The Pryor Times

Religion

March 21, 2014

Faith and obedience go hand in hand

PRYOR, OK — It amazes me that so many religious people argue and debate over faith and obedience.  One group says that if you simply believe, you will be saved.  Others say that you must obey in order to be saved.  The fact is, neither faith by itself nor obedience by itself can save anyone.  It is impossible to please God without faith (Hebrews 11:6), and Jesus gives eternal salvation to those who obey Him (Hebrews 5:9).  So, both faith and obedience are essential.  Faith and obedience go hand in hand.

Jesus said in John 14:15, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.”  Those who claim to love the Lord but are unwilling to obey Him are deceiving themselves.  If they really loved Him they would obey Him.  I John 5:3 says, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.”

Though man is a free moral agent, in reality he only chooses whom he will obey, either Satan or God (Romans 6:16-18).  Satan is so deceptive, he can take people captive, while at the same time making them believe that they are free and in control of their own lives (2 Timothy 2:26; 2 Peter 2:19).

The Jews of Jesus’ day did not realize that they were in bondage to Satan.  When Jesus said to them, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free,” (John 8:32), they responded, “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone.”  Jesus told them that whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.

Sometimes, God gives commands that, to man, seem unreasonable.  A good example is when He commanded Joshua and the Israelites to march around the walls of Jericho once a day for six days and seven times on the seventh day.     Then the priests were to blow their trumpets and the people were to give a great shout, and God promised them that the walls around Jericho would fall down flat.  That does not sound logical to the human mind.  But God’s ways and thoughts are higher than ours are (Isaiah 55:8-9), and His ways always work.  When Naaman was told to dip seven times in the Jordan River to be cleansed of his leprosy (2 Kings 5), he became angry.  But when he finally obeyed, he was fully cleansed.  The water did not cleanse him; God cleansed him when he obeyed.

What causes people to obey God’s commands that appear to be unreasonable?  It is their faith.  Hebrews 11:30 says, “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days.”  It was their faith that led them to obey.  Those who believe what God says will always obey Him.  It is unreasonable to assume that God would have caused the walls to fall down flat if the Israelites had said, “God, we believe that you will give us the city of Jericho, but we don’t want to march around it thirteen times.”  He is not Lord to those who refuse to obey Him (Luke 6:46).

To know God is to obey Him.  I John 2:3-4 says, “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.  He who says, I know Him, and does not keep His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”  Everyone who really and truly knows God will obey Him.  God demands to be exalted (Psalm 46:10).

Man is not given the option of choosing between faith and obedience.  Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 12:13, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all.”  Paul added in Galatians 5:6, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.”  Hebrews 11 is filled with examples of how faith leads to obedience.  God requires both faith and obedience.  They go hand in hand.

 

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