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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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Oh God
You surround me with your love,
with memories
of who you are
of what you've done
of promises you've made
of who I want to be
of who I am because of you.

You give me hope and joy,
peace and gratitude.
You convict me
and teach me
encourage me
and remind me
of what it means to follow you.

You listen to my prayers
and grant my requests
in your time.
You give me insight
and knowledge
and words to write
to share your presence
your goodness
your love
your admonition
with others.

You expand my love
to pray for friend and foe
near and far
family and stranger
people as pins on maps
clustered and scattered
who know you and reject you
for those in need
and those too full to need.

You draw me close
and then release me
to bring you close to others
to serve
and love
and give
all I have received.

You fill my heart with joy
that warms
and glows
and bursts
into laughter,
and even dance.

You wrap me in your arms
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"You are mine"
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