Obedience Is Not A Feeling, It’s A Decision


“Neil Marten, a member of the British Parliament, was once giving a group of his constituents a guided tour of the Houses of Parliament. During the course of the visit, the group happened to meet Lord Hailsham, then Lord Chancellor, wearing all the regalia of his office. Hailsham recognized Marten among the group and cried, “Neil!” Not daring to question or disobey the “command,” the entire band of visitors promptly fell to their knees!”

True leadership is obedient leadership, not emotional. Obedience is an act of faith. Disobedience is a lack of faith.

–        Quote: “Rationalization is one of the biggest obstacles to obedience.”

What makes a person an effective and consistent leader? Obedience!

Story: Traveling to GLC to learn what God had to teach me only to realize that my lesson lay in learning from my wife: “Be consistent.” In other words: “Be obedient.”

After 2 years, Jesus sent out the disciples in pairs without him, to practice what He had been teaching and showing them.

Mark 6:6b-7 “Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village. Calling the Twelve to him, he began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over impure spirits.”

After Jesus sent them out, they came back, gathered around Jesus in a group and reported to him all they had done, not how they felt about what they had done during the time they were doing it.

Luke 9:10a “When the apostles returned, they reported to Jesus what they had done.”  They taught what they learned from Jesus.

Not old sermons they learned from Rabbis stuck in Judaism. They were obedient.

Jesus was interested in finding people whom he could teach to obey who then unsentimentally would teach others to obey (Matthew 28:20), as opposed to those who were independent or controlled by their emotions.  He knew how deceitful feelings and the heart are.

Does your discipler address you as independent? Controlled by conviction or emotion?

Jeremiah 17:9-10 “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?
‘I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.’”

God rewards our conduct, our obedience, not our feelings.

That is why he called us to:

Luke 9:23-24 “Then he said to them all: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.’”

God took out many great leaders because they could not master their emotions.

You have a choice when it comes to your emotions. “YOU CAN MASTER THEM” … ”OR BE MASTERED BY THEM.”

  1. Saul – felt like he could filter direction and instruction, spin the facts of obedience to make himself look good in front of those he led (1 Samuel 15).
  2. Korah – felt that God was not in control of his movement, that he knew who the leader should be because he felt like Moses was harsh (Numbers 16).
  3. Judas – felt like Jesus’s way of being poor and sacrificial was not what God wanted for people who followed him (John 12: 1-6). (Too many special missions)
  4. Eli – felt like it was easier to let his kids lead him.  This in-turn led to the downfall of Israel and his own death (1 Samuel 2:12-25).  Satan has a carefully designed plan to destroy the role of the father. This was his plan from the beginning.
  5. Absalom – felt self-centered, self-willed, self-righteous, and extremely entitled. He also embraced undealt-with resentment, which led to full-on rebellion and the death of thousands (2 Samuel 15).
  6. Satan – felt proud of his beauty. He became proud and felt like he was not getting enough attention or praise from those around him, so he took a third of Heaven away from obeying God (Ezekiel 28: 14-17). (Recent events)
  7. Cain – when God challenged Cain about his emotional anger, God said, “YOU MUST MASTER IT.”  The fact that God said “you must” means “you can” because God doesn’t lie.  All things are possible with God. Genesis 4:6-7 “Then the Lord said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.’”
  8. Uzzah- felt that “A new way to do things” was best. This is what is called deadly disobedience. (1 Chronicles 13:9-12)
  9. Balaam- felt resistant to listen to God. He was tempted by the promise of fame and riches. Balaam asked God a second time if he should go with the king’s messengers after God had already given him clear instructions. God was angry and sent an angel to kill him, though he was mercifully spared, thanks to his donkey.
  10. Lot’s wife- felt like she “HAD TO LOOK” at the destruction when God clearly commanded her not to “view” the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen 19:17). This is much like the church’s direction to delete slanderous emails, Facebook posts, etc. One peek can take you out! The first person in the Bible that received a death sentence from God for disobedience was Lot’s wife. She’s also one of the only people Jesus says to remember.

As leaders you will struggle with many emotions. 

A. Why do I have to be a leader? Why haven’t I been given more to lead?
B. Why do I have to be more Godly than others? Why can’t I be more Godly?
C. Why do I have to be responsible for others’ sin? Why are these people making me sin?
D. Why do I have to be challenged harder than others?
E. Why do I have to give up what I want to do for the sake of others?
F. When is someone going to love and give to me the way I do to others?
G. It is unfair that people are so critical of me.
H. I have been unfairly treated, especially when I do so much.
I. I am a failure, I always feel like I am doing something wrong.
J. I am different, people do not like me.

The list is endless.


You must recognize them as sin and convince yourself they are sin or you will not try and change them.

If you feel justified in your feelings, then you will never truly try and change them, because you are holding on to the fact that they are true.  Your truth becomes “the truth.”  IT’S TRUE WHAT YOU FEEL, BUT FEELINGS ARE NOT THE TRUTH. Our perception of a situation is our reality, it is what we hang on to, so we must change our perception of the situation.

Biblically, this is called repentance, from the Greek word “metanoia,” meaning to change your mind.

Butterfly analogy: metamorphose – the caterpillar rearranges its cells to become something else.

When we study the Bible with people to become Christians, this is exactly what we call them to. Yet somewhere along the way, we can feel like it is unfair when we get challenged just as hard as we challenge someone to become a disciple.

Most of discipleship is helping people to see their sin. This does not change them, but it gets them to realize they need to change.

Here are some of the scriptures that help me break through my ungodly thinking or help me not to blame others for my situation and own my sin.

  1. Moodiness – Proverbs 18:1 “An unfriendly person pursues selfish ends and against all sound judgment starts quarrels.”  When I am unfriendly, it is because I am being selfish.  It has nothing to do with others.
  2. God hates pride – Proverbs 8:13 “To fear the Lord is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech.” God hates it when I am proud. I am in a state of hate with God pulling away from me.
  3. I don’t trust God – Luke 18:29-30 “’Truly I tell you,’ Jesus said to them, ‘no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.’”
  4. Give up home, love of parents, love of children for sake of Kingdom is the key being for the Kingdom.
  5. Being considerate – 1 Peter 3:7 “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.” If I am challenged on being inconsiderate, it should not surprise me as men are.  So, I need to just be humble.
  6. Criticality towards leadership – Acts 23:5 “Paul replied, ‘Brothers, I did not realize that he was the high priest; for it is written: ‘Do not speak evil about the ruler of your people.’’”

Criticality is simply faithlessness cloaked in a fine sounding argument.

Some of you may have different scriptures:

Luke 10:41-42 “‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’”

Philippians 2:14 “Do everything without grumbling or arguing.”

Ephesians 3:20 “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us…”

2 Corinthians 10:5b “…we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”


Write down exactly what you are being asked to do. Go to God until you change your heart.

This is different to going out to talk about your feelings with God, to complain or to pray without the intention to change your heart.  This will lead to more a lack of repentance and often bitterness.  You can wind up leaving a prayer to God more bitter than when you started. Why? You’re not going to God to change, you’re still acting strange.

Example: The endless complaints to God about my marriage.

This is what Gethsemane is all about. You pray to do God’s will.

Mark 14:32-36 “They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Sit here while I pray.’ He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,’ he said to them. ‘Stay here and keep watch.’
Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. ‘Abba, Father,’ he said, ‘everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.’”

There it is, not what I will, but what you will! Prayer helps you do the will of God.


1.     Prayers in the graveyard in Portland
2.     Prayers on Mt Tabor
3.     Prayer that helped me marry Michele
4.     Prayers that stopped me from loving impurity (beating on the ground in Terwilliger)

I need consistent large amounts of powerful prayer to keep my sinful nature at bay.

Hebrews 5:7-8 “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered…”


We all want to have deep loving relationships with others, but sin damages those relationships, leaving us lonely and often feeling isolated from God. The first step is learning to obey God’s teachings.  Only then will we go on to have deep and sincere relationships. Disobedient disciples usually are not close to others.

1 Peter 1:22 “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.”

Learn to master your own emotions, give to God and others, forcing selfishness from your heart.  Then you will see your relationships with God and others blossom into deep and fulfilling relationships.

This is seen clearly in marriage.  When you focus on changing you, then your spouse starts to blossom.

Acts 20:35 “In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

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