Obedience – The Path to Freedom
Obedience may be the simplest, and most difficult of the virtues to practice. It is also among the most important, as it is the essence of our response to the Gospel: “If you love me, keep my commandments.” John 14:15
Obedience was the only rule in the Garden of Eden and the original humans couldn’t follow it. Really, obedience is the basic virtue that separated each of the Old Testament saints from their peers. Noah built the ark. (Genesis 6) Abraham moved his family on the basis of God’s word to him. His belief was accompanied by obedience. (Genesis12) And on and on. The faithful received God’s word and took action, followed, obeyed.
The prophet Samuel said as much to King Saul, “”Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, obedience is better than sacrifice, and attentiveness is better than the fat of rams.” (1 Samuel 15:22) God takes delight, He is honored, glorified, when we obey Him.
Jesus is the ultimate and consummate example of obedience for He obeyed His Father perfectly. “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my will, but the will of Him who sent me.” (Jn 6.38). And this is what Jesus’ life entailed, watching, listening, and doing only what God the Father was doing.
“Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all He does.” John 5:19-20
“I have not spoken on My own, but the Father who sent Me has commanded Me what to say and how to say it.” John 12:49
So Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me.” John 8:28
God knows best. He has revealed Himself to mankind through His Son, Jesus the Christ, God with us. Jesus is God in the flesh and modeled a life of perfect obedience. We look both to the life and teachings of Jesus recorded in the Bible to learn, as the apostles, how to follow in His steps.
“But the one who looks intently into the perfect law of freedom, and continues to do so – not being a forgetful hearer, but and effective doer – he will be blessed in what he does.” James 1:25
For some people, obedience can seem like bondage. On the surface we can feel that our options, freedom, even our potential will be limited by following the directives of another. But note that James called the Bible the ‘perfect law of freedom’ or ‘liberty’ because this is the path Jesus leads people on, the path of freedom.
Without Christ Jesus we are a slave to sin and while we might think we are free we are in fact surrounded by bars we cannot see, imprisoned by an evil spiritual warden that wants to hold us back, keep us down, steal our life and destroy our hope (See John 10:10). What we might think is freedom, life without the straight lace of God, is actually the worst kind of bondage. Whereas Jesus came to give us abundant life, freedom, victorious, God-honoring destiny, love, joy and hope. And the narrow way to experience His goodness is found in simple obedience to what He has said.
“He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.… If a man loves Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and we will come and make our home with him. 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 14:21-24
Young friend, make obedience to Jesus your priority. Sow His Word deeply into your heart and mind and make the sometimes difficult choices to follow, to obey, to remain on the narrow way.
Instead of a fence you will discover a field, instead of chains you will find wings. Obedience is true freedom.