Belief vs Faith – Why Does It Matter?

In 1859 a man performed a feat that most people thought was insane. Yet these same people were also curious to witness his crazy stunt. It is a great example of belief vs faith.

Right now, you might be wondering, “Why does it matter? Is it significant enough to know the difference between these words?

The answer to that question is, yes and no.

When it comes to everyday life and responsibilities, belief vs faith might not be critical. But when it comes to spiritual things, it can mean the difference between your hope and security, vs uncertainty about the future.

So let’s unpack these two important words.

Belief vs faith really does matter.

Faith and belief meaning

According to Oxford languages, belief is, “an acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists.”

On the other hand, faith is “complete trust or confidence in someone or something.”

So getting back to 1859, the Great Blondin told people that he could walk on a tightrope across Niagra Falls and other great expanses. Many people believed him after they actually saw him do it.

But faith is a whole different story. If I had faith in Blondin and his abilities, I would be willing to let him carry me across Niagra Falls on the tightrope.

You see, faith vs belief are really quite different.

Belief is a mental agreement. Faith is a commitment that leads to action.

Can you have faith without belief?

Most people will not commit to something without first believing that it is valuable, trustworthy, possible, or full of rewards.

Would you let the Great Blondin carry you across Niagra Falls if you didn’t first have complete trust in his abilities and that something worthwhile awaited you on the other side?

Why do we believe what we believe?

Belief systems come about through a predictable process, whether we are aware of it happening or not. Beliefs really are the result of repeated thoughts about something.

So a belief is a type of habit

Once our beliefs are in place we can take a step further and make a commitment to them, which is faith.

How are beliefs created?

Sometimes beliefs are created through the consequences of our choices. Little children learn about gravity after falling several times. Eventually, they will believe their parents about climbing up on a dresser or countertop.

Other times our beliefs are created through listening to other people. This is what happens in education or sports at any level.

We first believe that the instructors knows what they are talking about. After practice and coming up with the same results, we incorporate the instructor’s ways into our own belief system.

Is it good to question your beliefs?

Great explorers questioned the notion that the world was flat. That was a good thing.

The essence of science is asking questions and challenging current knowledge.

Can a belief be wrong?

I am constantly getting the words lose and loose mixed up. I frequently believe that I should use one instead of the other.

But, it doesn’t matter how much I believe I am using the right word, Grammarly will tell me when I am wrong.

Similarly, by having negative experiences we can believe things that are not true.

For instance, children who have abusive parents often believe that no one can be trusted. Yet we know that there are many good people in this world.

Belief vs faith in the Bible

There are many things we can believe:

  • God exists
  • All power belongs to God
  • God will forgive sin

These are good things to believe.

Is belief enough?

“You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!” James 2:19 ESV

Demons who were formerly angels believe in God, that He has power, and that he will forgive human sins. Yet they were cast out of heaven.

Jesus made a very important statement about belief.

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” Matthew 7:21-23

Jesus spelled out that belief with religious busy work is not good enough. This has been a problem that dates way back before Jesus walked this earth.

 “I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know me more than I want burnt offerings.” Hosea 6:6 NLT

What must we do to be part of God’s family?

Our belief must be backed by a commitment to do God’s will, which Jesus made clear in the following Scripture.

“And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Matthew 22:37 (cross-references: Deuteronomy 6:4-5, 10:12)

We can do all kinds of religious activities and not be committed to loving God with our whole being. These activities make us feel good but they miss the mark.

The following verses tell us what commitment looks like.

“But whoever keeps his word (God’s word), in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him” 1 John 2:5 (explanation added)

“For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments.” 1 John 5:3

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” John 14:15

“Go therefore and make disciples …  teaching them to observe (do) all that I have commanded you.” Matthew 28:19-20 (explanation added)

In the book of James, it says that faith without works is dead. But this is not all the busy work that so many people do FOR God without really KNOWING AND LOVING God.

Final thoughts

In the spiritual realm, there is an important difference between belief vs faith.

Belief leading to words and busy work is simply religiosity.

Belief leading to trusting God with our lives and doing His will is faith.

Have you moved beyond belief? Do you know and love God through a relationship with Jesus?

If you don’t know Jesus, you probably have questions. The people at Chat About Jesus have answers. You can text, call, or chat with them online any time of the day or night.

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