The relation of obedience to saving faith is for many Christians a neglected truth. It can be an embarrassing experience to attempt to see whether the faith we profess has borne fruit in obedience to God’s revealed will.

Living as we do in an age of lawlessness, we who are Christians need to search our hearts to find out whether the rebellion against law and order in the secular world has its counterpart in our own hearts in our response to the laws of God. God has not left his children to drift aimlessly; he has given us a chart for Christian faith and living.

From the time of Adam, the basis of sin has been rebellion against and disobedience to God. This clash of wills—God’s will for man and man’s determination to have his own way—continues to the present day.

God says, “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is none else” (Isa. 45:22); but, like Pharaoh of old, man replies, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice …?” (Ex. 5:2).

We are not speaking here of the unregenerate world, for it is and always has been in rebellion against God. Our concern here is for professing Christians. How obedient are we to God’s holy laws and commands? Are we not too often content with a profession of faith that is not validated by obedience?

Make no mistake; we are not advocating legalism, with its dependence on good works and behavior. We are affirming that for Christians there is a life to live for the glory of God, a code of behavior consistent with God’s holy laws. The attempt to be a Christian while living in disobedience to God’s revealed will brings frustration to the individual and confusion to those with whom he comes in daily contact.

The Christian faith can be described as faith in, love for, and obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ. How do we measure up to this definition?

We may affirm our love and protest our faith, but if we are not obedient to Christ how much does our “love” or our “faith” really mean?

Christ demands of us total surrender. Obedience to him involves our recognition of his right to command. For the true Christian there is one authority, God. We must recognize his right to command and our duty to obey.

Inherent in this is also the recognition of God’s superior wisdom. We are dealing with the one who sees the end from the beginning, who is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and sovereign in action. Such an understanding of God demands obedience on our part.

Obedience is a part of normal life. The laws of nature; the compass; the square, level, and plumb line; physiology and mathematics—to these and hundreds of other things we must be obedient in daily living. Obedience is an integral part of military life, and a requirement of civil authorities whereby law and order are maintained.

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How much more important that Christians be obedient to the One whose name they bear!

This is no ordinary obedience, for it can involve following Christ blindly, not knowing the outcome but trusting that he is able to perform what he has promised.

The Bible has many stories of such obedience:

Noah obeyed God in building the ark, though to all around him the project must have seemed the work of a simpleton.

Abraham left his home and kindred in obedience to God’s call, going out without knowing his destination. Later, with Isaac, the son of promise, he traveled to Mt. Moriah, obedient to God’s command though unable to understand either the whys or the hows of it.

Caleb and Joshua saw the difficulties involved in a conquest of Canaan; but they were determined to obey God, and it was his will that they should enter the promised land.

Ezra set us a perfect example; we are told that he “set his heart to study the law of God, and to do it, and to teach his statutes and ordinances in Israel.”

The Apostle Paul met the risen Lord on the Damascus road and there was told what he should do and how much he would suffer for the name of Christ. Years later he could say with the truthfulness of a man who has given his all to his Lord: “Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision” (Acts 26:19).

Living as we do in this dispensation of grace, we are in grave danger of presuming on that grace. Christ has not redeemed us to lives of self-indulgence. While our salvation is through grace, by faith, it demands of us that we live obedient to the One who has redeemed us.

Jesus tells us that we have an example to set, a light to let shine that men may see it and glorify God. How often we are disobedient because we seek glory for ourselves!

Christ commands us to love our enemies. Do we rationalize this commandment, or merely ignore it? In either case, can we claim to be obedient to it?

Our Lord tells us that we should put God and his Kingdom first in our lives. How obedient are we to this? Do we not look on our obligation to God as relative and our duty to get ahead in the world as real?

We are told not to judge others, particularly our Christian brethren; but again and again we are disobedient to this injunction, excusing ourselves by saying that we are exercising “righteous” judgment.

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The Sermon on the Mount lays down a number of precepts by which we should live and ends with the admonition to “hear” and “do” according to this discourse. Then our Lord uses the illustration of two houses, one built on solid rock and the other on sand. The man who obeys finds he has built on a foundation that can never be shaken.

Jesus tells us to say “No” to self and take up our cross and follow him. Are we obedient to this command?

He tells us to watch and be ready for his coming. How obedient are we to this command that has both a promise and a warning?

He tells us that we must abide in him as truly as a branch abides in the vine. Is our relationship to him one whereby he can impart divine life to us day by day?

The Apostle Paul, speaking by the Holy Spirit, tells us not to conform to this world. How obedient are we to this command, so full of meaning for us today?

Paul also admonishes us to put on the whole armor of God and tells us of what it consists. Are we wearing this armor in obedience to God’s command and provision? Are we using the Word of God as the sword of the Spirit? Are we “praying at all times in the Spirit”?

These commandments are not onerous. They are for our good, given to us in love, and obedience brings with it rest and peace.

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