Monday, July 31, 2017

True Virtue: Faith

According to Webster, faith is loyalty, belief in God, trust, belief without proof. Our society doesn’t have much faith in anything. We are generally pretty cynical, even pessimistic when it comes to trust or belief. We expect people to let us down. I heard that modern American women are significantly more competitive and less trusting of each other as compared to women of other nationalities or eras. We just don’t trust each other that much. Our loyalty also leaves something to be desired. We drop association or preference as fast as we drop a dirty rag. It's all about what is best for us. Few are willing to stick their neck out for a friend and take a risk. As a result of this general lack of faith and trust, I believe many people don’t know what true, godly faith is.

Hebrews 11:1 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
Biblically, faith is trusting in what can’t be seen or proven, other translations say the evidence of things not seen. We can’t provide evidence for it scientifically; we can’t show it physically, we can’t prove it logically. We trust that God is who He says He is. That is why faith is so hard for a lot of people, they want proof. They don’t want the risk of being let down.

Unfortunately, a lot of people are let down by faith because they come with their own set of expectations and world view instead of taking God for who He is. They expect to see their own ideas and are disappointed because things don’t work out the way they think they should. Faith is not a genie in a bottle or vending machine where we get what we ask or pay for. It is not a scientific or mathematic equation where A + B = C.

Faith is built upon a relationship with God. Just as we grow in trust and intimacy with our spouse over time, we grow in trust and intimacy with God as we get to know Him. But it takes time and effort. We can’t expect it to just happen. There may be occasions where God gives some proof or revelation, but we have to have faith.

      Romans 10:17 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.
Faith is something we act on and grow in, but it is also given to us initially (Rom 12:3). It is based on the word of Christ or the truth of who Christ is; it is not blind. Our faith is also to rest on the power of God (1Cor 2:5). Instead of trying to prove our faith with logic or science, we should “prove” it with what God has done, especially what He has done in our lives individually, the transformation that has happened there.

Faith has many proponents. We have faith which leads to salvation, but then we are justified by that faith before God. It is how we please God. It can also grow. We can trust God deeper as time goes on, and add to our faith virtue, love and knowledge of God. It is the starting block. Faith helps us understand the things of God (spiritual discernment.)  It is the shield we use to protect ourselves from the darts of the enemy (Ephesians 6). Faith is what keeps us going, keeps us hoping when things get hard. We trust that God will take care of it. We also “continue” in our faith and walk by faith. We live based on our faith. It is the basis for our lives and redefines how we see the world around us. It determines what we do and how we think. Our faith can also be tested or examined. We can discover if our faith is genuine.

2 Corinthians 13:5 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?

We have the promise that Jesus lives in us, guiding us. That is the proof of our faith. The evidence that Jesus lives in us is: a transformation of heart, growth in godliness, affection for God, and abhorrence of sin, to name a few. Without those things we have no proof that He is in us. That is why we need to test ourselves so that we are not deceived.

To simply believe that Jesus is who He says He is (without having Him “in” us) is not enough. Even the demons believe that, but they are not saved. Faith must take root in our hearts and cause a transformation of our souls. That is why Jesus says that we must be “born again”. That doesn’t mean to simply believe, it means to be made new, to come to life. In the same way that we are born physically and begin life on earth we must be born spiritually and begin a spirit-filled life that produces obedience. In some instances, belief is synonymous with obedience. If we are disobedient (in any way) then we are rebelling against God which shows a lack of love and faith. Faith and obedience go hand in hand. Without faith it is very hard to be obedient, but with faith God helps us to live like Him.

I know many who have questioned their faith and spent years wondering if they were truly saved. That is not something God wants us to be in the dark or worry about. We can know with certainty. And in reality, it doesn’t matter if we believed before, what matters is whether we believe now. Seek true, transforming faith now and live in it!

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