Wholeheartedly Obey the Truth- Romans 6:17

In Romans 6:17, Paul gives thanks to God for believers, who used to be “slaves to sin”, but have been set free because they “wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which they were entrusted”. Paul had taught them the truth, and their obedience to that truth set them free from sin (verse 18). In this verse Paul gives us a key biblical principle, which we will examine in this post. The believers in Rome were set free not simply by hearing and understanding the truth, but by obeying it. Knowing truth is not enough, we must order our lives by it in order to be made free. The principle which we find here can be stated as follows: knowledge without obedience is just information, the truth does us no good if we do not put it into practice by living in accordance with it. Having the truth in our heads is not enough, we must also have the truth in our hearts, we must not only “know” it, we must also “live” it. So how do we put the truth into practice, has does our information become knowledge? We turn to Hebrews 11 for the answer. In Hebrews 11:1, we find that “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen”. The Greek word translated substance here is hypostasis, literally “to stand under”. The same Greek word is used of Jesus in Hebrews 1:3, where we find that Jesus is the “exact representation of His (God’s) being”, Jesus here is the “substance” of God, he substantiates God for us. Now what does it mean to substantiate something? To substantiate something means to prove it, to make it real in our experience, and this is what Jesus does, Jesus makes God real to us, shows us who God really is. We could “know about” God (information) through a book, but we can only “know” God (knowledge) through Jesus Christ. Jesus is the one who transforms our information about God into knowledge of Him, and he does this through faith. Faith is the means by which our knowledge of the truth becomes real in our experience. Faith is acting upon the truth we know, living as though it is true, faith is how our information becomes knowledge. It is not enough to simply hear and understand the truth, we must substantiate it, we must live in accordance with it, if it is to make us free, and it is faith which does this. Without faith we cannot please God (Hebrews 11:6), it pleases God when our information about Him is transformed into knowledge of Him. In our minds we can know “that” He is, but it is only in our hearts through the obedience of faith that we come to know “who” He is. Because examples are often helpful in helping us understand principles such as this, the writer of Hebrews then provides us with some examples of this to help us better understand the principle. We will look at Noah in verse 7 as our example. In the story of Noah, Noah believes that God exists, and we are told that Noah was “warned about things not yet seen”. The things not yet seen here refers to the flood which God was going to send, and the fact that Noah and his family were chosen by God to be the sole survivors of this flood. Noah had received information, but that information would do him no good if he did not act upon it, if he did not “substantiate” it, and Noah does so by building an ark. Noah responds to (obeys) the information he receives, he puts the truth into practice and his actions make this truth “real” to him, he learns that God is faithful, his knowledge “about” God grows into knowledge “of” Him, moves from his head to his heart. Noah here is set free by “wholeheartedly obeying” the truth he receives from God, his obedience here transforms his information into knowledge. Noah here lives by this biblical principle, and his example is an encouragement to each believer to do so as well. By faith, Noah’s information was transformed into knowledge, he acted upon the information he had “unto the saving of his family” (verse 7), and it is in living by this same principle that all believers become “heirs of the righteousness that comes by faith” (verse 7), by which our information becomes knowledge.

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