Obedience to the Law vs. Obedience to the Faith

May. 24, 2017 | By Creflo Dollar


Obedience to God is indeed important, but there is a distinction between obedience to the Law of Moses and obedience to the faith. Under the law, the people’s obedience was required, first, before God could bless them. After Jesus went to the cross, the only requirement to inherit the promises of God was belief, independent of our behavior or self-effort. Under the law, people were holy because of their obedience; under grace, we are holy because of Jesus’ obedience. Under grace, we cannot take credit for any of the good things that happen in our lives. We are made righteous not through anything we do, but only through our belief in Jesus’ faithfulness. Under the covenant of grace, we bear the fruit of what He has already done.

A. God made the grace covenant because no one was able to keep the Law of Moses. 

  1. And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the Lord thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth: And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God. Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field (Deuteronomy 28:1-3).
    1. To hearken is to hear and obey.
    2. This is under the old covenant, which specified that God’s blessings were conditional on the people’s behavior.
  2. However, He finds fault with them [showing its inadequacy] when He says, Behold, the days will come, says the Lord, when I will make and ratify a new covenant or agreement with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant that I made with their forefathers on the day when I grasped them by the hand to help and relieve them and to lead them out from the land of Egypt, for they did not abide in My agreement with them, and so I withdrew My favor and disregarded them, says the Lord… When God speaks of a new [covenant or agreement], He makes the first one obsolete (out of use). And what is obsolete (out of use and annulled because of age) is ripe for disappearance and to be dispensed with altogether (Hebrews 8:8, 9, 13, AMPC).
    1. There was nothing wrong with the Law of Moses; it was perfect. It was actually too perfect for God’s imperfect people to keep. This was the fault God found with it.
    2. God told the people that in the next covenant, what He could or could not do would not depend on what they did. It would be between Himself and Jesus.
    3. The covenant of the law is expired. Many husbands are still operating under this invalid contract (Genesis 2:16; Genesis 3:16) and think they are supposed to rule over their wives.
  3. That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith (Galatians 3:14).
    1. Under the old agreement, obedience was the condition to be met before being blessed. Under grace, belief was the only requirement to receive the promise.
    2. The order of actions was also reversed. Under the law, what mattered was what the people did first. Under grace, what matters now is what Jesus did first.
B. The covenant of grace hinges on our faith in Christ, not our works.
  1. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land (Isaiah 1:19).
    1. This conditional promise was under the law. Under this line of reasoning, people who were not willing or obedient did not eat the good of the land.
    2. It is necessary to reconcile obedience with grace. We must not think that if we are not obedient, God will not bless us.
  2. For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous (Romans 5:19).
    1. We were not made sinners through anything we did; likewise, we were not sanctified or made holy and righteous through any of our own actions.
    2. What Adam did made us sinners. People who are not saved sin because they are sinners. They are not sinners because they sin; they were born that way.
    3. Because of what Jesus did, many people were made righteous. We benefitted from His obedience.
  3. For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins (Hebrews 10:26).
    1. Under the old covenant, animals were sacrificed to atone for sin. Under the present covenant, Jesus is now the perfect sacrifice for sin.
    2. All sin is willful. Many people incorrectly interpret this Scripture to mean that if they sin, nothing can help them with their sin.
C. The law actually causes us to sin. Grace empowers us to be like Jesus.
  1. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you (Romans 6:16, 17).
    1. In this Scripture, the Greek word for “obey” means to hearken, pay attention to, or listen to. In this context, it does not mean to simply comply or follow.
    2. A doctrine is a teaching. Paul was writing to the church at Rome to ask them whether they were paying attention to the teaching of sin or to the teaching of obedience.
    3. If we use our time to listen to the doctrine of sin, we are listening to the law. If we pay attention to it, that is what we will serve. Conversely, if we listen to obedience unto righteousness, we will serve that.
  2. By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name (Romans 1:5).
    1. This tells us what type of obedience is acceptable under the covenant of grace.
  3. And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith (Acts 6:7).
    1. The phrase “obedient to the faith” was never used under the old covenant.
    2. Obedience to the faith is obedience to believe what Jesus already did. Simply defined, it is right-believing.
    3. The priests demonstrated obedience to the faith when they heard the Gospel of Grace preached and believed it.
D. We are in spiritual warfare. The power of grace helps us defeat the enemy.
  1. Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith (Romans 16:25, 26).
    1. The Gospel to which Paul refers is the Gospel of Grace; the mystery is God’s unmerited favor.
    2. Before the law entered, grace was already present. When the children of Israel were delivered from Egypt and when they crossed the Red Sea, grace was there.
    3. God handed down the law when the people told Him they did not need Him (Exodus 19:3-8; 20:1-17). The law was to remind them they needed God.
    4. Christ is the manifestation of God’s glory. Jesus gave physical proof of this when He healed the man who had been blind from birth, so that the works should be manifested in him (John 9:1-7). When the man’s eyes were opened, he saw the grace of God.
  2. Grace delivers us from hard times and difficult situations.
    1. Paul learned that God’s grace is sufficient even in persecution (2 Corinthians 12:9).
    2. Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound (Romans 5:20). We must have more faith in what Jesus did than in what Adam did.
    3. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith (Romans 1:17). Legalism focuses on obedience rather than faith. Right-believing releases the power of God.
  3. (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:4, 5).
    1. Obedience to the faith is the essence of spiritual warfare. We beat the enemy by standing in belief of what Jesus accomplished with His blood.
    2. The war takes place in our minds. The enemy uses fear against us, but we overcome it by faith.
    3. We know we truly believe when we are at rest. Sometimes we have to labor to believe and reach that place of rest (Hebrews 4:11).
    4. Our actions are works of faith in what God did, not attempts to get Him to do what He has already done. Praying in tongues, confessing, fasting, and studying and meditating on the word all work together to enhance our belief. So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17).
    5. When we hear the Gospel preached, we must hear it in faith in order to benefit from it . For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it (Hebrews 4:2).

Scripture References

Deuteronomy 28:1-3 Acts 6:7
Hebrews 8:8, 9, 13, AMPC Romans 16:25, 26
Genesis 2:16 Exodus 19:3-8
Genesis 3:16 Exodus 20:1-17
Galatians 3:14 John 9:1-7
Isaiah 1:19 2 Corinthians 12:9
Romans 5:19, 20 2 Corinthians 10:4, 5
Hebrews 10:26 Hebrews 4:2, 11
Romans 6:16, 17  Romans 10:17
Romans 1:5, 17

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