Obedience is the first law in heaven. Obedience brings blessings. Obedience is greater than sacrifice. Obedience to God’s commandments is how we show Him that we love Him.
A lawyer asked Jesus Christ an important question: “Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
“Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
“This is the first and great commandment.
“And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
“On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:36-40).
These scriptures show the importance of loving God and our fellowmen, but another scripture tells us how to show God that we love Him: “He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father” (John 14:21).
When I was a child and youth I loved my parents so much that I would do nothing to hurt them or embarrass them. I was obedient to them because I loved them and wanted to please them. I keep the commandments of God because I love Him and desire to serve Him.
Why do you keep the commandments of God? Is it because you fear punishment if you do not? Is it simply habit? Is it for the promised rewards? Is it because you love Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ and want to serve them? Obedience because of habit, fear of punishment, or desire for rewards is much better than disobedience, but there are much better reasons for our obedience. Obedience makes us much happier than disobedience. Obedience helps us move forward with our lives. Obedience brings blessings from God because He “delight[s] to honor those who serve [Him] in righteousness and truth unto the end” (Doctrine and Covenants 76:5).
We do not always understand why a commandment is necessary, but we can be obedient any way and show Heavenly Father that we trust Him. An example from the scriptures that shows this kind of obedience is that of Adam and Eve. They were commanded to offer sacrifices and did so without knowing the meaning of the act. One day an angel asked Adam why he offered sacrifice, and Adam replied that he did not know the reason and was merely doing it because God commanded it (Pearl of Great Price, Moses 5:5-6). The angel then taught Adam the gospel and told him of the coming of Jesus Christ to earth to make His great atoning sacrifice. Adam was obedient and then received great knowledge and blessings.
People have been asked to make great sacrifices since the time of Adam and been blessed for being willing to do so. Abraham was asked to sacrifice his son Isaac. Because of Abraham’s willingness to be obedient, he did not actually have to make the sacrifice to receive the blessing. Heavenly Father requires our willingness to do His will and sometimes puts us to the test. I know a young mother of four children who believed her family was complete - until she received a prompting to have another child. She felt confident that the prompting was from God, and she stopped using birth control. This took place several years ago, but there is still no additional child. Apparently, the Lord simply wanted to know if she was willing to do His will and be obedient to the prompting.
We must remember that all commandments are important with the “small” commandments being just as important as the bigger ones. Some commandments are more serious than ones, but all require obedience. We should be willing to do anything the Lord requires of us. The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “I made this my rule: when the Lord commands, do it” (History of the Church, vol. 2, p. 170). I learned through my own experience that whatever the Lord commands is right.
Jesus Christ is the perfect example of obedience; He said, “I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me” (John 6:38). He devoted His entire life to obeying Heavenly Father. Even as He was suffering in Gethsemane, He ended His prayer by saying “Not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matthew 26:39).
The kingdom of our Heavenly Father is governed by law, and when we receive any blessing from God, it is by obedience to the law upon which that blessing is based (see Doctrine and Covenants 130:21; 132:5). Obedience to God’s commandments helps us to gain knowledge and intelligence (see Doctrine and Covenants 130:18-19) and to grow spiritually (see Jeremiah 7:23-24). Disobedience on the other hand brings disappointment and loss of blessings. God cannot bless us unless we keep the commandment upon which the blessing is based.
The promise of the Lord is: “If you keep my commandments and endure to the end, you shall have eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God” (Doctrine and Covenants 14:7).
Other blessings that come from obedience to the commandments are described by the Lord as follows: “Great shall be their reward and eternal shall be their glory.
“And to them will I reveal all mysteries, yea, all the hidden mysteries of my kingdom from days of old, and for ages to come, will I make known unto them the good pleasure of my will concerning all things pertaining to my kingdom.
“Yea, even the wonders of eternity shall they know, and things to come will I show them, even the things of many generations.
“And their wisdom shall be great, and their understanding reach to heaven….
“For by my Spirit will I enlighten them, and by my power will I make known unto them the secrets of my will – yea, even those things which eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor yet entered into the heart of man” (Doctrine and Covenants 76:6-10).