Godly Obedience

On Bible Studies

There are several categories in which God wishes us to be obedient.

Obedience to the Secular Government
Romans 13:1-6 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists authority resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Do you wish to have no fear of the authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive its approval; 4 for it is God's servant for your good. But if you do what is wrong, you should be afraid, for the authority does not bear the sword in vain! It is the servant of God to execute wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be subject, not only because of wrath but also because of conscience. 6 For the same reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, busy with this very thing. (NRSV)

Jesus commanded us to pay taxes, Matthew 22:17-21, but to always hold God's law higher than any government.

In 1 Maccabees 2:25 we have the example of killing the king's officer who was forcing them to sacrifice.

The basic rule is this: If the government is ordering you to allow others to do what you think is evil, you must obey the government. The only exception is when the government is ordering you to do evil.

We see the pattern seven times in the book of Judges. At a certain point when the nation is turning away from God He chooses to punish them by rulers that are evil, or by an invading foreign power. The only cure is the same whether it is before God judges the nation or during the judgment: to turn the hearts of the people back to God. Until that happens fighting against the government is fighting against God’s plan. In Ezekiel 17 the prophet warned the people not to rebel against Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, but to repent and turn back to God, even though he was a wicked tyrant. Gamaliel in Acts 5:33-39 stated to be careful in these things lest you be found fighting against God.

Today some political activist and militia groups think it is their responsibility to fight against the government if we think it is ordering us to allow evil. They would use Scriptures like John 2. Jesus violently drove the heretics out of the temple, but this was not the government He was attacking. It was a corrupt church.

If we spent our time obeying Christ by fulfilling the Great Commission, we would turn the nation back to God and all these evils would cease to exist. If we can’t change things by the power of the gospel we can never change them by force.

Obedience to the Church
Hebrews 13:17 Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you. 2 Timothy 4:14-15 God judges those who raise their voice against God's anointed, and we are to remember that Ephesians 4:11 teaches pastors are a gift to the church. In Acts 6:2-6, we see the creation of the deacons to take care of the material things of the church so the ministers could study the Scriptures daily with each other, which is their proper duty.

Paul in 1 Timothy 3:1-13 and Titus 1:5-9 gives the qualifications for pastors and deacons.

They must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money, managing his own family well and his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap. They are to be men worthy of respect, sincere, holding the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. And their wives are to be worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything.

In Titus 1:5-9 Paul adds: not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not pursuing dishonest gain but hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. He must encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it. 1 Peter 5:3 adds: eager to serve, not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock, and in Colossians 4:6 their speech must always be gracious.

So pastors who yell at people from the pulpit, command them to do things forbidden in Scripture, try to persuade by some show of force, anger, threat, or emotional manipulation are sinning. But if they can’t teach, debate, or give a reason based out of Scripture for their beliefs or actions they are immature. If a pastor becomes "dull hearted" the Lord will see to it that they do not prosper and their flock will be scattered. Jeremiah 10:21

1 Peter 5:5 Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another,

Paul says that we are to avoid those who claim to be Christians but "cause dissensions and offenses," Romans 16:17, who are "sexually immoral or greedy, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or robber. Do not even eat with such a one," 1 Corinthians 5:9-11.
Ephesians 5:5-8 that no fornicator or impure person, or one who is greedy (that is, an idolater)… do not be associated with them. (NRSV)
Titus 3:10-11 After a first and second admonition, have nothing more to do with anyone who causes divisions, since you know that such a person is perverted and sinful, being self-condemned. (NRSV)

1 Timothy 6:3-6 Whoever teaches otherwise and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that is in accordance with godliness, 4 is conceited, understanding nothing, and has a morbid craving for controversy and for disputes about words. From these come envy, dissension, slander, base suspicions, 5 and wrangling among those who are depraved in mind and bereft of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. 6 Of course, there is great gain in godliness combined with contentment; (NRSV)

Pastors are commanded to:
1 Timothy 5:20 As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest also may stand in fear. (NRSV)
1 Thessalonians 4:12 so that you may behave properly toward outsiders and be dependent on no one. (NRSV)
Colossians 4:5 Conduct yourselves wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the time. (NRSV)

The Lord commanded pastors to be paid for their work 1 Corinthians 9:8-18.

In Marriage
Colossians 3:18-19 Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love (agape) your wives and do not be harsh with them.

1 Corinthians 7:1-5 Now for the matters you wrote about: It is good for a man not to marry. 2 But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband. 3 The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. 5 Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

1 Peter 3:1-6 Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the Word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, 2 when they see the purity and reverence of your lives…the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 5 For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God… were submissive to their own husbands, 6 like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.

Titus 2:3-8 Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. 4 Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the Word of God. 6 Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. 7 In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness 8 and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.

Ephesians 5:21-24 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. 22 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, His body, of which He is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

Ephesians 5:25-33 Husbands, love (agape) your wives, just as Christ loved (agape) the church and gave Himself up for her… husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, 31 "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

1 Peter 3:7 Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers. 

All quotations taken from The New International Version, unless otherwise noted. Date: 9-1994