The Link between Faith and Obedience

Faith can mean different things to different people, but many don’t understand its true spiritual significance. Religious discussions of this powerful word fall far short of its potential, and many churches can simply gloss over how real faith changes lives. Faith and obedience are closely linked, and the Scriptures teach us the relationship between the two. Faith can be defined as:

  • Complete trust or confidence in something or someone
  • A strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof

For Christians, the first definition is by far the more accurate of the two. All throughout the Bible, we read stories and testimonies of how ordinary people experienced extraordinary results when they put their trust completely in God. They had utter confidence in His promises, and they took action accordingly, despite what their five senses told them.

By comparison, the second definition mentions a belief in God, rather than a relationship with God. It also defines faith as a belief in religious doctrines, based on spiritual apprehension instead of proof. It’s interesting to note that “apprehension” can mean either an understanding with the intellectual mind, or the expectation of something bad or unpleasant. Either way, something is missing from the true living spirit of the Word.

There’s a difference between believing in God intellectually and experiencing Him firsthand. Religion teaches us the dry facts from what’s been handed down through the ages, but it misses the main point of the real truth. A true encounter with God is something we’ll remember for the rest of our lives. It literally changes us forever, and religion has no words for it.

By comparison to the secular, the Biblical definition of faith has a completely different perspective. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). In this verse, faith is not some kind of half-baked hope laced with doubt, but rather something solid and real, as described with the words “substance” and “evidence.” For Believers, the promises God makes to us in His Word are all the proof that’s needed.

Early in our spiritual walk we are confronted with lessons in obedience, and true obedience is a test of how strong our faith is (James 2:17). In the Old Testament, Moses, Abraham, and Joseph walked with God and showed a faith they weren’t capable of on their own. God asked them to do things that not only made no sense to their logical mind, but were downright scary at times, yet they obeyed. As a result, God blessed them abundantly.

Having enough faith in someone means you obey them, no matter what. The great thing is that the person we can put our faith in is Jesus Himself, Who turns all our mistakes and failures into beautiful, powerful success stories. “For as through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the one shall the many be made righteous” (Romans 5:19, ASV).

In our lives, there will always be that one scary step we know in our hearts we must take. Life wouldn’t be life without challenges to overcome. Whatever our situation, Jesus knows what we face every day, and He also knows that sometimes it’s difficult to obey Him and step out in faith. But even if our faith is as small as a mustard seed (Luke 17:6), He can still work with that. 

— Creflo Dollar