Did you know that Satan obeys God? Maybe you’ve never thought about this. But God is more powerful than the devil—so when God commands, Satan complies.
When God wanted to free the Israelites from Egypt, Pharaoh repeatedly refused. But God hit him with so many terrible curses that he finally gave in (Exodus 12:29-32). Pharaoh was a type of the devil.
In the book of Job, Satan appeared before God to accuse this righteous man (Job 1:6-8). He said, “Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side?” (verse 10). The devil wanted to bring Job down, but he couldn’t cross the boundary God had placed.
God told Satan, Do what you will, but don’t harm Job himself (verse 12). God chose to redraw that boundary to test and develop Job’s character. Satan charged up to the borderline, destroying almost everything Job possessed. But he didn’t cross it (verses 13-22). Then he pressed God, hungry to attack even harder. God responded, “Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life” (Job 2:6). So again God commanded: This far and no farther. Satan struck the poor man with boils from foot to crown (verse 7)—but obeyed. He did not kill Job.
Satan has zero mercy. He’s full of hate; he’s eager to unleash misery; he has no self-restraint. The only thing that restrains him is God. He is unable to defy his Maker.
In Matthew 4:10-11, Jesus Christ commanded, “Be gone, Satan,” and the devil left. In Revelation 12:9-12, God cast Satan and his demons out of heaven. He confined them to Earth, and they complied.
The devil obeys God—and he completely hates God! That tells you something important: Obedience to God is not enough.
Many people are perfectly willing to do things they shouldn’t if nobody is watching. They will work when the boss is around and loaf when he’s gone. They obey grudgingly, because they might get thumped if they don’t. Many people would commit crimes if they knew they wouldn’t get caught. But from His children, God wants a different kind of obedience!
Yes, at times God does demand submission, as He did with Satan. Within the family, God commands parents to punish children for disobedience as a means of establishing obedience as a habit (e.g. Proverbs 22:15; 29:15, 17). But that is only a starting point for the right kind of obedience to God.
Psalm 111:10 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments [or obey].” This is talking about more than just fear of punishment for breaking a law: It is respect and reverence for the Lawmaker. This proper fear leads to maturity and wisdom. Obedience to righteous laws produces understanding, which reinforces respect for the Lawgiver.
The more you obey God’s law, the more you will understand it. And the more you understand God’s law, the more you come to love it. That love inspires the kind of obedience God is looking for.
In Ephesians 6:5-6, the Apostle Paul tells workers to obey their bosses—but not in just any old way. He specifically says, “Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart.” Obey your boss as if he were Christ Himself—sincerely, wholeheartedly. That is the obedience God wants.
Mere obedience doesn’t necessarily make you any better than the devil! The question is, what is happening in your heart? Romans 6:17 praises those who obey “from the heart.” God wants you to practice such obedience toward the authorities in your life as a means of developing it toward Him.
Do you obey God out of obligation or out of love? Examine your motives and train your heart to want to obey—to please God.
Deuteronomy 10:12 says, “And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways [or obey], and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul.” Note the progression: Godly fear leads to obedience, which leads to love—which inspires you to commit to a life of eternal service in God’s Family!
God doesn’t want grudging, satanic obedience. He wants joyful, heartfelt obedience. He wants His children to love His way of life just as He does.
“O how love I thy law!” (Psalm 119:97). Learn to love the Sabbath, the holy days, tithing and all God’s laws! Get to the point where if someone said, “You don’t have to keep the Sabbath anymore,” that would sound just as ridiculous as, “You don’t have to enjoy your favorite food anymore.”
That love is what motivated Jesus Christ to obey His Father, even to the point of torture and death.
This depth of love and obedience is not something you can work up yourself. You have to pray that God will help you by the power of His Holy Spirit working with you.
But the more you love God and His way, the harder you’ll strive to obey Him—because you want to. And soon, you’ll be able to work together with God to teach the whole world to keep that beautiful God Family law of love.