The fifth commandment teaches us to honor our earthly father and mother (Exodus 20:12), and that command is repeated in Ephesians 6:1, with the added instruction to "obey." God is our heavenly Father, and we should honor and obey Him, as we should our earthly father. Obedience to God proves our relationship with Him (1 John 5:2–3), and we demonstrate our love and faithfulness through obedience, too (1 John 2:3–6). Jesus said, "If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full" (John 15:10–11). Obedience is a command, and it is linked to love and joy.
Why does obedience to God matter?
If our faith in God is genuine, we will live a lifestyle characterized by holiness, modeling the example set for us by Jesus Christ. Faith and obedience go hand in hand. We obey His commands, not because we have to, but because we love Him and we want to. We are able to obey because, once we believe in Christ and are saved, we are remade. We are not the same people we once were. Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:17, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come."
Over and over, the Bible tells us that God blesses and rewards obedience. James 1:22–25 says it perfectly: "But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing."
Obedience is also important because others are watching how we live, and our testimony should glorify God (Matthew 5:16). The obedience of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego led to the king of Babylon honoring the Lord (Daniel 3:28). Paul and Silas's obedience in the jail of Philippi led to the salvation of the jailer (Acts 16:29–30).
Obedience enables us to live a life of joy, without shame, rooted deeply in the Lord and confident in our eternal hope. We can be rewarded by God in a myriad of ways. "Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD! Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart" (Psalm 119:1–2).
The great news is that God is gracious. If we haven't been living for Him, if we haven't been following His commandments, if we've been living in and for the world, we can be transformed by the blood of Jesus Christ. We can ask God for forgiveness, and He will give it. And He will choose to forget our sin, just as if we had never committed the sin in the first place. It glorifies Him to do that because it is written, "'This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,' then he adds, 'I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more'" (Hebrews 10:16–17).
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