In order to live a holy life that is pleasing to God, it is really important to understand obedience. God loves those who are quick to obey Him! This is how we delight His heart, by obeying Him instantly, whenever He tells us to do something. And it is also important to obey Him cheerfully. It does not please God as much when we grudgingly do what He has told us to do. We must have a heart to eagerly obey Him!
A good example to consider about God’s requirement for obedience is found in the life of King Saul. The Lord had sent Samuel to him by the word of the Lord to utterly destroy ALL that was in Amalek and not to spare a single soul of both man and beast.
But Saul did not fully obey the Lord, and, when the Lord told Samuel what he had done, he wept all night in deep grief over Saul.
“Then Samuel went to Saul, and Saul said to him, ‘Blessed are you of the Lord! I have performed the commandment of the Lord.’
“But Samuel said, ‘What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?’
“And Saul said, ‘They have brought them from the Amalekites; for the people spared the best of the sheep and the oxen, to sacrifice to the Lord your God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed.'” (See 1 Samuel 15:13-15 NKJV).
Saul fell into the trap that so many believers fall into today. Instead of obeying God EXACTLY what He told them to do, they put their own twist on it. Saul thought that God would be pleased with all the oxen and sheep he had spared to sacrifice to the Lord. But God isn’t interested in all the things WE think will be pleasing to Him, He is only interested in whether we have obeyed HIM or not.
This is the key to obedience: Listen carefully to what God wants you to do, and do only that. That is the kind of obedience that pleases God!
“So Samuel said: ‘Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in OBEYING the voice of the Lord? Behold, TO OBEY IS BETTER THAN SACRIFICE, and to heed (listen) than the fat of rams.'” 1 Samuel 15:22 NKJV (emphases mine).
The most important key to obedience is to hear God first, before we run off and do what we think we should do. We have all failed to do that at one time or an other. Then we need to do exactly what He tells us to do and not add our own twist to it, thinking that our additions are somehow going to be EXTRA pleasing to Him. That is what Saul did!
Finally, when it comes to obedience, we must learn to obey God willingly and cheerfully, instead of kicking and screaming and dragging our heels all along the way. God delights so much in His children when they obey Him cheerfully and with a willing heart!
The Lord spoke through the prophet Isaiah, and said, “If you are WILLING AND OBEDIENT you shall eat of the good of the land.” Isaiah 1:19 NKJV (emphasis mine).
Many times we are obedient, but not that willing or cheerful about doing what the Lord has told us to do. I have often made an extra effort to tell God that I am going to do what He has told me to do willingly and cheerfully, when it is something that is the exact opposite of what I wanted to do. It is just a matter of making that adjustment in your heart.
The best time to make that adjustment is BEFORE He tells you to do something, so that when He tells you to do something, your immediate response is a cheerful, “Yes, Lord!”
Remember, one of the main reasons God set you apart for Himself is that you might serve Him. When it comes to serving God, obedience is the most important key to keep in mind. I have personally have had to learn that just because He didn’t say, No, doesn’t mean He said, Yes. As we grow in the Lord, we learn to be more sensitive to His voice, and obey Him more closely, instead of running ahead of Him and doing what WE think we should do.
We can all see events in our own lives when we haven’t obeyed God. We need to repent of those areas and shake them off, and resolve to be careful to hear God’s voice first, and then do exactly what He has told us to do with a cheerful heart. This is all part of learning to live a holy life that is pleasing to Him.
You are holy!
In my next post we will look at: “Dominion Over Sin.”