When we read the Old Testament we see a common denominator in regards to the relationship between God and His people, that common denominator is “obedience”. God speaks to Adam and Eve and tells them to not eat from the tree, commanding obedience to His word. He speaks to the children of Israel in Exodus and tells them that if they obey His voice and keep His commandments than they will become His special people. (Exodus 19:5) The book of Deuteronomy is full of His word to His children to obey His word, His commandments and His statutes. The New Testament has a common denominator as well, and that is faith. But, faith without obedience is a dead faith. God still to this day asks us to heed His voice, and to do what He has asked of us, obedience is still a requirement.
“But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him for righteousness’. And he was called the friend of God. You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.” James 2:20-24
What does faith and works have to do with obedience? Good question, I asked it myself. Obedience is submission to God. It is a “willingness to submit oneself to the will of God and put it into effect.” (Encyclopedia of the Bible) The Bible emphasizes the necessity for God’s laws to be followed and gives us examples and reasons, and describes for us the rewards and blessings of those who do obey. Obedience is the step we take up the ladder of faith.
Abraham was obedient to God and his faith was proven before God. Obedience is the supreme test of our faith in God. It is the strong tie that holds us close to God. “Christ Himself is our great example of obedience. Obedience and faith in Christ are so vitally related that they are in some cases synonymous. The fellowship with God in the Old Testament is obedience, and the bond of union with Christ in the New Testament is obedience through faith, by which they become identified and the believer becomes a disciple.” (IVP Commentary Series)
It is impossible to be obedient to God if you do not believe in Him or His word. It is through our obedience to God, to His word that our faith is seen. If we say we believe in God, yet do not do the things He has asked of us, then our faith is dead. There is no life in us, because faith should be actively lived out in obedience to His word. Some will say that we have grace, so that if we do not obey He forgives us. This is true, somewhat. But for how long do we think God will allow us to walk in disobedience to His word and let us use the excuse of grace before Him?
Even Jesus tells us that we are to be obedient to His word. “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…This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:10, 12) Jesus tells us that we are to be in obedience to His commandments, just as He was in obedience to the Father’s commandments. If we say we love God, then we are to keep His commandments. (1 John 2:3)
We are on a climb up a ladder of faith. If we do not believe that God has the ladder in His hands, then we will never take a step, and we will stay where we are at, never growing and never reaching the high calling that has been set before us. If we have faith, then we must have obedience. We must submit to God, to His word and do what He says. Abraham was not justified by his faith only; it took his willing obedience to the Word of God to justify his faith before God.
You can tell someone all day long that you believe in God, but if you do not obey His word, if you do not walk it out, then your faith means nothing. Even God wants to see our faith in action. He gives us His word, He tells us to do something, and He waits for us to be obedient to Him and trust Him enough to walk it out. Obedience is more than just saying we believe; obedience is doing what we say we believe.
God gives us commandments, and we, as His children are to obey these commandments and walk them out in faith. Abraham was justified by his obedience to the faith he had in God, not by his faith alone. We cannot say we love God if we do not keep His commandments. We are to be obedient to His word, His voice and do what He asks of us. It not only shows those around us that we believe God, but it shows God that we believe Him as well. God wants to see us walking in obedience, He wants to see our faith being made perfect and complete, and He knows that it is through obedience to His word and only obedience to His word that faith will be made whole. Obedience is the greatest test of faith that God lays before us. If we believe in Him, then we must obey Him, otherwise, your faith is dead and of no use.
“Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it; ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” Matthew 22:37-28. In obedience, through faith in God we are to walk these commandments out. In obedience, our faith will be made complete and perfect in the sight of God. Amen and Amen.