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A Christian Is God's Obedient Child

James R. Davis

1 Peter 1:13-16
Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. 14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy." (NIV)


A. It is heartbreaking to see mankind following his own will rather than that of God. This still happens today, perhaps for the following reasons:

1. We think God is keeping something from us.

And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

2. We began to think that our ideas are as good as God's laws.

Gen 3:6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

The results of this are:

a. Man finds himself and centers his world on himself. ( Gen.3:6).

b. Man loses the foundation of God's law and has no reference point to establish right and wrong.

c. Man loses fellowship with God, and therefore loses purpose and peace.

B. A Christian does not follow his/her own self seeking ways because he/she is God's obedient child.

1. "Only those who obey can believe, and only those who believe can obey." --Dietrich Bonhoeffer

2. "The God of the Bible is not the product of human imagination and His nature is not changed by our opinion of Him. So it really doesn't matter very much what kind of God we would like to believe in. Yet people keep talking about "the kind of God I believe in..." It's all part of our culture's search for a permissive God. People today do not want a God who makes demands and interferes with our personal business, especially in the areas of sex and money. Many say they believe in a God of love, not a God of law. However attractive this concept may be, it is simply not Scriptural. When Jesus called His disciples, He did not ask them what kind of God they believed in or even if they loved God; He just said, "Follow me." It was a demand that involved their giving up some things. The Bible as a whole never separates faith from obedience. Love is no longer love if there is no obedience. Rather than being some sort of penalty, obedience is what makes faith strong. Far from being oppressive, the commandments are blessings. God's love is His law. Without the law, God's love becomes meaningless and God Himself is merely a dead abstraction. Those who live as though God's law does not matter are guilty of promoting atheism and unbelief". ("God lite" by James Edwards. Christianity Today, Apr 29, 1991. Pages 30-31.)

3. The central issue of the Christian religion is whether or not we will be subject to God and others.

4. Peter calls Christians "Obedient children". Meaning of obedience: Subject -- owing obedience or allegiance to the power or dominion of another ; subjection -- to bring under control or dominion.
The apostle Paul spoke of his obedience. "No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize." (1 Cor 9:27)  Bringing oneself into subjection, being subject, and submitting one's will to the will of God is obedience.

5. Guy Woods definition of obedience to the will of God requires:

a. Doing what God said.

b. Doing what God said do in the way that God said do it.

c. Doing what God said do, in the way God said do it, and for the reason that God said do it.

6. Peter encouraged the brethren to be obedient, to be submissive to God's will. Paul indicated that the Romans had obeyed.

Romans 6:17-18
But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. 18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. (NIV)

I. Why Is Obedience Important?

A. In order to understand why obedience is important maybe we should first think of the reasons many do not obey what we find in God's Word.

1. We don't want to. We want to do things our way.

2. We don't know how and are embarrassed to ask questions.

3. We may think that God's word is just for study. So we go throughout the Bible underlining and memorizing and for some reason we don't think the instruction really applies to us personally.

B. Christ taught that God's Word is for obeying, not just for study, underlining or memorizing Jesus taught that only the obedient will enter heaven.

Luke 10:16 "He who listens to you listens to me; he who rejects you rejects me; but he who rejects me rejects him who sent me." (NIV)

Mt 7:21 "Not everyone who says to me, `Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. (NIV)

1 Peter 2:21 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. (NIV)

C. Obedience shows our love for the Lord. Keeping the Lord's commandments becomes both the proof & test of our love. It is true that we may through weakness, ignorance, or other human frailty, fall short of perfect obedience, but love for the Lord prompts us to do the best we can under the circumstances involving us.

John 14:21-24
Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him." 22 Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, "But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?" 23 Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me. (NIV)

D. Obedience necessary in order to escape eternal retribution.

2 Thes 1:7-9
And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; (KJV)

James 5:19-20
Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; 20 Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins. (KJV)

II. What Is Involved In Obedience?

A. Christian obedience involves more than primary obedience.

1. Peter exhorted Christians to be subject to rulers, and servants to be subject to masters even though they were mistreated.

2. Paul cites the example of Christ.

Romans 15:2-3
Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification. 3 For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me. (KJV)

B. Christ example of subjection is clear in at least four areas.

1. First, he was subject to God.

John 6:38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. (NIV)

Mt 26:39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will." (NIV)

He 5:8-9
Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered 9 and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him (NIV)

2. Second, Jesus was subject to his parents. Thirty years of the Lord's life hidden in these words.

Luke 2:51 Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. (NIV)

3. Third, Christ was subject to his enemies.

1 Peter 2:23 When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. (NIV)

Mt 5:39-42
But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. (NIV)

4. Fourth, Christ subjected himself to all mankind and to all our needs. He relinquished his equality with God. He took the form of a servant. He came to minister not to be ministered to. He washed his disciples feet, leaving us an example that we should in like manner serve our fellow man, His entire life was spent in unselfish service to others.

Phil 2:6-11

C. Obedience to God involves more than primary obedience to the gospel plan of salvation.

2 Cor 2:9 The reason I wrote you was to see if you would stand the test and be obedient in everything. (NIV)

D. Subjection to elders.

1. The elders are to be the leaders, are to rule or take care of the church of God.

2. Paul teaches our responsibility to elders.

1 Peter 5:1
To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ's sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: (NIV)

1 Thes 5:12-13
Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. 13 Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. (NIV)

Hebrews 13:17 Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you. (NIV)

E. Subjection to law and government. We are admonished, "To be in subjection to rulers to authorities, to be obedient.

1 Peter 2:13-14
Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, 14 or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. (NIV)

The only modification:

Acts 5:29 Peter and the other apostles replied: "We must obey God rather than men! (NIV)

F. Subject to one another. Christ subjected himself to our needs, so we must subject ourselves to the needs of others.

1 Peter 3:8-9
Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. 9 Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. (NIV)

Phil 2:3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. (NIV)

Eph 5:21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. (NIV)

1 Peter 5:5 Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." (NIV)

1. There are many relationships that we sustain toward one another and in which we are to be in subjection.

Ephesians 5:21-25
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. 22 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her (NIV)

2. Children are to be in subjection to parents.

Ephesians 6:1-3
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 "Honor your father and mother"-- which is the first commandment with a promise-- 3 "that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth." (NIV)

3. Servants are to be in subjection to their masters or employees to their employees.

1 Peter 2:18 Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. (NIV)

4. In a general sense masters or employers should be subject to their employees and their needs.
Paul warned both masters and slaves that the way they treated each other would affect their relationship with God.

Ephesians 6:5-9
Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. 6 Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. 7 Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, 8 because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free. 9 And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him. (NIV)

5. The younger are to be subject to the elder.

1 Tim 5:1-2
Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, 2 older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity. (NIV)


1. The least shall be the greatest or the most submissive shall be the greatest or the most obedient shall be the greatest.

Lk 14:11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." (NIV)

Lk 9:42 Even while the boy was coming, the demon threw him to the ground in a convulsion. But Jesus rebuked the evil spirit, healed the boy and gave him back to his father. (NIV)

2. "Certain it is that the reason there is so much shallow living, much talk but little obedience, is that so few are prepared to be, like the pine on the hilltop, alone in the wind for God." ( --Amy Carmichael quoted in Clergy Journal, Apr 1993)



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