What Does It Mean to Have Obedience of Faith?

Karen Del Tatto

Contributing Writer
Published Jun 09, 2024
What Does It Mean to Have Obedience of Faith?

... when you come to faith in Christ Jesus, you are letting go of self and asking Jesus to be your Lord and Savior. You are, as the word "obedience" states, submitting to authority. In this case, the authority of Jesus.

The Oxford Dictionary's definition of obedience is "compliance with an order, request, or law or submission to another's authority.”

Ever since I was a little girl, I have always been a rule follower, and I have always been an obedient person by nature. I see rules as black and white with no gray areas. Yet some of my friends, who are indeed very good people, are self-proclaimed as not being rule followers and can see gray areas of a rule as the exception for getting around it.   And they may have a point because when you look up the definition of a rule it states: an accepted principle or instruction that states the way things are or should be done and tells you what you are allowed or not allowed to do (emphasis on “should”). There’s your gray area! Lol.  

I do wonder sometimes if a person who is not a rule follower by nature has more difficulty forming a relationship with God because at first blush and without knowing the person and work of Jesus Christ, they latch onto the misinterpretation of the Old Testament God who is a taskmaster setting up all these rules and then punishing anyone who doesn’t obey. Whereas a person who is a rule follower may fall into a comfortableness with a God who has a “set of rules” that they can check off, yet they may just be participating in a religion, not a relationship with the living God.  

Recently, I saw the word obedience used in a different way while reading Romans 1:4b-6, which states:  

“...Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name’s sake, among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ; Romans.” 

Do you see that, “Obedience of faith”? I never thought of obedience being tied to our faith. I saw faith more as faith, not an act of obedience. I think because the old Covenant was about laws but the new Covenant is about grace. However, when you think about it, when you come to faith in Christ Jesus, you are letting go of self and asking Jesus to be your Lord and Savior. You are, as the word "obedience" states, submitting to authority. In this case, the authority of Jesus.

So whether we are rule followers or not, I believe that the Apostle Paul can show us what it means to have obedience of faith not just at the time of our conversion but throughout our lives.

Obedience of Faith

“For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools,  and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.”  Romans 1:21-23

For those of you who are older, I’m sure you can remember watching the Ten Commandments with Charlton Heston. Around Easter every year, it would be broadcast on television. As a child, it seemed like the movie lasted for an eternity!  Even as a child, I was always struck by the scene where the people knew that Moses was up on the mountain talking to God and had even experienced the power of God in that circumstance, yet, when Moses didn’t come back down the mountain according to their timeline, they decided to make a golden calf to worship. It made no sense to me! They knew God existed, but they decided to worship a golden calf?

I think we do this sometimes. We may pray for something and God doesn’t answer according to our timeline or in the way we wanted, so we start “creating idols” for ourselves. Whether it be seeking wisdom outside of biblical counsel, trying to escape our circumstances through vices, or trying to make what we want to happen come about by our own strength. We are all guilty of this. I’d be the first to raise my hand. Here we have a God who has promised to be with us and to help us. One who wants us to come to Him with all of our burdens, yet we continually try to do things on our own or think we know what's best for us.

This is where obedience of faith needs to become part of our “muscle memory.” First, we remember that we joyfully accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior and through faith, we trust Him with all things. Then, our automatic response must be to trust and obey. Every time we trust the Lord with our circumstances, worries, or life in general as our first response, we exercise our faith muscles and consistently walk in obedience of faith.

Serve in Your Spirit

“For God, whom I serve in my spirit in the preaching of the gospel of His Son, is my witness.”  Romans 1:9

When I read this verse I was struck by the phrase “serve in my spirit.” Upon further research, I discovered that what Paul meant was that his whole life was about the service of preaching the gospel. Paul’s ministry was to bring about the obedience of faith in those who would hear the truth of Christ.

We have the greatest witness to our lives that resides inside of us—the Holy Spirit. He is as close to us as our breathing. He makes intercession for us, gives us wisdom when we need it, and provides a word for us at just the right time. As Psalm 139 says, there is no place we can go where the Lord does not see us. But how many of us remember this on a daily basis?  

Our obedience of faith happens when we remember the benefits of the Holy Spirit by preaching the gospel to ourselves every day. A reminder of the Truth of what Jesus did for us on the cross. How He took our sin upon Himself and suffered the punishment we deserved so that we could live eternally with Him. When we trusted in Jesus as our Lord and Savior, at that very moment, the Holy Spirit came to live inside of us. When we let those realities pervade our mindset, we serve in our Spirit by making our whole lives about pleasing God. Now that’s obedience of faith!

Faith to Faith

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “But the righteous man shall live by faith.” Romans 1:16-17

Sadly, I can be someone who goes from worry to worry rather than faith to faith.  I’m obeying my fears rather than being obedient to faith.  The definition of faith means “complete trust or confidence in someone or something.”  I’m putting more faith in my fears and deciding they are reality, which they may not be, and I am letting my fears rule my thoughts.

In order to go from faith to faith, we must always remember what God has done for us in the past.  How He’s been faithful to us.  As believers, right out of the gate, we can put our faith in the fact that Jesus died for us.  If that was the ONLY thing He did for us, that would be enough to draw from. But God does so much more for us in our lifetimes.  When difficult circumstances arise, we can remember back to God’s past faithfulness and take comfort in knowing that He is still the same God who was faithful to us before and will be in the situation we find ourselves in now.

When we go from faith to faith, our obedience of faith will be evident because we are continually submitting to God’s care alone.  We trust that He knows what is best for us, He will give us strength and He will provide all that we need in that situation.

What does it mean to have obedience of faith? It means that we won’t submit to anything that will distract us from the fact that we have a God who cares so very much about us to the point of dying for us and that He has promised to “go before us and be with us, to never leave us or forsake us…” Deuteronomy 31:8

Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/kitzcorner

Karen Del Tatto is a blogger, author, women's ministry leader, pastor's wife, mom, and grandmother who is passionate about the Word of God. Her blog Growing Together in Grace and Knowledge and her books Choosing to Trust God: Breaking the Habit of Worry, A 30-Day Devotional and Choosing to Trust God Companion Journal reveal her heart for providing Biblical insights to encourage women to grow in and through their struggles while equipping them to overcome. Karen and her husband live in Rhode Island and enjoy walks in the woods, owling, and spending time with their grandchildren.