The answer to this question might surprise many. Most people will say: “Disobedience is doing what God told us not to do”. Such a response is formulated by trying to relate to God through the law, based on their own level of compliance to the requirements of the 10 Commandments. This will include things like lying, stealing, envy, etc. Some will also say that disobedience is neglecting to do those things which God did command us to do. This will include doing good works like giving to the poor, loving our neighbors as ourselves, tithing, etc. However all these things are a part of the Old Covenant Law. Yes, even the commandment to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and love you neighbor as yourself” was a quote from an Old Testament Law (Deuteronomy 6:5), which has also been entirely fulfilled in Christ. However there is nothing wrong with doing these things, as long as they don’t form the basis of how we relate to God. Believers should trust in the finished work of the cross, not in their own performance.
As born again believers we know that we have been redeemed from the curse that comes from disobedience to these laws:
Gal 3:13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us. (NKJV)
The law with its requirements that stood opposed to us has been cancelled so that we can be free to love God and live for Him without the fear of judgment:
Col 2:14 …having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. (NKJV)
If there still exists in us any fear of judgment, we have not been made perfect in love yet:
1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. (NKJV)
The full wrath and judgment for sin was poured out on Jesus, and God took an oath in Isaiah 54 never to rebuke us or ever be angry with us ever again:
Isa 54:9 “For this is like the waters of Noah to Me; For as I have sworn that the waters of Noah would no longer cover the earth, so have I sworn that I would not be angry with you, nor rebuke you. (NKJV)
Because the law with its requirements was nailed to the cross with Jesus, there is essentially no more law to break anymore.
Rom 4:15 …because the law brings about wrath; for where there is no law there is no transgression. (NKJV, emphasis added)
So what is disobedience then? The following verses are a key:
1 Pet 2:7 Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone,” 8 and “A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.” They [unbelievers] stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed. (NKJV, annotations and emphasis added)
Verse 7 contrasts two different groups of people very distinctly: Those who believe and those who are disobedient. This tells us that those who don’t believe are disobedient. The second half of verse 8 also says that they stumble because they are disobedient to the Word. What or who is the Word? The Word is Jesus:
John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 3 He was in the beginning with God. (NKJV, emphasis added)
The Word is a person and anybody that doesn’t believe in Him stumbles over the stumbling stone and is called “disobedient”. Verse 7 also says that to those who believe, He is precious. This is because He becomes the author of their salvation, their savior and their brother and they are adopted into His family. What a privilege!
Let’s look at another example:
Eph 2:1 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, 2 according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience. (NKJV, emphasis added)
This passage says that we were once dead towards God when we still had an old sinful nature, the same nature that still lives on in those who refuse to accept Jesus. They are called the “sons of disobedience”. Verse two says we “once walked according to the course of this world”, which implies we do so no longer.
It’s pretty clear from these two verses that being disobedient doesn’t really have a lot to do with our deeds. Being disobedient means not to be saved. Now with this revelation in mind, let’s read these last two verses again. Go on, read them again!
Did the light suddenly go on there? It’s amazing how the Holy Spirit illuminates those dark corridors in our minds one by one as we give ourselves to studying God’s Word.
The moment we accepted Jesus’ perfect sacrifice as the full atonement for our sin, all His obedience was credited to us as a free gift, making us 100% righteous and acceptable to God. Our salvation is now just as secure as Jesus Himself, because we are in Christ.
1 Cor 1:30 But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God – and righteousness and sanctification and redemption. (NKJV, emphasis added)
Because we are now in Christ and He lives in us, the Father sees His Sons when He looks at us: perfect and without blemish. The only way we could ever lose our right standing with God is if Jesus were to backslide, which of course could never happen.