We may ask what it means to obey God by faith. Usually, when we obey someone, we do it by our efforts and by our activities. Christians often refer to those things as our works. However, faith is belief and trust in God. In Romans 4:1-5, Paul will contrast faith and works.
In Romans 3:9-18, Paul explains that the problem of sin (our wrong and evil thoughts, words and deeds) affects all people, everywhere. In all nations, people are not obeying God. When God is our judge, we are all guilty.
You might think that the solution to sin is simply for us to obey Godís law. However, none of us can obey Godís law completely, so we are still guilty in front of God (James 2:10-11). We cannot bring ourselves into a right relationship with God by our own efforts (4:1-8). However, God has provided a way by which people from every nation can receive a right relationship with him (John 14:6).
That is why Jesus came to this world (John 3:16). At his death, he suffered the punishment that we deserve (5:8). God sends his people to declare this message, called the gospel. By means of the gospel, we can receive a right relationship with God. We receive that relationship not by works, but by faith (belief and trust in God) - Romans 1:16-17. By faith, we receive the benefit of Christís death for us.
So, if we trust God, we can receive a right relationship with him (4:22-25). When people invite Christ into their lives by faith, God changes their lives completely (John 3:3-5; 2 Corinthians 5:17). He gives them a genuine desire to obey him (Hebrews 8:10). Then they can live in the way that pleases God; their works will show their faith (James 1:22-27; James 2:14-26). They still do some wrong things; but they confess their sins to God and he forgives them (1 John 1:9). He is making them into the kind of people that he wants them to be (Romans 8:18-19; 1 John 3:2).
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© 2018, Keith Simons.