Last time, I talked about settling God’s TRUTH in our heart so that we can maintain our true identity, even in difficult times.
Today, I would like to talk about faith and relying on the Holy Spirit.
Now faith is the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely guaranteed), and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of their reality—faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses]. Hebrews 11:1 AMP (emphasis mine)
Humans are sensual beings. We like to experience things with our senses. That’s why sin is so appealing. But each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desires. Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death. James 1:14-15 HCSB (emphasis mine)
I also believe that is why it is often a struggle to walk out what God created us for and has called us to. It is difficult for us to accept who God says we are because it is something that is spiritually discerned. If we are relying, primarily, on our senses to define us, then of course we will be tossed back and forth…chasing only what makes us “feel” good, accepted and loved…and running away from anything that causes pain (like trials).
At our core, however, we are spirit. We live in a body and we have a soul (mind, will, emotions). The world we live in bombards our body and soul…since that is where we “feel.” And while feelings are not bad, they should not be what we base our IDENTITY or FAITH or TRUTH on.
The problem is, this world is both fallen and temporary. We currently live IN this world, but we are not OF it. This world is not our home – Heaven is. Our body and soul should come under the submission of our spirit, which should be under the submission of the Holy Spirit (who, after we receive Christ as our Savior, comes to live in us as a guarantee and to guide, teach, convict, direct, etc…). We are to walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). We are to walk by the Spirit and not our sinful nature (Galatians 5:22-26). We set our eyes on what is eternal, not temporal.
But we have this precious treasure [the good news about salvation] in [unworthy] earthen vessels [of human frailty], so that the grandeur and surpassing greatness of the power will be [shown to be] from God [His sufficiency] and not from ourselves. We are pressured in every way [hedged in], but not crushed; perplexed [unsure of finding a way out], but not driven to despair; hunted down and persecuted, but not deserted [to stand alone]; struck down, but never destroyed; always carrying around in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the [resurrection] life of Jesus also may be shown in our body. For we who live are constantly [experiencing the threat of] being handed over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the [resurrection] life of Jesus also may be evidenced in our mortal body [which is subject to death]. So physical death is [actively] at work in us, but [spiritual] life [is actively at work] in you.
Yet we have the same spirit of faith as he had, who wrote in Scripture, “I believed, therefore I spoke.” We also believe, therefore we also speak, knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will also raise us with Jesus and will present us [along] with you in His presence. For all [these] things are for your sake, so that as [God’s remarkable, undeserved] grace reaches to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of [our great] God.
Therefore we do not become discouraged [spiritless, disappointed, or afraid]. Though our outer self is [progressively] wasting away, yet our inner self is being [progressively] renewed day by day. For our momentary, light distress [this passing trouble] is producing for us an eternal weight of glory [a fullness] beyond all measure [surpassing all comparisons, a transcendent splendor and an endless blessedness]! So we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are unseen; for the things which are visible are temporal [just brief and fleeting], but the things which are invisible are everlasting and imperishable. 2 Corinthians 4:7-18 AMP (emphasis mine)
All of God’s promises must be received by faith (assurance of things hoped for/evidence of things not seen). And as we walk by the Spirit (instead of our flesh) our faith grows and it becomes easier to receive His promises…and actually believe we are who He says we are! As we continue to journey with God, we can glance back and see where He was working. Sometimes through tremendous blessing and, sometimes, through trials. But, again, all of these things are spiritually discerned.
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the [Holy] Spirit who is from God, so that we may know and understand the [wonderful] things freely given to us by God. We also speak of these things, not in words taught or supplied by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining and interpreting spiritual thoughts with spiritual words [for those being guided by the Holy Spirit].
But the natural [unbelieving] man does not accept the things [the teachings and revelations] of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness [absurd and illogical] to him; and he is incapable of understanding them, because they are spiritually discerned and appreciated, [and he is unqualified to judge spiritual matters]. But the spiritual man [the spiritually mature Christian] judges all things [questions, examines and applies what the Holy Spirit reveals], yet is himself judged by no one [the unbeliever cannot judge and understand the believer’s spiritual nature]. For who has known the mind and purposes of the Lord, so as to instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ [to be guided by His thoughts and purposes]. 1 Corinthians 2:12-16 AMP (emphasis mine)
As believers in Christ, we – who have received the Holy Spirit – are able to discern the things of God. However, if we allow ourselves to be caught up in and distracted by the things of this world (walking by our flesh), then it becomes nearly impossible to hear from God…simply because that is not where our focus is.
First, I love reading through what has been called The Hall of Faith found in Hebrews 11. Those heroes of the faith were people, just like you and me.
But, they seemed to settle something in their heart.
They would believe in what God said, no matter what! It was their hope in something greater than their experiences in this world that kept them moving forward…in the midst of uncertainty, pain and even death. Moses considered disgrace for the sake of Christ to be of greater value than all of the treasures of Egypt!
By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. Hebrews 11:24-26
Sit with that revelation for a bit. Is that the same decision you would make if you were Moses?
The second is this. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:6
A number of times, this verse has given me pause…especially when I am struggling to believe God for something that I knew was a promise from Him. Sometimes He speaks something to us, but we must wait – and have faith – until it comes to fruition. I’ll talk more about that, next time.
In the meantime, I encourage you to spend some time meditating on the Scripture I have shared. Don’t just blow through them because you have read them a hundred times before (that’s right, I know how we do). Read through Hebrews 11 and the stories of the individuals listed there. Do you identify with any of them?
And when it comes to faith, ask yourself (like I have so many times): Do I believe that God exists? Do I believe that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him? Am I earnestly and diligently seeking Him? Even if I haven’t seen what I believe He has promised me, do I still have hope?
See you Tuesday! Be Blessed!
*All Scripture is NIV unless otherwise noted.
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