What Constitutes Obedience?

Text: Matthew 21:28-32


I.         When is obedience truly obedience?

            A.        People seem to have varying ideas about what obedience actually means.

                        1.         Perhaps not by words, but definitely by what is done.

II.        Inadequate obedience

            A.        Inaction

                        1.         Matthew 21:28-32 - The one son claimed he would obey, but did nothing

                        2.         In essence this is subtracting from what was commanded

            B.        Obedience with modification

                        1.         Saul illustrates this well

                                    a.         The command - I Samuel 15:1-3

                                    b.         The result - I Samuel 15:9

                                    c.         His claim - I Samuel 15:13

                                    d.         The truth - I Samuel 15:16-23

                        2.         Alterations does not constitute obedience

                        3.         Sometimes the alterations aren’t all that different, as with Moses

                                    a.         The command - Numbers 20:7-8

                                    b.         The result - Numbers 20:9-11

                                    c.         The truth - Numbers 20:12

                        4.         Notice the tie of belief and obedience.

                                    a.         The desire to alter what was commanded indicates a lack of trust

                                    b.         There is a feeling that changing it will some how improve the results.

            C.        Obedience to things not commanded

                        1.         Again we find people will claim obedience even while they do things differently - Matthew 7:21-23

                        2.         The justification is because they see it as something good, but it still isn’t God’s will.

                        3.         In this we have additions being made to the commands

III.       Requirements for Obedience

            A.        Don’t add or take away - Deuteronomy 4:2; Revelation 22:18-19

            B.        Don’t modify - Galatians 1:6-10

            C.        Stay within the bounds of God’s commands - II John 9

IV.      Excuses for disobedience

            A.        It isn’t a salvation issue

                        1.         By this people are rating the commands of God.

                        2.         If a command isn’t seen as directly affecting our salvation, then the claim is obedience is not important.

                        3.         But as we look at the examples in the Bible, it doesn’t follow

                                    a.         The source of fire at the tabernacle wasn’t a salvation issue - Leviticus 10:1-2

                                    b.         Whether Moses struck the rock wasn’t a salvation issue - Numbers 20:7-12

                                    c.         Whether Saul kept some things back wasn’t a salvation issue - I Samuel 15:1-23

                                    d.         Keeping the ark from falling wasn’t a salvation issue - II Samuel 6:1-7

                                    e.         Lying about the amount of a gift wasn’t a salvation issue - Acts 5:1-11

                        4.         It is presumptuous for men to decide which of God’s commands can be ignored

            B.        It isn’t necessary

                        1.         Here the argument is altered slightly. A scale of necessity to reach a conclusion is placed on commands.

                        2.         For example, Baptists will claim that baptism is not necessary for salvation.

                                    a.         They will admit that people should do it, and state that a saved person will want to do it, but they insist it isn’t necessary.

                                    b.         Yet the decision regarding necessity is not based on what God said. It is based on human opinion.

                        3.         The sum is truth, not the part - Psalm 119:160

                        4.         Leaving out a part leaves you guilty of all - James 2:10-11

            C.        It will turn people away

                        1.         Here obedience is rated by the scale of popularity

                        2.         We should not be ashamed of the Gospel - Romans 1:16

                        3.         True, it won’t be popular. Truth isn’t popular - Matthew 7:13-14

V.        What requires obedience

            A.        Faith requires obedience

                        1.         Israel did could not enter because of disobedience - Hebrews 3:18

                        2.         But they disobeyed because they did not believe - Hebrews 3:19

                        3.         Faith spurs obedience - Romans 16:25-27

            B.        Love requires obedience

                        1.         If we love Jesus, we will obey - John 14:15

                        2.         Love is shown in our willingness to obey - I John 5:3

            C.        Without obedience, you cannot be saved because without full obedience you demonstrate both your lack of faith and your lack of love.

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