Obedience is, in a general or abstract sense, a readiness to carry out or perform the ordinances of another, i.e. to put the design of another into execution, and thereby satisfy the will of another person or persons. The word, then, signifies the capacity to hearken to any one's advice, directions, or orders. In religion obedience must be animated by love (q. v.). Obedience -maybe paid (a) on the part of man (1) to God and Christ; (2) to one's parents; (3) to superiors generally, especially one's government. There is also (b) the obedience which Christ paid to God the Father. See below.
1. Obedience to God may be considered
(1) as virtual, which consists in a belief of the Gospel, of the holiness and equity of its precepts, of the truth of its promises, and a true repentance of all our sins;
(2) actual obedience, which is the practice and exercise of the several graces and duties of Christianity;
(3) perfect obedience, which is the exact conformity of our hearts and lives to the law of God, without the least imperfection. This last is peculiar to a glorified state, though it should be our aim in this. See PERFECTION.
The obligation we are under to obedience arises --
(1) from the relation we stand in to God as creatures (Ps 95:6);
6 Come, let us bow down in worship,
let us kneel before the LORD our Maker; NIV
(2) from the law which he has revealed to us in his Word (Ps 119:3; 2 Peter 1:5,7);
3 They do nothing wrong;
they walk in his ways.
2 Peter 1:5
5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; NIV
2 Peter 1:7
7 and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. NIV
(3) from the blessings of his providence which we are constantly receiving (Acts 14:17; Ps 145:1);
17 Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy." NIV
I will exalt you, my God the King;
I will praise your name for ever and ever. NIV
(4) from the love and goodness of God in the grand work of redemption (1 Cor 6:20).
As to the nature of this obedience, it must be --
(1) active, not only avoiding what is prohibited, but performing what is commanded (Col 3:8,10);
1 Corinthians 6:20
20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. NIV
8 But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.
9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices
10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. NIV
(2) personal, for though Christ has obeyed the law for us as a covenant of works, yet he has not abrogated it as a rule of life (Rom 7:22; 3:31);
22 For in my inner being I delight in God's law; NIV
31 Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law. NIV
(3) sincere (Ps 51:6; 1 Tim 1:5);
6 Surely you desire truth in the inner parts;
you teach me wisdom in the inmost place. NIV
1 Timothy 1:5
5 The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. NIV
(4) affectionate, springing from love and not from terror (1 John 5:19; 2:5; 2 Cor 5:14)
(5) diligent, not slothful (Gal 1:16; Ps 18:44; Rom 12:11);
(6) conspicuous and open (Phil 2:15; Matt 5:16);
(7) universal; not one duty, but all must be performed (2 Peter 1:5,10);
(8) perpetual, at all times, places, and occasions (Rom 2:7; Gal 6:9).
The advantages of obedience are these:
(1) it adorns the Gospel (Titus 2:10);
(2) it is evidential of grace (2 Cor 5:17);
(3) it rejoices the hearts of the ministers and people of God (3 John 2; 2 Thess 1:1:19, 20);
(4) it silences gainsayers (2 Peter 1:11,12);
(5) encourages the saints, while it reproves the lukewarm (Matt 5:16);
(6) it affords peace to the subject of it (Ps 25:12,13; Acts 24:16);
(7) it powerfully recommends religion, as that which is both delightful and practicable (Col 1:10).
(8) it is the forerunner and evidence of eternal glory (Rom 6:22; Rev 22:14).
2. Obedience to parents is taught us in the N.T. Scriptures in Epheshians 6:1 (also in Col 3:20): "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right." Thus also servants are to obey their masters, as taught in Eph 6:5 (also Col 3:22; 1 Peter 2:18): "Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ."
3. Obedience to authority (q. v.); this, however, the Christian is taught to exercise only when not out of harmony with the divine commands, for it is the duty of the Christian to obey God rather than man (Acts 4:17; 5:29).
Here is a scripture where one would obey man instead of God. The religious leaders had saw what the disciples were doing, but they did not want to see the teachings of Christ go forward.
17 But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn these men to speak no longer to anyone in this name." NIV
29 Peter and the other apostles replied: "We must obey God rather than men! NIV
When minds are closed not even the plainest of facts can open them, but we must be obedience to the call of God in Jesus Christ and not give up.
(Read only bold print below)
3. The New Testament Conception: In the New Testament a higher spiritual and moral relation is sustained than in the Old Testament. The importance of obedience is just as greatly emphasized. Christ Himself is its one great illustration of obedience. He "humbled himself, becoming obedient even unto death, yea, the death of the cross" (Phil 2:8). By obedience to Him we are through Him made partakers of His salvation (Heb 5:9). This act is a supreme test of faith in Christ. Indeed, it is so vitally related that they are in some cases almost synonymous. "Obedience of faith" is a combination used by Paul to express this idea (Rom 1:5). Peter designates believers in Christ as "children of obedience" (1 Peter 1:14). Thus it is seen that the test of fellowship with Yahweh in the Old Testament is obedience. The bond of union with Christ in the New Testament is obedience through faith, by which they become identified and the believer becomes a disciple.
Is also proper recognition of the authority of the church, or the obligations of Christian fellowship (Matt 18:17; 2 Cor 6:14-18). Read 2 Cor 6:14-18 from the bible
See HOLINESS; See LIBERTY; See NECESSITY; See SANCTIFICATION.