16, 1 Peter 1:13-19). We cannot bargain or stall. We cannot pick and choose. There is no room for partial obedience, (James 2:10-13, Mark 10:17-22). We cannot make excuses.

The difference in pure legalism, as exhibited by the Pharisees, and true Christianity, is the joy of obedience. Obeying God because we want to.

How we obey and why is just as important as our actual obedience. We obey out of love not just fear. It is not as much duty as it is delight (Psalm 119:47). Duty and love are not mutually exclusive. “Duty and love are not incompatible motives. A father provides for his children because he loves them. Yet it is also his legal and moral duty to do so. The fact that a man loves his children does not lessen his duty to them. The more he loves them, the more he will see the duty as a joy and not a drudgery. But even when the duty is a delight, it should not diminish the father's solemn sense of duty. Our obedience to Christ is like that. Certainly we ought to obey Him out of a deep love for Him. And the sheer joy of pleasing Him should permeate our obedience. Yet we should never think of obedience as anything less than a sacred duty. Our love for Christ does not make submission to Him elective. Christ is still our Master, and our relationship with Him carries a great weight of responsibility. We ought to serve Him as loving, devoted bond servants.” “Both our love for the Lord and our sense of duty to Him should motivate this obedience. One must never cancel out the other.” (John MacArtur)


Our obedience, although absolute in its necessity, does not earn us salvation. Salvation is free, bought and paid for by Jesus Christ – and that should be why we gratefully obey.

Obedience is a process involving action. Each act of obedience takes a first step.

At each step in the process is a choice – forced obedience, without choice, is not obedience at all. A good conscience, specifically with regard to obedience of God, is freeing. Be free today, free from sin, free from guilt, free from doubt and worry and insecurity. Take that first step of complete obedience by coming to the front this morning, without delay, without condition or excuse, repenting of your sins. If you're not a Christian, you can, this very morning, confess Christ as the Son of God and gain God's forgiveness through baptism. However we can assist you this morning, please come as we stand and sing.

Ken McCoy | Beaverton church of Christ | 503-644-9017