When It Takes More Faith Than Willpower to Obey

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I’ve realized the most difficult times to obey are those requiring us to walk by faith. For example, we know it’s wrong to steal, murder, commit adultery, etc (Rom 2:14-15). It might take some willpower not to do those things, but it doesn’t take much faith. There are some situations though where we have to obey when it doesn’t make much sense…and that’s when it gets really tough…because of the strong temptation to justify disobedience.

Katie and I had to provide counsel and explain God’s Word in two identical situations where I knew it was going to be very difficult for the individuals to hear what Scripture had to say. The two situations took place less than a week apart, and in the second counseling session I remember thinking, “This is exactly what I said a few days ago.” It took a lot of faith for the listeners to do what God’s Word said, for the simple reason that it didn’t make much sense to them. In other words, they just had to obey by faith.

Then it got really interesting…

Only a few days later, Katie and I felt blindsided when we found ourselves in the exact same situation. We had to follow the counsel we’d recently twice provided. The conversation between Katie and I went like this: “We have to trust God. This is what we have to do, not because it seems right to us, but because this is what God says to do. We have to believe He knows what’s best…just like we told those people.”

Most people believe willpower is the necessary element in obedience. I would at least disagree so far as to say faith is equally necessary. Perhaps this is why God says, “Without faith it is impossible to please Me.” (Heb 11:6). Obedience is about looking at Scripture and saying, “This is what God says, so I’m going to trust Him and obey even though it’s difficult and argues against everything inside me.” Faith really means saying, “This doesn’t make sense to me, but I believe God knows what’s best so I’m going to do what His Word says.” Faith is about walking in obedience and trusting God with the consequences.

I think we all recognize the tremendous temptation to look at Scripture and say, “I know what the Bible says, but in this situation it doesn’t apply to me because of _______ so I’m going to do this instead.” Faith is what’s required to deny that temptation and obey.

9 Responses

  1. Oh my goodness! Impressive article dude! Thanks, However I am
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  2. I just counseled someone on the same thing. I enjoyed reading your words; which I needed to hear. When a man is out of God’s will for him then God STILL calls the wife to obey His word and submit to her husband; not begrugingly but with love. We can feel justified in not being loving when someone wrongs us but obedience to God is not under the guidelines of “well if HE WOULD BE WHAT HE IS SUPPOSED TO BE THEN I WOULD LOVINGLY SUBMIT” or husbands saying ” WELL IF SHE WOULD SUBMIT THEN I WOULD LOVE HER LIKE CHRIST LOVES HIS CHRUCH”. We are sinning humans but surrender to God’s call to obedience is what we pray for as we ask the Holy Spirit to give us the power to obey when it seems almost impossible. (Forgive my rambling…I think I may be typing these words so the “I” can hear them. 🙂 Much affection to you Pastor.

    1. Dear Aunt Pattie,
      Thanks so much for what you wrote. I loved reading your words and they really could’ve been their own blog post!!!

      It almost seems like you’ve sat in on some of my counseling sessions :).

      We really miss you and can’t wait to see you again.


  3. Amen and Amen! Just wrote articles about being found in the “Hall of Faith” so your blog is confirming in my heart what I need… MORE FAITH!!! Just need to do it and let God work out the details, don’t we. BTW I have begged my counsel-ees to REMEMBER what I tell them from God’s Word because I am going to NEED them to repeat it back to me when I NEED TO HEAR IT!!! 🙂

    1. Lori, there’s an area of your life where you’re walking in obedience and demonstrating an amount of faith that’s an encouragement to everyone around you.

      Where are the articles you wrote?

      1. Thank you Pastor Scott BUT I need more faith. I really do. Still, thank you for the encouraging words. My articles are in the June and July editions of The Review.

  4. Amen! Well said. It is hard indeed, I have always admired those who it seemed to be easy to make those kind of decisions. We are all a “work in progress.” By God’s grace we will get there!

    1. Thanks Brother!

      I didn’t get to talk to you after your devotional yesterday, but I wanted to thank you for doing it and tell you it was really good! A couple people talked to me about enjoying it!

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