Over the past few days we have been examining various aspects of biblical faith. If it is faith alone that justifies us, then we must make sure that we understand what faith is, otherwise we may deceive ourselves into thinking that we have faith when in reality we do not.
We have noted that true faith is a repentant faith. Only by turning from our sin do we truly rest on Christ alone for salvation. We have also seen that our faith is in a person — the Lord Jesus Christ. In order for us to have true faith in Jesus, we must know something about Him, believe that He is who He says He is, and trust in Him alone.
Placing our trust in Christ alone involves several things. We truly trust in Jesus only when we believe that He will accomplish all of His promises. We show that we love Him and understand that He alone perfectly knows what is good, right, and true only if we obey Him (Gen. 2:16–17; 22:1–14; John 14:15; James 2:14–26).
Today’s passage tells us that we must submit to Jesus as the Lord of all things if we are to be saved (Rom. 10:9). However, in the past few years there have been Christians who have taught that it is possible to be in a state of justification and yet be disobedient to Jesus. They have said that it is possible to receive Jesus as Savior without submitting to Him as Lord. To be sure, these teachers have not said that this is the ideal situation. They do acknowledge that Christians should obey Jesus and manifest the fruit of the Spirit. However, they have also said that a person can never do these things and still be a real Christian.
An attempt to preserve the doctrine of justification by faith alone motivates this teaching. To require any obedience to Christ is seen by these teachers as making salvation dependent upon our works.
Yet all this teaching does is misrepresent the biblical teaching on faith. Indeed, works do not contribute to our justification. They do, however, demonstrate that justifying faith is present. When we studied James 2, we saw that obedience to Christ as Lord inevitably, necessarily, and immediately follows true faith. These works of obedience in no sense justify us, but if we do not have them, we have not the living faith that justifies us.
Do you believe that you can be a “carnal Christian?” That is, do you believe that Jesus can save you if you in no way submit to Him as Lord? Perfect obedience is not possible in this life, but if your life in no way reflects the Lordship of Christ then the Bible says you do not have true faith. Confess your trust in Christ alone as your Savior, and submit to Him as Lord. Look for concrete ways you can obey Him today in your family life or at your workplace.