Is True Belief compatible with Disobedience?

Many of us who grew up in church were taught to be followers of "Saint" Augustine, not followers of Jesus Christ. We were not taught to obey the commandments of Jesus Christ. Most of us after years of going to church could not even list 10 commandments Jesus gave in the gospels, much less obey them.

We were taught that God made us sinners, and that it is impossible for us to consistently obey God. Some of us were led to believe that God had sovereignly chosen us for no particular reason we could know or understand to be saved in spite of all we do and continue to do. The reason for this, we were told, is because God Himself made us believe that Jesus died on the cross for us to take away our sins. After that, we understood that God would undertake a long and failure prone work of sanctifying us extremely incompletely. This we were taught was true Christianity.

Others, Roman Catholics, who also follow "Saint" Augustine in a different way, were taught that the key to salvation was looking to "Mother Mary" and her intercessions for our salvation. The key was to be in Mother Mary's good books, so she would put in a word for us with Jesus who would then accept us into Heaven because Jesus can't say no to His dear mother, the Queen of Heaven.

It is time for Christians everywhere to turn away from all this Augustinian rubbish, and take Jesus Christ and His teachings VERY seriously. This might be hard to do, because it is hard top give up cherished traditions of men, and not only that – Jesus demands that the very roots of our sinful old life be uprooted. Jesus tells us that we must be born again of the Spirit of God, so that we can obey Jesus and His commandments from the heart, in total trust towards God the Father. He further warns us repeatedly against falling away by returning to a life of disobedience and distrust towards God.


Faith and Obedience are like Siamese twins – Inseparable

One of the roots of false doctrine that must be confronted is the often unspoken assumption that true faith in God is compatible with DISOBEDIENCE to God. But the Scriptures make it very clear that these two principles are diametrically opposed to each other.

He who believes in the Son has eternal life, but he who does not obey the Son does not have life, but the wrath of God abides on him. (John 3:36, NASB)

Perhaps someone will imagine there is a third option "believing but not obeying". I suspect that a very large portion of today's visible evangelical and pentecostal church believes themselves to be part of this "third" category not mentioned in the Word of God. A lot of today's preachers are careful to assure people that they can be "right with God" even though they may have no serious intention of actually doing what they know Jesus wants them to do. They believe and teach that there is such a thing as "saving faith" which doesn't involve actually coming under the authority of Jesus in practice. As a result, people think they can be part of this imaginary third category – the "believers" who do not actually obey Jesus all that much. 

This is super serious because if this is not the case then a lot of people who sincerely believe that they are Christians are in fact going to end up in hell.

It is interesting that the KJV and NKJV translate John 3:36 differently. The KJV version says:

"He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him." (John 3:36, KJV)

So which is it: he that believeth not, or he who does not obey the Son?

I thought maybe its a textual variation and perhaps for this reason the KJV is right after all. But when you look up the Strongs number for the word translated "believe not" it is 


544   //  apeiyew  //  apeitheo   //  ap-i-theh'-o  //  

from   545  ; TDNT – 6:10,818; v 

AV – believe not 8, disobedient 4, obey not 3, unbelieving 1; 16 

1) not to allow one's self to be persuaded 
1a) to refuse or withhold belief 
1b) to refuse belief and obedience 
2) not to comply with


This word definitely includes the meaning of "not obey". The person to whom this word applies doesn't obey because he or she isn't fully persuaded and doesn't want to be. They are apathetic and not interested in complying with the demands of Jesus Christ.

The verse is actually contrasting being committed to trusting and obeying Jesus with refusing to trust, obey or be persuaded by Jesus.

There is another Greek word for "believing not" which is found in Mark 16:16 – "apisteo" (Strongs number 569). This is more literally "not believing" since "pisteuo" (Strongs 4100) is the Greek verb ("to believe").

So this "apeitheo" behavior or attitude is something which means something slightly different to "not believing". It has more the sense of "not going for it", "not letting it shape you, or change you, or persuade you".

Both "not believing" and "not obeying" will result in destruction for those who persist in these things. So the kind of faith where you believe that Jesus died so you can get away with deliberate sinning is a false faith, not a saving faith.

If this were not so how could there be any truth in the warning of the Book of Hebrews, found in Hebrews 10:26ff

"For if we sin [keep on sinning] willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,”[a] says the Lord.[b] And again, “The LORD will judge His people.”[c] 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. "

If it was still possible for God to consider that you "believe" while you are deliberately sinning, then God's Word contradicts itself concerning the eternal outcome for such people. This cannot be. God is not a liar, nor is His Word inconsistent. It is consistent, its just that many of us don't really like what it consistently says, so we try to find ways to interpret it to get us off the hook.

Other Scriptures which Show This Principle

The apostle Peter writes:

7 Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient,[a]
      “ The stone which the builders rejected
      Has become the chief cornerstone,”[b]
 8 and
      “ A stone of stumbling
      And a rock of offense.”[a]

   They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed.


This again plainly contrasts believers with those who are disobedient as mutually exclusive categories of people. Again, the disobedient are seen as "stumbling", and this implies a kind of fall which, if not corrected, will lead to damnation.


People think of the apostle Paul as a "grace preacher", and truly he was, but not of the kind of grace that has been popularised today by preachers like Joseph Prince in Singapore or Charles Stanley in Atlanta, GA. Listen to what the apostle Paul said:

"For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ has not accomplished through me, in word and deed, to make the Gentiles obedient" (Romans 15:18)

Paul described his ministry not in terms of getting people to "believe" in some nebulous way, but in terms of making people OBEDIENT.

This is important, because Jesus taught:

"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord' will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven."

(Matthew 7:21)

Doing the will of God happens when you obey God's revealed will. It is not something that happens automatically because as some falsely believe "everything that happens is the will of God". If "everything that happens is the will of God the Father" then everyone will enter the Kingdom of Heaven according to Matthew 7:21. But Jesus teaches in the next few verses that this isn't the case.

Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

Lawlessness, which is disobedience to God and His Word, is something that is not compatible with righteousness. It can and will take people to hell – even those who did miracles in the name and power of Jesus Christ.

So be warned. I see many on the internet arguing that "saving faith" is perfectly compatible with disobedience to God's commands. Once you know God's will, don't be a fool, don't be a rebel. Make the adjustments you need to make with the help of the Holy Spirit.

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About Michael Fackerell

Michael is the founder of Christian faith dot come, a site about Jesus. He came to save the lost. Bible teaching, Testimonies, Salvation, Prayer, Faith, Networking.

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