Look the world over and you will find that nearly all the religions are in confusion over the matter of obedience to God. The majority of the worlds religions teach that no moral obedience is necessary, but instead only the fulfillment of mundane ceremonies.
Catholicism teachings have a similar view which, although requiring some moral obedience, provides no divine remedy able to empower that obedience—and offers only unrelated acts of penance now and purgatory afterward as solutions to the obedience problem. (Actually, in Catholicism, the important issue is obedience to the priest and the pope.)
Modem Protestantism has a strangely split view of obedience. It teaches that man has been freed by Christ from obedience to the divine law. At the same time, it frequently recommends the doing of many moral principles, but All the while emphasizing that if rendered at all, such obedience has nothing to do with ultimate salvation. Salvation, they say, is automatic to the chief of sinners—even though remaining the chief of sinners till his death.
Judaism clearly teaches obedience, but this is an obedience to so many piled-on man made laws and ceremonies, that it is fairly impossible to ascertain the requirements of God. In addition, no empowering grace is provided by which to render the proper obedience.
This narrows down the vast number of religions to but a very few. In fact, only Sabbath-keeping Christians remain. At this point, we note that there are some very special—and invaluable—beliefs of Seventh-day Adventist believers that the other Sabbathkeeping churches do not have. Crucial among them is the entire
Sanctuary message, as given in the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy. Along with this is a
wealth of other instructional guidance to be found in the Spirit of Prophecy writing. As a people, we have physical, mental, and spiritual information that stands above everything that the world and the other churches have.
Only Seventh-day Adventists know the truth about the coming crisis, and the special messages needed in order to prepare for it. Those messages are keyed to obedience to the law of God through the empowering grace of Jesus. According to our light, so are our responsibilities to obey it and share it.
In this present study, in which is given a distillation of Spirit of Prophecy statements on this topic, you will discover that obedience is both a CAUSE as well as an EFFECT of the underlying salvation process. It is so interwoven with Gods activity to get us to heaven, that none will go to heaven who refuse that obedience!
And you will find that genuine obedience
is not easy or automatic, as some theologians among us are now suggesting. Earnest effort is required to obey God, through faith in Christ. Contrary to modern thinking, no one will drift into heaven.
Obedience as an Effect of Salvation
"Those who, having heard the word, keep it, will bring forth fruit in obedience. The word of God, received into the soul, will be manifest in good works. Its results will be seen in a Christlike character and life." Christ's Object Lessons, 60.
"Without faith it is impossible to please God; for whatsoever is not of faith is sin. The faith that is required is not a mere assent to doctrines; it is the faith that works by love and purifies the soul. Humility, meekness, and obedience are not faith; but they are the effects, or fruit, of faith." 5 Testimonies, 437-438.
"All true obedience comes from the heart. It was heart work with Christ. And if we consent, He will so identify Himself with our thoughts when obeying Him we shall be but carrying out our own impulses. The will, refined and sanctified, will find its highest delight in doing His service. When we know God as it is our privilege to know Him, our life will be a life of continual obedience. Through an appreciation of the character of Christ, through communion with God, sin will become hateful to us." Desire of Ages, 668.
"And love is manifested in obedience. The line of demarcation will be plain and distinct between those who love God and keep His commandments, and those who love Him not and disregard His precepts." 6 Testimonies, 92.
"All the laws of nature which are the laws of God are designed for our good. Obedience to them will promote our happiness in this life, and will aid us in a preparation for the life to come." Counsels on Health, 386
"But to pray in Christ's name means much. It means that we are to accept His character, manifest His spirit, and work His works. The Saviour's promise is given on condition. If ye love Me, He says, keep My commandments. He saves men, not in sin, but from sin; and those who love Him will show their love by obedience." Desire of Ages, 668
"Hereby we do know that we know Him if we keep His commandments. 1 John 3:24; 2:3. This is the genuine evidence of conversion. Whatever our profession, it amounts to nothing unless Christ is revealed in works of righteousness." Christ's Object Lessons, 312
"It was only by faith in Christ that they could secure pardon of sin and receive strength to obey Gods law." Patriarchs and Prophets, 524
"The man who attempts to keep the commandments of God from a sense of obligation merely because he is required to do so will never enter into the joy of obedience. He does not obey. When the requirements of God are accounted a burden because they cut across human inclination, we may know that the life is not a Christian life. True obedience is the outworking of a principle within. it springs from the love of righteousness, the love of the law of God." Christ's Object Lessons, 97.
"The religion that comes from God is the only religion that will lead to God. In order to serve Him aright, we must be born of the divine Spirit. This will purify the heart and renew the mind, giving us a new capacity for knowing and loving God. It will give us a willing obedience to all His requirements. This is true worship." Desire of Ages, 189.
Obedience as a Partial Means of Salvation
"The Lord clearly defined obedience as the way to the City of God." Prophets and Kings.
"Christ does not lessen the claims of the law. In unmistakable language He presents obedience to it as the condition of eternal life." Christ's Object Lessons, 391.
"Man cannot be saved without obedience, but his works should not be of himself; Christ should work in him to will and do of His good pleasure." 1 Selected Messages, 364.
"How can you educate your children in the things of God unless you first know yourselves what is right and what is wrong, unless you realize that obedience means eternal life and disobedience eternal death?" Child Guidance, 65.
"The condition of eternal life is now just what it always has been, just what it was in Paradise before the fall of our first parents, perfect obedience to the
law of God, perfect righteousness. If eternal life were granted on any condition short of this, then the happiness of the whole universe would be imperiled. The way would be open for sin, with all its train of woe and misery, to be immortalized." Steps to Christ, 62.
"Abandon the idea that temporal or spiritual advantages will win for you salvation. God calls for your willing obedience. He asks you to give up your sins. To him that overcometh, Christ declares, will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne. Revelation 3:21." Christ's Object Lessons, 116.
The Blessings Received by Obedience
"All the instruction given to the Israelites of old concerning the education and training of their children, all the promises of blessing through obedience, are for us." Ministry of Healing, 405.
"In setting aside the law of God, men know not what they are doing. Gods law is the transcript of His character. It embodies the principles of His kingdom. He who refuses to accept these principles is placing himself outside the channel where Gods blessings flow." Christ's Object Lessons, 305.
Obedience is Not Easy
"God requires of His people works of faith and obedience corresponding to the blessings and privileges bestowed. Obedience requires a sacrifice and involves a cross; and this is why so many of the professed followers of Christ refused to receive the light from heaven, and, like the Jews of old, knew not the time of their visitation." Great Controversy 316
"Our only safe course is to render obedience to all His requirements, at whatever cost. All are founded in infinite love and wisdom." 5 Testimonies, 365.
"The mighty God of Israel is our God. In Him we may trust, and if we obey His requirements He will work for us in as signal a manner as He did for His ancient people. Everyone who seeks to follow the path of duty will at times be assailed by doubt and unbelief. The way will sometimes be so barred by obstacles, apparently insurmountable, as to dishearten those who will yield to discouragement; but God is saying to such, Go forward. Do your duty at any cost. The difficulties that seem so formidable, that fill your soul with dread, will vanish as you move forward in the path of obedience, humbly trusting in." Patriarchs and Prophets, 437.
"As the Lord co-operated with Daniel and his fellows, so He will co-operate with all who strive to do His will. And by the impartation of His Spirit He will strengthen every true purpose, every noble resolution. Those who walk in the path of obedience will encounter many hindrances. Strong, subtle influences may bind them to the world; but the Lord is able to render futile every agency that works for the defeat of His chosen ones; in His strength they may overcome every temptation, conquer every difficulty." Prophets and Kings, 487
God Never Compels Obedience; We Must Choose It
"God placed man under law, as an indispensable condition of his very existence. He was a subject of the divine government, and there can be no government without law. God might have created man without the power to transgress His law; He might have withheld the hand of Adam from touching the forbidden fruit; but in that case man would have been, not a free moral agent, but a mere automation. Without freedom of choice, his obedience would not have been voluntary, but forced. There could have been no development of character. Such a course would have been contrary to Gods plan in dealing with the inhabitants of other worlds. It would have been unworthy of man as an intelligent being, and would have sustained Satan's charge of Gods arbitrary rule." Patriarchs and Prophets, 49.
"God never compels the obedience of man. He leaves all free to choose whom they will serve." Prophets and Kings, 511.
"Christ saves none against their choice; He compels none to obedience. He made the infinite sacrifice that they might overcome in His name and His righteousness be imputed unto them." 3 Testimonies, 457.
Some Wait too Long to Obey
"It is as true now as when the words were spoken to Israel of obedience to His commandments: This is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations. Deuteronomy 4:6. Here is the only safeguard for individual integrity, for the purity of the home, the well-being of society, or the stability of the nation. Amidst all life's perplexities and dangers and conflicting claims, the one safe and sure rule is to do what God says." Patriarchs and Prophets, 83.
"The lesson is for Gods children in every age. When the Lord gives a work to be done, let not men stop to inquire into the reasonableness of the command or the probable result of their efforts to obey. The supply in their hands may seem to fall short of the need to be filled; but in the hands of the Lord it will prove more than sufficient." Prophets and Kings, 243.
"Those who defer obedience till every shadow of uncertainly disappears and there remains no risk of failure or defeat, will never obey at all. Unbelief whispers, Let us wait till the obstructions are removed, and we can see our way clearly; but faith courageously urges an advance, hoping all things, believing all things. " Patriarchs and Prophets, 290.
The Test of Obedience
Obedience is the test of discipleship. It is the keeping of the commandments that proves the sincerity of our professions of love. When the doctrine we accept kills sin in the heart, purifies the soul from defilement, bears fruit unto holiness, we may know that it is the truth of God. When benevolence, kindness tender-heartedness, sympathy, are manifest in our lives; when the joy of right doing is in our hearts; when we exalt Christ, and not self, we may know that our faith is of the right order. Hereby we do know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. 1 John 2:3." The Mount of Blessing, 146-147.
"Gods great object in the working our of His providences is to try men, to give them opportunity to develop character. Thus He proves whether they are obedient or disobedient to His commands. Good works do not purchase the love of God, but they reveal that we possess that love. If we surrender the will to God, we shall not work in order to learn Gods love. His love as a free gift will be received into the soul, and from love to Him we shall delight to obey His commandments." Christ's Object Lessons, 283.
Presumption vs. Obedience
"There are persons who believe that they are right, when they -are wrong. While claiming Christ as their Lord, and professedly doing great works in His name, they are workers of iniquity. With their mouth they show much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness. He who declares Gods word is to them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear Thy words, but they do them not. Ezekiel 33:313-32. Mount of Blessings, 146
"Righteousness is defined by the standard of Gods holy law, expressed in the ten precepts given on Sinai.
"That so-called faith in Christ which professes to release men from the obligation of obedience to God, is not faith, but presumption. By grace are ye saved through faith. But faith, if it hath not works, is dead. " Steps to Christ, 61.
Grace and Obedience
"Christ looks at the spirit, and when He sees us carrying our burden with faith, His perfect holiness atones for our shortcomings. When we do our best, He becomes our righteousness. It takes every ray of light that God sends to us to make us the light of the world." 1 Selected Messages, 386.
"When it is in the heart to obey God, when efforts are put forth to this end, Jesus accepts this-disposition and effort as mans best service, and He makes up for the deficiency with His own divine merit. But He will not accept those who claim to have faith in Him, and yet are disloyal to His Fathers commandment. We hear a great deal about faith, but we need to hear a great deal more about works. Many are deceiving their own souls by living an easy-going, accommodating, crossless religion. But Jesus says, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me," 1 Selected Messages, 382.
"When He sees men lifting the burdens, trying to carry them in lowliness of mind, with distrust of self and with reliance upon Him, He adds to their work His perfection and sufficiency, and it is accepted of the Father. We are accepted in the Beloved. The sinners defects are covered by the perfection and fullness of the Lord our Righteousness. Those who with sincere will, with contrite heart, are putting forth humble efforts to live up to the requirements of God, are looked upon by the Father with pitying, tender love; He regards such as obedient children, and the righteousness of Christ is imputed unto them." Heavenly, Places, 23
"The covenant of grace was first made with man in Eden, when after the Fall there was given a divine promise that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpents head. To all men this covenant offered pardon and the assisting grace of God for future obedience through faith in Christ. It also promised them eternal life on condition of fidelity to Gods law." Patriarchs and Prophets, 370
"One honored of all heaven came to this world to stand in human nature at the head of humanity, testifying to the fallen angels and to the inhabitants of the unfallen worlds that through the divine help which has been provided, every one may walk in the path of obedience to Gods commands. The Son of God died for those who had no claim on His love. For us He suffered all that Satan could bring against Him." 1 Selected Messages, 309.
"Christ has pledged Himself to be our substitute and surety, and He neglects no one. There is an inexhaustible fund of perfect obedience accruing from His obedience. In heaven His merits, His self-denial and self-sacrifice, are treasured as incense to be offered up with the prayers of His people. As the sinners sincere, humble prayers ascend to the throne of God, Christ mingles with them the merits of His own life of perfect obedience. Our prayers are made fragrant by this incense. Christ has pledged Himself to intercede in our behalf, and the Father always hears the Son." Sons and Daughters of God, 22.
"The grace of God in Christ is the foundation of the Christians hope, and that grace will be manifested in obedience." Great Controversy, 256.
"Christ was afflicted, insulted, abused; on the right hand and on the left He was assailed by temptation, yet He sinned not, but presented to God a perfect obedience that was entirely satisfactory. By this He removed forever every semblance of excuse for disobedience. He came to show man how to obey, how to keep all the commandments. He laid hold of divine power, and this is the sinners only hope. He gave His life that man might be a partaker of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust." Messages to Young People, 165.
"With Christ working in you, you will manifest the same spirit and do the same good works works of righteousness, obedience." Steps to Christ, 63.
"As Christ lived the law in humanity, so we may do if we will take hold of the Strong for strength. But we are not to place the responsibility of our duty upon others, and wait for them to tell us what to do. We cannot depend for counsel upon humanity. The Lord will teach us our duty just as willingly as He will teach somebody else. If we come to Him in faith, He will speak His mysteries to us personally. Our hearts will often burn within us as One draws nigh to commune with us as He did with Enoch. Those who decide to do nothing in any line that will displease God, will know, after presenting their case before Him just what course to pursue. And they will receive not only wisdom, but strength. Power for obedience, for service, will be imparted to them, as Christ has promised. Whatever was given to Christ the all things to supply the need of fallen men was given to Him as the head and representative of humanity. And whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him, because we keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. 1 John 3:22." Desire of Ages,668.
"The people did not realize the sinfulness of their own hearts, and that without Christ it was impossible for them to keep Gods law.. Through the grace of Christ we shall live in obedience to the law of God written upon our hearts. Having the Spirit of Christ, we shall walk even as He walked. Through the prophet He declared of Himself, I delight to do Thy will, 0 My God: yea, Thy law is within My heart. Psalm 40:8. And when among men He said, The Father hath not left Me alone; for I do always those things that please Him. John 8:29." Patriarchs and Prophets, 371-372.
Total Obedience is Required
"This is the rule of conduct for all who would become His disciples. Nothing short of obedience can be accepted. Self-surrender is the substance of the teachings of Christ. Often it is presented and enjoined in language that seems authoritative, because there is no other way to save man than to cut away those things which, if entertained, will demoralize the whole being." Desire of Ages, 523.
"The Lord requires of every one of His subjects entire obedience." Evangelism, 242.
"He [God requires exact obedience." Patriarchs and Prophets, 479.
"Thus we are to serve God. He only serves who acts up to the highest standard of obedience. All who would be sons and daughters of God must prove themselves coworkers with God and Christ and the heavenly angels. This is the test for every soul. Of those who faithfully serve Him the Lord says, They shall be Mine. . in that day when I make up My jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him. Malachi 3:17." Christ's Object Lessons, 283.
"Jesus requires implicit obedience and willing submission from all His servants. There must be no halting or self-indulgence in the service of Christ. There is no concord between Christ and Belial." 4 Testimonies 187.
"As the Supreme Ruler of the universe, God has ordained laws for the government not only of all living beings, but of all the operations of nature. Everything, whether great or small, animate or inanimate, is under fixed laws which cannot be disregarded. There are no exceptions to this rule; for nothing that the divine hand has made has been forgotten by the divine mind.. To man alone, the crowning work of His creation, God has given a conscience to realize the sacred claims of the divine law, and a heart capable of loving it as holy, just, and good; and of man prompt and perfect obedience is required." Sons and Daughters of God, 40.
"God has given us the rule of conduct which every one of His servants must follow. It is obedience to His law, not merely a legal obedience, but an obedience which enters into the life, and is exemplified in the character. God has set His own standard of character for all who would become subjects of His kingdom." Desire of Ages, 523.
"That God who walked with Enoch was our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. He was the light of the world then just as He is now. Those who lived then were not without teachers to instruct them in the path of life; for Noah and Enoch were Christians. The gospel is given in precept in Leviticus. Implicit obedience is required now, as then. How essential it is that we understand the importance of this word!" 6 Testimonies, 392.
"But it is not enough to keep the last six commandments of the Decalogue. We are to love the Lord our God with all the heart. Nothing short of obedience to every precept nothing less than supreme love to God as well as equal love to our fellow man can satisfy the claims of the divine law." 2 Bible Commentaries, 1012.
"God requires prompt and unquestioning obedience of His law; but men are asleep or paralyzed by the deceptions of Satan, who suggests excuses and subterfuges, and conquers their scruples, saying as he said to Eve in the garden: Ye shall not surely die. Disobedience not only hardens the heart and conscience of the guilty one, but it tends to corrupt the faith of others. That which looked very wrong to them at first, gradually loses this appearance by being constantly before them, till finally they question whether it is really sin and unconsciously fall into the same error." 4 Testimonies, 146.
"We cannot overestimate the value of simple faith and unquestioning obedience. It is by following in the path of obedience in simple faith that the character obtains perfection." Sons and Daughters of God, 71.
"We are to give ourselves to Christ, to live a life of willing obedience to all His requirements. All that we are, all the talents and capabilities we possess, are the Lords, to be consecrated to His service. When we thus give ourselves wholly to Him, Christ, with all the treasures of heaven, gives Himself to us. We obtain the pearl of great price." Christ's Object Lessons, 116.
Perfect Obedience is Required
"The law of God will be satisfied with nothing short of perfection, of perfect and entire obedience to all its claims. To come halfway to its requirements, and not render perfect and thorough obedience, will avail nothing. The worldling and the infidel admire consistency and have ever been powerfully convicted that God was of a truth with His people when their works correspond with their faith." 1 Testimonies 416.
"By His perfect obedience He [Christ] has made it possible for every human being to obey Gods commandments. When we submit ourselves to Christ, the heart is united with His heart, the will is merged in His will, the mind becomes one with His mind, the thoughts are brought into captivity to Him; we live His life." Christ's Object Lessons, 312.
"If we comply with the conditions the Lord has made, we shall secure our election to salvation. Perfect obedience to His commandments is the evidence that we love God, and are not hardened in sin." 6 Bible Commentaries, 1079.
"Perfect obedience is enjoined upon every soul, and obedience to the expressed will of God will make you one with Christ.. Of Him it is written, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, 0 my God: yea, thy law is within my heart." Sons and Daughters of God, 48.
"God desired to prove the loyalty of His servant [Abraham] before all heaven, to demonstrate that nothing less than perfect obedience can be accepted, and to open more fully before them the plan of salvation." Patriarchs and Prophets, 154.
Obedience and the Great Controversy
"The Lord desires through His people to answer Satan's charges by showing the results of obedience to right principles." Christ's Object Lessons, 296.
"Men will surely set up their laws to counterwork the laws of God. They will seek to compel the consciences of others, and in their zeal to enforce these laws they will oppress their fellow men.
"The warfare against Gods law, which was begun in heaven, will be continued until the end of time. Every man will be tested. Obedience or disobedience is the question to be decided by the whole world. All will be called to choose between the law of God and the laws of men. Here the dividing line will be drawn. There will be but two classes. Every character will be fully developed; and all will show whether they have chosen the side of loyalty or that of rebellion. "Then the end will come. God will vindicate His law and deliver His people. Satan and all who have joined him in rebellion will be cut off." Desire of Ages, 763.
"Satan knew the results that would attend obedience." Prophets and Kings, 53.
"True faith, which relies wholly upon Christ, will be manifested by obedience to all the requirements of God. From Adams day to the present time the great controversy has been concerning obedience to Gods law. In all ages there have been those who claimed a right to the favor of God even while they were disregarding some of His commands. But the Scriptures declare that by works is faith made perfect; and that, without the works of obedience, faith is dead. James 2:22,17. He that professes to know God, and keepth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 1 John 2:4." Patriarchs and Prophets, 73.
"In the last great conflict of the controversy with Satan those who are loyal to God will see every earthly support cut off. Because they refuse to break His law in obedience to earthly powers, they will be forbidden to buy or sell. It will finally be decreed that they shall be put to death. See Revelation 13:11-17. But to the obedient is given the promise, He shall dwell on high: his place of defense shall be the munitions of rocks: bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure. Isaiah 33:16. By this promise the children of God will live. When the earth shall be wasted with famine, they shall be fed." Desire of Ages. 121
"That the law which was spoken by Gods own voice is faulty, that some specification has been set aside, is the claim which Satan now puts forward. It is the last great deception that he will bring upon the world. He needs not to assail the whole law; it he can lead men to disregard one precept, his purpose is gained." Desire of Ages, 763.
"Obedience to every word of God is another condition of success. Victories are not gained by ceremonies or display, but by simple obedience to the highest General, the Lord God of heaven. He who trusts in the Leader will never know defeat. Defeat comes in depending on human methods, human inventions, and placing the divine secondary. Obedience was the lesson that the Captain of the Lords host sought to teach the vast armies of Israel obedience in things in which they could see no success. When there is obedience to the voice of our Leader, Christ will conduct His battles in ways that will surprise the greatest powers of earth." 6 Testimonies, 140.
"Another deception was now to be brought forward. Satan declared that mercy destroyed justice, that the death of Christ abrogated the Fathers law. Had it been possible for the law to be changed or abrogated, then Christ need not have died. But to abrogate the law would be to immortalize transgression, and place the world under Satan's control it was because the law was changeless, because man could be saved only through obedience to its precepts, that Jesus was lifted upon the cross. Yet the very means by which Christ established the law Satan represented as destroying it. Here will come the last conflict of the great controversy between Christ and Satan." Desire of Ages, 762.