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). “Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side?” he snarled (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 destroyed almost everything Job possessed, but didn’t cross the line (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). Satan struck the poor man with boils from foot to crown (verse 7)—but obeyed. He did not kill Job.
Satan has zero mercy. Full of hate, eager to unleash misery, he has no self-restraint. The only one who 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!
Sadly, compulsory obedience is not uncommon. Many people would commit crimes if they knew they wouldn’t get caught. In society today, more and more people are taking advantage of weak law enforcement by vandalizing, stealing and worse.
God does want us to obey Him. But what He really seeks is a much different kind of obedience than what so many offer.
Yes, at times God does demand submission, as He did with Satan. For example, 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.
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments [or obey] …” (Psalm 111:10). This is about more than just fear of punishment for breaking a law: It is respect and reverence for the Lawmaker. 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 will 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.” In other words, obey your employer sincerely and wholeheartedly. In several scriptures, God commands this kind of complicity with the authorities in our lives as a means of developing sincere obedience to God Himself (e.g. Romans 13:1-7).
It’s a profound thing to think about: Mere obedience to God doesn’t necessarily make you any better than the devil! The question is, what is happening in your heart? God praises those who obey “from the heart” (Romans 6:17).
“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” (Deuteronomy 10:12). 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 from His loving children. He wants us to love His way of life just as He does.
“O how love I thy law!” (Psalm 119:97). Learn to love the Sabbath, honesty, marital fidelity, tithing, and all God’s laws! Get to the point where if someone said, “You don’t have to keep the Sabbath,” that would sound just as ridiculous as, “You don’t have to enjoy your favorite food.”
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 will 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 God’s beautiful law of love.