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Bible Study: Obedience v. compliance

NASHVILLE (BP) — This weekly Bible study appears in Baptist Press in a partnership with LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Through its Leadership and Adult Publishing team, LifeWay publishes Sunday School curricula and additional resources for all age groups.

This week’s Bible study is adapted from the Explore the Bible curriculum.

Bible Passages: Deuteronomy 30:1-10, 19-20

Discussion Questions:
— What is the difference between compliance and obedience? What role does love play when it comes to obedience?
— What are the dangers of demanding obedience separated from love?

Food for thought:

Compliance and obedience are easily confused, in part because they can look like the same thing. We may comply with rules so that we avoid punishment. We might be a compliant patient, taking the medications as prescribed and making the changes specified by our doctor. Some may see both as obedience, but obedience includes the willful submission to an authority. We can be compliant for reasons other than a desire to willingly submit to an authority.

In Deuteronomy 30, Moses concluded his final speech to the Israelites by challenging them to love God, obey Him and remain faithful (v. 20). Moses had reminded them of the blessings that accompanied faithfulness to God and of the curses that came with rejecting God. Moses explained that future generations would abandon God and face His judgment. Moses also told of God’s redemption that would come to those who repented and turned back to God (see 30:1-10). Moses equated life with loving, obeying and remaining faithful to God.

The order of love, obey, and remain faithful makes a difference. Too many times, we focus on obedience and forget the role love plays in that obedience. Obedience without love is simply compliance. Moses pointed to loving God as the first step, knowing that obedience and faithfulness would follow. Obedience includes a willingness to submit which comes out of a developed trust for the One to Whom we submit. Trust is a by-product of love. When we nurture our love for God on a daily basis, we place ourselves in a position to obey and remain faithful to Him. True life begins with loving God and is sustained with a growing love for Him.

Explore the Bible
Explore the Bible is an ongoing Bible study curriculum that helps groups dig into the key truths of each Bible book, while keeping the group on pace to study through the Bible books in a systematic way. More information can be found at LifeWay.com/ExploreTheBible.

Other ongoing Bible study options for all ages offered by LifeWay can be found at LifeWay.com/SundaySchool or ordered at LifeWay Christian Stores.

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  • Staff/Lifeway Christian Resources