Obedience is the Key to Discipleship
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'”
Anyone who would call themselves a disciple would be obedient to their master. Disciples would follow along behind their master and copy everything they did. They would even copy how they went to the bathroom. In the time of Jesus, disciples would want to learn EVERYTHING about their masters so that they could replicate their success. Obedience is more than just mentioned in scripture – it is a foundational principle of discipleship:
23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone 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.
18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”
“We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”
For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.
But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance.
He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.
Knowledge without obedience is a trophy. It sits on the shelf of your mind, gathering dust, pretty to look at, but of no real value to the one who ignores its commands and calling. Sanctification comes through obedience to the Word, not just knowing the words. A person can read every book and manual on how to create software through coding. But if they never put it to use, how much software do you think will come out of it?
We are declared righteous through the perfect blood of Jesus. Our works are as filthy rags. It is only through submission to the Holy Spirit that He is able to do His work through us. We may try to do great and mighty things in God’s name, but it is us who are doing it rather than God through us.
Works do not ingratiate us with God. God desires relationship with us. When we have that relationship, we are in tune with what God wants to do with us and through us. Many will say that they have been doing things for God. But what they are really doing is going off on their own. People may see the miraculous, but we are also told that Satan will perform signs and wonders. Satan has already performed false miracles.
Anything that we do in the flesh will be counted as hay and stubble, and will burn up when tested by fire. It is only what God does through us that will withstand the test of fire and be shown to good and lasting.
Without obedience, we will go and do our own thing. We will not experience sanctification, nor will we, through relationship and the Word of God, be transformed into the character of God. We will not be able to experience Him, and who He is, if we are not obedient to His Word and His Spirit.
God will rightly declare us evil in His sight if we do not obey Him. Without character and relationship, all of the works in the world will be meaningless. If anyone tells you that your good works will get you into heaven, be forewarned that Jesus has already addressed that heresy:
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
A Qualifying Question
Let’s ask a question: Are we being obedient to God, or trusting in our “good works”?
A short prayer of preparation:
Father in Heaven, I thank You for the example that You have given to me in Your Son, Jesus Christ. Help me Father that I may live a life of total obedience and submission to Your will. Help me to humble myself that I may be totally obedient to Your Word and Your will. Remove from me the desire to rebel, and replace it with a desire to serve. Strengthen me in my walk today that I would learn and grow in Your grace and mercy. Show me the way everlasting, and forgive me for my many sins against You. Help me to turn from sin and turn to righteousness. This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Want more? Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?