What does the Bible say about obedience?
Our obedience to the Lord comes from our love for Him and our appreciation for the great price that was paid for us. Jesus calls us to obedience. In fact, obedience to God is an act of worship to Him. Let’s learn more below and read a plethora of Scriptures on obedience.
Christian quotes about obedience
“There will be no peace in any soul until it is willing to obey the voice of God.” D.L. Moody
“Faith never knows where it is being led, but it loves and knows the One who is leading.” – Oswald Chambers
“God has no more precious gift to a church or an age than a man who lives as an embodiment of his will, and inspires those around him with the faith of what grace can do.” – Andrew Murray
” Resolution One: I will live for God. Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will.” Jonathan Edwards
“True faith will inevitably manifest itself in the performance of works of obedience… The performance of works are the result of faith and the fruit of justification.” – R.C. Sproul
“The safe place lies in obedience to God’s Word, singleness of heart and holy vigilance.” A.B. Simpson
“Just as a servant knows that he must first obey his master in all things, so the surrender to an implicit and unquestionable obedience must become the essential characteristic of our lives.” Andrew Murray
“Our obedience to God’s commandments comes as a natural outgrowth of our endless love and gratitude for the goodness of God.” Dieter F. Uchtdorf
“If you know that God loves you, you should never question a directive from Him. It will always be right and best. When He gives you a directive, you are not just to observe it, discuss it, or debate it. You are to obey it.” Henry Blackaby
“God is looking for willing hearts… God has no favorites. You do not have to be special, but you have to be available.” Winkie Pratney
“If you believe what you like in the gospel, and reject what you don’t like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself.” Augustine
“We are responsible to obey the will of God, but that we are dependent upon the Holy Spirit for the enabling power to do it. Trusting God, 1988, p. 197. Used by permission of NavPress – www.navpress.com. All rights reserved. Get this book!” Jerry Bridges
Biblical definition of obey
In the Old Testament, the Hebrew words “Shama`” and “Hupakoe” are frequently translated into “to obey”, and “to listen in a position of submission” The word carries an underlying tone of reverence and obedience, of subordination as a soldier ranking under an officer. In the New Testament we also have the word “Peitho” which means obey, to yield to, and to trust in, to believe in.
1) Deuteronomy 21:18-19 “If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and, though they discipline him, will not listen to them, 19 then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gate of the place where he lives.”
2) 1 Samuel 15:22 “And 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 listen than the fat of rams.”
3) Genesis 22:18 “and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.”
4) Isaiah 1:19 “If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land.”
5) 1 Peter 1:14 “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance.”
6) Romans 6:16 “Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?”
7) Joshua 1:7 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.”
8) Romans 16:26-27 “but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.”
9) 1 Peter 1:22 “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart.”
10) Romans 5:19 “For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.”
Obedience and love
Jesus directly commanded that we obey Him as an expression of our love for Him. It isn’t that we can earn God’s love for us, but that the overflow of our love for Him is manifest in our obedience. We yearn to obey Him because of how much we love Him. And the only way we can love Him is because He first loved us.
11) John 14:23 “Jesus answered and said to him, “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.”
12) 1 John 4:19 “We love because He first loved us.”
13) 1 Corinthians 15:58 “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be firm, steadfast, always fully devoted to the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”
14) Leviticus 22:31 “Be careful to observe my commandments. I am the Lord.”
15) John 14:21 “Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”
16. Matthew 22:36-40 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Joy of obedience
We are commanded to delight ourselves in the Lord – to have joy, and enjoyment of God, is an act of obedience, not just a cause of it. The joy in our saving-faith is the root of all obedience – joy is a fruit of obedience, but it isn’t only fruit of it. When we obey God, He has promised to bless us.
17) Deuteronomy 5:33 “But following exactly the way that the Lord, your God, commanded you that you may live and prosper, and may have long life in the land which you are to possess.”
18) Romans 12:1 “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.”
19) Romans 15:32 “So that I may come to you with joy, by God’s will, and in your company be refreshed.”
20) Psalm 119:47-48 “For I delight in your commands because I love them. I reach out for your commands, which I love, that I may meditate on your decrees.”
21) Hebrews 12:2 “Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Consequence of disobedience
Disobedience by contrast, is a failure to hear God’s Word. Disobedience is sin. It results in conflict and a relational separation from God. God, being a loving Father, chastises His children when they disobey. While obedience is often difficult – we must be wiling to obey God regardless of the cost. God is worthy of our complete devotion.
22) Hebrews 12:6 “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.”
23. Jonah 1:3-4 “But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord. 4 Then the Lord sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up.”
24. Genesis 3:17 “To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life.”
25. Proverbs 3:11 “My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke.”
Salvation: Obedience or Faith?
Man is born utterly corrupt, and wicked. Adam’s sin has so distorted the world that man does not seek God. As such, we cannot obey without God giving us the grace to be able to obey. Many people think that they have to do so many good deeds in order to get to heaven, or that their good deeds can negate their bad ones. This is not biblical. Scripture is clear: we are saved by grace and grace alone.
James shows us how that plays out. In his letter, he is writing to believers. He acknowledges that their salvation is the act of a Sovereign God who saved them by the “Word of Truth.” There is, therefore, no contradiction between James and Paul. James is not debating the issue of justification or imputation, but of the person whose faith is by words only and his life does not reflect his salvation. James is differentiating between someone who professes faith but does not have saving faith. In other words, James is pointing out a way to help separate the true believers from the false converts.
We live obediently and produce “good fruits” as evidence of the change God has brought about in our heart. The moment we are saved, God gives us a new heart with new desires. We are still in the flesh, so we still will make mistakes, but we now yearn for the things of God. We are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone – and the evidence of our faith is in the fruit of our obedience.
26) Ephesians 2:5 “even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)”
27) Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.”
28) Romans 4:4-5 “Now to the one who works, wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation. 5 However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness.”
29) James 1:22 “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.”
30) James 2:14-26 “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but does not have works? Can such faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothes and lacks daily food and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, stay warm, and be well fed,” but you don’t give them what the body needs, what good is it? In the same way faith, if it doesn’t have works, is dead by itself. But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without works, and I will show you faith by my works. You believe that God is one. Good! Even the demons believe—and they shudder. Senseless person! Are you willing to learn that faith without works is useless? Wasn’t Abraham our father justified by works in offering Isaac his son on the altar? You see that faith was active together with his works, and by works, faith was made complete, and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness, and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. In the same way, wasn’t Rahab the prostitute also justified by works in receiving the messengers and sending them out by a different route? For just as the body without the spirit is dead. Wasn’t Abraham our father, so also faith without works is dead.”
Why is obedience to God important?
When we obey God we are imitating God in His attributes of love, holiness, and humility. It is a way that the Christian can grow in progressive sanctification. When we obey, God will bless us. Obedience also is essential for worshipping God in the way that He has commanded.
31) 1 Samuel 15:22 “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 listen than the fat of rams.”
32) John 4:23-24 “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
33) John 7:17 “If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority.”
The Holy Spirit and obedience
The Holy Spirit enables us to obey. Obedience springs from our gratitude to God for His blessings, mercy, and grace. As Christians, we individually will bear the responsibility for our own spiritual growth, but it is impossible without the power of God. That process, progressive sanctification, occurs when we increase in our knowledge of Him, our love for Him, and our obedience to Him. Even the person accepting the call to salvation is an act of obedience.
So, let us joyfully and eagerly seek after our Savior. At every opportunity encourage one another in their walk with Christ. Let us live in submission and obedience to Him, for He is worthy.
34) John 14:21 “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”
35) John 15:10 “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in His love.”
36) Philippians 2:12-13 “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”
37) Hebrews 10:24 “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.”
Examples of obedience in the Bible
38) Hebrews 11:8 “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.”
39) Genesis 22:2-3 “Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.” 3 Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about.”
40) Philippians 2:8 “And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!”