The Root of Disobedience

Here is your standard sermon on obedience:

“Adam disobeyed God and suffered the consequences. Jesus gave us a second chance but God demands total obedience. The devil will do what he can to make you disobey because he knows that ‘God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient.’ So do what you’re told and obey.”

Ever heard this message? If you have you may wonder, “How does the love of God figure into this?”

The preacher of insecurity has a ready answer: “Heed the words of Jesus: ‘If you love me, you will obey what I command’ (John 14:15). To love God means to obey his commands. God is to be feared and obeyed.”

Gulp. Sounds scary.

That sounds like the love of God hinges on my perfect obedience and, to be honest, I am not perfectly obedient. Does that means God won’t accept me? Does that mean I’m not truly saved?


Now the preacher of insecurity has you right where he wants you – sitting on the edge of your seat in mortal terror ready to swallow whatever list of instructions he has for you today. Using fiery rhetoric and chopped up scriptures he will whip you into an emotional frenzy of promising-making.

“Lord, I’ll do everything the Bible says.”

What happens next? Well, if your flesh is strong, you may be singled out as a walking-talking Christian success story. But if your flesh is weak, you’ll be shackled with guilt and condemnation. Either way, pack your bags because we’re going on a flesh trip.

Such is the life of the insecure believer.

What you misdiagnose, you mistreat

Having read my little rant you may think that I am against obedience. I am not. What I am against is flesh-powered Christianity, which is what obedience usually smells like.

To get to the heart of this obedience issue we need to go back to the Garden of Eden. To get the right answer, we need to ask the right question: How did Adam fall?

For many years, my answer to that question was: “Adam disobeyed.” Seems simple enough, doesn’t it?

God told Adam not to eat; Adam ate. End of story.

Only it’s not the end of the story. It’s not even the right story. Adam’s disobedience was not the problem but a symptom of a deeper problem, which is that he did not trust God.

In eating the forbidden fruit, Adam declared God to be an untrustworthy liar. Through his actions he was saying, “God, I’m better off without you.”

Big mistake.

Disobedience follows distrust

Like us, Adam lived in a world of uncertainty. Like us, he had questions he couldn’t answer. Here are Adam’s questions:

  • “Why did God forbid me to eat from this one particular tree?”
  • “What is this death he said would come if I eat from it?”

Adam was in the dark and that was the whole point.

God purposely set things up that way because he wanted Adam and Eve to trust him. By introducing uncertainty into their world, he was inviting them to a relationship of dependence on him.

If they had trusted him they would have lived. Indeed, they would’ve had abundant life. But they chose to distrust and reaped the consequences of their choice.

People think that God rejected Adam in the Garden but it’s the other way around; Adam rejected God. By spurning God’s words of life he cut himself off from the Source of life, and when you do that you die.

And that is the real story of humanity.

The purpose of life

Life is a set-up and it has been since the get-go. Life is an invitation to respond to the overtures of a God who loves us and desires to share his life with us.

There is far more to life than we can comprehend or manage. Try as we might we simply weren’t designed to cope with all that life throws at us. Rather, we were designed for a life of dependence on a good God who promises to supply all our needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus (Php 4:19).

The secret to life is not “obey or die” it’s “trust God or die trying” (see John 5:24, 11:25).

The bottom line is not whether you obey God but whether you trust him. It’s impossible to trust God and not obey him, but there are plenty of people who think they are obeying God yet they don’t trust him.

The two faces of unbelief

What does it look like to distrust God? Distrust has two aspects:

(1)    It’s Adam doing the opposite of what God told him to do
(2)    It’s the Israelites saying, “God, just tell us what to do and we’ll do it” (Ex 19:8)

Don’t be impressed by the Israelites’ desire to obey – it was a self-righteous boast in their own strinky performance. It was a flesh trip.

If the Israelites truly trusted God they would not have asked for rules. They would’ve said, “God remember your covenant with our father Abraham and bless us.”

Instead they basically said, “God we don’t believe your promises to Abraham – tell us how we can bless ourselves.” And God gave them what they asked for – lots of rules for self-blessification.

(Like that word? I made it up to impress you with my theological jargon.)

Today there are folks who, like the Israelites, are searching for keys and principles and guidelines and strategies – anything but God himself. They are doing their level best to obey all the rules in the Bible but the sad fact is they don’t trust God. They are trusting in themselves by thinking…

  • I will be safe IF I keep the rules
  • I will be accepted, righteous, and good enough IF I keep the rules
  • God will bless me IF I keep the rules
  • God will be pleased with my IF I keep the rules

It’s as if Jesus never came.

It’s as if we were still under the old law-keeping covenant.

If you know your Bible history, you will know that rule-keeping is a recipe for disaster. Don’t you see? The Israelites couldn’t do it and neither can you. Indeed, no one can keep all the rules except God himself.

It’s not about the rules

Life isn’t about rules, it’s about relationship. This is so obviously true that people have trouble believing it.

Here’s the takeaway:

An old covenant preacher will use carrots and sticks to motivate you to obey. Heed this sort of preaching and you will become an insecure, distrustful believer with an up and down lifestyle. Your walk with God will be a caricature of true Christianity and you’ll be a bad advertisement for the gospel.

However, a new covenant preacher will seek to reveal God’s unconditional love to you and from this secure foundation inspire you to walk confidently as a child of God. As you do this, you will find yourself obeying God effortlessly, and you will be a stunning advertisement for the gospel.

When you know how much your Father loves you and longs to be good to you, he is easy to trust.


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78 Comments on The Root of Disobedience

  1. I love it! Well done Paul. This is so clear and really hits the spot. So many people need to hear this, again and again.
    It is often so hard to explain to obedience focused christians what the difference is between obedience out of fear (mistrust) and obedience based on faith. You have done a sterling job. I look forward to your next post!

  2. This was soooooo good. Self-blessification!!! lol. I am truly going to use this in my next post. I will give you full credit though! Love this!

  3. Tomas Huerta // March 21, 2013 at 5:55 pm // Reply

    Long time, first time. Your ministry has GREATLY blessed me. I often feel that I need to wash the smell of carne asada off with some real revelation of God’s wisdom, mercy, love & goodness!

    *Adam & Eve covered themselves with ______ leaves. Jesus told the fruitless ______ tree to shrivel up, ergo perhaps _________ represent flesh, human effort to make it without God.

  4. I Love It ! Awesome ! also a Fresh Revelation on Blessification lol ! 🙂 I Love everything that Ends on Agape Note !! this last part a New Covenant Preacher will always seek to reveal…….

  5. something is in town. “Blessification” and i love it!
    thanks Paul

  6. Tell us what you think in <250 words…

    I think it's all a gift. I think we're redeemed by the blood of Christ, I then sit down and do nothing but REST. I think we're justified by HIS blood, same thing, nothing I did, have done, or will do, hence rest…. I think we're saved by HIS LIFE!!! Rom 5:10, His life being His resurrection, we know it's FINISHED because He was raised. I think we're saved by GRACE. By Christ's faithfulness that we didn't have the ability to OBEY, the ability to believe, Lord I believe help my unbelief, that He abides faithful when we lack Rom 3:3. I think we're saved by Doctrine. Take heed to doctrine and in so doing we'll "rescue" those who we talk to and ourselves. Redemption is not "justification", and neither are salvation. I was "saved" from a headache today by tylenol. Are we reconciled? You figure it out. Are we redeemed and justified? Yep… Were the Galatians always delivered from the Law, YEP, but they didn't realize it part of the time? What does that mean???

    That's what I think….

  7. I dont always agree with everything in your writings, Paul Ellis, but i do like the angle of this post, disobedience indeed is rooted in mistrust, i think christians across all different doctrines and beliefs should have a read, this is up there with your best blogs

    • What dont you agree with? Redemption? Total grace and not your works? Saved always saved? There is nothing that we can do to merit Gods favor? Please respond and let us know what you dont agree with. God Bless!

  8. Yay! A new post in the Eternal Security Series! I have SO been looking forward to this series b/c before hearing the good news of the gospel of grace I was literally living life as “blessably” as I could! (Self-Blessification was going on over here in a BIG way! Hahaha) It feels so good to be under grace and your writings are a refreshing reminder of the “flesh trip” I lived for so long! Makes me so grateful for what Christ has done for me all over again! Great post Paul, looking forward to the next one already!

  9. ‘By introducing uncertainty into their world, he was inviting them to a relationship of dependence on him. If they had trusted him they would have lived – indeed, they would’ve had abundant life – but they chose to distrust and so reaped the awful consequences of their choice.’

    This was such a beautiful clarification of life on earth……. We are still given the same choice as. Will we live dependent upon Him or will we try to elevate ourselves to a god of our own making? To think that we could be equal….. Grace has shown me that I dont even want to try, but rather to rest in His goodness and enjoy sonship. It is so much safer and easier than being a god unto myself.

    Thanks for such a great article!

    • Hi Pamela,
      Thanks for that.
      It verbalises what I have groping to understand and articulate:
      “By introducing uncertainty…” That’s it- the only condition that makes trust necessary.
      Everyone has uncertainty. But certainty about God’s nature and ability makes other areas of uncertainty irrelevant.
      To really be able to trust someone you must REALLY know THEM. The ultimate certainty that God wants us to know is that He is love.
      The Cross is what demonstrates that like nothing else can and it shows He is with us in our suffering.. and through the resurrection demonstrates His power to brings us out of it.

  10. Thank you, Paul. I love the term self-blessification and I will steal it from you. 🙂 Would ask for your blessing to use it, but I already blessed myself. 🙂 But seriously, thank you for the post, it’s excellent in it’s simplicity.

  11. there ya go, stirring it up again, good post.Question,in the Hebrew ,the word serpent implies because of the hiss a snake,and also implies a DIVINE ENCHANTER,do you think the serpent more or less hypnotized eve,something to that effect?

    • funny – was just reading this today… the serpent was the most crafty, subtle, and prudent of the beasts of the field (gen 3:1) – he had been observing them…
      whatever methods he employed, the snake caused adam and eve to forget that God told them to rule over every living thing that crept upon the earth (gen 1:28)… snakes included!

  12. Awesome! You spelt it out..clearly. It’s not about the rules. We need to hear this again and again and again.

  13. Trevor Lancashire // March 22, 2013 at 2:57 am // Reply

    You said, Paul, it’s not about the rules, it’s about relationship!!! Amen and amen!” Thank God someone kept all the rules and fulfilled them totally so that we can live forever in unbroken fellowship with Him without fear – Honestly can’t think of any better news than this!!

  14. hannah Janney // March 22, 2013 at 3:47 am // Reply

    Well, it seems easy enough to make godly decisions by your teaching, but I believe there are still hard, confusing ones to obey. What then?

  15. I find myself checking my computer 10 times a day looking for new posts. I love this! It’s like a new version of “Truth or Consequences”……”will the real Jesus please stand up!” He has and I can’t get enough of Him! Thank you Paul.

  16. So the fig leaves were Adam and Eve’s (which really is ours cuz if we were really honest we would admit we would have done the same thing as they did too) OUR WORKS/LAW to cover ourselves and at best it was prickly and uncomfortable (no peace). But God gave us His covering, warm soft comfortable animal skin (Jesus) even back in the Garden? I get it! I see the metaphor in the Garden.

  17. Another awwwwesome post! Pure Blessification! Simple and full of clarity!

  18. Great post Paul. I’ve got person who desperately needs this. I will pass it on to them and they will benefit greatly from this! Just one challenge for you though. I think you commit a logical fallacy when you described the “standard obedience sermon.” In all my years of growing and listeing to numerous sermons and pastors I did not get that message. I could name any number of preachers from one side of Christianity to the other who teach obedience rightly. You take the worst of preaching and cultish teaching and you generalize across the Christian spectrum….you can’t do that.

    Your truth and message would have come across just as clear without the false characterizaton. What is only partly true can not be wholy true.

    • You must’ve been raised in a grace-filled environment to have had such an experience Doug. What I presented was certainly a caricature, yet I’d bet good money that obedience is most typically taught from the basis of carrots and sticks rather than trust. Sure, it’ll be dressed up in the language of love and grace but behind the sugar are veiled threats and conditions. This is not a issue of logic but evidence and there is plenty of evidence of this sort of teaching on Christian television and in Christian books. I have shelves full of the stuff.

      • RESPONSIBILITY you have before God. Implication is carrots and sticks.

      • Paul, I guess I was raised more in a grace enviroment …in the sense I never felt like I lost God’s love even when I wasn’t living right. Growing up I never thought about it as grace vs law, just that God loved me. I didn’t mean to point out logic, but what I thought might be unfair to so many who preach rightly on these topics.

        Many people nowadays think this grace message is “new” they deride anything they believe is “old” because it’s not the “new grace message.” Truth be told many good churches have had it right for many years.

        A very good friend of mine, a former pastor held on to his faith by a string at one point in his life. “The string was: “that God has chosen him.” The whispering thought that God had chosen him and therefore must love him paved the path he eventually walk on to come back to a strong faith and relationship with the Lord.

        Thanks for taking the time to write your blog and take the “heat” at time also.

      • Your right Paul. Ive been to alot of churches that dress up Grace under works, as long as we are obedient, ask forgiveness, try harder. Although they are not bad people with wrong motives trying to sway people, its really a travesty that it ruins peoples lives as christians, cause its a yoke or a burden upon the shoulders. I know i used to be one of them. But thank God, I see that I am under total Grace, and there is nothing i can do to earn Gods Favor.

    • I think Doug that given the amount of comments on how freeing this message of Grace is, there are a lot of people out there who do not understand the message and all it entails. I think Paul does an amazing job of keeping it simple and breaking those mindsets that have been taught in churches in our generation and no doubt previously, and I can say I have hugely benefited from his teaching, even though I too was taught from a grace perspective. I still see the message of try harder preached, and get really tired of hearing it, and seeing the effect it has on others. Love Paul’s blogs!! Keep it up Paul!

  19. self-blessification. ITS A PAUL-ISM.

  20. yeah… i was laughin… bc someday “self-blessification” is gonna be on someone’s “top 20 paul ellis quotes”
    great article paul!

  21. Paul, have you ever thought about doing a post on the end times, about what you think about the prophecies of Daniel, and Revelation, ans some of the new Testemant scriptures. I totally believe some of the prophecies are happening today. Theres a scripture somewhere that says that the end wont come untill the Word is spread to all areas of the world. Can you explain?

  22. Barry Schmidt // March 25, 2013 at 1:44 am // Reply

    A good exposé with one CRITICAL element missing in my inexpert opinion. The first commandment God gave was , “Don’t eat from THAT tree.” God trusted man with that command. Without divine commands and obedience to commands THERE CAN BE NO RELATIONSHIP OF TRUST WITH GOD! Relationship with God without commands and obedience is MEANINGLESS! No commands- no possibility of trust. To speak of trust or faith apart from divine commands is utterly impossible. Trust without obedience is a lie!

    • Barry, your missing one critical element. If God our Father wants complete obedience to His commands, then what was the purpose of God sending His Son Jesus to die a horrible death on the cross for our sins? Or was Appostle Paul wrong when he said that we are justified by His Grace apart from our works? Please read Romans and it will explain that we are no longer under the Old Law works, works, works, But we are under Grace, The New Covenant. It is no longer about what we can do for God to earn His merit, commands, His Trust. God Bless!

    • i dont think the issue has ever been about God trusting man… its always been about man trusting God. 😉

    • You must not have any children. Trust has zero to do with orders, commands or obedience. Trust is pure vulnerability based on your belief that the other person loves you and would never intentionally cause you pain. I can issue orders to people I do not really trust. I can obey someone I also do not fully trust.
      I have an amazing marriage with my husband. That being said he has never made one rule I had to follow. He has never commanded me to do anything. Asked me yes but ordered, No way! Trust is not rules and obeying but love, hope and faith.

  23. out of the few commandments Jesus left us love one another,and love they neighbor as yourself. I find we can only obey them with his love.

    • I agree. We have to remember though that we abey because we love God, and not out of fear and commands because if we dont we will reap consequences. We obey becasue out of our Love for Him, for He loved us first before we loved HIm.

      • ok depending on what you mean by [reaping consequences],I guess what I was saying was the same thing,what I was saying in short is, I obey because I love him,and knowing there will be no reaping consequences from him, but sometimes from a unfortunate choice I made causes me to love,trust,etc and knowing he may discipline me,but will work all things for his and my benefit.

  24. Faith only in the sufficiency of Christ’s redemptive act is the working presupposition of an abiding posture, which in the New Testament is called “in Christ.”
    Abiding should be without condemnation even in the presence of failure, fear, reluctance, and/or disobedience. When Father asks for obedience, it is for the simple reason of teaching us how to walk in the Spirit.
    Failure, refusal, or outright fear to try is rather normal and from Father’s perspective is almost expected.

    Bob Mumford
    well said old buddy

  25. “Having read my little rant you may think that I am against obedience. I am not! What I am against is flesh-powered Christianity, which is what obedience usually smells like.” “self-blessification” I like these!

  26. Trevor Lancashire // March 28, 2013 at 7:57 am // Reply

    Obedience for New Creation folk in Christ ie Born again Christians, is not talking about obedience to Moses Law,dg but obedience to the Laws of th Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus ie. the Law of Faith. It was accounted to Abraham as righteousness that he believed God. It is our faith in Him and His Word that has saved us and made way for his gift of Righteousness to be ours as well as His Abundance of Grace – both received by our obedience of faith in these gifts (that He has supplied to us through His ‘finished work of Calvary’) – Romans 5:17 tells it all re the new born again creation folk – Both Righteousness and the abundance of Grace are gifts t be received – When we get this right then righteous acts will be happening unconsciously and almost accidentally rather than by our attempts to live by rules and regulations!!

  27. chrisvanrooyen // April 2, 2013 at 10:20 am // Reply

    Many misunderstand what happened in the garden and what the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was, it was not the tree of the knowledge of WHAT IS good and evil. If it was there would have been no need for the ten commandments.
    Man was now in this predicament he knew there was right and wrong but not what was right and wrong, additional to this when he unintentionally done wrong the voice of correction was not from a loving Father.
    Believing that man left the garden knowing what was right and wrong leads to the beginning of a distorted view of God.
    If the above is true it should change your perceptions of everything up until the giving of the Law, and even after that.

  28. that brings up another question.God was still walking and talking with man,do you think he would somewhat impart what was right and wrong? It doesnt look as if he let us wander around in the dark,although I have to admit,a lot of people seem to do that.

  29. Yes God was walking with man , not imparting what was right or wrong (law) but Grace. Law came later. Enoch is a example of this he was saved by relationship not law there is no indication that he was a good man only that he walked with God. Enoch saved by grace. Able is also referred to as a righteous man there is no evidence that he was a good man , his sacrifice indicates that the opposite is true, he understood how lost (bad) he was , giving a blood sacrifice as a substitute for his own blood. His blood later revealed its nature crying out for revenge. Able also saved by grace.

    IN THE DAY that you eat of it you will die. I believe that man was walking in darkness when he left the garden , the law also did not offer life but only magnified the darkness. The day Jesus was born light came into the darkness. You could say Jesus,s real death was at his birth life born into death. This displayed on the cross.

    • actually my wife,agreed with you,and as hard as it is to admit I was,well lets not say WRONG, I see the point,and afraid to admit I knew it before, I couldn’t see the forest for the trees. ………….actually I knew it,I was just testing you. I’m going to stop now,Im running out of excuses. GOD BLESS.

  30. chrisvanrooyen // April 9, 2013 at 12:37 pm // Reply

    Great chatting with you Earl, Blessed child of God.

    • Trevor Lancashire // April 9, 2013 at 11:52 pm // Reply

      Hi Chrisnanrooyen – Jesus provided the second chance and then did the ultimate – He performed what was necessary for the lost situation to be totally and completely redeemed for us all – it was done perfectly and legally – We were left with nothing more to do bit receive it as a gift! What the first Adam lost the second Adam redeemed – not for Himself but for us!! It’s almost too good to be true Good News – What we were not capable of doing He did!! We left with only the desire Praise Him and Thank Him and pass on the Good News wherever and whenever we can!!!

      • chrisvanrooyen // April 10, 2013 at 8:54 am //

        Hi Trevor
        Just to add, scripture tells us that Adam was not deceived, the question arises did he lose or give away his authority or did he make an unacceptable sacrifice,or what did his sacrifice entail and what did it lead to, maybe the birth of Christ and our eventual redemption.

        What was his disobedience rooted in.

      • Trevor Lancashire // April 10, 2013 at 11:57 pm //

        Hi again Chrisvanrooyen – You pose a very good question here! It seems Adam!s disobedience is rooted in his lack of trust that his Loving Father had indeed provided everything that Adam could ever require for his complete welfare with nothing missing!! Suppose we can be thankful that even though Adam failed the test Our Loving Father has still provided for our complete welfare in the face of His Son! He has done all things well! It would be interesting to hear what others have to say on this interesting question you have posed!!

      • see it was the woman,easy girls,just joking,[ it was her feminine wiles] He knew what he was doing.I could say more,but I think ill stop.

  31. chrisvanrooyen // April 11, 2013 at 11:36 am // Reply

    Hi Earl
    Maybe Adam loved her so much he could not bear to live without her, after all being alone with God was not enough he needed a helper,
    It seems woman will eventually be the completion of man and the original plan will be our destiny, after all there are no mention of female angel,s and we will be like them. So what man separated God put back together in marriage and completes this marriage in heaven.

    Now this all begs the question what did God want us to see in this woman he took out of us.Or what needed to be corrected so that she could be put back, our attitudes changed, enabling us to live in perfect harmony with her and God as one.

    She is the root of all of mans pride, not in her essence, but in mans pursuit to possess her.

    But we cannot escape the fact that she will be our completion.

    What was Adams disobedience rooted in.

    I like Trevor,s insights I would only like to add pride, to lack of trust.

    Eating the fruit was disobeying the one law and this could be easily corrected with punishment, pride and lack of trust not so easy.

    Would appreciate some replies from the ladies , and girls don,t blame the serpent.

    • Julie Coburn // November 3, 2013 at 5:37 am // Reply

      Hi Chris
      Thank you for inviting a response from the ladies. I would have kept this to myself, otherwise.
      My view is that Adam played a role in Eve’s deception. Follow me here for some background. In Genesis 2:16,17 it is recorded that God commanded the man, saying Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest therof thou shalt surely die.
      Then the next verse records that it was not good for man to be alone, and not until verse 22 did God even make the woman.
      From this, I see that God gave the command to man and entrusted him to accurately relay his command to others.
      From looking at Eve’s response to the serpent, it appears that Adam did not pass God’s word along accurately. In Genesis 3:2 We see that the woman knows that she can eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden (though the part about eating freely is dropped off), but look what else she thinks God said; verse 3: God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.
      Now looking back to Genesis 2:16-17 one can see that God never forbade the touching of the tree. It appears that Adam felt it necessary to “strengthen” God’s command by adding to it. With Adam began a misrepresentation of God. He both added and took away from what God said to him. He may have thought he was safeguarding Eve by “strengthening” God’s command, but Satan knew that his best shot would be in launching an attack on the one who was already deceived.
      I thank God that through Jesus, the bride of Christ has a husband that represents God accurately and did not stand by passively, but rather intervened to redeem us from the deception and reproach.

  32. chrisvanrooyen // April 11, 2013 at 11:49 am // Reply

    Here is a scary thought guys , maybe Jesus said that it is better not to be married because you can not enter Heaven without being in perfect harmony with your wife.Work that out with fear and trembling.


  33. I can’t help echoing what others have already said, but ‘self blessification’ haha brilliant…and ‘pack your bags we’re going on a flesh trip’ and ‘trust God or die trying’, you need to put some of those slogans on mugs, because I would buy the whole lot!
    Thanks Paul

  34. I must commend you paul, I am finally taking the time to look through the web site,I dont believe there isnt much that you havent covered, like i have said before,I must have some grace everyday, lest I forget,have you considered putting it on paper,or should I say volumes………….ps, theological jargon reminds me of a old saying……….[if you cant win them with the truth,baffle them with your BS]…..something to that effect .

  35. I was just reading this book, Jesus, the Gentle Parent: Gentle Christian Parenting by L.R. Knost. And saw this:

    “Consider, though, that Jesus said, “You will know them by their fruit.” (Matthew 7:16) referring to how we will recognize his children. And what is the fruit of the Spirit? Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Goodness. Gentleness. Faithfulness. Self-control. What’s missing? Nothing. God’s Word is perfect. And yet obedience is not included as a fruit of the Spirit. It is not mentioned as a measure of love for God or evidence of a relationship with God. That certainly doesn’t mean that God doesn’t want us to listen to his wise counsel and remain within the safe boundaries he’s shared with us. What it does mean is that it’s a heart issue, not an obedience issue, and he wants our trust and thoughtful, considered cooperation, not our fear driven, mindless obedience.

    Did you know, in fact, that the word obey doesn’t even appear in the original texts of the Bible? When the English translators of the King James version of the Bible encountered the Hebrew words hupakouo/hupakoe and shema/lishmoa they discovered that there wasn’t an exact English equivalent, so they chose the word hearken in their translations which subsequently became an archaic term and was later changed to obey. So, what exactly do the original words in the Bible mean?

    Hupakouo/hupakoe – to hear from above; to listen for; to lend an ear to.
    Shama/lishmoa – to understand, to internalize, to ponder, to reflect upon.

    And, in the negative form, rather then the word disobedience in the original texts, there is…
    Parakouo – to close one’s ears to; to ignore.
    The same mistranslation also occurs from the original Greek texts of the New Testament where peitho and peitharcheo are translated into respectively, obey and disobey but actually mean…
    Peitho – to be persuaded; to be moved; to respond.
    Peitharcheo – to remain un persuaded; to be unmoved by; to be unresponsive to.

    Taken together, the meaning of what is now translated obey in the original text of the Bible is more accurately read ‘listen to, thoughtfully consider, and respond to.’ That is a far, far different meaning then the ‘instant obedience’ often held up as the epitome of Christian faith and evidence of love for God and, by extension, the goal of so called ‘Biblical parenting.’

  36. Heb 5:8-9 “Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation. “Obedience is a must for any believer. Beware of any preacher or teacher that gives you permission to disobey on the basis that there are no longer consequences for those who live under that amazing grace of Jesus Christ, our Lord. There is a common misconception about obedience. Some take it too far to mean that obedience to rules and regulations are necessary for blessings; while others, as Paul has, state that disobedience is not a factor in judgment.

    I will ask a simple question: How can God bless a disobedient Christian? …

    There is grace while we learn obedience. There is no question. But there are some principles that have no wiggle room, such as forgiveness. If we don’t forgive, we will not be forgiven. If we are not merciful, we will not be shown mercy. The Bible lays out clearly what we are to do and not do as believers in Jesus Christ, and we MUST obey…

    • Thanks for your comment John. I know someone who values obedience as much as you do will heed our comment policy and keep any future comments brief (<250 words). Thanks.

    • Hey John, hope you don’t mind me chipping in.
      Hows it going??

      “How can God bless a disobedient Christian?”
      I don’t know, its a tough one, he is only God after all….. but if i were to hazard a guess, it would probably be the same way Jesus did with Peter after he denied him three times.

      I wholeheartedly believe that as a forgiven people (Col 3:13), we will forgive (Ephesians 4:32). And once we’ve accepted we’re forgiven, thats it, we stay forgiven. There isn’t a single scripture that undoes that.

      But, for arguments sake, and i’ll use myself as an example, what if i don’t forgive the man who killed my wife?
      He didn’t get caught, justice wasn’t done. What if i when all is said and done i can’t bring myself to forgive him for what he’s taken away from me?
      Do you believe in a God who would condemn me based on that one act of unforgiveness?
      If He did, would He not be just as guilty as me for harboring unforgiveness Himself?

      Is Jesus’ sacrifice enough to save us? Is it Jesus plus our forgiveness, our mercy etc? And how much mercy is even enough mercy?

      I wanna also add that no one needs permission to disobey, we do pretty fine disobeying without it!

      Hope you’re well man 🙂

    • Hi John.
      You will always live with fear if you read the bible base on your works. Now if you had a fight with a friend ,you failed to forgive him immediately after the fight and you die the next minute , per what you quoted you will surely perish. You are carnal and after picking a fight I don’t think immediately after that you can render forgiveness.

  37. A walk with Jesus,is the way to life

  38. Thank for the post, it does stir up our faith in the finish work on the cross. I realise its about drawing a clear line in your heart. Either you rest or work, either you Are saved forever or You were never Saved. You cannot serve two masters, NEVER. Paul How do I get copies of your books in Ghana. Purchasing online its not effective here because its difficult to get credit cards. Most of our purchases is done through cash payment.

    • All purchase options for all titles can be found here. However, I fear you will have difficulty getting the books in West Africa. We do have a licensee who has just started printing books in East Africa, but that’s a long way from Ghana.

    • Roshan Easo // January 9, 2016 at 4:23 am // Reply

      Emmanuel. Those are strong words. I would say that there is a joyful rest. A restful work.

  39. Hi Paul, Does this work for you.
    . . .and Abraham said to God, “no way you’re going to lay even so much as a finger on Sodom or Gomorah, Lot lives there and I know the covenant you made with me has extended to Lot. I have full trust in your ability to save”.

    However Abraham was a bit like us and thought there must be some limitations to God’s willingness and ability to save when surrounded by sin.

  40. So good.
    I rather like the term ‘self-blessification’.

  41. Aliya Blackson - Epstein // June 8, 2017 at 3:12 pm // Reply

    Paul, this really helped!

  42. What a great article. This really gets to the heart of the matter, doesn’t it. “what you misdiagnose, you mistreat” “disobedience follows distrust”. Amen! Our disobedience is equal to the degree that we distrust Him. Indeed the devil’s goal is to foster and maintain our distrust of our loving heavenly Father. Satan heaps on the condemnation to keep us from feeling like we can come back to God, but that is exactly what Jesus came to destroy – the works of the devil. The cross takes away his power to condemn you. Let’s listen to Jesus who says “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.” NO CONDEMNATION is what empowers us to go and sin no more because it allows us to COME BACK! Come back to our Father who’s love has not changed because we distrusted, and disobeyed. Exercising faith in the work of Jesus obliterates the devils hold on our lives.

  43. Pride. Pride isn’t saying “I am better than you”. Pride says “I don’t need you”. Adam was as naked as a new born babe. Everything he had came from God. How ludicrous to say “I don’t need you”. And the woman. Not only does she not exist if there is no God, she doesn’t exist if there is no Adam. The prodigal son says “I don’t need you, give me half of your stuff”. Much like divorce. Jesus is God. Independent. He becomes a man. Dependant. He is Lord. We need Him. Sin is saying “we don’t need you”. And the wages of sin is death.

    • If read Jesus letter to revelation churches, you will see thatbpeide is both. It’s arrogant to say you’re better than others.

  44. Loved this article. Thanks so much. It really divided the flesh from the spirit for me. What trust and obedience is and what an outward form of obedience without trust is. So interesting. The latter is easy to fall into if you still have fear in your life and religion.

  45. I believe that God was inviting Adam and Eve into a trust relationship, but before trust a relationship must be established. Trust is built on knowing someone, their nature and character, talking with them, hearing their heart, seeing how they respond in situations, etc. I don’t believe that Adam and Eve were created knowing everything about God, they had to learn what God was like, they had to develop relationship with Him before they could learn to trust Him. It was in this learning environment, this newly growing awareness and knowledge of God that the enemy was able to plant seeds of unbelief and question as to God’s nature and character.

  46. Geraldine Unger // May 21, 2022 at 12:09 pm // Reply

    I think the root goes deeper than trust, because we will surely fail at trusting even a trustworthy God. I believe that Adam and Eve forgot who they were in God. Forgetting that they were beloved children of God and that He was their loving father is what caused them to distrust in the first place. How could they trust what they failed to recognize? So I agree more with your closing paragraph about remembering who we are in Christ, only then will we trust, and then obey.

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