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Belief = Obedience

And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief. Hebrews 3:18, 19 NIV
It seems from this passage that obedience and belief are linked. Mental assent isn’t enough. If you believe, you will obey; if you don’t obey, you don’t really believe. What does this say about the many people who call themselves Christian and believe they are saved but who live lives no different from non-Christians? Can I say I believe if I am not obeying? Obeying what? And what if I obey all but one or two things? What does that say about my belief? Does the degree to which I obey demonstrate the degree to which I believe?

But then, what does one do with this: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved”? What degree of belief is Paul talking about? Am I saved if I give mental assent but do not obey? James says, “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.” (James 2:19 NIV) What is the difference between Christians and the demons who acknowledge the same truths we do?

If believing means obedience, what are we obeying? The Sermon on the Mount given by Jesus is a good start. He spoke about anger being the same as murder, lust the same as adultery. He told us to settle matters quickly with our adversaries; to reconcile with those who have something against us; to avoid divorce except for marital unfaithfulness; to be generous with evil people; to love our enemies; to give to the needy, not be showy about our spiritual actions, pray and fast; to serve God instead of money; to stop worrying and judging others; to ask for what we need and to be sure we put Jesus’ words into action (Matthew 5-7).

James tells us to persevere (James 1:3, 4, 12).

Peter tells us to rid ourselves of all malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy and slander; to endure suffering and to live in harmony with each other, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble, repay evil with blessing and keep our tongues from evil (1 Peter 2 & 3).

Paul warns against loving oneself and money; being boastful, proud and abusive; disobedience to parents, ingratitude, unforgiveness, lack of self-control, brutality, treachery, rashness and conceit; denying the power of godliness (2 Timothy 3:1-5). He tells us to set our hearts and minds on things above instead of on earthly things and to “put to death...sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed.” (Colossians 3:1-5 NIV)

I haven’t listed all the instruction we’ve been given in the New Testament but even with what I have mentioned, can I do all these things? And if I don’t, can I say I believe? Does believing “on the Lord Jesus Christ” mean that I obey each of these instructions? If belief and obedience are linked, what am I to obey?

Ach! I have been rambling and I’m not sure I’ve said anything of worth. But maybe I’ve given you something to think about. I know I want to pursue these thoughts some more.

Father, how much do I believe in your Son, Jesus? How do I know that I do? I want to believe, please help my unbelief!


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About the Author


I'm married (35 years in December 2008) with four grown sons. I love my city (Winnipeg) and my country (Canada) and promote them both to whoever will listen. God (through Jesus Christ) is the biggest part of my life. I am learning to let him take control of all areas--though I do better at this some times more than others.

I have written a book that's recently been published about part of my journey with God. In it I tell how God confronted me with the same-sex attraction issues I've struggled with all my adult life and how he led me through them to a deeper and more meaningful relationship with him. God is amazing—his forgiveness, his love, his movement in our lives when we allow him and so much more. I suspect God will never run out of things to teach me or ways to make me grow and that’s a good thing (though often very painful).

I suppose I can say that what gives me the greatest pleasure in life is telling others about…

Memories of Mikael Vincent Tien Doe Chan

Reviews of Searching for Love

If you have read the book, I would love to hear your thoughts on it. You may e-mail me at or post them in the comments section below.

A Real Testimony
I finished your book. A real testimony to what God does for us.
Leona March 3, 2009
I Had Tears Coming

I sat down to read it about a week later and ended up finishing it the same night. At first I admit I was a little bored and thought that the whole book was about a battle all in your mind, but as I continued reading this creeping thought came over me of a different...struggle in my own life, that I would never in my right mind have shared with anyone accept maybe God. I've mentioned your book to a few people because it stirs up age-old controversies that I have myself argued and wondered about, namely about whether or not homosexuality can be cured or just managed like alcoholism--you just have to stay away from temptation. I noticed at the end of your book that your struggle story …