What does the Bible say about obedience? How do you walk in obedience to God?
At first glance, it sounds a little archaic, a little Old Testamentish, doesn’t it?
For most of us, when we hear we’re called to obey God and His will for our lives, we quickly revert to our childhood, defiantly stomping our feet in protest.
Without a relationship with God, obedience feels incredibly heavy under the weight of His expectations.
But why do we have to obey God? What does it mean to walk in obedience?
Although there’s a lot we can learn from walking in obedience, the ultimate reason is that it allows God’s purpose to flow through us and come to fruition.
Because that’s what we want in life, right?
To fulfill our ultimate calling and feel like we’re needed. We want something more for our life, but we just don’t know how to go about it.
Sound about right?
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CONTINUING OUR SPIRITUAL RESET
Everything we’ve been working on in our spiritual reset series has been leading up to this point.
We’ve learned that our prayers don’t need to be rehearsed or formal. We don’t have to lock ourselves away in a closet and completely turn the world off. (Because who has time for that?!)
We’ve learned God’s truths through Bible study and we’re uncovering how they’re relevant in our life.
And now it’s time for, perhaps, the most crucial step.
Follow where God is leading you!
When we have a relationship with God and strive to live a better life — one of peace and fulfillment — it comes with responsibility.
That responsibility is obedience to God.
FAITH AND OBEDIENCE TO GOD
Every year, I choose a word and verse that I take very seriously and stand on, no matter what.
When something comes up and I begin to resist, God reminds me, “Hey Tam, remember your word and verse this year?”
Oh, don’t get me wrong.
Just because I know it, doesn’t mean it’s always easy.
But because I choose to walk out my faith, I show God I trust Him by choosing to follow Him. (Even when I don’t really want to!)
This year, my word is — you guessed it — obedience.
Now, I don’t choose my word and verse out of thin air. I spend time with God, asking for His guidance on this.
Check out 15 Best Prayer Journals to Strengthen Your Prayer Life.
And like only our God does, He not only led me to the word, obedience, this year, he also took me to Psalm 32:8-9
“I hear the Lord saying, ‘I will stay close to you, instructing and guiding you along the pathway for your life. I will advise you along the way and lead you forth with my eyes as your guide. So don’t make it difficult; don’t be stubborn when I take you where you’ve not been before. Don’t make me tug you and pull you along. Just come with me!” TPT
Don’t you just love how God does that? He always wraps it up with a big beautiful bow!
Not only are we to go where He’s leading us, but He’ll provide the guidance we need along the way!
In order to fulfill our ultimate calling, we can’t sit on the sidelines and expect our life to change.
If we want to…
- Heal from a broken relationship
- Forgive the person who hurt us
- Stop drowning in the pain of past sins
- No longer worry about everything and everyone around us (can I get an amen?)
- Heal emotionally and physically
… we have to participate in the transformation we want to see.
And that means, when God is calling us somewhere, we have to quit making Him tug and pull us, and just go with Him!
OBEDIENCE TO GOD IS A RESPONSIBILITY
As I stated earlier, we have responsibilities as followers of Christ. And as our relationship with Him grows, it becomes easier and easier to follow Him.
Rev. Audred Spriensma, PRC Home Missionary, explains the commitment and covenant relationship to those who choose to follow Him.
“This covenant relationship is based upon God’s sovereign election. But it calls forth greater responsibility. Whether you remain in the covenant depends on whether you are willing to keep the conditions of it.
In other words, a covenant is a two-way promise. So, when we follow God and enter into a relationship with Him, we promise to follow His commands.
Oh, don’t get me wrong.
There are no papers to sign, nor ore there pinky promises to make.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO OBEY GOD
In an article from the Christian Broadcasting Network, obedience is explained as,
“The practical acceptance of the authority and will of God. It includes both submitting to Him and then expressing that submission in actions, words and thoughts. To be obedient is to be in agreement with God. To be in agreement with God is to be in a position of power in Christ.”
In other words, obeying God means we agree with our responsibility as a Christian and, therefore, surrender to Him.
How do you produce the kind of trust and love that accepts His authority over you?
By forging a relationship with Him! And just like any other relationship in your life, it takes time and nurturing.
WHY SHOULD WE OBEY GOD
“Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the Lord. Joyful are those who obey his laws and search for him with all their hearts. They do not compromise with evil, and they walk only in his paths. You have charged us to keep your commandments carefully. Oh, that my actions would consistently reflect your decrees! Then I will not be ashamed when I compare my life with your commands. As I learn your righteous regulations, I will thank you by living as I should! I will obey your decrees. Please don’t give up on me!” Psalm 119:1-8 NLT
We have a lot of balls to juggle in our life, and if we’re honest, the thought of forging a new relationship with anyone, can sometimes feel like another task to add to our ever-growing to-do list.
Another chore we just don’t have time for.
But when we reframe our thoughts and realize that obedience is an act of worship, and forging a relationship with God is the most important relationship we’ll ever have, it doesn’t seem so daunting.
Obedience flows from a heart of love, thankfulness and gratitude, and as we build that bond with Him, obedience becomes a byproduct of our relationship.
So let’s dig in a little deeper and uncover why obedience to God is so important.
WALK IN THE SPIRIT OF OBEDIENCE to god
“Anyone who wants to know God—to walk closely with Him—must obey Him….there is no way that we can come into a close relationship with the Lord, walk fully in THE BLESSING and enjoy the communion that our spirits desire without obeying Him.” Kenneth Copeland Ministries
When we walk in a spirit of obedience, it…
- Draws us closer to God.
- Demonstrates our faith and trust in Him.
- Opens us up to fully receive everything He has for us.
- Helps us hear Him more clearly.
- Proves there’s only one true God for us.
- Demonstrates that we are looking towards heaven, rather than striving for things on this earth.
WHAT OBEYING GOD ISN’T
If we’re going to talk about what obeying God is, then we should also talk about what it isn’t.
Obedience to God isn’t about earning anything. It’s not about obtaining His love or setting out to receive His forgiveness.
His love and forgiveness aren’t anything we can earn. They’re given to us freely.
In The Book of Mysteries, Jonathan Cahn explains the kind of love God has for us. He states,
“When you feel it and when you don’t, it doesn’t matter — it doesn’t change anything. Nothing you do can alter this love. No good word can increase it…We cannot change it — only receive it and be changed by it.”
Walking in obedience doesn’t gain His love or receive His forgiveness. Obeying God isn’t about obtaining more from Him.
It’s not about getting more.
The ultimate goal of a relationship with God is that we know Him intimately, and fulfill our purpose on this earth.
IS OBEDIENCE TO GOD A CHOICE
So do we really have a choice about whether or not to obey God?
We sure do!
God doesn’t force His will on us. We’re given a choice.
Obedience or disobedience.
And the difficult truth is, you can either serve the Lord through obedience or serve yourself with your choice of disobedience.
Ahhh, just a tad humbling, isn’t it?
“Here’s how we can be sure that we’ve truly come to know God: if we keep his commands. If someone claims, “I have come to know God by experience,” yet doesn’t keep God’s commands, he is a phony and the truth finds no place in him.” 1 John 2:3-4 TPT
We see the pain and heartache all around us and strive for a safe haven. And more times than not, we trust in our own strength and knowledge to get us through the hard, painful times.
We choose to do what we think is best instead of seeking God and His plan.
Because we certainly know best…don’t we?
I don’t take this lightly, my friend. These aren’t just words I’m spouting.
Obeying God isn’t easy at first, but the more you choose to go to God and seek His will for your life, the easier it becomes.
Practice, practice, practice…and then practice some more!
WHY IS CHOOSING OBEDIENCE SO HARD
“Partial obedience, delayed obedience and surface obedience to impress others are not acceptable to God,’ he said. ‘He is looking for men and women who will respond with instant, complete, wholehearted and joyous obedience each time He speaks.” Del Fehsenfeld, Jr., founder of Life Action Ministries and author of Ablaze with His Glory,
So why is obeying God so difficult? Why can’t we just say, “Heck yeah, God, I’m all in?”
The answer is actually quite simple.
Disobedience happens because we don’t trust God.
Oh, we say we do. But when it boils down to it, we choose our own way because we don’t fully trust Him.
IS DISOBEDIENCE A SIN
“Today I’m giving you the choice of a blessing or a curse. You’ll be blessed if you obey the commands of the Lord your God that I’m giving you today. You’ll be cursed if you disobey the commands of the Lord your God, if you turn from the way I’m commanding you to live today, and if you worship other gods you never knew.” Deuteronomy 11:26-28 GW
The hard truth is, disobedience is a sin.
Yeah, I know. Tough to hear, right?
I spent most of my life doing things my own way and had no idea it was actually a sin!
As we learn in 1 Samuel, Chapter 15, Samuel has a lot to say to Saul about the importance of obeying God.
“But Samuel answered, ‘Which pleases the Lord more: burnt offerings and sacrifices or obeying his commands? It is better to obey the Lord than to offer sacrifices to him. It is better to listen to him than to offer the fat from rams. Refusing to obey is as bad as the sin of sorcery. Being stubborn and doing what you want is like the sin of worshiping idols. You refused to obey the Lord’s command, so he now refuses to accept you as king.” 1 Samuel 15:22-23 ERV
As tough as it is to hear, it’s time to reframe what we believe about obedience.
Yes, obedience is a choice.
But if you choose disobedience, you’re committing a sin.
Hey, no judgement here!
I’ve been there plenty of times.
But I’m living proof that when you intentionally choose to spend time in the presence of God, every area of your life will change — for the better!
Next time you come to that fork in the road and are afraid to follow Him…Consider the people you were supposed to touch on God’s path. If you say no to Him, you won’t be there to help someone on their journey.
Oh, you may never know the person you touched (or didn’t touch) but you can darn sure bet, God wants to use you to make a difference in the life of someone else.
If you say no to Him, think about how many people you will let down. How many people need you and your story to keep moving forward?
THE FEAR OF OBEDIENCE TO GOD
Clearly, trusting and obeying God isn’t easy!
It requires us to do something that doesn’t guarantee an easy road.
It calls us to step outside our comfort zone and everything we know!
But if we want to experience healing and change in our life, we have to trust God and go into those uncharted waters.
You see, God made our brains to fear danger, so we’re protected.
But there’s a big difference between experiencing fear in a dangerous situation — like stepping too close to the edge of a cliff — and trepidation about going where God is leading us.
Satan is crafty, and he twists the truth to steal, kill and destroy. He’ll use your fear to make you believe that you shouldn’t step out into new places; that it isn’t safe for you.
But as you’ve been working through this spiritual reset, you’re learning God’s truth — that He’ll never leave you alone in your journey, and will always equip you to handle where He’s leading you.
You’re discovering God’s promises to and for you. Therefore, you’re beginning to recognize Satan’s game plan for what it is — flat out lies!
So when you feel afraid, lean into God and let Him know.
Ask Him for courage to follow Him.
When you’re scared, and full of self-doubt, use these reminders. (In fact, bookmark this to your home screen, so you can pull it up and quickly refer back to it!)
|WHEN SATAN TELLS YOU||ASK GOD|
|You have no idea what you’re doing.||To give you wisdom.|
|You don’t know what’s ahead.||To guide your steps.|
|You’re not cut out for this.||For strength and courage.|
The cool thing about comfort zones is that every time you step outside it, your zone of comfort increases!
In other words, it becomes easier & easier to trust God every time you do.
Obedience to God requires us to choose Him — and continue making that choice — until our heart catches up with our faith.
It’s time to get comfortable being uncomfortable, my friend, so you can get out there and make a difference in your life.
BIBLE STORIES ON OBEDIENCE
We serve a God who wants us to stay in motion. We shouldn’t be complacent and lazy, expecting to enjoy a fulfilled life, if we aren’t willing to participate.
He created us to serve His purpose — to make Him known and bring Him glory.
With a quick search on Google, we can find a multitude of scriptures that teach us what happens when we’re lazy.
Likewise, we can find some great examples and Bible stories on obedience to turn to for encouragement.
In Genesis, chapter 22, Abraham gives us a hard, but beautiful, model on obedience. God tested Abraham’s faith by asking him to sacrifice his son, Isaac.
Talk about an impossible choice!
Can you imagine how hard it must’ve been for Abraham?
I have no doubt there have (and will) be things God will call you to, that feel just as impossible.
But what I love about this story is that when Abraham chose to obey God — when He said okay, God, I don’t understand this (I’m guessing), but I’m going to do it anyway — not only did God spare Isaac, but He blessed Abraham and Isaac beyond anything they could’ve ever imagined!
If we want to experience a full and complete life, we need the crazy kind of faith Abraham had.
Remember, through this spiritual reset, we’re creating habits, practices and experiences to help us step outside our comfort zone and go where God is leading us.
So we have to practice and continue choosing obedience; we must remain persistent and step outside our comfort zones.
And with each new step, it’ll get easier and easier.
WALKING IN THE SPIRIT OF OBEYING GOD
I bet I know what you’re thinking.
“But Tam, what if I think I hear where God is calling me, but I misunderstand Him? What if I take the wrong path?”
Well, my friend, it’s going to happen!
Yep, you read that right!
When you’re walking close to God, there’ll be times you get it wrong.
That’s what practicing is all about!
Thankfully, our God is so big, and when you’re walking close to Him, He can — and will — turn it back around for you.
We serve a God who restores. One who redeems our mistakes and bad choices.
And when your heart is set on serving Him first, then He can, and will, put you back on track.
The important thing to remember is, when you take the wrong path, don’t turn away from Him.
Confess it, and ask for His way out.
In those moments, choose to reframe your thoughts from “I messed up again,” to “Look what I just learned!”
There are some huge opportunities and learning lessons on those “wrong paths,” and it’ll be so worth it in the end!
WHEN WALKING IN OBEDIENCE TO GOD BRINGS TROUBLE
So does walking in obedience mean we’ll never have trouble?
We do all the right things. We follow Him into uncharted waters, study the Bible, pray — and still there is pain and heartache.
Even when we choose to follow God, it sometimes leads us into the eye of the storm.
In Matthew, Chapter 8, we learn a big lesson about the storms we encounter, even when we follow Jesus.
“But Jesus said to him, ‘Now is the time to follow me, and let those who are dead bury their own dead.’ They all got into a boat and began to cross over to the other side of the lake. And Jesus, exhausted, fell asleep. Suddenly a violent storm developed, with waves so high the boat was about to be swamped. Yet Jesus continued to sleep soundly. The disciples woke him up, saying, ‘Save us, Lord! We’re going to die!’ But Jesus reprimanded them. ‘Why are you gripped with fear? Where is your faith?’ Then he stood and rebuked] the storm, saying, ‘Be still!’ And instantly it became perfectly calm.” Matthew 8:22-26 TPT
- tells the disciples > follow me
- climbs into the boat
- promptly goes to sleep.
…and a storm rolls in.
How many times have you wondered if God was sleeping on the job, leaving you to fend for yourself?
The point of this story is that Jesus told the disciples to follow Him. And then a storm rolled in.
Jesus wasn’t worried about the storm, but in fact, He calmed the storm for them!
You see, my friend, obedience to God doesn’t guarantee an easy life.
It requires us to have that crazy kind of faith where we follow and obey Him, even when we’re going into the eye of the storm.
But knowledge is power!
Be ready for the trials and challenges, because they’ll come!
Know that when God is doing something big in your life, Satan will show up and do everything he can to stop it.
Nowhere in the Bible does it say, “Follow me and everything will be sunshine and roses!”
Remember that if God calls you somewhere — even into the eye of a storm — He will equip you with what you need to handle those times.
Embrace your storms for the learning opportunities they are, and follow Him with a heart that’s open to everything He has for you.
HOW DO YOU WALK IN OBEDIENCE TO GOD
So what does it look like to walk in obedience to God?
The over-encompassing answer to that is, actually, quite simple.
Have a heart for God.
When you have a heart for God — a teachable heart that longs to serve Him above all else — you can do the following to walk in obedience to God.
Ask Him to/for…
- Reveal any areas where you’ve been disobedient
- Ears to hear where He’s calling you
- Courage to step out in faith and trust Him
- Help you set your mind on Him and your heavenly home
- A teachable heart
If we pursue our ultimate calling — to make God known and bring Him glory — we have to walk in obedience to His commands with willing obedience.
“If you’re willing (inward attitude) and obedient (outward action), you will eat the good of the land.” Manuel James Delgado
In order to grow closer to God and receive the life He has for us, we have a responsibility to obey and follow Him.
So when He reveals any areas in your life where you’ve been resistant and hesitant to follow Him, confess that you haven’t been obedient. Admit that you’ve been choosing your ways over His, and ask for forgiveness.
After all, faith without obedience is actually no faith at all.
“My dear brothers and sisters, what good is it if someone claims to have faith but demonstrates no good works to prove it? How could this kind of faith save anyone?” James 2:14 TPT
HOW TO OBEY GOD WRAP UP
If love is in our hearts, it will always issue in an obedient, trustful walk. Ray Stedman Ministries
Friend, this isn’t the end of your spiritual reset!
In fact, it’s only the beginning!
You have to put in the work. You have to walk in obedience to God and go where He is calling you.
If you want to…
- Heal from a broken heart
- Forgive someone and be forgiven
- Heal from a chronic illness — emotionally and physically
- Experience a fulfilled life
- Find peace in the midst of your hardest struggles
…you have to step off the shore and go into the deep waters where God is calling you.
It’s time for you to live out your purpose, so get off the sidelines of your life!
Be honest with Him and make that ask!
- Show me where you want me to go.
- Give me the courage to step out in faith and follow you.
- Give me the discernment to know what’s coming from you and what isn’t.
As difficult as it is, we don’t need the whole picture.
We can rest in knowing that God has all the answers.
So ask Him for wisdom and clarity for just the next step; and rest peacefully knowing He’ll reveal the rest in its proper time.
Keep getting into the Bible because beyond anything that I’m teaching you here, God has so much more for you hidden below the surface of those beautiful words.
If you want to grow closer to God and experience all that He has for you, it’s not enough to just talk about it.
It’s time to walk the walk.
You can’t receive the abundant life — the blessings He has for you — until you step out and follow Him.
I’d love to hear from you – what’re you going to do this week to step out of your comfort zone?
I’d love for you to join me for this spiritual reset so you can grow closer to God. Grab my FREE 4-Steps to a Spiritual Reset!
Until next time, my friend…
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Learning how to put our complete trust in God isn’t easy. We say we trust God, but what we really mean is that we trust Him for what we want, when we want it. At Footprints of Inspiration we uncover who you are and why you were created; how to walk in healing through forgiveness; and how to go before the Lord with confidence. Through this journey, you’ll discover that it truly is possible to experience peace, even in the hardest times in your life.
Tammy Rotzoll is the founder and owner of Footprints of Inspiration and podcast host at A Faithful God Podcast (which can be found on your favorite podcast player). She lives in Virginia with her husband and together they’re learning how to navigate their fun, new adventure as empty nesters.
Join Tammy and the FOI community and discover the freedom that comes from saying, “Heck yeah, God! I’m all in!”