Hello Church Devotion Aug.16, 2013

O is for Obedience

As we examine this word for today, it is important to note that we balk

mightily when we are told to be obedient. Sometimes, just telling a child to

obey will cause an opposite reaction to occur. Why is this?

Why do we have such a difficult time with the word obey and with obedience in general?

First, let’s examine that is meant by Obedience.

The Dictionary (Dictionary.com) notes the following about Obedience:

1.the state or quality of being obedient.

2.the act or practice of obeying; dutiful or submissive compliance:

Military service demands obedience from its members.

3. a sphere of authority or jurisdiction, especially ecclesiastical.

4. Chiefly Ecclesiastical .

a. conformity to a monastic rule or the authority of a religioussuperior,

especially on the part of one who has vowed suchconformance.

b. the rule or authority that exacts such conformance.



Isn't it interesting that we have more words to describe the lack of obedience than we do to actually obey?

Obedience, in human behavior, is a form of "social influence in which a person yields to explicit instructions or orders from an authority figure"[1] Obedience is generally distinguished from compliance, which is behavior influenced by peers, and from conformity, which is behavior intended to match that of the majority. Obedience can be seen as both amoral and a moral. For example in a situation when one orders a person to kill another innocent person and he or she does this willingly, it is generally considered to be amoral. However when one orders a person to kill an enemy who will end a lot of innocent lives and he or she does this willingly it can be deemed moral. – Wikipedia

In other words, Obedience is a choice of the individual. It is an exertion of our will. We can either following the direction or not follow the directions.

I remember a test in elementary school where the teacher before putting a handout on our desk, told us at least 3 times to read through the handout thoroughly and do what it said at the end before starting it.

The handout had us turning of the classroom lights 3 times, jumping up and down twice, saying hello to our neighbor in front of us, cleaning our desk top, etc. There were about 20 items listed. Out of the 30 kids in the class, all but two were up and moving around in the room for the 20 minutes allotted for the worksheet. When the time was completed, the teacher asked us what we learned? Because most of didn’t get through the 20 items, we didn’t understand her question. But those who had read through the hand out first, following the directions, being obedient to her command, answered. For the last item on the page in bold capital letters was this: after you had read through this sheet, do not do anything, but put your name on the top of the page and sit quietly until the end of the exercise.

How often do we jump to the wrong conclusion about things in our lives? And especially, how often do we assume things of God without verification?

In our Christian life, Jesus has completed the Laws demands perfectly, through His obedience to the Father in all things. Jesus chose to follow God’s direction and will. We remember that Adam and Eve chose to “eat the fruit” and hence forth brought sin and death into the world. Before that, however, Adam and Eve did the will of God. After the Fall into sin however, Adam and Eve could no longer satisfy the Law’s perfect demands… and neither can we.. by ourselves.

Scripture also informs us that if we stumble at one point of the Law and break it, we are guilty. Period! There is no extra credit, no excuses, no second chances. We are guilty and deserve the punishment of death. Yet, God in His love and goodness does not leave us there. He prepares and sends His Son Jesus to atone for the sins of the world by standing firm in perfect obedience to the Father’s will. Jesus is the Adam who does not fall, but who stands perfect through temptations hour.

You and I, who are brought into God’s Kingdom by the power of the Spirit and through the Word are by faith in the Christ of God saved and forgiven of our sins. Because of that God given faith, our wills are strengthened. Can we do things perfectly, always? No! This is because of the weakness we carry with us by virtue of being both sinners by birth, following of the pattern of Adam and Eve, and by being saints by God’s action through the Holy Spirit. As we live our lives waiting for the resurrection of all flesh and the judgment day, we are torn between the old ways and the new life.

Our obedience, our willingness to follow God will fall short of perfection. When this happens, we repent of our mistakes, our failures, and our sins. God by His choice, chooses to forgive us through the merits and obedience of our Savior, Jesus.

We should note also, that obedience to God is not something we can accomplish on our own. It is only through the justification work of God with Jesus on the cross that our stubborn and sinful will is regenerated, albeit, weakly. Our obedience, therefore, is dependent upon God’s action first in justifying us in Christ and then His work of sanctification within us. Because of what God did, we then obey God and do His will by doing good works and by showing forth the fruits of faith.

The Reader’s Edition of the Book of Concord says:

Lutherans are sometimes accused of denying that Christians should do good works. The article on new obedience follows on the heels of the articles on justification and the ministry, and clearly states that Lutherans do insist on good works. The faith given by the Holy Spirit is a living and active power in our lives, bearing the fruit of good works. God commands them. However, they do not save us. They are always the result of saving faith. This article refers to an Early Church Father as proof that this teaching is anchored in the Church’s historic teaching and practice.

Article 6 from the Augsburg Confession: Our churches teach that this faith is bound to bring forth good fruit (Galatians 5:22-23). It is necessary to do good works commanded by God (Ephesians2:10), because of God’s will. We should not rely on those works to merit justification before God. The forgiveness of sins and justification is received through faith. The voice of Christ testifies, “So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, “We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty”” (Luke 17:10). The Fathers teach the same thing. Ambrose says, “It is ordained of God that he who believes in Christ is saved, freely receiving forgiveness of sins, without works, through faith alone.”

For our prayer today, we will use the words of the hymn: “Lord, may Your precepts we fulfill”.

May we Thy precepts, Lord, fulfill And do on earth our Father’s will

As angels do above; Still walk in Christ, the living way,

With all Thy children and obey The law of Christian love.

So may we join Thy name to bless, Thy grace adore, Thy pow’r confess,

From sin and strife to flee. One is our calling, one our name,

The end of all our hopes the same, A crown of life with Thee.

Spirit of life, of love and peace, Unite our hearts, our joy increase,

Thy gracious help supply. To each of us the blessing give

In Christian fellowship to live, In joyful hope to die. Amen.

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