Does Believing Imply Obeying ?

walk-with-jesus
To Walk with God, is to Obey God

 

 

He Who Believes Shall be Saved

 

The bible says in several places, that it’s the person who believes, that will be saved.  In the previous lesson titled  WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BELIEVE,  I gave several verses of scripture that say that very thing.  That lesson began with these six verses..  John 3:16, John 3:18, John 6:29, John 6;40, Acts 19:4, and 1 Cor 1:21.  And all those verses, along with several others, all tell us that it is the person who believes in Jesus Christ and His Gospel, that will be saved.  As a matter of fact, Jesus said very plainly in  John 8:24,   “If you believe NOT that I am He, you will die in your sins.” 

 

But our question today is;  Does believing imply obeying?  If you’ve come across this lesson without having read the previous one, please go back and read that one first.  It lays the groundwork for this lesson.  There’s a lot of information in that previous lesson that’s very important, and that will make this lesson so much clearer.  Just click  HERE  to go back to that lesson.

 

demon-possessedIn that previous lesson we talked about how it says in  James 2:19,   “You believe that God is one, you do well;  Even the demons believe and tremble”.   And to illustrate that point of the demons believing, we looked at  Mathew 8:28-29,  which says,  “And when He  (Jesus)  had come to the other side into the country of Gadarenes, two men who were demon-possessed met Him as they were coming out of the tombs  (they lived among the graves),  they were so exceedingly violent that no man could pass by that road.  And behold, they cried out saying; What do we have to do with you, Son of God?  Have you come here to torment us before the time?”

So the demons within these two men, recognized immediately, the fact the Jesus is the Son of God.  And the acknowledged it, and they acknowledged the fact that Jesus had the power to  “torment us before the time”.  In other words Jesus had the power to cast them into hell!  But the proper “time” for that is at the judgment.  And so the demons asked if Jesus was going to torment them “before the time”. 

 

Let’s look at the next three verses,  “Now there was at a distance from them, a herd of swine feeding.  And the demons began to entreat Him saying,  If you are going to cast us out  (out of the two men)  send us into the herd of swine.  And He said to them,  Be Gone!  And they came out, and went into herd of swine, and the whole herd ran violently down the steep bank into the sea and perished in the waters.”   Mat 8:30-32

 

Very interesting story, isn’t it?  I’d like you to notice three things about this story..

#1.  Jesus could have sent the demons to be tormented in hell, but it wasn’t the proper “time”.  Everything pertaining to God, is done  “in the fullness of time”.    Gal 4:4, Eph 1:10

#2.  If the demons were going to be “cast out” of the two men, they wanted to “inhabit” something, so they pleaded that Jesus would at least send them into the herd of swine.

#3.  When the demons, the “spirit of evil” inhabits something, violence is the result.  “..the whole herd ran violently down the steep bank into the sea and perished in the waters”.   And the two men that had been possessed by the demons,  “..were so exceedingly violent, that no man could pass by that road”. 

 

fruit-of-spiritDo you know what the “Spirit of God” is?   Galatians 5:22-23  says it is,  “..love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control..”   The “spirit of evil” is most definitely, the complete opposite of the “Spirit of God”!  The “spirit of evil” is called Satan.  And the meaning of the word Satan is, “the adversary, and the opponent”.  When God’s word tells us to do something, we do it out of obedience.  But the “spirit of evil” is the very “spirit of disobedience” toward God. 

 

 

 

 

More On Point #2. 

 

Demons, which are evil spirits, in opposition to God, wish to “inhabit” something or someone.  The goal of evil is to completely possess us.  “Your adversary the devil, prowls about as a roaring lion seeking someone to DEVOUR”.   1 Peter 5:8   It is the goal of evil, not just to harm us, not just to influence us, but to completely possess and devour us!   I’m not sure how the “spirit of evil” can be that powerful, but it is.  And that’s exactly what God is warning us about.  The verse that I just quoted begins with these words,  “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert!” 

 

waterless-placesI’d like to share with you a passage of scripture from  Mathew 12:43-45.   “Now when the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through “waterless places”, seeking rest, and does not find it.  Then it says, I will return to my house from where I came, and when it comes, it finds it unoccupied, swept, and put in order.  Then it goes and takes along with it, seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there, and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first.  That is the way it will be with this evil generation.” 

 

Now these verses bear out what was alluded to in  Mat 8:30-32,  namely that the spirit of evil desires to inhabit something or someone.  But now I’d like you to notice three things about these verses also..

#1.  We see that “unclean spirits”, or in other words the “spirit of evil”,  is not “at rest” unless it has something to “inhabit”.   “It passes through waterless places, seeking rest, and does not find it.”  You’ve heard the saying, “Misery loves company”;  Well, evil loves company too, it doesn’t want to be alone, it doesn’t find “rest” and satisfaction, when it’s alone.  It wants to inhabit us. 

#2.  A man, or a person, is being compared to a “house” in these verses.  “I will return to my house from where I came”.  Notice how the man, or the “house” is being described.  “..It finds it unoccupied, swept, and in order”.   This is a very interesting analogy, and it’s a very “revealing” analogy too.

 

taking-leisureThe word translated “unoccupied”, when applied to a literal house means, “to stand empty”.  But when applied to a person, it means, “I have leisure, to be at leisure, hence to devote oneself to leisure”.  I find that interesting, don’t you?

Now the word “swept” means, “I sweep, to cleanse by sweeping”.  It is derived from a word meaning “to brush off”.  Now the meaning of this word really comes to light after we see the meaning of the next words.

The phrase “put in order”, comes from a single word in the Greek, and that word is “kosmeo”.  When I tell you what our English word is, that comes from that Greek word, you’ll see the meaning.  Our English word “cosmetics” is derived from that very same Greek word.

The meaning of kosmeo is, “to put in order, to adorn, to decorate”.  Another bible dictionary defines it this way,  “properly, to beautify, having the right arrangement, to adorn, to make attractive”.

 

straighten-tieNow if we combine all these words and definitions of the man whom the evil spirit goes back to, we have this..

A person who “is at leisure, devoted to oneself and to one’s own leisure”,  one who has “brushed himself off” so to speak, and one who has “adorned himself (or herself) and made themselves very attractive” you might say.

 

 

Now I have a question for you.  Does that description sound like someone who has the “Spirit of God” dwelling in them?  “Devoted to oneself, cleansed and brushed off by ones own efforts, and having adorned oneself, arranging oneself just right, to make oneself attractive, and very much put in order”.

 

Now I’m not sure what this sounds like to you, but to me, it sounds like the perfect place for a spirit of evil to occupy.  A little bit of pride, being devoted to oneself, brushed off and made clean, so to speak, and arranged just right!  Maybe a bit of self-sufficiency and arrogance there as well?  Maybe even someone “who believes in the Jesus Christ the Lord.”   A belief in God, but not a “house filled with God”.

 

Isn’t the Spirit of God more like this..

 

Walking in “good works” that were prepared beforehand.   Ephesians 2:10.   And being “poor” in spirit, in other words “humble in spirit”,   Mathew 5:3.   And adorning ourselves “modestly”..  and by means of “good works”.   1 Tim 2:9-10. 

 

#3.  If we don’t fill our “house” with the “Spirit of God” by DOING what His word says to do, then we WILL be filled with the “spirit of evil”.  You’ve heard the saying, “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop”.   Man has “coined” that phrase because it’s truth has become obvious to everyone!

“We are destroying speculation and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every THOUGHT captive to the obedience of Christ.”   2 Cor 10:5

 

The very ABSENCE of God’s Spirit within us, creates a “void” that is inevitably taken up, or “filled” with the spirit of satan.

Remember that the spirit of satan, which is the spirit of evil, is the opposite of the Spirit of God.  You either have one spirit, or you have the other.  And the bible affirms that this is the truth.  It’s ONE or the other..

We’re told in  Luke 11:23,   “He who is not with Me, is against me; and he who does not gather with Me, scatters.” 

Did you know that the story about the man with the unclean spirit is also told in  Luke 11:24-26.   And the verse I just read is the verse preceding that story.

 

We either fill our house with obeying God’s word, or we fill it with obedience to satan.  There’s no other way.  It’s like light and darkness.  If you take away the light, you’re left with darkness.  And it’s like hot and cold.  Cold really doesn’t sound like anything God had to create.  It’s simply what exists in the absence of heat.  And so if you take away the heat, you’re left with only cold.

 

light-and-darkness

 

Did you know that with God, you can’t “mix” a little bit of light and a little bit of darkness?  And you can’t “mix” a little bit of hot and cold; or in other words, a little bit of fervency for God, with a little bit of apathy.  It’s everything or nothing with God.

 

Jesus says in  Revelation 3:16,   “Because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spew you out of My mouth!” 

The word “spew” means.. “to vomit forth”.  It has the meaning of repulsiveness.  It means “to reject with extreme disgust”.   How do you react to the thought of God “vomiting us forth out of His mouth”?

 

You know how the majority of “so-called” Christians only attend worship when they have nothing more “important” to do?  And how many only attend on so-called “special occasions”?

And, you know how many people will obey God on Sunday, and then become part of the world again on Monday?  Well, that’s at best, being “lukewarm”.  And I’m just preaching what the bible says!

 

 

Even The Demons Believe And Tremble

 

The point is, just believing won’t get you anywhere, at least not anywhere good.  It will only get you to the same place that the demons are going.  When Jesus says that  “..Everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life..”,  it means a whole lot more than just acknowledging that fact!  “The demons believe and tremble!”  And so should the person who simply  “believes” that God is one”,  and simply acknowledges that  “Jesus is the Christ”.   That person should tremble too. 

 

demons-believe-2demons-believeLet me show you exactly what the bible says about believing.  Listen to this verse from  John 3:36,   “He who believes in the Son has eternal life, but he who does NOT obey, shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”   Listen again, If you BELIEVE, you have eternal life, but if you do NOT OBEY, you have the wrath of God abiding on you.  God is giving us a CLEAR contrast here.  The contrast is believing, as opposed to NOT obeying.  Clearly..  in this context, believing implies obeying!  There’s no getting around it!  You either believe, or you do NOT obey.  That is the contrast that God is making.

 

There are some translations that use the word believe twice in that passage, so that it would read,  “He who believes in Him has eternal life, but he who does not believe, has the wrath of God abiding in him.”  But in the original Greek text of the bible, two different words are used.  The proper translation of the second word is, DOES NOT OBEY!  So the contrast is clearly made.  You either believe, or you do NOT obey.  Believing implies obeying!

 

Please consider carefully this example of what believing implies.  In  Hebrews chapter 3,  it speaks of the Israelites who continually provoked the Lord, as they wandered in the wilderness for forty years because of their unbelief in what God had told them.  Listen to these verses,  “For who provoked Him when they heard?  Indeed did not all those who came out of Egypt led by Moses?  And with whom was He angry for forty years?  Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness?  And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient?  And so we see, that they were not able to enter because of unbelief!”   Heb 3:16-19

 

Now you don’t have to be a Greek scholar to understand what God has just said!  God swore that those who were DISOBEDIENT, should not enter His rest.  And then God says that we can see, that it was because of their UNBELIEF, that they could not enter.  Disobedience and unbelief, are synonymous!   In God’s eyes, and according to His word, unbelief IS disobedience, and disobedience IS unbelief.

 

Now, there’s no getting around the fact that if unbelief IS disobedience, then belief IS obedience.  “He that believes in Him has eternal life, but he who does NOT obey, has the wrath of God abiding in him.”  It’s that simple.

We’ve seen how God has used the word “believe”, in two different ways in the bible.  First, He uses it in the sense of simply knowing and understanding a truth, such as “God is One”.  That’s what the demons do, they know the truth of that statement.  They completely believe it.  But then God also uses the word “believe” to mean to “obey”.  And God has ALWAYS used the word “believe” in that manner.  That’s why the bible says in  Genesis 15:6,  “And Abram BELIEVED God, and it was reckoned to Him as righteousness.” 

 

And to show that God still uses the word “believe” to mean “obey”,  the bible quotes that verse from Genesis, in  Romans 4:3,  and again in  V-22,  and then again in  Galatians 3:6,   “Even so Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.”  And then, it’s quoted again in  James 2:21-23,  when the bible says,  “Was not Abraham our father, justified by “works”, when he offered up Isaac his son on the alter?  You see that faith was working with his works, and as a RESULT of his works, (in other words, as a result of his obedience to God’s instructions)  faith was perfected, and the scripture was fulfilled that says;  And Abraham BELIEVED God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness, and he was called the friend of God.” 

 

There’s one simple way to determine which meaning of the word “believe”, that God is ascribing to it, in a particular verse of scripture.  And here’s how you can tell..

 

Whenever God speaks of believing, as being the condition upon which salvation depends, He is implying that obedience is coupled with that belief, therefore “perfecting it”. 

 

body-without-the-spirit

 

That’s exactly why, the bible says in  James 2:26,   “For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead!”  Those who believe that it’s faith alone that saves us, complain loudly about the use of this verse to point out that it takes more than just believing to be saved.  They insist that you can never “earn salvation” by doing works.  And they’re absolutely right about that.  Salvation is NOT something you can earn.  It is entirely a gift of God, given by His grace.  But people fail to grasp the point of what “works” are in this verse.  The remainder of the chapter  (James chapter 2),   goes on to show very clearly, that the “works” being spoken of by God, are the “works” of obedience that we give in response to the commands of God.

 

For example..  From  Hebrews chapter 11..   By faith, Abel offered to God..   By faith, Noah prepared an ark..   By faith, Abraham obeyed..  By faith when he was tested, he offered..   By faith, Jacob worshipped..   By faith, Moses refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter..   Bu faith, he left Egypt..   By faith, he kept the Passover..   By faith, Israel passed through the Red Sea.      We could go on, but we can all see perfectly clearly, that faith is made complete, by obedience.  And we can also see clearly that believing without obeying God, is reason to tremble!  The only faith that saves, is the faith that obeys.

 

When we read in the bible what we must do, in leading a Christian life, we OBEY and we DO what God has said.  And when we read what God says we must DO to be saved, we don’t question God, and complain saying that salvation is by grace alone, and that we don’t have to DO anything except believe.  No, when we read what God says we must do to be saved, we believe it, and we OBEY it!  That’s the ONLY way to be saved.  Faith and Obedience, that’s all it takes to be saved.

 

 

The Definition Of Believe

 

If we go back once again to a bible dictionary and look at the definition of the word believe, we find that it means, “persuasion, credence, and conviction, to have faith in something or someone.”  But it goes on to say..   By implication, “to entrust your spiritual well-being,  to put in trust with”.  Can you really say that you’ve “entrusted your spiritual well-being” to God, without obeying what He says to do?  Can you really think that you’ve “put in trust” with Jesus, without obeying what He says?  I’ll leave you answer those questions for yourself.  But I ask you to remember this next verse..

 

“Although He were a Son, yet He learned obedience through the things that He suffered.  And having been made perfect, He became the source of eternal life, to all those who OBEY him.”   Heb 5:8-9

 

Which belief will you have?  The one that will cause you to tremble?  Or the one that will cause you to be saved?

Thanks for joining us as we’ve allowed the bible to answer the question, Does believing imply obeying?

May God bless you in your study of His word, and in your obedience to His word.

 

 

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This article has 2 Comments

  1. Jim,

    Thank you for bringing reason and clarity to these sometimes confusing passages. I appreciate that you don’t promote a blind faith that asks no questions. Peter Kreeft also has some great books that get into these questions. What would you say about the connection between faith and works, such as in James?

    1. Hello George, thanks for your visit here and for your comments. The previous article titled “What Does It Mean To Believe” deals specifically with that topic of faith and works. It’s also dealt with in some of the other articles as well. But for a quick overview, there are two kinds of “works” that the bible talks about. One kind of works, are deeds or works that a person can do on their own, in an attempt to be a “good person”. And the idea there is that if we are “good”, then we should deserve to be saved by God. But the bible is clear that none of us “deserve” salvation, because , “we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God”, Romans 3:23.

      The other kind of “works” that God speaks of are the ones mentioned in the book of James. These specifically are “Works of Obedience” to God’s word. In other words, when God tells us to do something, we simply obey what He says. It doesn’t matter if we “agree” with what He tells us or not. Many people think they have a “better way”, but they don’t. That’s why it’s simply by obedience that we do these “works”. That is how our faith in God is “perfected”, as the bible says. It does no good just to say we believe, because as James 2:19 points out, “the demons believe and tremble”. We need to have the kind of faith that causes us to obey what God has said. What God has said may not be “popular”, and what He has said may not be “convenient”, but we need to obey it anyhow, because He has said it, and we need to trust Him. That’s what trust is all about! Even is we don’t understand fully, we do what God says!

      Please go back and read “What Does It Mean To believe”. Thanks again for your comments and question. The bible alone is always the source of the answers to any spiritual questions. Man’s ideas are worthless when it comes to salvation. I’m not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of salvation to all who believe!” Romans 1:16.

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