1 Samuel 15:22 – And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.
Today we begin a journey through the function of obedience. We begin by creating a working definition for our study. OBEDIENCE is willfully yielding to the will and command or instruction of another. Let’s look a bit closer at the definition. While I believe most people would have no problem with defining obedience as “yielding to the will and command or instruction of another,” there may be some, or many, who would not accept the addition of the word “willfully.” Think about the following. Even if someone lives in slavery, their obedience to their master was, in reality, willful. I realize resistance to the master could result in harsh punishment, severe beatings, or even death. Still, the truth remains that there were some people who did indeed resist unto death, never yielding their will to anyone else, including a harsh master slave driver. The same will to resist, or to comply, was seen during the holocaust of World War II, and is even today being seen in certain nations of our world. While I am whole-heartedly opposed to slavery in any form, if one is obedient, they are obedient willfully so. So, for the purposes of our examination of obedience, we’ll use the definition I have offered – willfully yielding to the will and command or instruction of another.
It is here that I will begin to differentiate among what I see as three kinds of Biblical obedience, with the understanding that some kinds of obedience, especially that which arises from fear or slavery, is not Biblical. Allow me to share the three kinds of Biblical obedience I see clearly revealed in the Scriptures. While the terms I use are my own, I am sure you will see the Biblical foundation. First, there is Positional Obedience. That is obedience that arises from one’s position in relationship to the person of authority. This is the level of obedience at which everyone begins. When you are first born again, while God knows you, you know little of Him. Your obedience here is based on your understanding that He is God, and you are not. Second, there is Experiential Obedience. At this level of obedience, you have come to better know the Lord, and have had enough experience with Him that you know He will never fail, and that He is completely faithful to His Word. Your obedience here is based purely on trust in His Word and ability to perform it. Third we have Visionary Obedience. At this level, you have grown sufficiently in the Lord that you are able to envision the results of your obedience to His command the moment you step towards the obedient action. At this level, obedience to the Lord becomes exciting.
Manna for Today – 1 Samuel 15:1-35; John 14:15-17; 1 John 5:3