Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. -John 3:36 ESV
I was lying in bed listening to John last night. I wasn’t trying to hear anything or listen purposefully, just trying to go to sleep (I’ve battled insomnia for years and note that giving my brain something to focus on often helps me get to sleep; might as well be the Bible, right?) My mind still wanders as I listen, though, which is why I don’t ignore anything that sticks with me. If I manage to catch it through the ‘noise’ in my brain, I now always assume it’s likely from the Holy Spirit. I only share this hoping it might apply to you who may be reading at as well, that you don’t spend the years figuring it out as I did. Moving on.
When I heard the verse, it’s structure, and the use of the word ‘believe’ in the first half and ‘obey’ in the second, both seemingly relating to Jesus in the same way, it reminded me of something I heard in another sermon a long time ago. I may not be quoting it exactly so forgive me, but I remember it being something to the effect of there being little to no distinction between belief and obedience when it came to the audience to which this was written. To believe, to them, was to obey.
This makes complete sense, of course. If you believed you were going to die from a disease, you’d fully seek out every attempt to cure it, be it medical, homeopathic, and so on, right? The point is, true belief inspires action
To be clear: I AM NOT MAKING AN OBEDIENCE VS. BELIEF SALVATION ARGUMENT, I am simply observing what it seems the Holy Spirit shared with me, and no doubt others long before me. To the writer of the Gospel of John, according to the ESV, NLT, and other translations I’ve read, believe and obey seemed to be used interchangeably in this passage, or at least, in such a way that there’s an powerfully implied link between the two.
To believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God, is to obey him, for he has commanded belief from everyone. Thus, if I truly believed He was the Son of God, His Words should carry enough weight in my life that I hold no part of it back from him. In my obedience to the Word, I live my belief, and in living out my beliefs, I am obedient.