The word “obey” means to give ear to, to comply with the commands or directions of a person or law, to yield or submit to authority or one in authority. American culture has become radical about so-called “freedoms” and “liberties.” Exceedingly so. So much that millions now seriously believe they are totally sovereign in and of themselves, completely unrestrained and untied from any source of authority beyond their own choices. Disagree if you like, but many believe exactly that, at least as regards belief and behavior from a Biblical, spiritual, moral, and sexual point of view. How else do you explain the often heard statement, “This is my truth,” as a defense for some belief or behavior not so long ago considered untrue, illogical and even immoral by the culture at large, and still condemned by the Bible? Some 2,600 years ago God gave the prophet Jeremiah words to speak to the wayward nation of Judah — “This is a nation that does not obey the voice of the Lord their God nor receive correction. Truth has perished and had been cut off from their mouth” (Jeremiah 7:28). Bible students know Judah paid a high price for disregarding truth and not listening to God. Their precious temple was destroyed and the people of Judah were carried away captive to Babylon for seventy years.
The result of this widespread “this is my truth” frame of mind that says I don’t have to obey anybody is clear — when we don’t obey, we pay. A story tells about the father of a vacationing family who came across a large sign at an intersection. The sign read, “Road Closed. Do Not Enter.” Would you take that to mean, “Everybody except you?” The man apparently did, and started to pull around it, insisting it would save time. His wife tried to warn him, but he smiled and stubbornly kept going. He boasted about his supposed superior knowledge of the route as he drove along. But after about a mile, his smug smile quickly evaporated when he came upon a washed-out bridge. Embarrassed, he turned the family vehicle around and re-traced the route to the main road. When they arrived back at the original warning sign, he was greeted by large letters written on the back of the sign that said “Welcome back, stupid.” It is a silly story (and no, I don’t advocate calling anyone stupid, although evidence testifies moral stupidity is in abundant supply), and the price he paid might not seem that serious beyond some embarrassment. But his stubborn refusal to submit to the road sign reminds us when we don’t obey there is a price to pay. God’s Word calls children to obey their parents (Ephesians 6:4). Wives are to “submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22). Christians are to be “submitting to one another in the fear of the Lord” (Ephesians 5:21). Romans 13:1a directs, “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities.” Jesus said, “Why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do the things I say?” (Luke 6:46). If we don’t obey God we will pay (see 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9). But praise be to our loving God, Hebrews 5:9 declares that Jesus is “the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.” Obey God or disobey — it pays either way!