Obey God or Obey Men?

By Gary Woodall

“The men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people!” Then the captain went along with the officers and proceeded to bring them back without violence (for they were afraid of the people, that they might be stoned). When they had brought them, they stood them before the Council. The high priest questioned them, saying, “We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and yet, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. (emphasis mine) “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross. “He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. “And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him” Acts 5:25-32 (NASB).

The apostles had this question clearly settled; they will obey God. It has always been and will always be that yes, we are to obey the powers that be, but when in conflict with God’s commands we must obey God rather than men. This also includes obeying God rather than obeying our own will if our will conflicts with his. It takes honesty with yourself, determination, and self-control to accomplish this.

I would guess we all agree with this premise and in our minds imagine some instance where we must dramatically either choose men’s commands or choose to obey God’s commands and we imagine we’d do the right thing. The scenario in our minds is very black and white and dramatic making the choice very clear, but do we choose man over God in much more subtle ways?

Do we choose our will, leisure, entertainment, or the lure of the hundreds of distractions in our world over the clear commands of God? We are to imitate Christ (I Cor 11:1 et.al.), seek and save the lost (Luke19:10), go into all the earth and preach the gospel (Mark 16:15), bear fruit (Luke 3:9, 8:15), study (2 Tim. 2:15), pray (I Thess. 5:17), help the weak (Acts 20:35), and many others things we may be ignoring in order to do our own will.

Let’s be honest with ourselves and decide to discipline our minds and bodies to obey God’s will over ours or other men’s wills.