Edward F. Lundwall Jr.
The question addressed in this series asks, "Is obedience of faith a universal principle?" The answer for men is yes. However, is it a principle that applies to all created beings before God? Again, the answer is yes. It has been, and will it be, the deciding principle concerning angelic beings before the creation of the world and later in the eternal estate. Is the persuasion leading to obedience of faith going on in heaven now? A good number of Scriptures indicate this is true.
In today’s “enlightened” world of reason and empiricism, too often neglect to consider that there might be interaction between what is goes on in earth and heaven. They cannot see that the “material” and the “spiritual” are intertwined. The Apostle Paul said: “…We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12).
In what is considered the oldest written book of the Bible, Job experiences involved a controversy between God and Satan. God states that Job was perfect and righteous before Him. Satan argues that Job was committed to God, only because of the great blessings that God had given him. God permits Satan to afflict him to demonstrate that God's description of Job was correct. In the accusations of Job’s three friends and of their fellow compatriot who said Job must be suffering because of secret sins, Job did not blaspheme God and demonstrated that Satan was wrong. God’s verdict declares that Job was righteous by “obedience of faith” in God’s Person, even though he did not have a perfect understanding of God. In Job’s despair, God taught that Divine purposes and works were greater that he could know. As a result, Job grew in his “obedience of faith, and was doubly blessed.
This was the same teaching point found in Ephesians 3:9, 10."To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God." While this passage specifically cites the church age, Paul says that the principle was a continuation from the beginning of the world. We must remember that Satan was a fallen being before the fall of man. Indeed, it was as a fallen being that he deceived Eve and used her to make Adam sin.
In Isaiah 14:1, God promises to Israel a restoration to their land after the Babylonian captivity. He speaks about the judgment with which He will humble Babylon and its king referring to the fall and judgment of Satan as the one who made Babylon's king to do what he did (Isaiah 14:12-14). Ezekiel 28:12-19, records much the same thing concerning the Prince of Tyre as one whom Satan controlled as if he was Satan himself. As such God addresses him as Satan in the description of the prince’s destruction of other nations. Then, God describes the fall and coming judgment of Satan. The Lord describes Satan’s reasoning and describes how he rejects the obedience of faith. Faith comes through being persuaded (Romans 10:17), and Satan refuses to be persuaded. In his case, he chooses to rebel with self occupation for the sake of self exaltation. Through taking his eyes off God, Satan becomes self occupied with his own beauty and wisdom; he assumes a role as a god.
When Satan becomes a rebel, he also persuades a third of the angels of God to follow him (Revelation 12:3, 4). Those who are not imprisoned (Jude 6) act as his agents. As demons, they assert his influence in the spiritual warfare on earth to oppose God’s works (Daniel 10:12, 13; Ephesians 6:10-20). Since our first parents (one of God’s creative works) who had God given sovereignty over the Earth, surrendered to Satan’s reasoning, Satan assumes the moving force among the affairs of men.
Mankind is prone to be disposed to be like Satan, and our first parents. It is now the natural bent of people to use their inherited intellectual ability to act as gods. They assume their self confident reasoning is absolutely correct. “Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies.” (1 Corinthians 8:1 NASU) Proverbs 3:7 advises: “Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD.” Spiritual warfare centers in persuasion which brings either harmony with God, or satanic delusion. Harmony with God comes from obedience of faith as oppose to adherence to self assertion or self exaltation, defying conformity to God’s Words.
Deliverance from being arrogant and self deceptive is found in trusting in God and obeying what He commands. “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” (James 1:19); “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good”(1 Thessalonians 5:21); “…bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5); and especially “…speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ” (Ephesians 4:15).
To experience the blessing of obedience of faith requires the understanding that “…the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds” and the choosing to cast “down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).
Satan bragged as he tempted Christ to sin, “All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it." (Luke 4:6). The Lord Jesus modeled “obedience of faith” by addressing Satan’s proposal with God’s Word. In this way, he set the example of finding completeness (called “perfect” in many translations) for those who seek to have a right relationship with the Lord (Hebrews 5:7-9). He demonstrated the command, “…show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing (interpreting) the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15) This requires practiced obedience of faith, a spiritual maturation exemplified “…by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” (Hebrews 5:14)
To expound on what is required to gain this skill is beyond the scope of this single essay. It is developing “a biblical lifestyle…a “Distinctive Discipleship.” However, to those who want to gain this maturity and competency, the Apostle Peter writes, “Ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resists the proud, and gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time” (1 Peter 5:5-7). “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.” (Hebrews 13:17)