Click to download the audio version of “Holistic Education: Obedience”

Britan Cosand – Director of Ministry of ILFGood morning friends.

Whenever the apostle Paul would write a letter to a church, he began with this greeting: “grace and peace from God our father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” I would like to begin our time today with the same greeting, because in Jesus we have grace and peace in our lives! So grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ to each one of you!

Last week, our brother Anthony shared with us the importance of leadership and 7 principles of effective leaders based on the life of Jesus. One of the Bible verses he shared was John 13:15, in which Jesus says, “For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done for you.” This is such a powerful verse and I would like each of us to memorize. Why? It because it is important and relates to every single topic we share in these leadership trainings! It is also important today for our topic as well.

Today we are talking about the topic of obedience.

I often think of children when I think about the need for obedience. In Ephesians 6:1, it states: “Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” I can picture the children of Revive Christian school the many times I have visited when they come to the chapel and much like I see in so many of you, I remember Ms. Kadiatu powerful presence. I have never seen so many obedient children when someone enters a room!

But we can see that throughout the Bible, the topic of obedience is not just concerning children, but every one of us.

In Colossians 3:18, wives are also called upon to be submissive to their partners as this is fitting with the lord.

Husbands are asked to treat their wives with respect in 1 Peter 3:7 which says, “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as partners and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers”

We see in Philippians 2:8 that even Jesus himself showed obedience when it says “And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death even death on a cross.”

So let’s take a moment and talk about obedience in the Christian faith:

At the heart of what it means to be a disciple of our Lord is living in loving devotion to God. But if such love is real, the true test is obedience. Jesus says, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). Genuine love for Christ will always manifest itself in obedience to his will.

Now, does this mean that a Christian can and or will live a sinless life? Certainly not!  Neither does it imply that a believer will never disobey God again. Acts of disobedience will still occur. But the new birth as a Christian does give a new heart that desires to obey the Word. this is what God says:

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. (Ezek. 36:26–27)

Let’s call this a heart transplant, because now God causes the believer to pursue Spirit-energized obedience rather than sin. The Apostle John agrees when he writes, “And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments” (1 John 2:3).

When Jesus preached, “Repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:14–15), this was issued as an urgent obedience. The gospel is more than an offer to be considered—it is a word from God to be obeyed. John writes, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life” (John 3:36). I want to be clear, our obedience of faith is not what saves us, faith in Jesus Christ is, but obedience reveals our faith to be genuine.

At the moment of conversion, we transfer our allegiance from our old master, sin, to a new Master, Jesus Christ. Paul explains this truth: “You who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, became slaves of righteousness” (Rom. 6:17–18). What this is saying is that everyone is a slave, either of sin or of righteousness. Before conversion, we were slaves of sin and lived in obedience to sin. But in accepting Jesus, we became servants of Christ and live in obedience to Him.

Throughout one’s Christian life,  the apostle John says that believers should continue to “keep his commandments.” the word “Keep”  indicates an ongoing obedience throughout the entirety of a believer’s life. All who are born again will pursue obedience to the end. And John did not just say keep one commandment, he means obedience to the full spectrum of the God’s requirements. Following Christ does not allow for selective obedience. Rather, we must obey all the commandments of God, not merely the easy ones.

When John says believers “keep” the commandments, I picture a guard or watchman watching over a priceless treasure. In like manner, the one who knows God will keep a sharp watch over all that His Word requires. The bible tells us that “his (God’) commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3), but they are a blessing (Ps. 1:1). Every step of heart-prompted obedience leads to experiencing abundant life in Christ. Conversely, every step of disobedience takes us away from the joy of divine goodness.

Now my friends, I know this often feels like a difficult task.

The main problem with obedience is that it is often viewed negatively. We view obedience as a forced, unwilling decision to do something we don’t want to do because we’re afraid of punishment. But that’s not the kind of obedience that’s in God’s Word. Obedience in the Bible means this: love + trust + action.

“If you love me, you will obey what I command.” (John 14:15)

Obedience becomes easier with relationship. In fact, obedience is defined by a relationship, especially with God, built out of love. When a relationship is built out of love, it has trust that is sustained and nurtured by relationship.

I would like to offer two ways to grow in obedience to Christ. These are useful to me as much as anyone else as I am nowhere near perfect.

  1. The first is that we need to abide in Christ, maintain our first love for Him. Abiding simply means having a life-giving connection to him. A branch is connected to the vine, and a vine to the branch. My favorite way to abide in Christ is to memorize scripture. At any moment I can take those bible passages from my memory and apply them to my circumstance. This is so helpful as I try to be obedient to God’ call on my life!
  2. The second way to grow in obedience to Christ is to use the gift of the Holy Spirit. As you continue to walk in your faith, the Holy Spirit will guide you in making the most important decisions of life. He will also guide you in the daily, moment-by-moment decisions and actions of your life. All we have to do is ask.

Speaking of the Holy Spirit, Jesus says, “When he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth…and he will tell you what is yet to come” (John 16:13). So the key to walking in obedience is through to the guidance of the Holy Spirit of truth. If you are willing to trust and obey God, God will reveal Himself to you more and more and direct your steps as a way of life.

Would you take a moment, pause the audio or stop reading for a moment, close your eyes and take a deep breath. Take a moment to remember that the Holy Spirit is living in you. You have access to everything you need to obey Christ in your life!

Thank you friends. I want to conclude this lesson by talking about how this applies to us all as leaders.

When Jesus began his ministry, Jesus began the recruitment of his disciples in a very simple and straight-forward manner. He said “follow me.” There were no discussions of rights or money, no arguments about who was in charge. Jesus led, and they followed. He asked, and they obeyed. As leaders, we have a God who is trustworthy, someone we can follow as we lead others. As we lean into him, we will have confidence instead of fear, we have a source of truth rather than simply our own opinions, and we have the power of Christ to love others we may not otherwise want to love. I am so proud of who each of you have become as you have grown in your faith in Jesus. Let us continue to strive to serve our wonderful God by walking in obedience to him, which the world will see and do much the same.

This has my prayer today, would you pray it with me?

Lord, help me to hear Your word and stay obedient to Your will. Like a Father helping his child cross the street, take my hand and guide me. When I fail, correct me; and forgive me so that I can grow to be Your faithful follower and a leader who reflects your character. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

We love reading what God is teaching you, Please respond with what God is speaking to you this week and we look forward to another lesson next week.