I once had a pastor who often said, “Obedience is the most important word in the Christian dictionary.”  Though believers are positionally pure before Christ (1 Corinthians 6:11), and though they are guaranteed to never lose their spiritual standing (John 10:28), they must practice practical obedience in order to experience the full life of Christ.  The Hebrew children had to learn this principle.  The Lord warned, “Now if you faithfully obey the Lord your God and are careful to follow all his commands I am giving you today, the Lord your God will put you far above all the nations of the earth” (Deuteronomy 28:1).  Under the New Covenant, believers are called to similar faithfulness.  Jesus said, “The one who has My commands and keeps them is the one who loves Me” (John 14:21).

Modern Christians need to be reminded of the benefits of obedience.  In a culture which champions permissiveness and self-driven living, submission to God’s commands seems oppressive and burdensome.  Many fear that living life according to Bible doctrine will rob them of excitement and pleasure.  They suppose that they will somehow miss out on the better things of life.  Scripture exposes such thinking for the folly that it is.  Consider three benefits of obedience.

Obedience makes you strong.

When you follow the Heavenly Father’s counsel in all things, it does something to strengthen your soul.  Because you have a clean conscience, you have an emotional and spiritual strength which evades most.  You have the ability to meet all of life’s demands with steadfast certainty.  Jesus spoke of this reality, saying, “Therefore, everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house on the rock.  The rain fell, the rivers rose, and the winds blew and pounded that house. Yet it didn’t collapse, because its foundation was on the rock” (Matthew 7:24-25).

Obedience makes you closer to God. 

When your soul is stained by sin, it makes it hard for you to talk to God.  Disobedience creates a barrier in your spiritual relationship. It quenches your hunger and thirst for your Creator. On the contrary, spiritual intimacy comes from obedience.  Using a picture of a family, Jesus said, “My mother and My brothers are those who hear and do the word of God” (Luke 8:22).

Obedience makes you happy. 

One of the greatest motivators for obedience is the joy which it brings. The Psalmist declared, “How happy are those who uphold justice, who practice righteousness at all times” (Psalm 106:3).  Some Christians act as if happiness should be off-limits for the godly.  They seem to believe that curmudgeonry is a sign of spiritual virtue, and that misery is an evidence of Christian maturity.  Jesus seemed to think otherwise.  When He provided a portrait of the godly person in the Beatitudes, He used a Greek word which could be translated “happy” nearly ten times.  When one abides in a close and clean relationship with the God who made all things, he or she is sure to be happy.  Such blessedness is the natural result of living life the way God made it to be lived.

Dr. Patrick Latham

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