“Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).
While the command to obey the Lord is given many times in Scripture accompanied by exhortations and promises, gospel obedience is not easy. Why? Why is it so difficult to obey the Lord?
It is difficult for some to obey God because they are not converted. Without a new heart, the Natural Man, the Old Man, will remain fleshly, and do the works of the flesh. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God, and will not obey Him.
It is difficult for some to obey God, because they do not understand that the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. Hell is presented in Scripture as a bottomless pit, because there are depths of depravity that are deeper still. When people believe they are intrinsically good, they minimize any transgression of the Law, and then ask, “What difference does it make?”
Some people find it difficult to obey the Lord, for God is a God of great mercy and grace. We are not immediately consumed in Divine wrath when we sin. Rather, the wrath of God is stored up against us for the purpose of being dismissed, or executed. It is this delay in Divine judgment that leads to more boldness in sin, and encourages disobedience.
Some people find it difficult to obey the Lord because of unbelief. It is believed that God is too loving a God to create a place called Hell, even if it was originally designed for the Devil and his angels. Time and again, Israel refused to believe the nation must repent, confess sin, and obey God, or be severely judged.
Some people do not obey the Lord because of bad theology. Multitudes have been mis taught they can be saved today, and then they can make Christ Lord of their life at a later date. This separation of the Lordship of Christ from salvation leads not only to disobedience, but eternal damnation. “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46).
Some people find it easy to disobey the Lord because of the company they keep. “Be not deceived: evil communications [companions] corrupt good manners” (1 Cor. 15:33).
Some people find it difficult to obey the Lord because they are not sincere about repentance, and not serious about living a life of faith. They make provisions for the flesh thereby grieving, or quenching, the Holy Spirit. There is no humbling of oneself in the sight of God, and no confession of sin. The heart is hardened, not broken.
Some people do not obey the Lord because the fear of God is no in their hearts. They have heard, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:31), but they do not believe that is true.
Some people do not obey the Lord because they suppress the truth. They deliberately hold down any impulse of conviction, or contrition. Paul speaks of this in Romans 1:18.
The Divine remedy for disobedience is to believe God, trust in Him, and obey. Believe God wants you to be holy, and then happy. Trust Him to meet your every need. And make a conscience decision to obey His will as it is revealed in His Word, and by His Spirit.
“When we walk with the Lord
In the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will,
He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.
Trust and obey,
For there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus,
But to trust and obey.
John H. Sammis, 1887