God’s Basic Training


I served in the military during Vietnam. Then, as now, war was raging all over the world. Our nation needs military troops ready for battle. How do we do it? Basic military training, or Boot Camp, conditions soldiers physically and teaches them to obey orders. Why? Because the battlefield is hard on the body, and because commanders don’t have time when the bullets are flying to explain why they choose a certain course of action. They just need it done immediately.

The Bible repeatedly speaks to our being in spiritual warfare. God has his way of doing things. Ours is not to question why—ours is just to salute and obey! This may not be culturally popular in society today, but it is biblical.

  • Have you ever “argued” with God about doing something he has commanded in his Word? Do you question his judgment on why?


6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Bondservants, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a bondservant or is free. Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him.

English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


  1. What four distinct people groups are mentioned in this passage? What relationships do they bear to each other?
  2. Of these four groups, who is responsible to whom? Compare and contrast each group’s responsibilities.
  3. In the end, all are responsible to whom? Are any of them exempt from being responsible in some fashion?
  4. What roles in your life require obedience, or honor? What roles require you to be patient, gracious, and gentle?


Ever wonder why the Bible lays things out so clearly concerning our human relationships? Most likely, a child or servant who won’t submit to his parent’s/master’s authority is not likely to submit to God’s.  A father/master who does not temper his guidance with the grace he receives from God will probably alienate his children/subordinates. It’s all built on obedience and respect.

In my military career, I worked for some good leaders, some not so good. But I respected the position. I didn’t want to disgrace the uniform I wore. Even Jesus (in his humanity) learned obedience (Hebrews 5:8), and submitted his will to the Father’s (Luke 22:42). Because he did so, he understands how hard it is for us to submit, too (Hebrews 4:15).

  • As you walk through God’s basic training today (and every day), ask him for strength to accept the discipline he gives and a heart willing to obey.