Walter W. Pigg, Jr.
Since man was created as a free moral agent, he has the option to obey or disobey God. However, if one would be accepted with God he must choose to obey; there is no other basis of acceptance. By obedience we mean submission to the demands or requests of one in authority. In this case the one in authority is God.
Since I began preaching, almost thirty years ago, there has been a very noticeable decline in concern as to whether or not we produce a “thus saith the Lord” for what we believe and practice. “Book, chapter and verse, preaching” is not demanded by the elders and membership as it once was. In fact, this type of preaching is actually criticized in widening circles. A growing number of our preaching brethren can be credited (at least in part) with this condition. As they drink deeply from the pens of today’s theologians, and court the capers of denominational neighbors, they cease to believe in Bible preaching, and would not do it if demanded of them. The bottom line of this condition is that obedience to God isn’t all that important anymore, and sadly, too many “love to have it so” (Jer. 5:31).
The deterioration of concern relative to obeying God may be attributed to a number of things…it is quite evident that the following do have some influence.
We Have Come to Rely More Heavily Upon Worldly Wisdom
With an increase in the level of our secular education we tend to think we are smarter than we really are, even to the point of thinking our way of doing things may be even better than the Lord’s way. We forget that Paul said, “the world by wisdom knew not God,” and that God’s way of saving man by the gospel is through the “foolishness of preaching” (1 Cor. 1:21). Paul goes on to say, “The foolishness of God is wiser than man,” and that “not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called” (verses 25-26).
Some Believe That the Speaker is More
Importance Than the Message Spoken
We are attracted to people who are kind, gentle, congenial and friendly. We like to be complimented (deserving or not), made to laugh, to be entertained. We much prefer to hear that which makes us feel good, rather than that which may make us feel badly by calling attention to our sins. In view of this, whatever is said may be accepted with little or no thought as to whether or not it is in accordance with God’s word. People have been known to say, “Such a nice person as brother so-and-so just couldn’t say anything wrong.” We should be reminded however, that Paul warns that those teaching a contrary doctrine may by “good works and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple” (Rom. 16:18b).
Our Society Just Doesn’t Like the Idea of Obedience, Generally Speaking
Obedience to civil law is lacking; schools have their discipline problems; children are reluctant to obey their parents, and the world of denominationalism obeys fewer and fewer of God’s laws. Consequently, we have allowed the spirit of disobedience to affect us, thereby losing sight of the fact that acceptance with God is completely dependent upon obedience.
A Desire for Recognition Has Had its Impact
Some have obviously taken on a spirit of compromise in order to be numbered among the “in crowd,” which is of liberal persuasion. Those who are liberal minded do not look kindly upon those who contend for unquestioned obedience to God’s wi 11 as it has been revealed through the inspired word.
It matters not how popular and widespread disobedience is, it still remains that if we would be accepted by God we must obey Him. When king Saul tried to justify his failure to “utterly destroy” the Amalekites by saying the people brought back “the spoil, sheep and oxen,” to sacrifice, Samuel stated a great truth, the principle of which is valid today. “And Samuel said, hath 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 hearken than the fat of rams” (1 Sam. 15:22). Saul’s disobedience was called “rebellion,” and disobedience amounts to the same thing today. Obedience is so important that salvation cannot be obtained without it! This we learn from the fact that Christ learned obedience himself and “became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (Heb. 5: 8-9).
In order that we may not lose sight of the importance of obedience to God, we should constantly keep before us that greatest of example of complete obedience to the heavenly Father, I speak of Christ, Who “… humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Phil. 2:8). If we would be accepted with God, that same spirit of obedience must be exemplified in us.