Freedom in Obedience

Author: Erica Reynolds
Week of: October 24-30, 2021
You have probably heard the phrase, “It's easier to ask for forgiveness than ask for permission.” This concept really sets the stage for how the world views obedience; being able to get what we want is so important, that we decide our freedom of choice is worth whatever the consequence. 1 Samuel 15:22 shows a very different perspective: “And Samuel said, ‘Has 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 listen than the fat of rams’” (ESV).

Can this worldly perspective be a result of being deceived by Satan’s lie that obedience to God’s will is burdensome? Or that relinquishing our will goes against our best interest? Often people associate Christianity, and religion in general, with fulfilling endless expectations and demands. A devout Christian’s life should be boring and exhausting, because how could life on earth be anything but a weighty burden when you must submit your will daily to some impersonal, far away being? What a contrast this is to what the Lord promises to those who obey! “But this is what I commanded them, saying, ‘Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be My people. And walk in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well with you” (Jeremiah 7:23 NKJV).

Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV) says: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” These verses remind us to examine our own perspectives on obedience; do we feel that being obedient is just a list of chores and limitations, or do we view it as the key to perfect rest and peace that only God can provide? “Great peace have those who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble. I wait for your salvation, Lord, and I follow your commands” (Psalm 119:165-166 NIV). The Bible shows obedience to God’s will as a blessing, which results in our freedom and restoration, whereas sin, the true burden, leads to sorrow and destruction: “Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, ‘If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.  And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free’” (John 8: 31-32 NKJV).
We are often deceived that the most advantageous way to live is by only looking out for ourselves and making decisions solely to protect our best interest. You’ve probably heard the phrase, “nice guys finish last.” Those who follow the rules are called “goodie two-shoes” and are associated with weakness—people who are too fearful of doing what they actually want to do.

Obedience has such a negative connotation in the world, but in God’s Word, we see that obedience comes from a place of strength. Obedience requires discipline and trusting in God’s sovereignty: “This calls for patient endurance on the part of the people of God who keep his commands and remain faithful to Jesus” (Revelation 14:12).

The good news is that we are not in this alone! God provided for us the perfect model of obedience through His Son. Jesus lived a life of complete obedience and submission to God the Father, becoming human and suffering as one of us: “In the days of His flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to Him who was able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverence. Although He was a son, He learned obedience through what He suffered. And being made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey Him” (Hebrews 5:7-8 ESV). When we struggle to submit our will, Hebrews 4:15 reminds us that “...we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (ESV). Studying and emulating the life of Jesus instructs us and encourages us to seek the freedom promised in obedience to God’s Word.
Lord, please help me to view obedience as what You originally intended for it to be, and not in the negative way the world tries to portray it. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to please You through our obedience, and for giving us the perfect example of obedience through the life of Jesus. Thank you for the rest and peace you offer us when we submit our will to Yours.

Food for Thought:
What lies do I believe about submission and obedience?
Are there any areas in my life that I haven’t given over to God in obedience, and if so, what thoughts could be causing my desire to disobey (fear of not being in control, not trusting that God’s will for us is truly good, viewing adherence to God’s commandments as tiresome, etc.)?
How can we look to Jesus’ obedience to God the Father as an example in our lives?

More Reading:
John 8:1-17, 
Psalm 37, Deuteronomy 5:1-33

Personal Note:
The lie that I have struggled to fend off over the years is that obedience represents a tedious life of just “following the rules.” I sometimes associate obedience with never being able to just relax and let loose; being obedient means always having to be responsible and make the right decisions. I’ve caught myself being envious of some unbelievers because they seem so carefree. They aren’t bogged down with the constant worry of making the wrong decision and don’t care about guilt or the consequences of their actions. When I am tempted to believe these lies, I am failing to recognize that I’m not seeing the whole picture. I don’t see the hurt and pain that follows the sin. I am choosing to only see the broad, easy road they are traveling, and not the final destination--separation from God.

One of the lies that the world tells us is that obedience is legalistic or outdated--it doesn’t apply to the modern generations. We’ve progressed past that archaic frame of thought. Our generation doesn’t have to be ashamed of the sinful things that were once taboo in our parents’ and grandparents’ generations. The world pushes the “do whatever makes you happy” lifestyle where it is encouraged to put yourself before everything and everyone else. Because at the end of the day, you only have an obligation to yourself. Breaking the rules is fine as long as you can validate the reasons behind your actions. This perspective feeds our selfish desires, and it’s easy to see why we gravitate towards the temptation to only be obedient to our own wishes rather than submitting our will to another, even when we are submitting to an all-powerful God.

Psalm 37:1-11 encourages me to tune out the world’s backwards mantra and stand fast in my pursuit to be obedient to our Lord and Savior: “Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers! For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb. Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land. In just a little while, the wicked will be no more; though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there. But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace” (ESV). 

Scripture reminds us that God knows the desires of our hearts, and how He longs for us to live fulfilling and joyful lives in obedience to Him. By obeying and submitting to Him, we are trusting that His plan for us is the true source of joy and peace in this life.  Although obeying God sometimes means we must fight our own will, we can rest in the promise that obeying God’s commandments leads to our true freedom.

No Comments