Becoming an Obedient Follower of Jesus Christ
- The Beginning of Obedience: Beholding God
- Obeying God’s Desires
- Learning to Live Obediently and Victoriously
Making a commitment to a person is basic to any long-term relationship. It is no different with God, who is your Creator, your Lord, your Savior, and the Lover of your soul. He has made an eternal commitment to His people and has sealed it through the work of Christ and the indwelling Holy Spirit. He desires for us to commit ourselves to following Jesus and the ways of Jesus.
It is not just that we should strive to live like Jesus, but that Jesus by His Spirit should come and live in us. To have Him as our example is not enough; we need Him as our Savior. It is thus through His atoning death that the penalty of our sins may be forgiven; whereas it is through His indwelling Spirit that the power of our sins may be broken. John R. W. Stott, Basic Christianity
At the moment you placed your faith in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, a life of authentic obedience to God became a real possibility. The Holy Spirit set you free from the bondage of sin, shame, and death (Romans 8:2). He enables you to live a Christlike life. As you learn more about becoming an obedient believer in action, remember the Holy Spirit will guide you and help you obey.
The Beginning of Obedience: Beholding God
Remembering who God is and what He desires for you is where obedience to Him begins. The more the Holy Spirit reveals God to us the more we desire to obey God. Here are a few Scriptures that begin to tell us about God.
33 Oh, the depth of the riches
and the wisdom and the knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments
and untraceable his ways!
34 For who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?
35 And who has ever given to God,
that he should be repaid?
36 For from him and through him
and to him are all things.
To him be the glory forever. Amen. Romans 11:33-36 CSB
30 There is no wisdom and no understanding
And no counsel against the LORD. Proverbs 21:30 NASB95
17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet like a dead man. He laid his right hand on me and said, “Don’t be afraid. I am the First and the Last, 18 and the Living One. I was dead, but look — I am alive forever and ever, and I hold the keys of death and Hades.” Revelation 1:17-18 CSB
11 “You are worthy, O Lord,
To receive glory and honor and power;
For You created all things,
And by Your will they exist and were created.” Revelation 4:11 NKJV
Job 38 through Job 42:6 is one of the places in the Bible where God reveals many things about His power and wisdom and might!
How do these Scriptures influence your obedience to Him?
A Description of the Relationship Between God and His People
16 “This day the LORD your God commands you to observe these statutes and judgments; therefore you shall be careful to observe them with all your heart and with all your soul. 17 Today you have proclaimed the LORD to be your God, and that you will walk in His ways and keep His statutes, His commandments, and His judgments, and that you will obey His voice. 18 Also today the LORD has proclaimed you to be His special people, just as He promised you, that you should keep all His commandments, 19 and that He will set you high above all nations which He has made, in praise, in name, and in honor, and that you may be a holy people to the LORD your God, just as He has spoken.” Deuteronomy 26:16-19 NKJV
- Verse 16 is God’s expectations for His people.
- Verse 17 is the people’s relationship commitment to God in behavior, attitude, and actions.
- Verses 18-19 are the Lord’s relationship commitment to His people. What wonderful promises God fulfills in those people who take heed to these verses!
A Response to God’s Call for Obedience to Him
Psalm 40:7-8 provides us with a glimpse of how David responded to God’s call for obedience.
7 Then I said, “Behold, I come;
In the scroll of the book it is written of me.
8 I delight to do Your will, O my God;
Your Law is within my heart.” Psalm 40:7-8 NASB95
Loving God is Obeying Him; Obeying God is Loving Him
Notice what happens when we demonstrate that we love God by our obedience to Him. God responds to our obedience to His commands! A person who is not experiencing any responses from God needs to examine themselves according to the Word and see if they are obeying God’s commands.
15 “If you love me, you will obey what I command.” John 14:15 NIV
21 “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.” John 14:21 NIV
23 Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.” John 14:23-24 NIV
The Lord’s Name is Jealous
God loves us jealously! He doesn’t want anything or anyone to try to take His rightful place in our hearts or steal away our devotion to Him. He alone knows what is best for us in all things in all ways at all times in all relationships.
14 Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God. Exodus 34:14 NIV
4 You [are like] unfaithful wives [having illicit love affairs with the world and breaking your marriage vow to God]! Do you not know that being the world’s friend is being God’s enemy? So whoever chooses to be a friend of the world takes his stand as an enemy of God. 5 Or do you suppose that the Scripture is speaking to no purpose that says, The Spirit Whom He has caused to dwell in us yearns over us and He yearns for the Spirit [to be welcome] with a jealous love? James 4:4-5 AMP
Reluctant Compliance or Trusting Obedience
Does the Lord want reluctant compliance or trusting obedience from us?
Compliance sounds like ‘OK, OK. I’ll do it. But it won’t be pretty. I’ll do it, but this story is not over. Someone, sometime, somewhere, is gonna pay…’ Obedience from the heart says, ‘I’ll do this because I trust you and believe it is for our best.’ Bill Thrall, Ken McElrath, Bruce McNicol, Beyond Your Best
Obeying God’s Desires
How do you know God’s desires and will for you? God’s revealed Word: The Bible.
The Bible is God’s revelation of truth to us. Obedience to God’s Word is obedience to God Himself. The Word of God is the will of God.
What is the essence of God’s desires for each one of us?
28 One of the scribes approached. When he heard them debating and saw that Jesus answered them well, he asked him, “Which command is the most important of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The most important is Listen, Israel! The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. 31 The second is, Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other command greater than these.” Mark 12:28-31 CSB
Psalm 119 powerfully tells us about the importance of God’s Word to us.
11 Your word I have treasured in my heart,
That I may not sin against You. Psalm 119:11 NASB95
105 Nun. Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path. Psalm 119:105 NASB95
130 The unfolding of Your words gives light;
It gives understanding to the simple. Psalm 119:130 NASB95
The Scriptures Are Profitable
16 All Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness, 2 Timothy 3:16 LSB
Here is a visual representation of the four ways the Scriptures are profitable.
Motivation for Trusting and Obeying God
11 “For I know the plans I have for you” — this is the LORD’s declaration — “plans for your well-being, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 CSB
2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2 NASB95
3 This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, 1 John 5:3 NIV
He Has Given Us All Things
The notion that we can live an obedient life in Christ in our own strength is foolish thinking, not to mention downright unbiblical thinking. Here are a few verses concerning what God says about living an obedient life.
Power, Love, and a Sound Mind
7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV
All Things Pertaining to Life and Godliness
2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; 3 seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 2 Peter 1:2-3 NASB95
4 For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through the perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. 5 Now may the God of perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, 6 so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God. Romans 15:4-7 LSB
The Power to Overcome Our Worldly Enemy
4 You are from God, little children, and you have conquered them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 1 John 4:4 CSB
The Armor of God
10 Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by his vast strength. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this darkness, against evil, spiritual forces in the heavens. 13 For this reason take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand. 14 Stand, therefore, with truth like a belt around your waist, righteousness like armor on your chest, 15 and your feet sandaled with readiness for the gospel of peace. 16 In every situation take up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit — which is the word of God. 18 Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints. Ephesians 6:10-18 CSB
God Living in Us
16 Or what agreement has a sanctuary of God with idols? For we are a sanctuary of the living God; just as God said,
“I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM;
AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE.” 2 Corinthians 6:16 LSB
Learning to Live Obediently and Victoriously
All of us struggle with temptations. Using everything God has given us, we can learn to daily practice obedience and gain victory over sin.
A Brief Definition of Sin
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:6 NKJV
17 Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins. James 4:17 NIV
4 Everyone who does sin also does lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. 1 John 3:4 LSB
How does sin differ from temptation?
The Source and Causes of Temptation
The devil is a source of temptation.
1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 After he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 Then the tempter approached him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Matthew 4:1-3 CSB
The reason we are drawn into temptation.
14 But each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desire. James 1:14 CSB
God is never the source of temptation.
13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; James 1:13 NIV
Learning From the Sin of Achan
20 Achan replied to Joshua, “It is true. I have sinned against the LORD, the God of Israel. This is what I did: 21 When I saw among the spoils a beautiful cloak from Babylon, five pounds of silver, and a bar of gold weighing a pound and a quarter, I coveted them and took them. You can see for yourself. They are concealed in the ground inside my tent, with the silver under the cloak.” Joshua 7:20-21 CSB
Notice the process of disobedience. He saw. He coveted (because of his evil desire). He took. He concealed. What do you think contributed to his disobedience? And what point could he have prevented his sin? What can we learn from his example?
God is Faithful
Do you think the temptations you face are different or tougher to deal with than what other people face?
13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. 1 Corinthians 10:13 NKJV
When We Sin
8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. 1 John 1:8-10 NKJV
5 I acknowledged my sin to You,
And my iniquity I have not hidden.
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,”
And You forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah Psalm 32:5 NKJV
Why is confession important?
Hold On to Instruction
13 Hold on to instruction, do not let it go;
guard it well, for it is your life.
14 Do not set foot on the path of the wicked
or walk in the way of evil men.
15 Avoid it, do not travel on it;
turn from it and go on your way. Proverbs 4:13-15 NIV
Submit Yourself to God
To learn to overcome temptation and to deal with evil desires, you must yield your will to God’s will. The Word of God is the will of God. To resist the devil, you must use God’s provisions for victory see He Has Given Us All Things.
Consider Yourself Dead But Alive
8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all, but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11 Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, 13 and do not go on presenting your members to sin as instruments of unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 14 For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace. Romans 6:8-14 LSB
Walk by the Spirit
16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. Galatians 5:16 NASB95
Set Your Mind on the Things Above
2 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. 3 For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. Colossians 3:2-4 NASB95
Points to Remember
- Your obedience to God is based on the truth that He is your Creator, Lord, Savior, and the Lover of your soul. You obey Him because of who He is. He alone is worthy of our obedience.
- God reveals His ways through the Scriptures, and His commands are good.
- To the extent that you appropriate God’s good provision for victory, you can experience a life of trusting and obeying Him.
- You are not immune, however, to temptation and sin. Sin does not negate God’s love for you, but it does break your fellowship with Him. Confession restores that fellowship.
Points to Ponder
In Matthew 7:24-27, Jesus said the wise man hears His words and acts on them, and the foolish man hears His words and doesn’t act on them. Read the verses below, then answer the questions in the table.
24 “Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain fell, the rivers rose, and the winds blew and pounded that house. Yet it didn’t collapse, because its foundation was on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and doesn’t act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 The rain fell, the rivers rose, the winds blew and pounded that house, and it collapsed. It collapsed with a great crash.” Matthew 7:24-27 CSB
|The Wise Man||The Foolish Man|
|What foundation did he build his house on?|
|What do you think each foundation represents?|
|What forces was his house exposed to?|
|What happened to his house?|
|Did this person hear God’s Word?|
|Did he respond to God’s Word?|
What is God saying to you through this story based on how you are building or not building your relationship with Him?