People in the technology industry are likely to be familiar with the acronym WYSIWYG (pronounced wiz-ee-wig) which stands for What You See Is What You Get. This is used in computing to describe, that the content displayed (what you see) pre-production is the final output (is what you get) as well. However, in the Bible we see an account of this, not necessarily being true. It is given  in the book of Genesis chapter 13.

Abram offers Lot his nephew the first pick of the land to settle the dispute that had arisen between his herdmen and Lot’s. And Lot lifted up his eyes and saw all the well watered plains of Jordan, which included the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, and chose it for himself. But then the Scripture continues to record (in this account) that the men of Sodom where exceedingly wicked and sinful. While Lot saw the external well watered plain, he did not see the wicked people of the land in it, and in that sense, what he saw was not what he got.

Points to ponder:
Many a times, we like Lot, go after what we see, externally, without taking time to look at the core of what we seek and see. By choosing for ourselves the things that please our eyes, we deprive God of his right of choosing for us. Are you taking time to ensure that with the well-watered things we seek and see, we don’t also end up in a place that is wicked and sinful in the sight of God, for What you See is NOT always What you Get. Let God choose for you!

Genesis 13:10-13 (KJV)
And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar.
11 Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other.

12 Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom.
13 But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the Lord exceedingly.

The other side of obedience …

When the people of Israel renewed their commitment to the LORD as Joshua addressed them, after they were set free from the physical bondage of Egypt, they told Joshua, that they will obey the voice of the LORD and Him they will serve (Joshua 24:24).

If obedience to the LORD is one side of the coin, the other side is service. Service goes hand in hand with obedience. There are many of us who serve but not obey and there are others who obey but not serve. Jesus served God the Father in obedience to the will of God the Father. Just as one cannot serve without obeying, one cannot obey without serving.

Points to ponder:
Now, we who have been set free from the spiritual bondage of sin and the power of death, is our response the same as that of the Israelities – dual in its function, which is to obey AND serve. “To obey or not to obey” is synonymous to “To serve or not to serve.” For even Jesus Christ, came to serve (obey) and not to be served; how much more should we emulate that same attitude!

Joshua 24:24 (KJV)
24 And the people said unto Joshua, The LORD our God will we serve, and his voice will we obey.

To obey means …

The Bible mandates that we ought to obey the Lord and keep his commands. It also informs us that those who do not obey will perish (Proverbs 36:12). So what does this mean? What does it mean to obey? The Bible gives us the answer in John 3:16 which states “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him, shall not perish, but have eternal life.” This establishes the fact that when one believes in Jesus Christ, he/she will NOT perish.

One will perish if they disobey (Proverbs 36:12). One will not perish if they believe (John 3:16). This implies that disobedience is the antonym of believing. Today if you hear God’s voice (asking you to believe in Him), do not harden your hearts, but obey His voice. Today is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2). Just believe. In other words, Obey!

Point to ponder:
To not perish or to perish? is synonymous to “To believe or not to believe” which is synonymous to “To obey or not to obey?”

Obedience bring camaraderie and credence

The Bible instructs believers of Jesus Christ that when another believer walks disorderly, eating without working, not obeying the word, then one must have no company with this person so that he/she may be ashamed, but this must be done in brotherly admonition and not as an enemy (2 Thessalonians 3:6-15). So if disobedience brings separation (no company) and shame, then obedience must bring camaraderie and credence. Camaraderie is a spirit of good friendship and fellowship, synonymous with brotherhood. Credence is synonymous with trust or acceptance; an acknowledgment of one’s worthiness of belief.

Point(s) to ponder:
The questions that remains are
1. Would God and his people consider you/me to be a comrade?
2. Would they consider you/me to be worthy of belief, trustworthy and accepted?.

In other words, are we in obedience to the word of God, working for His kingdom so that we can eat?

Jesus said, his meat (food) was to do the will of God the Father, who sent Him and to finish His work (John 4:34).
What is yours and mine?

Let us not be busybodies, whose reward is not camaraderie or credence, but separation and shame!

2 Thessalonians 3:6-15 (KJV)
Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.
For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you;
Neither did we eat any man’s bread for nought; but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you:
Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us.
For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.
For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies.
Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.
But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing.
And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.

15 Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.

Who is given the Holy Spirit?

Question: Who is given the Holy Spirit of God?
Answer: To all who obey Him (Acts 5:32)

If obedience is the pre-requisite to being given the Holy Spirit of God, then disobedience (sin) would result in the taking away of the Holy Spirit of God. This is Scripturally sound as we can see from the life of two kings, Saul (God’s rejected) and David (God’s appointed). The Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul (1 Samuel 16:14) for he had disobeyed the commandments of God who chose to obey men as he feared them over God (1 Samuel 15:24). David on the other hand, even though he was appointed by God, when he sinned against God and man, by his sin of sex, lies and deceit, he pleaded with God, that God’s Spirit not be taken away from him (Psalm 51:11).

So obedience is the pre-requisite to be given the Holy Spirit of God, but obedience to whom or what? It can be sadly mistaken that obeying moral commands or to standards of life that mandate a pious lifestyle assures the gift of the Holy Spirit, because if this is the case, then anyone who can live up to the standards, can receive the Holy Spirit, whether they believe in Jesus Christ or not. Interestingly it can be observed that many non-Christians such as the Hindu hermits, Buddhist monks, Muslim Mullahs or Jewish Rabbis live a far more pious life than do most Christians. So it is of most importance to understand as to what the Bible means, when it says that “the Holy Spirit is given by God to all who obey him.”

Obedience as recorded in Acts 5 is used in the context of believing in Jesus Christ, as one’s Lord (Ruler/Prince) and Savior. This address was given by the apostles, who chose not to fear men, but God and obey him to be his witnesses. It asserts that it is to them that believe in Jesus Christ, as their Lord and Savior, that the Holy Spirit of God is given. So whether one is Christian or a non-Christian, unless one believes in Jesus Christ, the Spirit of God is not given to that individual. The Holy Spirit of God is given only to all who have put their faith and trust in Christ Jesus, and none other, for the Salvation of their souls.

The question that remains is “To obey or not to obey?” or in other words “To be given the Holy Spirit or not?”

Acts 5:27-32 (KJV)
And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them,
Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.
Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.
The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree.
Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.

32 And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.

From Obedience comes peculiarity and pricelessness

To be peculiar implies distinctiveness from the normal or usual or in other words “special”. To be a treasure implies someone or something of great worth and value or in other words “priceless”.

The Bible in the New Testament says that those who believe in Jesus Christ will be a peculiar people. They will be a chosen generation, a holy nation, royal priests; a peculiar people unto the Lord (1 Peter 2:9) But believers ought to recognize that there is a pre-requisite to being a peculiar people, of and for the Lord, and this conditional requirement is stated explicitly in the Old Testament. The requirement is to first obey totally. The Bible says in Exodus 19:5-6 that total (not partial) obedience to God is what would make God’s people peculiar (special over all other nations) and priceless (His very own treasure).

Points to ponder:
Do you/I want to be peculiar and priceless? Do you and I want to be distinct and of great worth? Do you/I want to be God’s chosen royal priests? If yes, then we must obey, not partially but totally (fully). To fear God and keep his commandments is the whole (and sole) duty of man (Ecclesiastes 12:13)

Exodus 19:5-6 (KJV)
Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine:
6 And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.

Ecclesiastes 12:13 (KJV)
13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.

The double reward of Obedience

From obedience not only comes pardon (from our sins) but protection as well. The Lord has promised to be on the side of all them that obey Him and when God is on our  side, we can be assured that no one can be against us (Romans 8:31).

From obedience comes not only pardon but protection; not only salvation but safety/security.

Exodus 23:21-22 (KJV)
21 Beware of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgressions: for my name is in him.
22 But if thou shalt indeed obey his voice, and do all that I speak; then I will be an enemy unto thine enemies, and an adversary unto thine adversaries.

Obedience comes with knowledge

And Pharaoh said, Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the LORD, neither will I let Israel go (Exodus 5:2). Pharaoh could not obey because he did not know “whom” he should obey! The Bible says, that the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea (Habakkuk 2:14), but until that day comes, those who know the LORD God Almighty, need to be sharing about Him and His grace to those who don’t.

Obedience comes with knowledge. If one does not know who the LORD is, how will they obey him? Our responsibility is to make Him known and the responsibility of those who know him is to obey Him.

Exodus 5:2 (KJV)
And Pharaoh said, Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the LORD, neither will I let Israel go.
3 And they said, The God of the Hebrews hath met with us: let us go, we pray thee, three days’ journey into the desert, and sacrifice unto the LORD our God; lest he fall upon us with pestilence, or with the sword.

Better than Sacrifice is Obedience

The following account is recorded in the Holy Scripture in the first book of Samuel chapter 15. 

Requirement: of God for Saul, the appointed king of Israel was to utterly destroy the sinners (Amalekites, led by king Agag) and everything that belonged to them. No one (including their livestock) was to be spared.
Response: of Saul, the appointed king of Israel was not total obedience; He spared king Agag and the best of the land.
Reason: that Saul gave was that he wished to sacrifice what he had spared as an offering to the LORD.
Result: of Saul’s action was rejection. God rejected Saul from continuing to be the king of Israel.

Though Saul’s reason sounds superficially as a good reason, but in reality it was not. Why, God wanted to completely (utterly) destroy sin and avenge His people. But the appointed king (Saul), disappointed the King of kings by not totally obeying God’s commandment (requirement). To OBEY is better than sacrifice!

Point(s) to ponder:
1. What may seem like a good reason (even if it is about sacrificing and worshipping God) can be unacceptable if it contradicts what God has commanded us to.
2. Disobedience (even partial disobedience) can lead to total rejection from God.
3. Total obedience is better than any sacrifice we can give to God.

1 Samuel 15:22 (KJV)
22 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.

Beyond Belief comes Obedience

When growing up, I learnt the song, Trust and Obey, for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus but to Trust and Obey. But it was not until recently that I learned from the Bible that Trust and Obedience are like two sides of the same coin. After one places their trust in Jesus, they must Obey Him.  This is the next step that one must take after they believe in the Lord Jesus Christ according to the Scripture to inherit eternal life (Hebrews 5:9). Not every one that saith unto Him, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth (obeys) the will of my Father which is in heaven (Matthew 7:21). Beyond belief comes obedience.

Points to ponder:
Have you/I believed in Jesus Christ? If you/I have, do you/I obey Him and do the will of God the Father? 

Hebrews 5:8-9 (KJV)
8 Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;
9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;