The Implications of Disobedience

There is much to be learned about obedience from a study of its antonym, disobedience. There is also a common trait between the two. Think about this very simple axiom: Disobey is the opposite of obey. Yet with either word, something must exist that can be obeyed or not obeyed. What would that be? It can only be a precept or command.

The Bible declares that sin is committed in one of the following ways:

  • Romans 4.23 - To act without faith in regard to what God commanded
  • James 4.17 - To know to obey God, but not do so
  • 1 John 3.4 - To transgress a law of God
  • 1 John 5.17 - By wrongdoing (unrighteousness)

The only conclusion that can be drawn from these statements is that sin is disobedience, and disobedience is either going beyond or falling short in regard to what God has spoken. All humanity is under the same obligation in regard to what God has commanded (Ecclesiastes 12.13).

Since sin is disobedience to a precept or command from God, forgiveness for sin would naturally come by obedience to God’s commands. If not, why not? Jesus stated that, in teaching the commands of God, he was speaking words of eternal life. Yet, those words demand a response which involves turning from disobedience to obedience.

Unrighteous living must be repented of and replaced by righteous living. the words Jesus spoke open our understanding to our plight because of our sin (John 15.22). Those words also contain specific commands that, if followed, hold the promise of eternal life (John 12.49; Romans 6.23; Hebrews 5.9).

God’s commands are the criteria for revealing who belongs to him and who belongs to Satan. Those who love, respect, and trust in God’s words receive spiritual blessings when they obey Christ’s commands (Hebrews 5.9). Those who hate him refuse to obey those commands. It is in this way that God put (i.e., purposed) enmity to come between the seed of woman and the seed of Satan. Enmity is hatred. This hatred is over a “thus saith the Lord.” It always has been and it always will be. This hatred is not mutual; rather, it is from those who don’t want to acknowledge Christ’s authority to command their lives toward those who do. As Jesus was persecuted, so also will his followers be (John 15.20; Matthew 5.10).

Obedience is the only response to a command that expresses love for the one who loved in giving the command. Remember John 3.16 tells us that “God so loved…that he gave…” Because of God’s love for man, it was the will of the Father to send his Son to bear our sin. Jesus loved us, but he loved his Father first. His love for his Father was why he obeyed the command of the Father. John 14.31 states, “But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do.” 

We are not sinners because we inherited another’s disobedience, but because of our own disobedience. Death, the consequence for disobedience, has passed on to us. “Just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5.12). In Romans 5.18, we are told that “One transgression resulted in condemnation passing to us all.” But notice that the reason condemnation passed to all was not because of that one transgression, but because “all have sinned” (Romans 3.23).

Romans 5.18 goes on to explain that Jesus’ one act of righteousness resulted in “justification of life to all men.” It was this justification that passed; not Jesus’ act of righteousness. What was Jesus’ righteousness? Was it not his obedience to the Father’s will? Obedience pleases the Father (John 8.29). His love for his Father is seen in his willingness to obedient even unto death (Hebrews 5.8). Jesus said in John 10.17-18, “The Father loves me, because I lay down my life so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from me, but I lay it down on my own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from my Father.

The consequence for sin that rightfully came upon Adam will rightfully come to us, not because of Adam’s sin, but because we all sin (Romans 5.14). Similarly, Jesus’ obedience did not pass on to us any more than Satan’s sin or Adam’s sin passed on to us. The Word is what will continue. It will never pass away, but stand forever (Luke 21.33; Isaiah 40.8). We will be judged by those words (John 12.48). 

Jesus’ obedience to his Father does not guarantee my obedience. Neither does believing in his obedience mean that I am forgiven. I must follow his example of obedience to his Father and obey him. He willingly obeyed. So must I. In following his example, I will give up my life for him, as he did for me. Whereas he gave up glory and riches (John 17.5; 2 Corinthians 8.9), I am to give up my life of sin. Jesus died for my sin. I must die to my own sin. Until I do, I am yet in my sin. As Peter stated, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness” (1 Peter 2.24).

God’s righteousness is revealed in the gospel (Romans 1.17). Righteousness is imputed to the obedient (Deuteronomy 6.24-25). “What shall the end be of them that obey not” (2 Thessalonians 1.8)?