Have you ever thought about what being a Christian requires?
Maybe a passage like Ephesians 2:8-9 comes to mind: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” What, then, is required to be a Christian? Easy – faith, and faith alone.
That’s absolutely true. But if faith is the only requirement for being a true Christian, then we should naturally ask: What is the mark of genuine faith?
And perhaps surprisingly, the answer is obedience.
Obedience in Terms of Faith
I say surprisingly because Scripture is clear that our works are completely unable to save us. However, works are not irrelevant to the Christian life. Unfortunately, it’s common to encounter reasoning that pits all works against faith, throwing obedience into the Legalistic Works bin with all our other self-righteous attempts at righteousness. But such reasoning is faulty because obedience is where our faith comes to life. Obedience is just as necessary to faith as a spirit is to a body. Don’t take my word for it. “For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead” (Jas 2:16).
Think of it this way. If you get sick and your doctor prescribes you some medicine with instructions to take it every day, what do you do? If you trust him, then you follow his orders. His goal is to get you well again, and he knows way more about medicine than you do, so you obey him. Similarly, if you trust God, then you obey what he says. Disobedience means that your ultimate faith must be elsewhere.
For this reason, we cannot ignore or dismiss the commands of God’s Word and just have faith in him to save us. In fact, Scripture’s purpose is “to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim 3:15). Like driving through a “Road Closed” sign, disobeying God’s Word puts us in grave danger. It shows that we place greater trust in ourselves than in God. The hearts of people who truly have faith in God cannot be bent toward rebellion against the one they’re trusting, and disobedience to the Word is just that: rebellion against God.
So be wary of a supposed faith that saves but which is devoid of obedience to the Word. Genuine Christians have faith, and genuine faith obeys.