How Faith Empowers Obedience - and More Faith

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How Faith Empowers Obedience - and More Faith

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We saw earlier in this booklet that, as the apostle Paul explained in Romans 3:31, faith enables God's law to stand (see "Faith Puts the Law on 'Firmer Footing'"). But why is this so—how does it work?

Think about this. If you absolutely and totally believed everything God has said, would you really continue to break His law? Here's an analogy. Let's say you pick up a bottle that you know to be filled with poison that will cause terrible pain and death in a few minutes. Unless you're trying to commit suicide, how likely would you be to take a drink?

God tells us that sin leads to suffering and misery—and ultimately death—but that His way of life will bring the greatest happiness and most wonderful existence possible. When we are in a mindset of absolutely believing what God says, we adhere to His way—fearing to "drink the deadly poison."

At other times, we may "know" God's way is right, but we sometimes forget how absolutely real He is and that He's right here with us. Consequently, we don't take His warnings seriously. We may think that instant, fleshly gratification will make us "feel better"—and so we end up giving in to temptation. But notice that a major culprit here is disbelief! If we really and truly believed God—being utterly convinced that He, in Spirit, was always right here with us—we would know better and act accordingly.

But for physical human beings beset by weakness of the flesh and Satan's negative influences, such absolute faith lies out of reach on our own. Humanly, there is always going to be some doubt. That's why we must have a transformation of mind through the Holy Spirit—which is itself a gift of God by grace through faith.

Through giving us the Holy Spirit, God the Father and Jesus Christ enable us to miraculously share in Their sure perspective when it comes to how we should live. And the Holy Spirit also empowers obedience and increasing faith to obey even more.

Here's how it works. When we purpose to obey God—impossible to fully do on our own—we step out in faith, knowing that we are not "flying solo." We know that to the degree we yield to Christ living in us through His Spirit (Galatians 2:20), He keeps the law in and through us. Of course, we must believe—and also make an effort ourselves.

This effort would get us nowhere without Christ's help. But if we make no effort at all, He will not just drag us along and force us to do right. We must cooperate in partnership with Him. As Paul writes, each of us must "labor, striving according to His working which works in [us] mightily" (Colossians 1:29). Only this will produce ongoing obedience to God's commandments in the full spirit and intent.

This is living faith—faith accompanied by righteous works. God initially declared the patriarch Abraham righteous on the basis of his faith (Genesis 15:5-6). Yet the apostle James explains of Abraham's later obedience, "Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?" (James 2:22).

A synergism exists between faith in God with His way of life and our commitment to doing godly works. Every time we take the leap of faith to obey God and are successful through Christ living in us, the more faith we will have to obey in the future. Indeed, nothing succeeds like success!

In the words of Paul, "The righteousness of God [alignment with His way, His law] is revealed from faith to faith [that is, ever-increasing faith]; as it is written, 'The just shall live by faith'" (Romans 1:17).

The next verse in James 2 says that this perfecting of faith through works is actually how "the Scripture was fulfilled which says, 'Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness'" (James 2:23). May this be said of us too!