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Obedience (and Trust and Knowing God)

“Obedience is the mark of a relationship with Christ that truly knows Him. We can say we love him, but love is unseen. The evidence of our love is our obedience. Thus, the Lord said, “If you love me keep my commandments” (John 14:15). We do not know Christ because we obey His commands. Our motivation for following Christ’s instructions is our love for Him. But the apostle reassures us that our observance of the Lord’s teachings confirms that we “know Christ.” We discover in today’s passage that there is a reciprocal relationship between obedience and love. The apostle writes, “But whoever keeps His Word, truly the love of God is perfected in Him (1 John 2:5). Thus, obeying His Word gives evidence that we love God. Conversely, obedience to the Lord makes that love perfect; that is, it brings it to completion…” (Fr. Basil)

“ “know him.” The verb יָדַע (yadaʿ) includes the meanings “to know (a fact, idea, or person), to learn or realize (to come to know something), to experience (to come to know a circumstance), to acknowledge or care for (to act in a way consistent with a person’s station, whether authority or need). That knowing, or acknowledging, God means to obey him (live in a way consistent with His authority) is clear in negative formulations; those who do not know Him do not obey (Exod 5:2; 1 Sam 2:12; Ps 79:6; Jer 4:22). Other passages emphasize knowing His characteristics, and not just His authority (Jer 9:23-24). The sage is calling for a life of trust and obedience in which the disciple sees the Lord in every event, submits to, and trusts Him.” (NET Bible, Proverbs 3:6)

“God requests human obedience so that his love and his pity may have an opportunity of doing good to those who serve him diligently. The less God has need of anything, the more human beings need to be united with him. Consequently, a human being’s true glory is to persevere in the service of God.” (St. Irenaeus)

“When man disobeys, he decides he does not want to acquire moral wisdom God’s way, but instead tries to rise immediately to the divine level. Once man has acquired such divine wisdom by eating the tree’s fruit (Genesis 3:22), he must be banned from the garden so that he will not be able to achieve his goal of being godlike and thus live forever, a divine characteristic (3:24). Ironically, man now has the capacity to discern good from evil (3:22), but he is morally corrupted and rebellious and will not consistently choose what is right.” (NET Bible, Genes 2:9)

“…so perhaps it is not too bold to say that while it was through disobedience that mankind first fell, it was through self-justification that mankind truly lost Paradise. And even till this day, self-justification remains just as much a complete and inviolable barrier between a Christian and the Kingdom of God. Even our most grievous sins are no obstacle to our Christianity (as St. Herman of Alaska witnesses); there is no sin which God cannot forgive, there is no possible transgression which can drive God’s ineffable love and mercy away from us. But if we ourselves stubbornly cling to our sin, if we obstinately refuse to allow God to offer us His forgiveness, then He will not force us to receive it in violation of our free will. This is why the Holy Fathers tell us that the only unforgivable sin is the unrepented sin. And what is self-justification, other than the stubborn insistence that we have no need of repentance?” (Hieromonk Gabriel)


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