There are many things we accept by faith. We have faith that our American History books are accurate. Christian people have faith that Jesus of Nazareth was the Son of God and that He died for our sins. What does the Bible tell us about faith? Does faith guarantee that a person will be saved, or is something else necessary for salvation?
The apostle Paul wrote in Galatians 5:6, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.” Faith is extremely important in one’s relationship with God. In fact, Hebrews 11:6 tells us that it is impossible to please God without faith. So unless a person believes in God and in His Son Jesus Christ, he cannot please God, regardless of anything else he might do.
However, faith without obedience is like a body without the spirit. Both are dead. James 2:26 says, “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” If one truly believes in God, he will obey what God says. John wrote in I John 2:4, “He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” It is useless to claim to believe in God, while at the same time neglecting to obey Him. Those who truly believe in God will obey Him.
James wrote in James 2:14-17, “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,’ but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”
When people claim to love the Lord but refuse to obey Him, Jesus calls them hypocrites (Matthew 15:7-8). Faith without obedience does not avail anything. That kind of faith is incomplete. In James 2, James points out the fact that faith is demonstrated by obedience. For example, when Abraham started to offer his son Isaac on the altar, he showed that his faith was complete. James 2:23 says, “And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.’ And he was called the friend of God.” Because of his faith, Abraham was willing to do whatever God commanded him to do.
James 2:24 says, “You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.” Genuine faith always leads one to obey. Several examples are given in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews. Notice all the action verbs in that chapter. Verse 4 says, “By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice.” In verse 7, we read about Noah preparing an ark by faith. Verse 8 says, “By faith Abraham obeyed.” These are just three of numerous examples in that chapter. In every case, faith led the individual to obey what God commanded. Those who truly believe in God will obey His commands.
The work done by faith is not just any kind of work. In Matthew 7:21-23, Jesus tells of many who do a lot of work, claiming to do it in His name. But Jesus says that He does not even know them because they did not obey His Father’s will. To work by faith is to obey what God commands. Faith comes by hearing God’s word (Romans 10:17).
Obeying God’s word is what is really important. 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.” The faith that works is a working faith. It works through love, because those who love God will keep His commandments (I John 5:3). Do what God says. Don’t settle for a dead faith. God won’t!