Living Christianity: The Blessings of Obedience to God
October 16, 2018
by Peter Amsterdam
Living Christianity: The Blessings of Obedience to God
Each of us is regularly faced with making both moral and nonmoral decisions. Choosing what food to order at a restaurant, what color to paint your bedroom, whether or not to buy a new pair of gloves, for example, are nonmoral decisions—they are morally neutral, as there is no ethical value attached to them. They are just a matter of personal preference. Most of our day-to-day decisions fall into this category. However, at times we are faced with making decisions of a moral nature. Do I exaggerate my level of education on my résumé? Do I deliberately lie in order to get out of a difficult decision? Should I support my government’s decision to fight an unjust war?
The moral and ethical choices we make play a large role in our relationships with God and others. As believers, the foundation of our ethics is the Bible. A life that is lived in service to God finds its ethical compass within Scripture, and through obedience to its teachings we find the joy of pleasing the Lord.
Both the Old and New Testaments teach that obedience to God brings blessings to one’s life, and that sin brings negative consequences. They also teach that each of us sin: None is righteous, no, not one.1
As believers, we want to please God by living in obedience to His Word; yet, as sinful human beings, we aren’t able to fully obey all that Scripture teaches. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.2 In spite of our natural, human inclination toward sin, Scripture teaches that if we endeavor to glorify God through our actions, we will receive His blessings. What do those blessings look like? Let’s take a look.3
The blessing of His love and fellowship.
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.4
If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.5
The joy and delight of God’s presence.
In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.6
How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights.7
The joy of expressing our love for God through obedience to His Word.
If you love me, you will keep my commandments.8
Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.9
This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.10
The blessing of pleasing God. In the Gospel of John, Jesus said:
He who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him.11
Elsewhere in the Gospels, at the time of Jesus’ baptism, God said:
This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.12
Jesus pleased His Father.
Throughout the Epistles, we read about conducting ourselves in a manner that pleases God, as Jesus did.
He [Jesus] received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”13
We are called to please God through our actions.
Walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.14
It is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.15
Try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.16
Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.17
Whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.18
Brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more.19
How do we live in a way that pleases God? By doing our best to apply the principles of His Word to our lives, and allowing the fruit of those principles to flow through our actions, resulting in the “good works” which God’s Word directs us to do.
We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works.20
Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.21
They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share.22
The blessing of being effective in our example and witness. When our words and actions are guided by Scripture, they will be moral and ethical and therefore honorable. The apostle Peter wrote:
Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.23
If we act with Christlikeness, then even those who may dislike us or who speak against us will still see the good we do and perhaps be moved by it. Peter also expressed this concept when he wrote:24
Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct.25
The blessing of God being more attentive to us. Scripture teaches that we receive additional blessings from God when we make an effort to avoid evil.
Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.26
We read about having confidence when we come before God in prayer with a clear conscience and live what Scripture teaches.
Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.27
The steps of a man are established by the LORD, when he delights in his way.28
The joy of a clear conscience. The apostle Paul directed Timothy to train people to keep a good conscience before God.
The goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.29
He also instructed him to fight the good fight, holding on to faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith.30 Of course, having a good conscience requires striving to live in obedience to God’s Word and resisting the temptation to sin.
The blessing of peace. The apostle Paul wrote that practicing what he taught would bring God’s peace.
What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.31
In the book of Isaiah we read something similar.
Oh that you had paid attention to my commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea.32
The blessing of avoiding God’s discipline. Scripture compares God’s loving discipline of His children to that of an earthly father who disciplines his children when they are disobedient. Such discipline is an act of love, as its goal is to correct the child for wrongdoing in order to teach them the right way to conduct themselves. In the book of Revelation, we hear Jesus say:
Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.33
In Hebrews, we read:
For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.34
If we get off track, God’s discipline is a blessing. However, it is even better to live in a way that makes it unnecessary to receive His discipline.
The blessing of experiencing a foretaste of heaven. The Bible tells us that there will be no sin or disobedience in the heavenly city to come:
Nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb's book of life.35
Life there will be lived in complete alignment with God’s standards and love, and nothing unrighteous will be present.
We are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.36
If we live in obedience to what God commands in Scripture, then in a sense we will have a foretaste of what heaven will be like.
The blessing of heavenly reward. The Epistles show that salvation is a free gift from God. They also teach that there are degrees of reward for believers in the life to come, and that those rewards are related to how we live on earth.
Whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.37
We will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.38
When we stand before the Lord and give account for our lives, it will be a time of blessing and reward for those who loved and obeyed Him. The book of Revelation speaks of the time for rewarding your servants, the prophets and saints, and those who fear your name, both small and great.39
It’s not easy to live in obedience to God’s Word, but when we do, we encounter His blessings. In the next article, we will explore the effects and consequences of sin in our lives.
Unless otherwise indicated, all scriptures are from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
1 Romans 3:10.
2 Romans 3:23.
3 The following points are condensed from Wayne Grudem’s Christian Ethics (Wheaton: Crossway, 2018), chapter 5.
4 John 15:10.
5 John 14:23.
6 Psalm 16:11.
7 Psalm 36:7–8.
8 John 14:15.
9 John 14:21.
10 1 John 5:3.
11 John 8:29.
12 Matthew 3:17. See also Mark 1:11, Luke 3:22, Matthew 17:5.
13 2 Peter 1:17.
14 Colossians 1:10.
15 Philippians 2:13.
16 Ephesians 5:10.
17 Hebrews 13:16.
18 2 Corinthians 5:9.
19 1 Thessalonians 4:1.
20 Ephesians 2:10.
21 Matthew 5:16.
22 1 Timothy 6:18.
23 1 Peter 2:12.
25 1 Peter 3:1–2.
26 1 Peter 3:10–12.
27 1 John 3:21–22.
28 Psalm 37:23.
29 1 Timothy 1:5 NAS.
30 1 Timothy 1:18–19 NIV.
31 Philippians 4:9.
32 Isaiah 48:18.
33 Revelation 3:19.
34 Hebrews 12:11.
35 Revelation 21:27.
36 2 Peter 3:13.
37 2 Corinthians 5:9–10.
38 Romans 14:10–12.
39 Revelation 11:18.