What is the Evidence of Faith?
Faith is incomplete without obedience
. "For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also"
(James 2:26). This is the Gospel in a nutshell: trust and obey
. When we believe (trust) God with all our heart, we will keep (obey) His commandments.
James expounds on this truth: "What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, 'Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled;' notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, 'Thou hast faith, and I have works:' shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble"
(James 2:14-19). You see, it
is not enough to just believe in God. Even the demons believe in God — and shudder in fear at the thought of Him! We must also obey
the Lord Jesus, because obedience
always follows genuine faith.
Biblical Examples of Obedience
The Lord commanded Abraham to leave his country and go to a land that was foreign to him (Hebrews 11:8). Abraham did so, thus putting his faith into action. Abraham "staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God"
(Romans 4:20). Many years later, God asked Abraham to offer up his son Isaac on the altar. Again, Abraham obeyed, knowing that the Lord was able to raise Isaac from the dead (Hebrews 11:19). Such acts of obedience were counted to Abraham for righteousness
(see Genesis 15:6; Romans 4:3; James 2:23).
Abraham's faith was perfected
(made complete, not lacking) when he obeyed God. "Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? ... Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only"
(James 2:21-24). Like Abraham, we are called to demonstrate our faith in God by walking in obedience to God. This is how we come under Abraham's blessing (see Galatians 3:7-9), for he and his wife Sarah are the spiritual parents of those who have faith: "Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well"
(I Peter 3:6).
Jesus perfectly demonstrated a life of obedience. "Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; and being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him"
(Hebrews 5:7-9). While Jesus was in human flesh, He cried out to His Heavenly Father Who was able to save Him from death, yet Jesus submitted His will to the will of the Father (Matthew 26:42). Notice that Jesus was "made perfect" through His obedience. That word perfect
means complete, fulfilled, and finished
. Although our Lord Jesus was sinless, He was perfected
by completing His walk of obedience. In doing so, He became the
High Priest and Author of eternal salvation for all those who obey Him (see Hebrews 5:9; I Peter 1:9).
Admonitions Concerning Obedience
The Word of God is full of verses which connect faith with action. For example, we are admonished to do the following:
The Testing of Obedience
- Continue in the faith. "If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel"
(Colossians 1:23). "Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee" (I Timothy 4:16).
- Hold fast our profession of faith. "Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; for he is faithful that promised" (Hebrews 10:23).
- Keep faith to the end. "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith" (II Timothy 4:7). "Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus" (Revelation 14:12).
- Resist the devil steadfast in the faith. "Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world" (I Peter 5:9).
- Earnestly contend for the faith. "Ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints" (Jude 1:3).
- Keep our eyes on the Author and Finisher of our faith. "Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith" (Hebrews 12:2).
- Be diligent in the faith to inherit the promises. "That ye be not slothful [idle], but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises"
In addition to perfecting our faith through obedience, we must allow God to purify and strengthen our faith through trials and tribulations (see James 1:3-4). By faith, we keep our eyes on Jesus in the midst of trials, believing that "the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us"
(Romans 8:18). Peter comforted those who faced suffering with these words: "That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ"
(I Peter 1:7). Thankfully, we do not suffer alone for Christ, for "all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution"
(II Timothy 3:12).
The ultimate indicator of your faith is whether you love God with all your heart and keep His commandments, with or without adversity, in difficult times and in good times. "And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments"
(I John 2:3). Such faith and obedience does not require striving to follow a list of rules or struggling hard in your own efforts. For when God has first place in your heart, obeying His voice will flow naturally out of love for Him.