“As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance” (1 Peter 1:14 ESV).
As mentioned previously, the word “obey” often generates a sense of internal resistance. Yet there are several Biblical instances where God ordains a commitment to obedience in our relationships with others. Colossians 3:20 offers one such example: “Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord” (Colossians 3:20).
We find another example in the New Testament epistle of Titus: “Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work” (Titus 3:1). We also have the following counsel regarding church leadership from the epistle to the Hebrews: “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you” (Hebrews 13:17).
If we struggle to fulfill these initiatives, it may help to think of them as duties or responsibilities that have been entrusted to us. We can honor God by acting on these directives, for in doing so, we are indirectly acting in obedience to Him. We can follow that path willingly, or unwillingly as illustrated by the following excerpt from the Biblical book of Psalms…
“The Lord says, ‘I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you. Do not be like a senseless horse or mule that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control'” (Psalm 32:-9 NLT).
In addition, we should remember that virtually everyone is required to demonstrate obedience in one form or another. Just as one authority figure must act in obedience to those with higher levels of authority, no one escapes this responsibility. Nevertheless, we must balance that commitment with the acknowledgement that human obedience ultimately lies with the highest authority, God Himself.
That recognition should prompt us to reject those authorities who seek to compel us to act illegally, immorally, or unethically. Authorities who demand obedience in violation of clear Biblical standards are those who justify an exception to this general rule. As the Apostle Peter himself once said, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).
We will consider this responsibility in greater detail in later portions of our look at the Epistle of 1 Peter. But for now, we can say that if we are faced with such a choice, we, like Peter, we ought to obey God rather than men.