Summary: This isn't about keeping a bunch of rules. We obey Jesus because we love our Heavenly Father, and we know it's not easy. We need each other, because we don't always succeed, sometimes we fail, we give in to our selfish nature, we don't always make the sacrifice.
When we talk about obeying God we're not talking about rule keeping. When you play a game, there are rules to the game. We don't play a lot of games in our family because we argue a lot about the rules. Does anyone else do this? I can't tell you how many times we've played a game that we should've finished in an hour or so, but, we didn't finish at all because we kept going back to look at the rules. What we do with games, we do with faith. Of course most of the time that we check the rules we're making sure the other guy is playing fair, right? It's never about our game play. We do this in church, too. When we talk about obedience we're not talking about making sure everyone is playing by the rules. Jesus ranted on rule checkers calling them "hypocrites, snakes, and children of hell." So we should really pursue the idea that obedience has nothing to do with keeping a bunch of rules.
If living in obedience isn't about keeping the rules then what is it about? Memorize this answer. Spend some time for the next few moments and let this sentence hang on your heart.
Living in obedience to Jesus is about having the right perspective of who God is.
Over and over and over again, Jesus pointed his students to His Father. Jesus lived with a "Thy will be done" attitude. At the end of his life, he was nervously pacing back and forth in the garden before His arrest because he knew the torture and the cross were moments away. Even then Jesus didn't take matters in his own hands, even then Jesus didn't push God away, ESPECIALLY then Jesus simply said, "Thy will be done."
This is what we want to talk about for the next few minutes. How do we get the right perspective of who God is? How can we live like Jesus, not for the rules, but for the love of our heavenly Father? When we struggle with our faith, when we doubt, when we wonder if God is "there for us," when we feel that we're not "close to God", these are feelings that are mostly associated with disobedience. God says, "nothing can separate you from my love for you." God doesn't leave. God loves you even when you're disobedient. God loves you all the time. But our sin does cause a separation from God's presence. Here's how Paul teaches it in Ephesians,
"Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else."
Well, that's a pretty bleak picture isn't it? We're all subject to God's anger. Why is God angry? Because of our sin. Sin causes death. Eternal death. When a human being is given the choice to live with Jesus, but, instead decides they would rather live with death, it really makes God mad. This is the first thing we learn about obedience from the teaching of Jesus: