Lesson 4: Learning to Obey
Because God is God and because He is the Creator of the whole universe, He has authority over all things.
What do we mean when we say that God has “authority over all things”? We mean that God has the right to rule over all things and He should be obeyed.
Since God is so great and so good, you would think that everyone would love God and want to obey Him. But this is not the way it is. Some people do love God and want to obey Him, but others do not love God and do not want to obey Him.
From the Bible we learn that there are two ways by which people live their lives:
1. The way of rebellion.
The person who lives his life this way says in his heart, “I will have my own way; I will do what I want to do!”
2. The way of obedience.
The person who lives his life this way says in his heart, “I want to please God; I want to do what God wants me to do.”
In this lesson, we will see how Satan brought the way of rebellion into the universe. Then we will see how the Lord Jesus showed us the way of obedience.
The Rebellion of the Angels
The way of rebellion first started in Heaven. At one time every living creature obeyed God perfectly. But a time came when some of the angels rebelled against God.
God created the angels to serve Him. One of the angels which God created was named Lucifer. He was in charge of all the other angels. He was the most beautiful and most powerful angel that God ever created.
One day pride entered Lucifer’s heart and he rebelled against God. He decided that he should be God. Lucifer said in his heart,
“I WILL ascend into heaven, I WILL exalt my throne above the stars of God. I WILL be like the most High.” (Isaiah 14:13-14)
Satan rebelled against God. One-third of the angels of heaven followed Lucifer in his rebellion against God. As a result of his rebellion, Lucifer’s name was changed to Satan, which means “adversary” or “enemy.” Satan is God’s enemy and he is our enemy also.
Satan and his fallen angels set up a kingdom opposed to God and His kingdom. Ever since that time, there have been these two kingdoms—the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan.
Before Satan rebelled against God there was only the way of obedience in the universe. Every living creature obeyed God perfectly.
But Satan brought another way into the universe—the way of rebellion. Rebellion is the heart-attitude toward God which says, “I will not obey You! I will do what I want to do!”
The Rebellion of Man
God created the first man, Adam, and placed him in the Garden of Eden. Let us think for a moment about the relationship between God and the man He created. Should God love the man He created? Yes, He should. Should God tell the man what He wants him to do? Yes, He should.
What about this man who was created by God? Should he love God? Yes, he should. Should he worship God? Yes, he should. Should he obey God? Yes, he certainly should.
Would it be right for this man who was created by God to say to God, “I don’t care what You want me to do; I will do what I want to do!”? No, it certainly would not be right.
But Adam did rebel against God. He did choose to disobey his Creator. He said in his heart, “I will do what I want to do!”
As a result of Adam’s disobedience, his nature was changed. He now had a sinful, rebellious nature. Adam passed this sinful, rebellious nature on to his children and to the whole human race. Every person has this sinful nature within that says, “I will do what I want to do; I will have my own way!” The Bible says, “We have turned every one to HIS OWN WAY.” (Isaiah 53:6)
In spite of man’s rebellion and disobedience, God loved him and wanted to bring man back to Himself. God had a plan to do this. He would send His only Son, the Lord Jesus, into the world. The Lord Jesus would obey His Father perfectly. Then He would take our sins upon Himself and die for them.
The Obedience of the Son
The Lord Jesus is sometimes called “the God-Man.” This is a good name for Him because He is truly God and truly man. What kind of man was the Lord Jesus? He was a man whose mind and heart was set on doing God’s will. The Lord Jesus said,
“I came down from heaven, not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me.” John 6:38
Never once did Jesus go against His Father’s will. Never once did He disobey His Father. Never once did He say in His heart, “I don’t care what My Father wants me to do; I will do what I want to do!” Instead, Jesus always did what pleased His Father. He said, “…I do always those things that please Him.” (John 8:29)
Since it was the Father’s will that He die on the cross for our sins, Jesus willingly obeyed His Father. The Bible says, “…He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” (Philippians 2:8)
Christ died a terrible death on the cross. He was buried in the tomb of a rich man. But God raised His Son from the dead and made Him the head of a new family—the children of God. We become a member of God’s family when we take the Lord Jesus as our Savior.
What God’s children are like
There are two main things about God’s children that cause us to be different from unsaved people: (1) God’s children are believers, and (2) God’s children are obeyers. Let us see what we mean by this.
1. God’s children are believers.
We believe in the Lord Jesus—that He is the Son of God who died on the cross for our sins and rose from the dead to be our living Savior.
2. God’s children are obeyers.
We love God and we want to obey Him. Christ has come to live in us, and we are different from what we used to be. The Bible says, “We have the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:16)
What mind did Christ have? His mind was to obey God. He said, “I came down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him that sent Me.” God’s children are not perfect. We often fail God and do wrong things, but we love our Heavenly Father and we want to please Him. Our heart-attitude is to obey God.
The two ways
At the beginning of this lesson we said that there are two ways by which people live their lives:
1. The way of rebellion:
“I will have my own way!”
The way of rebellion is Satan’s way. It is the way unsaved people live their lives. The Bible speaks of “the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience.” This is the heart-attitude which says, “I will do what I want to do!” This is the same heart-attitude Satan has.
Boys and girls who live their lives by the way of rebellion do not want to obey God. They do not want to obey their parents. They do not want to obey their teachers or others in authority over them. This is a terrible way to live your life.
The Apostle Paul thought about how he had lived before he became a Christian. Paul said, “For we ourselves were sometimes foolish, DISOBEDIENT, deceived, hateful and hating one another.” How grateful Paul was that he no longer lived this way.
2. The way of obedience:
“I want to obey God.”
The way of obedience is the way of the Lord Jesus. It is the way God’s children are to live their lives. We were once rebellious and disobedient, but God saved us. Now we belong to Him. Our desire is to obey God and to please Him in all that we do. The Bible says that we are to live “as obedient children.”
The wonderful thing is that God has made it possible for us to obey Him. When we were saved, Christ came to live in our heart. Because Christ lives in us, we can obey God. The Apostle Paul said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)