Jesus taught, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Mt 7:21). Obedience is at the heart of Christianity and the Gospel message (Rom 6:17).
Mr. Webster defines one who is obedient as: “willing to do what someone tells you to do or to follow a law, rule, etc.; submissive to the restraint or command of authority; willing to obey.” This excellent definition would certainly exclude malicious compliance which says, “I’ll do it, but I won’t like it!”
For obedience to be genuine, one’s heart has to be in it. “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men” (Col 3:23). The Psalmist agrees: “Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, who seek Him with the whole heart!” (Ps 119:2). There is no place in God’s kingdom for half-hearted, uncommitted Christians.
Obedience is a faith issue. “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Heb 11:6). A deep, abiding trust in God will cause the devoted Christian to respond in loving obedience.
Obedience must be prompted by agape’ love. “We love Him because He first loved us” (1 Jn 4:19). Indeed, “the love of Christ constrains (compels, motivates) us” (2 Cor 5:14). Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep (obey) My commandments” (Jn 14:15). Sincere love for Jesus will always result in willing obedience to His commands.
Finally, for obedience to be willing and lasting, one must die to self and to sin. The old man must be “crucified with Christ” so the new man can live and thrive (Gal 2:20; Eph 4:22-24). “And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Gal 5:24). “He himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that we might die to sins” (1 Pet 2:24 – NIV).
May we joyfully and consistently render unto God our heartfelt obedience, being “doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving ourselves” (Jas 1:22). As our Lord Jesus teaches: “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep (obey) it!” (Lk 11:28).