What Is Obedience? What Does it Mean to Obey God?

Find inspiring scripture quotes on obedience and simple examples of obedience we can practice developing our faith. 

Updated Oct 13, 2023
What Is Obedience? What Does it Mean to Obey God?

Meaning of Obedience

According to Merriam-Webster, obedience’s definition is “the act or instance of obeying; the quality or state of being obedient.” Likewise, the definition of obedient is “submissive to the restraint or command of authority: willing to obey.” 

Furthermore, Christian obedience means submitting (obeying) to the commands (laws) of God, the highest authority, creator, and Father of mankind. If you have faith in God and believe Christianity is the truth, obedience is the practice of living by faith, obeying the teachings of the Bible. Read some of the best scripture quotes about obedience in this collection of Bible verses and find three simple ways to practice obedience below.

"…He who is obedient, is an imitator of Christ, and he who is proud and talks back is an imitator of the devil. So let us be careful, whom we are imitating, Christ or the devil…The so-called Christians must be true, in word and deed, and not false, only in name." ~ Joseph the Hesychast 

Christian Obedience

Obedience in a biblical and Christian context refers to the act of willingly submitting to the authority and will of God as expressed in the teachings and commandments found in the Bible. It is a fundamental Christian concept and is often associated with faith and discipleship. Here are some key aspects of obedience in this context:

  1. Obedience to God: Christians believe that obeying God is the highest moral duty. It involves following God's commandments, living according to His principles, and aligning one's actions and choices with His will. This is based on the belief that God is the ultimate authority and source of truth.

  2. Obedience to Jesus Christ: For Christians, Jesus Christ is seen as the ultimate example of obedience to God. They strive to follow His teachings and example, including His commandment to love one another and His Sermon on the Mount, which includes principles of righteousness and ethical living.

  3. Faith and Obedience: Obedience is often seen as a demonstration of one's faith in God. The Bible teaches that faith without works is dead (James 2:26), meaning that genuine faith leads to obedient actions. Christians are called to demonstrate their faith through their actions and obedience to God's will.

  4. Biblical Commandments: Obedience in the Christian context involves following the moral and ethical guidelines laid out in the Bible. The Ten Commandments, found in the Old Testament, are a foundational set of moral principles that guide Christian behavior.

  5. Repentance and Forgiveness: When Christians fall short of God's standards, they are encouraged to repent, seek forgiveness, and return to obedience. The Christian faith emphasizes God's grace and forgiveness, allowing believers to reconcile with God through faith in Jesus Christ.

  6. The Holy Spirit: Christians believe that the Holy Spirit helps them in their journey of obedience by providing guidance, courage, and empowerment to live in accordance with God's will.

  7. Obedience in Daily Life: Obedience is not limited to religious rituals but extends to all aspects of life. It encompasses how one treats others, conducts business, serves the community, and more. It is about living a life that reflects Christian values and principles.

Christian Quotes on Obedience

"Obedience is the medicine compounded of virtues, giving life to those who drink it, and the knife which, with one cut, cleans festering wounds. A man who, in faith and simplicity, has chosen to wield this knife, at once cuts off all passions, more completely than anyone..." ~ Gregory of Sinai

"A truly intelligent man has only one care -- wholeheartedly to obey Almighty God and to please Him. The one and only thing he teaches his soul is how best to do things agreeable to God, thanking Him for His merciful Providence in whatever may happen in his life. For just as it would be unseemly not to thank physicians for curing our body, even when they give us bitter and unpleasant remedies, so too would it be to remain ungrateful to God for things that appear to us painful, failing to understand that everything happens through His Providence for our good. In this understanding and this faith in God lie salvation and peace of soul." ~ Anthony the Great

"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's commands are designed to guide you to life's very best. You will not obey Him, if you do not believe Him and trust Him. You cannot believe Him if you do not love Him. You cannot love Him unless you know Him." ~ Henry Blackaby

"Wicked men obey from fear; good men, from love." ~ Augustine

Bible Verses on Obedience

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments." - John 14:15

"But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men." - Acts 5:29

"As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance" - 1 Peter 1:14

"For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome." - 1 John 5:3

"If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land;" - Isaiah 1:19

“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?" - Luke 6:46

“But if you carefully obey his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries." - Exodus 23:22

"I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I set your rules before me." - Psalm 119:30

"But I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here." - John 14:31

How to Obey God: 3 Forms of Christian Obedience

The first two forms of Christian obedience given here come from Jesus’ teaching about the “greatest commandment of the law” in Matthew 22.

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets." - Matthew 22:36-40 

1. Love the Lord your God: Obedience can be simply to honor and praise God for your life and the blessings within. While this may seem obvious and easy, there are many distractions in the modern world (technology in particular) that can sidetrack us from appreciating the glory of God in our daily lives. We must focus on obeying the greatest commandment of Jesus and love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, and mind, giving thanks to Him continually. 

2. Love your neighbor as yourself: Continuing with the teaching from Matthew 22, our next example of obedience is to love your neighbor as yourself. In order to love our neighbors, friends, and even family, we must forgive them for their trespasses against us. As the Lord’s prayer says, “And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Matthew 6:14 tells us, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” Because humans are imperfect, trespasses against us will occur, so it is vital to forgive in order to love our neighbor. Obeying God means putting his commandments above our egoic desires to hold resentment toward others. Forgive and let go of anger!

3. Prayer: The Bible literally tells us to “pray without ceasing” in 1 Thessalonians 5:17. To live by faith means to live by prayer, commonly going to God in supplication and thanksgiving. If you feel that you are struggling with understanding or practicing obedience, pray for guidance and inspiration. Moreover, prayer itself is a form of obedience, as scripture says to humble ourselves and pray.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” - Philippians 4:6

(Bonus) Read the Bible: Scripture is the Word of God and a magnificent source of wisdom and encouragement to know and obey the commandments of God. Look to the Bible for inspiration in your devotion to obedience. May God bless you with love, peace, and faith.

Photo Credit: Sparrowstock

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