The Obedience of Faith

The last few verses of the book of Romans speak of a mystery that was kept secret since the world began. This text continues by telling us that this mystery has now been made manifest to all nations by the scriptures. Finally we are told the reason why the mystery has now been made known. It is “for the obedience of faith.” (Romans 16:25-26) God manifests His word to us so that we, by faith, might live in obedience to Him. “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17) To live by faith means to live in obedience to God’s word! “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, The just shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:17).

2247

This last chapter of Romans also beseeches us to “mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple. For your obedience is come abroad unto all men…” (Romans 16:17-19) This warning was not in regards to sinners of whom we need to be aware. It was rather about those who claim to be servants of the Lord. Such people are more concerned with their own desires than they are with the will of God. Furthermore, they are always trying to get others to see things their way “by (their) good words and fair speeches.” There is strength in numbers and if they can get enough people to agree with them that we have God’s permission to be carnal – then they, in their warped way of thinking – can have the “best” of both worlds. They are deceived into thinking that they can live for themselves in the here and now, and yet somehow still be ready to meet Jesus when He comes for His church. Be not deceived!

These people often attempt to get those who are obedient within the church to look at things differently. They endeavor to get the diligent to look askance at obedience and to view it as something bad rather than something good. To do this successfully they must use “good words and fair speeches.” They must change the scriptural language in regards to obedience. Rather than referring to it as obedience, they call it “bondage” or “legalism” – anything they can to cast a negative connotation to it. And, in turn, rather than calling “carnality” and “worldliness” and “disobedience” by name – they spiff it up and cast it in a positive light calling it “liberty.” Not only did Paul face this in Rome, but Peter also had to deal with this mentality in his ministry. He said of such false teachers that, “These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever. For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.” (II Peter 2:17-19) Such ones come with a message that is appealing to the flesh. But here, the inspired writer tells us that these very ones who promise “liberty” are in reality “in bondage” themselves.

Never make the costly mistake of confusing obedience to God’s word with legalism. “Legalism” is a term that is often associated with the Pharisees of Jesus’ day. A close look at scripture will reveal that obedience to God’s word was not what they were guilty of. Jesus said to them, “Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men…ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition…Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition…” (Mark 7:6-9, 13) What the Pharisees did is not to be confused with scriptural obedience. Strict adherence to the word of God is not legalism by any stretch of the imagination. Obedience is the right reaction to God’s word. It is the response that the Lord is looking for from us. It is the reason He makes His will and word known to us in the first place! It is for “the obedience of faith!” Obedience is not bondage! It is not legalism! It is not salvation by works! Obedience is salvation by faith in God and His word!

Jesus said, “It is the spirit that quickeneth…the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” (John 6:63) By receiving and obeying His word we literally receive Him – the Living Word, the Spirit of Truth! We allow Him to knit Himself to our spirits and to engraft Himself to our hearts by His Holy Spirit within us. Paul wrote to the church at Philippi saying, “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:12-13).

We can activate and loose God’s great power within us through our obedience. “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen” (Ephesians 3:20-21)

Rev. Robert Stroup is the District Superintendent of the Indiana District, United Pentecostal Church International. He is Pastor of Pentecostals of South Lake in Merrillville, Indiana.

Tags: , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply