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Holman Bible Dictionary

Obedience

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To hear God's Word and act accordingly. The word translated “obey” in the Old Testament means “to hear” and is often so translated. In the New Testament, several words describe obedience. One word means “to hear or to listen in a state of submission.” Another New Testament word often translated “obey” means “to trust.”

The person's obedient response to God's Word is a response of trust or faith. Thus, to really hear God's Word is to obey God's Word (Exodus 19:5; Jeremiah 7:23 ).

The Bible views disobedience as a failure to hear and do God's Word (Psalm 81:11 ). Israel's story was one of a nation who failed to hear or to listen to God (Jeremiah 7:13; Hosea 9:17 ). Jesus warned: “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matthew 11:15 ).

How does obedience affect one's spiritual life? Obedience is essential to worship (1 Samuel 15:22; John 4:23-24 ). The obedience of faith brings about salvation (Romans 1:5 , Romans 10:16-17 ). Obedience secures God's blessings (John 14:23; 1 John 2:17; Revelation 22:14 ). Spiritual insight is gained through obedience (John 7:17 ). A life of obedience to God is the fruit of faith (James 2:21-26 ).

True obedience means imitating God in holiness, humility, and love (1 Peter 1:15; John 13:34; Philippians 2:5-8 ). True disciples do the will of God (Matthew 7:21 ). Facing clashing claims for one's allegiance, the Christian obeys God rather than other persons (Acts 5:29 ).

What motivates us to obey God? Obedience springs from gratitude for grace received (Romans 12:12 ). Christians obey God as an expression of their spiritual freedom (Galatians 5:13; 1 Peter 2:16 ). Jesus taught that our love for God motivates us to obey Him (John 14:21 , John 14:23-24; John 15:10 ).

How does obedience affect our relationships with others? The Bible speaks of obedience from the wife to the husband (Ephesians 5:22 ), from children to their parents (Ephesians 6:1 ), from slaves to masters (Colossians 3:22 ). Obedience with joy should be shown to church leaders (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 ). Obedience is expected from all Christians to persons in authority (1 Peter 2:13-14 ).

The New Testament places special emphasis on Jesus' obedience. Christ's obedience stands in contrast to Adam's disobedience (Romans 5:12-21 ). A desire to obey the will of God motivated Jesus' actions (Luke 4:43; John 5:30 ). Jesus acted and spoke only as the Father directed (John 3:34 ). By living a life of obedience, Jesus showed Himself to be the Savior (Hebrews 5:7-10 ). Christ's work on the cross is viewed as a sacrifice of obedience (Romans 5:19; Hebrews 10:7-10 ).

God has spoken in the Scriptures. Disobedience to God's Word comes from a sinful heart—a heart that will not trust God. Obedience comes from a heart that trusts God. If God's people obey Him, they find the blessings He yearns to give. If they disobey, believers receive judgment and necessary discipline.

Gary Hardin


Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.

Bibliography Information
Butler, Trent C. Editor. Entry for 'Obedience'. Holman Bible Dictionary. http://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hbd/view.cgi?n=4667. 1991.

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