Free Bible Study Magazine
Don Sanderson is Lead Pastor at Grace Community Assembly of God, California.
It is no secret that we are living in troubled times – right before our eyes we are seeing scripture being fulfilled as a culture runs wildly towards destruction. In my lifetime I never imagined witnessing what we see today: evil being called good and good being called evil. My heart hurts for our community and our nation as I realize there is not one thing you or I can do naturally to change things for the better. Our voting will not turn the tide of evil. Nor will greater community organization, immigration reform, health care reform, a balanced budget or greater military power. Whilst all these are all things are important and relevant to the security and prosperity of our nation, they fail to address the root of our problem – the heart of man remains hardened in unbelief. But faith is the victory which overcomes! In a day when our faith is under attack, we as Christians need to stand firm in our faith. As we understand the nature of our faith will we be able to defeat the enemies of faith.
When someone asks a follower of Jesus, “what is faith?” most of us will quote this passage:
Faith makes us sure of what we hope for and gives us proof of what we cannot see… But without faith no one can please God. We must believe that God is real and that he rewards everyone who searches for him. (Hebrews 11:1, 6)
Faith is absolute trust and confidence in God; that he is who he says he is and he will do what he says he will do. Yet the Bible defines several modes of ‘faith’ which a Christian can have. Firstly, and most importantly, there is:
This faith comes to us as a gift from God and is the exclusive possession of all Christians. All true Christians possess saving faith, and only Christians possess it. Without it we would not be Christians!
For we are saved by grace through faith, and that not of ourselves, it is the gift of God. (Ephesians 2:8)
The Gift of Faith
All the gifts of the Spirit are supernatural manifestations of power; and so when Paul in 1 Corinthians 12:9 speaks of faith (Greek: ‘pistis’) as a gift of the Spirit, he is referring to a supernatural ability (given by God at a particular time) to meet a particular need or situation. The good news is all Christians can be recipients of this gift, if and when it is needed.
The fruit of faith
Although exactly the same word for faith (‘pistis’) is used in Galatians 5:22 in reference to the fruit of the Spirit which is ‘faith’, we must understand that there is a difference between the fruit of the Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit. The gift of faith is a supernatural manifestation of Divine power; whereas the fruit of faith one of the fruits of the Spirit which are manifestations of Christ’s character springing from his indwelling Spirit within us. Indeed, the word ‘faithfulness’ is probably a better translation than ‘faith’ in this context (I am indebted to David Petts’ book ‘Body Builders’ for the definitions used in this article).
Whilst Christians are only expected to exercise some of the gifts of the Spirit, they are required to show all of the fruit of the Spirit in their lives.
In Luke 18:8 Jesus asked a challenging and searching question: ‘When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?’
During days of evil and backsliding in our nation, if we are to stand firm in the faith in the way Jesus implies, then we need to understand what our faith is; use the gift of faith, and develop the fruit of faith (or faithfulness). Of course, we will never be able to stand in our own ability; ‘reaching for our own bootstraps’ simply won’t be enough; but our faith in God will enable us to stand.
What are the Enemies of Faith?
The enemy of our souls uses a variety of weapons to undermine our faith; his ultimate objective being the destruction of our souls. These weapons can rob us of the joy of our salvation, faith to see the answers to our prayers and experience God’s miraculous provision for our needs.
Doubt and Fear
I believe these two are very effective tools of the enemy to steal away our confidence in God. Satan lies to you and me with accusing thoughts which sound something like this:
You’re worthless! Your sin is too great! God can’t love you! God won’t heal you! It’s all your fault!
If you listen to these lies for long enough you will begin to believe them and then develop a fatalistic attitude and belief system that says “what’s the use; why bother praying, why bother serving, why bother, period?”
These very things have been instrumental in bringing down some incredible men and women of God – no one is immune in our own strength.
Spiritual depression, a fatalistic outlook to life and a mere ‘going through the motions’ are sure signs that doubt and fear are winning the battle in the life of a believer. If you are living in this place right now – I want you to know that this enemy of faith can be defeated!
Unbelief (Greek: ‘apistos’) is the opposite of faith (‘pistos’). It is a lack of faith, a withholding of belief: in the divine power (Mark 16:14); the promises of God (Rom. 4:20; Heb. 3:19); the divine mission of Jesus (Matt. 13:58; Mark 6:6); and by opposition to the gospel (1Tim. 1:13). It carries with it he added notion of obstinacy (Rom. 11:20,23; Heb. 3:12). It is a weakness of faith (Matt. 17:20).
Unbelief is an intentional decision demonstrated by our refusal to surrender to the Holy Spirit and his purposes.
Our unbelief in God’s ability to move in us and through us can be seen in our attitudes and behaviour towards others, especially those in authority over us.
In these days of unbelief, Christians must stand firm in the faith to overcome these enemies of faith. If we want to see the blessing of God on our lives and our families, and to see his miraculous power at work, we must do two things:
Today, Christian, you can live in victory over the enemies of doubt, fear, and unbelief; and you can overcome all the world throws at you if you walk by faith in God.