Faith is also essential for living the spiritual life. In the final verses of Matthew’s gospel, Jesus instructed us to teach new believers “to obey all that I have commanded you” (Mt 28:20). Have you ever thought about the implications of the “all” in this verse? Obeying all is a pretty tall order. How do we obey all that Jesus commanded? We obey by faith.
We often think of faith as a mysterious concept, but living by faith is a very practical matter. When our choices, decisions, and actions are controlled by biblical principles and biblical commands, we are living by faith. When we submit ourselves to the authority of God’s Word, we are basically saying two things; we believe, by faith, that there is great reward in obeying God’s standard, and we believe, by faith, that we are indwelt with the power to obey.
Visiting the first thought, we believe there is great value in following God’s commands. In the world’s eyes, obeying God is foolish. And even in our own eyes, we do not always see the positive outcome of our obedience. In fact, obeying God can be costly. So if our obedience were just based on what we see, the narrow path could be grueling. But when we see with the eyes of faith, we see both present-day and eternal rewards for our fidelity to the Lord. We see love, peace, joy, unity, and so much more as His blessings for our allegiance to God. We choose to obey by faith.
Secondly, we believe that we have been given the power to obey. This is such a crucial part of living by faith. If my obedience is based on my mood, my willpower, my effort, my perseverance, I am doomed to fail. But my power to obey is based on my identity in Christ. In Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, I have everything I need “pertaining to life and godliness” (II Pet 1:3). Believing I am filled with this power is the only way that I John 5:3, “and His commandments are not burdensome”, makes sense; and empowers me to walk victoriously.
The commands of Christ are not burdensome because, as believers, this is what we were created for. At first glance, they may appear to be burdensome. But Christ’s commands are really a reflection of who we now are, not a list to follow. We were “created for good works to walk in them” (Eph 2:10).
This is who you are! You were created in your new identity to obey all that Jesus commands. Do we always accomplish the all? No. Do we fall short? Yes. Do we miss the mark? Yes. Do we fall into sin? Yes. And when we do, “we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous” (I Jn 2:1) to quickly and humbly run to for His generous forgiveness.
But we do not need to fail as often as many sermons imply. A popular teaching today is essentially that God is a distant Father, standing back with His arms crossed on His chest thinking, “I don’t think he or she is capable of this. I don’t think they can do this.” Nothing could be further from the truth of the New Testament. God is a generous Father with His arms outstretched toward us. And He longs to see us take our faith steps, one at a time, straight into His delighted joy; just like a father coaxing along his child’s victorious first steps.
So may I encourage you? By faith, believe what God says about your new power within and recognize that your acts of obedience are really steps of faith.