TBU: The Bible Unpacked: Intermediate Edition

II. Obeying God

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Chapter 23  Part II

Obeying God

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The concept of obeying God permeates the whole Bible – the New Testament as well as the Old Testament. It is fundamental to a functional and healthy relationship with God. A related concept is that of following Jesus Christ, which likewise is relevant to all aspects of the Christian’s life.

Note that the second half of 21. Being Right with God – II. Staying Right with God – begins with key teaching underlining the need to obey God.

Obey God

Obey God always – forever

[A psalmist, to God:] I am determined to obey your statutes at all times, to the very end.   Psalms 119:112  NET

We should obey God because of what he has done for us

[A psalmist, referring to God’s deeds for Israel:] When he led his people out, they rejoiced; his chosen ones shouted with joy. 44He handed the territory of nations over to them, and they took possession of what other peoples had produced, 45so that they might keep his commands and obey his laws. Praise the Lord!   Psalms 105:43-45  NET

We should obey God because of all that he has done for us and moreover because our obedience is in fact one of the chief objectives of all his deeds for us (v. 45a). A corollary of this is that if we do not obey we will forfeit God’s blessings which are a key part of all the things he does for us.

We should obey God because he is our God . . .

[God, to the Israelites:] I am the Lord your God; follow my statutes, observe my regulations, and carry them out.   Ezekiel 20:19  NET

. . . It is no good expressing commitment without obeying

[Jesus, to those who merely professed him as their Lord:] Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and don’t do what I tell you?   Luke 6:46  NET

How to Obey God

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Persistently read God’s commands

It [a copy of God’s law] must be with him constantly and he must read it as long as he lives, so that he may learn to revere the Lord his God and observe all the words of this law and these statutes and carry them out.   Deuteronomy 17:19  NET

This instruction is given for the king, but is relevant to all people.

Do what you learn of God’s law and word

For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the Lord, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel.   Ezra 7:10  ESV

[Jesus:] Everyone who hears these words of mine and does them is like a wise man who built his house on rock.   Matthew 7:24  NET

Ask God to help you follow his commands

Teach me, O Lord, the lifestyle prescribed by your statutes, so that I might observe it continually. 34Give me understanding so that I might observe your law, and keep it with all my heart. 35Guide me in the path of your commands, for I delight to walk in it. 36Give me a desire for your rules, rather than for wealth gained unjustly.   Psalms 119:33-36  NET

Submit yourself to God

So submit to God.   James 4:7a  NET

To persistently obey God, we need to first submit to him.

Obey God wholeheartedly

[A psalmist, to God:] Arrogant people smear my reputation with lies, but I observe your precepts with all my heart.   Psalms 119:69  NET

Note: God’s and Jesus Christ’s commands are not too difficult

[Moses, to the Israelites:] This commandment I am giving you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it too remote.   Deuteronomy 30:11  NET

[Jesus:] Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke on you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy to bear, and my load is not hard to carry.   Matthew 11:28-30  NET

The term “yoke” probably alludes to that which lay across the necks of oxen. In saying that the “yoke” and “load” of following him is “easy” and “not hard to carry” (v. 30), Jesus may be referring to the fact that as he is “gentle and humble in heart” (v. 29) he will not require anything that is beyond us.

Follow Jesus Christ

Follow Jesus Christ

[Jesus, to Peter and Andrew:] “Follow me, and I will turn you into fishers of people.” 20They left their nets immediately and followed him.   Matthew 4:19b-20  NET

To follow Jesus Christ involves not just simply following his commands, but also following him and his example. In doing so, we follow Christ not only as our leader, but also in companionship with him. This concept is an important aspect of discipleship.

Be a disciple of Jesus Christ

Then Jesus said to those Judeans who had believed him, “If you continue to follow my teaching, you are really my disciples …   John 8:31  NET

A disciple is one who seeks to learn and follow the teachings of another, even to the extent of becoming like the teacher (as reflected in the following subsection).

Follow Jesus Christ’s example

[Jesus, to his disciples:] For I have given you an example – you should do just as I have done for you.   John 13:15  NET

Make Jesus Christ your Lord

But set Christ apart as Lord in your hearts and always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks about the hope you possess.   1 Peter 3:15  NET

Pray for persecuted Christians