Why Obedience Is Not What We Think It Is

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February 15, 2022

1 Peter 1:22 NIV

22 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. 

CONSIDER THIS

22 Now that you have purified yourselves

I don’t like the sense of the NIV here as it seems to put the onus on the believer to clean themselves up. The Gospel is just the opposite. You present yourself to God, just as you are, and God cleanses you. And this is not a mere moral kind of cleansing, as in you need to be cleansed of your bad behavior. The issue is the heart, the seat of our affections and dispositions. The issue is not our unkindness or impatience or jealousy or lust or anger or any of the things that present themselves as our problem. Those are merely the symptoms. We have all tried hard enough to be patient and kind and pure and all the things we know we need to be, yet we still struggle, because we are working at the level of the symptoms rather than the heart. Jesus works at the heart level. He treats the sickness, not the symptoms. In other words, NyQuil doesn’t cure strep throat. You are going to need a Z-Pack (for our global family: a Z-Pack is shorthand for a particular antibiotic medication.) The Word of God is the deep medicine. Jesus is the Great Physician. 

We see this same word for purify, (pronounced hag-nid-zo) in James 4:8, which says, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” Note the order there. 

Now, let’s take v.22 the next step:

22 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth

We have such a preexisting concept of obedience it is again quite easy to miss the sense of the biblical notion of obedience. We tend to carry a negative connotation with the word “obey” because we immediately associate it with authoritarianism, which is the notion of an authority figure powering down on us. (i.e. Don’t ask questions. Just do what I say.)

The Greek term for obedience, hupakoe (pronounced, hoop-ak-o-ay) means in the most literal sense (hypo) “under” and (akouo) “hear”; to hear while sitting under. You recognize the term “acoustics” as coming from this Greek root. Obedience is all about hearing. So to obey the truth means to sit under the sound of truth “to hear while sitting under.”

Obedience does not mean compliant submission to an authoritarian leader. It means a deep kind of submissive listening to the authority of the Truth—which is the Word of God and the God of the Word. Before obedience ever takes a step, it sits down. Before the first hint of activity it is surrendered attention. 

This is what is so remarkable about Jesus. Over and over in Scripture the people speak of him as having an astonishing authority very unlike the religious leaders of the day.

Also fascinating is how Word of God repeatedly references Jesus not as a mere teacher of the truth but as The Truth personified; of being “full of grace and truth.”  

One more bit here. Remember the time Jesus visited the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus in Bethany? This was the time Martha was so busy trying to get everything ready for everybody. Look what is said concerning Mary:

She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. Luke 10:39 Jesus would go on to say, “Mary has chosen the only necessary thing.”

This is precisely the thing we are attempting to do every single day with the Daily Text. We are sitting at the feet of Jesus, under his authority, listening to his Word, and the Holy Spirit is training us to stand under and under-stand his ways. We sit under. Then we stand under. Then we walk under the Light. 

Sitting, standing, walking. It sounds strangely familiar to another text showing us what happens when these all-inclusive activities of our lives get reversed. 

Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.

And we didn’t even get through the whole verse. At this rate it will take us until Christmas to finish Peter’s letters. Oh well. As I like to say when it comes to the Word of God and there rest of life really—if you want to go further faster you must learn to read deeper slower. 

THE PRAYER

Jesus, you are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.  You are the Truth. You are the Word made Flesh. It is such a relief to know that we do not have to figure all of this out ourselves, that you teach us if we will merely sit at your feet and listen to your Word. It is such a relief to know we do not have to purify ourselves, that you actually purify us by your Word and Spirit. We need only sit in your presence and stand under your Word. Holy Spirit reorient us away from all our striving and to the place of surrendered sitting with the Source. Praying in Jesus’ name, Amen. 

THE QUESTION

Are you ready to shift away from the busyness of Christian activity and find yourself back at the feet of Jesus, sitting under real authority, listening intently to the deep truth of the Word of God, and trusting his active and powerful presence to do the real work? What will it take to simply get you to the source? 

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt
Sower-in-Chief
seedbed.com

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Farmer. Poet. Theologian. Jurist. Publisher. Seedbed's Sower-in-Chief.

4 COMMENTS

  1. The primary reason that I’ve found this series so helpful is how it seems to dovetail so well with what’s going on around us at this time. I truly believe that the hardships that many of us are experiencing at this time is Gods way of waking us up to the reality that we all reside in a world of darkness. The only one true light is to be found in Christ and His words. Our only salvation is total submission to his will. The curtain has been pulled back to reveal the myth that we live in a “Christian Nation “. Lead on O King Eternal!

  2. I believe that all humans are inwardly flawed and need supernatural help to think and do what’s right. Left to our own thoughts, feelings, and desires we will cause pain and harm to ourselves and to other people. The good news is that according to John 1:9, Jesus gives light to everyone and according to John 1:12, to as many who receive Him, He gives them power to become children of God. God’s light in people is called our conscience. If we begin to listen to our conscience, it will give us light to see where we’re off track. It will show us our need for supernatural help and demonstrate to us that we can only do what’s right by being inwardly transformed. Who can change us from the inside out? “If anyone is in Christ, He is a new creature; old things have passed away, behold, all things have become new.”

  3. The thing people must do first is to choose Jesus as their Savior. It is the only thing we must do to assure our salvation. Other than that , JD Walt and I agree.

  4. God’s morning Brother JD. “And we didn’t even get through the whole verse. At this rate it will take us until Christmas to finish Peter’s letters.” In a previous Daily Text you said something similar to the quote. Prayerfully I invite you to take all the time needed to sit with the WORD – Jesus. Take all the time needed to work through the letters of Peter- even if it take until Christmas. The above Word of Scripture sited “speaking,” is … WOW. Sit with the WORD. Share with us as given. Thank you for listen.

    Member of Intercession Prayer Team
    Brother DAle

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