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Obedience

In speak­ing of Christ’s humil­i­ty, Saint Paul said that Jesus was obe­di­ent to God His Father “unto death, even death on a cross.” (Philip­pi­ans 2:8) In truth, Jesus obeyed God in all that He did.

For I have come down from heav­en, not to do my will, but the will of Him who sent me. And this is the will of Him who sent me, that I should lose noth­ing of all that He has giv­en me, but raise it up on the last day. (John 6:38–39)

All that Jesus has and is, He has received from God the Father. From all eter­ni­ty, the Son has lis­tened to the Father in order to do His work and to accom­plish His will. The will of God is that the Son should become a man, take up the sins of the world and die in the flesh in order to raise the dead that “noth­ing would be lost.” Jesus has accom­plished this in divine and per­fect obe­di­ence, giv­ing the exam­ple to all.

My father, if it be pos­si­ble, let this cup pass from me; nev­er­the­less, not as I will, but as Thou wilt…if this can­not pass until I drink it, Thy will be done. (Matthew 26:39, 42)

There is no degra­da­tion in obe­di­ence to God, noth­ing shame­ful or demean­ing. On the con­trary, to do the will of God is glo­ry and life. It is the high­est dig­ni­ty of man, his great­est joy and delight. (Cf. Psalm 119) It is the way of per­fec­tion for all, even for the man Jesus Himself.

Although He was a Son, He learned obe­di­ence through what He suf­fered, and being made per­fect He became the source of sal­va­tion to all who obey Him. (Hebrews 5:8–9)

Dis­obe­di­ence to God and His Son Jesus Christ is the source of all sin. Refusal to sub­mit to God in all things is the cause of all sor­row and death. Those who hear the Gospel and fail to enter into the eter­nal rest of God, do so only “because of dis­obe­di­ence.” (Hebrews 5–6, Cf. Deuteron­o­my 4:29–31)

In the Ortho­dox spir­i­tu­al tra­di­tion, obe­di­ence is a basic virtue: obe­di­ence to the Lord, to the Gospel, to the Church (Matthew 18:17), to the lead­ers of the Church (Hebrews 13:7), to one’s par­ents and elders, to “every ordi­nance of man” (I Peter 2:13, Romans 13:1), “to one anoth­er out of rev­er­ence for Christ.” (Eph­esians 6:21) There is no spir­i­tu­al life with­out obe­di­ence, no free­dom or lib­er­a­tion from sin­ful pas­sions and lusts. To sub­mit to God’s dis­ci­pline in all of its human forms, is the only way to obtain “the glo­ri­ous lib­er­ty of the chil­dren of God.” (Romans 8:21) God dis­ci­plines us as His chil­dren out of His great love for us. “He dis­ci­plines us for our good, that we might share His holi­ness.” (Cf. Hebrews 12:3–11) Our obe­di­ence to God’s com­mand­ments and dis­ci­pline is the exclu­sive sign of our love for Him and His Son.

He who has my com­mand­ments and keeps them, he it is who loves me; and he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and man­i­fest myself to him. (…) If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come and make our home with him. He who does not love me does not keep my words; and the word which you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me. (John 14:21–24)