Is It Possible To Believe But Not Obey?
Read John Chapter 17
Jn 17:6 “I have revealed You to those whom You gave Me out of the world. They were Yours; You gave them to Me and they have obeyed Your word. 7 Now they know that everything you have given Me comes from You. 8 For I gave them the words You gave Me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from You, and they believed that You sent Me.
In this discourse, Jesus was praying to the Father, near the time when He would be delivered up for crucifixion. He made some interesting statements in regard to His Apostles who had believed and followed Him. We will concentrate on two of those statements. Note that in verse 8 Jesus stated that they had accepted “them,” meaning the words the Father had given Jesus. Everything that Jesus said and taught the disciples were words directly from His Father. It is important to see that the disciples had accepted not only Jesus, and believed who He was, but that they had also accepted everything He had told them. That fact is underscored in verse 6. As they believed and accepted the words of Jesus, they obeyed them as well.
Obedience does not bring about our salvation. But our desire to obey is one of the proofs that we are saved. Here’s why we can know that. A man has no reason to turn to Jesus unless he sees a need to do so. If a man is not aware that he is a helpless and hopeless sinner, there would be no reason for him to come to Jesus for salvation. Therefore, when a man comes to Jesus for salvation, he has a basic knowledge that He needs salvation and freedom from his sinfulness. We can further say that if he knows he is a sinner, he also knows that there is a need to turn away from those sins. That is called repentance. The desire to repent is also proof that a man is being drawn to Christ by the Holy Spirit, for it is the Spirit which convicts and convinces a man that he is a sinner and that he must repent.
The disciples, except for Judas Iscariot, had followed this progression to the fullest and therefore it was easy for Christ to confidently pray as He did in this passage. They believed in Jesus, believed what He told them, and proved it so by their obedience.
This brings us to a major consideration. What does that mean for us when we find ourselves in disobedience? We can also answer that question through the examples of the disciples. Did they later sin? Of course they did. Peter denied Christ three times. All the disciples deserted Him after He was arrested. Later on, Peter was charged with being hypocritical when he withdrew from the Gentiles when Christian Jews came to visit the work that Paul and the disciples were doing. The disciples did not live sinless perfection lives after they believed and followed Christ.
However, we can be sure that each time they sinned, they repented. They did not refuse to repent. They did not attempt to excuse their behavior. In every case where we know they sinned, they repented. They did not continue to willfully disobey God’s commands. The obvious lesson for SSA Christians is that we cannot excuse our disobedience, nor can we continue to willfully sin. Each time we recognize and confess our sins, repentance will be our natural response to conviction. We cannot willfully continue to act out on our same-sex attractions. We may occasionally make a mistake, but each time we do so, we will be sincerely sorrowful over our misdeed. Our heart’s desire will be to obey and to continually obey.
1Jn 3:8 He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. 9 No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. 10 This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.
Somewhere along the pathway of our lives, the presence and disciplines of the Holy Spirit will lead us to conquer our willful disobedience. It’s just the natural progression of “working out our salvation.” It is a product of our sanctification. It’s what happens.
Phil 3:12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.
Prayer: Father, it has taken me a long, long time to come to the point where I loathe sin. I thank You for not abandoning me somewhere along the way, when my stubborn will was resisting the work of Your Holy Spirit. Continue to work with me, and with all SSA men and women who believe in You, that our complete obedience will soon come about.