What Is the Difference between Faith and Belief?

Contributing Writer
What Is the Difference between Faith and Belief?

When you hear the words faith and belief, they can almost seem interchangeable. Some might even think of them as identical twins. However, as you begin to dig a little deeper, you will discover that faith and belief are more like cousins than identical twins. While they are related, they are not the same.

Because a relationship exists, you may wonder what is the difference between faith and belief? Here is a quick answer that we will expand on in a moment. Belief is based on information, while faith is based on application. This is an important first step that will help you understand the difference between faith and belief.

How Do We Define Faith and Belief?

As we look at the difference between faith and belief, let’s begin by defining what faith is. I want to give you two definitions of faith, one from the Bible and one from the dictionary.

The Biblical definition of faith – “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1).

The dictionary definition of faith - Complete trust or confidence in someone or something

As you can see from both definitions, faith has to do with confidence. But it doesn’t stop there. Faith in its truest from is when you have confidence in God to the point that it causes you to act, which reinforces our initial point about faith.  

As an example, if you look at Hebrews 11, you will discover how faith impacted the way people lived, the choices they made, and the things they did. Consider just these three.

  • Noah built an ark by faith when it had never rained before.
  • Abraham left his family to obey God, even though he had no idea where he was going.
  • Joseph told the Israelites when they leave Egypt not to leave his bones behind, because he had faith God would bring them to the land he had promised them.

Over and over there are examples of faith in this chapter and throughout the Bible. The common thread running through them is when faith was present, their actions demonstrated it. It’s why James wrote these words we are so familiar with. 

“In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (James 2:17).

When there is faith, there will be actions and your faith will be seen by what you do.

What Is Belief?

Now that you know what faith is, what about belief? Let’s return to the dictionary.

The dictionary definition of belief - An acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists.

From this definition, I hope you can see what the difference between faith and belief is. Belief is acknowledging something is true. This helps us understand what is possibly the biggest difference between the two – belief does not automatically translate into action. While it has the potential to transform or shape your behavior, there is no guarantee it will. Belief in its most elementary form is about what you accept to be true, not what you do with it.

Can I Believe in Something, but Not Have Faith?

If you have been following the train of thought so far, I think you know the answer to this question, which is yes. You can believe in something and not have faith. People do it every single day. Let me give you an example.

People believe you can jump out of an airplane with a parachute, pull the rip cord, and the parachute will open allowing you to safely land to the ground. You can ask just about anyone, and they will accept that statement is true. However, it is another thing to take the step of putting the parachute on, jumping out of the plane, pulling the rip cord, and safely landing on the ground. This does not require belief, this requires faith.

This again points to the major difference between faith and belief, because faith requires you to act on what you believe. You can’t just say it, you must show it.

Can Christians Believe in God, but Lack Faith in Him?

When considering this topic, this might be the most difficult part because it requires personal inspection. I don’t believe you have to look very far to know that Christians can believe in God and lack faith in him. I won’t speak on your behalf; I will speak for myself. There have been times in my life where I have believed in God, but my faith in his ability to come through in the moment was lacking. The test of this was not what I said but what I did. The actions that I took showed I was lacking faith in the moment.

If you are honest, you have probably done the same thing at some point in your life. I could probably make the case this is true of you and every believer. At some point in your life, even though you know God’s promises and can sing about his faithfulness, you have struggled to act in faith because you were unsure. This does not deny your Christianity, it simply reveals your humanity.

How Can I Move from a Place of Belief, to True Faith?

Since there is a difference between faith and belief, how do you go from the place of belief to the place of true faith? The answer is going to sound simple, but here it is: One step at a time, one action at a time. At some point in your journey with Jesus you are going to have to take a step where you demonstrate your faith in him with your actions. 

One area I know people struggle with is in giving. What if you are struggling with giving because you don’t know how the ends will meet? You know God has said he will provide your needs but how do you move from belief to faith? Start by giving where you are and as you begin to see God provide in your life you can give more. This is not just true of giving but of everything God asks of you. The only way faith grows is by acting on it. Your initial actions may be small, but the more consistent they are the more your faith will grow, and you will not just have belief but will have active, growing faith.

Let me remind you of something. God wants to move you from belief to faith and he wants your faith to grow. He desires this so that as your faith grows you will trust him with bigger and bigger things. But this is a process, and it does not happen all at once. The beautiful part is God is gracious and will give you opportunities to demonstrate your faith. In God’s plan for your life, there are more things he has for you to do, but to get there they are going to require more faith. For this reason, he will graciously help you turn your belief into faith and all you have to do is ask for his help.

A Prayer to Grow in Faith


I don’t want to just know what you have said and affirm it is true. Help me to demonstrate faith by putting actions to what you have said. Let my actions be the evidence I believe you will do and be everything you said you would. Give me the grace to start where I am and allow my faith to grow in you. Let my faith grow strong so I will see more of you working in every area of my life and let me use that to encourage others along the way. I thank you for this, in Jesus Name.


I was talking with a man recently and he told me he believes in Jesus. Yet as much as he believed he still did not put his faith in Jesus for salvation. This is the difference between faith and belief. As you go through your day, don’t be like this man. Don’t just say you believe something, make sure your actions back it up. When you do, you will discover this Christian life is more than just a journey of belief, it is a journey of faith. The best part is your faith is in the one who is faithful, and he will never let you down.

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Clarence Haynes 1200x1200Clarence L. Haynes Jr. is a speaker, Bible teacher, and co-founder of The Bible Study Club.  He is the author of The Pursuit of Purpose which will help you understand how God leads you into his will. His most recent book is The Pursuit of Victory: How To Conquer Your Greatest Challenges and Win In Your Christian Life. This book will teach you how to put the pieces together so you can live a victorious Christian life and finally become the man or woman of God that you truly desire to be. Clarence is also committed to helping 10,000 people learn how to study the Bible and has just released his first Bible study course called Bible Study Basics. To learn more about his ministry please visit clarencehaynes.com