The Grace of God

That Brings Salvation Has Appeared to All Men (Titus 2:11)

The Obedience of Faith

A little known fact about the book of Romans, is that it begins and ends with the phrase “the obedience of faith.” (Rom. 1:5; 16:26)  The author of the so called “Romans Road to Salvation” left out this important concept; thus, thousands and perhaps millions have been led astray by a false “easy believism” gospel.  The truth is that unless your faith produces obedience, your faith is vain.  As James wrote, “faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” (2:17)

We generally obey what we really believe is true. For example, if we believe the law of gravity restrains us, we obey it by not jumping from the top of a tall building. If we believe a speeding truck can kill us if we step into its path, we obey that belief by waiting until the coast is clear before crossing the road.  A faith that is worth anything produces specific behavior.  Unfortunately, however, multitudes of people claim to have faith in God while their behaviors reveal otherwise.

Romans 10:9 is one of the verses in the “Romans Road,” but what does it say?–

That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

What does it mean to confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus? It means to confess before men that Jesus is the master of your life (your LORD), and it is in accordance with His commands that you will live.  It is not a ritualistic prayer that one repeats, but a knowing, and therefore a confessing, that Jesus is truly the only rightful Lord from this moment on. I believed and therefore I spoke. (2 Cor. 4:13) When you truly believe that Jesus is Lord, you have laid down all rights to do as you please, and committed to doing only what the Lord Jesus wants.

Carefully read Romans 2:5-11, an important passage which was left out of the “Romans Road.”–

God, who “will render to each one according to his deeds”: eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek; but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God.

The truth is meant to be believed and obeyed! We choose each day whether we will obey truth or obey unrighteousness. These verses are very clear. Obedience to truth works what is good, and leads to glory, honor and peace.  Obedience to unrighteousness is rooted in self-seeking, and leads to indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish. God, in His mercy, sends His Word to heal us and deliver us from our destructions (Psa. 107:20), but that Word does not profit us if we do not mix it with living faith–faith that works in obedience to the Word (Heb. 4:2).

By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. (Heb. 11:8)

Listen to Peter exhorting his flock to be “obedient children”–

Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct. And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. (I Pet. 1:13-19)

We have all received aimless conduct by tradition from our fathers, but it is our duty as enlightened children of God to stop conforming ourselves to the former lusts we served when we were in ignorance of the truth.  Enlightenment takes away excuse, and we will all be held accountable for what we know.

Deliverance from  bondage to satan and sin comes through the truth, as it is preached by the messenger and believed by the hearer. The gospel is the power of God to salvation to everyone who believes its message (Rom. 1:16), but a simple mental agreement with truth without a change in behavior in obedience to the truthwill profit a man nothing.  This is why John told the Pharisees to bring forth fruit worthy of repentance lest they be thrown into the fire (Luke 3:8-9). He continued by telling people from all walks of life what they also should DO in keeping with repentance (10-14). To know that God is good and wise and all His ways are right, and to then pursue things that He says are wrong, is to sin willfully after receiving knowledge of the truth, and to cause the Lord’s sacrifice to be no help to you at all.  A person not obeying the truth he has been taught can expect only judgment (Heb. 10:26-27).

Romans chapter 6 is one of the most powerful passages on the obedience of faith in the whole Bible, yet it also was left out of the “Romans Road.” According to this chapter, the believer has DIED to sin and can no longer live in it.  If indeed you are baptized into Christ Jesus (saved), you are baptized into His death, buried with Him, and raised with Him to newness of life.  Old things are passed away; all things have become new. If indeed we are united with Him in the likeness of His death, then we shall also have the likeness of His resurrection (a new and holy life).

Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. (Rom. 6:12-13)

As people who have heard the truth, it is our duty to no longer submit ourselves to the rulership of sin. We choose every day, and moment by moment, to present our bodies to be used for unrighteousness, or present them to God to be used for righteousness.  When the truth is mixed with living faith (faith which works), we will obey that truth by choosing righteousness.

Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.  (Rom. 6:16-18)

Again, we choose every day to be slaves of sin or slaves of obedience. Paul commended the Romans for obeying from the heart the doctrine that was preached to them and becoming slaves of righteousness.  If you want to be set free from the power of sin, you must obey from your heart the gospel of Jesus, and the truth He both demonstrated and taught (including all the Scriptures, which are God-breathed doctrine.)  God sent His Word to heal us and deliver us from our destructions (Psa. 107:20), but most people who hear the Word do not obey it.  Jesus said such people are building their “house” on sand, and it will end in destruction. (Matt. 7:24-27)  James echoes Jesus by saying that people who only hear the Word but don’t do the Word are deceived, thinking their mental acknowledgment saves them. (James 1:22-25)

Study Romans 6 carefully, and you will see that the gospel itself is participatory. If you aren’t experiencing the resurrection power of an overcoming life, it is because you have not yet died with Christ. Until you come to the end of yourself and participate in the gospel–by denying yourself, taking up your cross, and following Jesus all the way to crucifixion of self and beyond–the gospel’s power will remain a “nice story” that seems to help others but not you.  Do not deceive yourself any longer. As Abraham did, you must by faith obey.

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