Obedience or Faith First?

You’ve heard the old question. Which came first? The chicken or the egg? Only in this case, I’m asking, which came first? Obedience or faith?

Down through the years, I’ve heard many sermons and read a number of books which lay a heap of false guilt on Christians. Usually they talk of living the deeper life, having a higher calling, or having a greater level of obedience to Christ.

So what of this widely held notion that disciples of Christ must obey before they can truly believe? You know, just obey and don’t question Christ’s call. Jump to it, like a good soldier. Obey and your faith will follow and even increase.

Frankly, I think those who teach such things draw too much from the Gospels, especially the Sermon on the Mount. There’s a lot of talk about obedience to the law in some manner or other. It gets confusing and misleading. Teachers of obedience first as supreme don’t take into consideration the rest of the New Testament. It’s not possible to elaborate fully here without going down a lot of rabbit trails.

How can anyone obey without having at least a small amount of faith?

Look at what the Scripture says in Ephesians 2:8-10.

8. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
9. Not of works, lest any man should boast.
10. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Where does faith come from? It comes from God, by His grace. Some will say this only pertains to salvation. But I believe it pertains to the good works we’re meant to do. Thus, I’ve included verse 10 in this reference.

Still not convinced? Look at the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11. How many verses start with the words “by faith”?

Shouldn’t that settle it?

But, of course, it hasn’t, or I wouldn’t be bringing this up in the first place.

I won’t try to get into a discussion about what a call from God is because, again, that could lead down a lot of rabbit trails. It’s an important subject though, especially as it relates to what we do after we’re called to receive Christ at the time we acknowledge Him as our savior.

But I can say this. All born again believers in Christ are exhorted to be His followers and become more like Him. The question is, how? It will vary from one person to another. The Christian walk isn’t a cookie cutter thing.

God doesn’t want us to be unwise concerning His will and what it means to act in obedience. Take a look at Ephesians 5:15-17.

15. See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,
16. Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
17. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.

Let us, of course, do the right thing; but let’s not be hasty or motivated by guilt into obedience.

I would never encourage any believer to be disobedient to the Lord. However, if you do something you’ve been told is in obedience to God, but you don’t do it with at least a little faith in Him, is it possible you could actually be sinning?

Consider this. The last part of Romans 14:23 says, for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.

Don’t let Christian do-gooders get to you with their hhigh pressure sales pitches and false guilt trips. Look to the Lord in prayer. Seriously seek Him as the source of your faith and the Holy Spirit’s empowerment for walking in obedience to Him. It will keep you out of trouble.

Explore posts in the same categories: Christian Life, Thoughts from John

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