This article contains my reflection on the sermon shared by brother John Grubb on 10 June 2018. As we begin to read through the pages of the Holy Scriptures we will clearly understand that obedience is one of the central themes that God wants His creation to uphold. Let us take some time to ponder on the following two passages of Scriptures found in the Old Testament:
“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” (Proverbs 14:12)
“O LORD, I know the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps.” (Jeremiah 10:23)
The book of Proverbs deals with the practical affairs of life. In Proverbs 14:12, the author, King Solomon, cautions mankind on the dreaded spiritual consequences regarding the worldly attitudes, behaviours and actions that we might embrace in our daily living.
In essence, God warns that mankind will suffer eternal separation from Him if they purposefully choose to follow their sinful self-will and rebel against His commandments. Moreover, the prophet Jeremiah also tells mankind that it is important for us to rely on God’s wisdom as revealed in His Word to direct our paths.
Hence, making a conscientious decision to allow the Word of God to influence and direct our thoughts, behaviours and actions is the hallmark of true obedience to God.
At this juncture, we have thus far established the fact that the issue of rendering our obedience to God is essentially a matter of our choices. To put it simply, mankind can either choose to obey God or to go against His commandments.
Our Lord Jesus has also given us clear instructions in the Bible that there are only two paths in which we can choose to travel. We can either choose to travel through the broad way which would eventually lead numerous number of souls to be lost in destruction in hell fire, or we can choose to travel through the narrow road that leads us to everlasting life in heaven (Matthew 7:13-14).
Furthermore, we can also appreciate that there are three important biblical principles as revealed in the Bible concerning the matter of true obedience. First of all, God does not want excuses when mankind fails to obey His commandments. Consider the example of how Adam and Eve dealt with the situation after they sinned against God in the Garden of Eden by eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 3:1-13).
In Genesis 2:16-17, the Bible tells us that God commanded Adam not to eat of the forbidden fruit, and that the severe consequences of doing so will be spiritual death. When we take a closer look at Genesis 3:12, however, we can observe that Adam pushed the blame to God for what happened.
How did Adam push the blame to God? By saying that the woman whom God has given to Adam has caused him to sin. In a similar manner, when Eve was questioned by God she also pushed the blame to the serpent for causing her to sin (Genesis 3:13). Hence, let us always remember that mankind has to take personal responsibility for our failings towards God, and that we are required to give Him an account of how we live our lives on this earth (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).
Second, God does not accept substitution to His commandments. In Leviticus 10:1, we read of Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, offering strange fire before the Lord that was not commanded by Him.
God had already specified the kind of fire that must be used for the burnt offerings. However, both Nadab and Abihu decided to take matters into their own hands when they thought that it did not really matter what kind of fire would be used as the Lord would still accept their burnt offerings.
The following verse tells us that both Nadab and Abihu were punished by the Lord and they died before His sight (Leviticus 10:2). The disobedience of Nadab and Abihu has cost them their lives and their sad plight clearly serves as a good reminder for mankind not to add unto, subtract from, or change what God has commanded us to do. In this regard, we need to be always mindful of the will of God as revealed in the Bible and to obey His commandments for to do so otherwise will be to provoke His fury (Hebrews 12:28-29).
Last of all, God does not accept partial obedience as it is really not obedience at all in the sight of our Lord. In 1 Samuel 15:2-3, we read of Saul being commanded by God to attack the Amalekites and utterly destroy all of the people and their animals. Saul did utterly destroy all of the people as God has commanded him to do.
However, Saul and his people spared Agag, the king of the Amalekites, as well as the best of the flock as they were unwilling to utterly destroy them (1 Samuel 15:8-9). Saul claimed that he had performed the commandment of the Lord and had spared the best of the flock in order to sacrifice to God (1 Samuel 15:13-15).
But we read in 1 Samuel 15:22-24 that Saul was rebuked by Samuel for disobeying the Lord, and the Lord subsequently rejected Saul from being king of the Israelites. The sad plight of Saul clearly highlights to us the fact that partial obedience is actually rebellion against God.
Brethren, as we examine the Word of God, let us also take the time to reflect on these three important biblical principles pertaining to true obedience so that we would not find our spiritual souls wanting in the sight of God. Let us nurture a sincere heart of humility and seek forgiveness from God when we realise that we have disobeyed His commandments and sinned against Him (1 John 1:6-10).