Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Enemies of Your Faith

Romans 1: 16-17 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. 17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
If we are to be faithful we must understand what faith is, what it takes to be faithful and what are the enemies to our faith. It is the nature of God to be faithful because everything in the kingdom of God system operates by faith and motivated by love.
The scripture says that just shall live by faith. Who is the just? The just then are Christians. We are justified because of our right-standing with God through Christ. The just are believers. We know that going to church does not make you a believer. You must be saved to be a believer. If you are not saved you are not justified. But you have an opportunity every day to accept and follow Jesus as Lord and Saviour of your life and to conform your life to His image.
2 Cor 5:7 We walk by faith and not by sight. We live by faith in God not in circumstances and situations nor by our 5 senses. We use our 5 senses to confirm the result of our faith. We have more confidence in the Word of God than what we see with our natural eyes or hear with our natural ears. That’s living by faith. We do not live by what is popular in society, not by what is the latest trend in society, not by the statements of talk-show hosts or even by our own intelligence. We live by faith.
Faith is not natural, faith is spiritual. Faith is a spiritual gift from God. You get this gift when you receive Jesus as Lord of your life, as the Commander-in-Chief of your life. Unsaved people have natural faith – faith in Wall Street, faith in their material possessions, faith in their friends, their employer, and their government. But Wall Street fails, Material possessions lose their value, Friends disappoint, employers go bankrupt and government fails. Why because all natural faith have their foundation on natural, fallen humankind. God is beyond man, outside of man. The triune God has all knowledge, is all powerful and is everywhere at the same time. God never fails. So the foundation of your faith must be in God through Christ by the Holy Spirit.
Now faith is not wishful thinking, a pie-in-the-sky feeling that everything will be all right. Some people think of "faith" as either a feeling or a collection of ideas that represent their convictions. That is not faith. It is God who backs up your faith and guarantees results when it's consistent with the Word of God (the Bible).
We know how the Bible defines faith. Hebrews 11: 1 The substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Faith is substance and evidence. The healing or deliverance you pray for may already exist although you have not seen it yet. It exists in the spiritual realm. Then, faith is perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the human senses yet. In other words we receive our healing by faith.

A word about belief and faithAs the apostle James noted: (James 2:19). "You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons [fallen angels] believe—and tremble!" We must go beyond the level of the faith exhibited by demons.
Faith is not belief but belief is a part of faith. To believe in God is only the starting point of faith. But believing in God does not necessarily involve conviction or commitment to Jesus Christ and God the Father. Belief in God is good, but is incomplete.
Example of belief: I live in the country and have a job interview in the city. I believe that I will get the job if I travel to the city. But if I do not act on my belief I definitely will not get the job. So you have to act to demonstrate your faith.
Heb 11: 6. "But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” Diligently seeking is an action.
Definition: Faith is belief and corresponding action consistent with the Word of God. To believe God, is to have faith that God will do whatever He has promised to do in the scriptures. He expects us to act on that belief. He requires that we have living faith in His existence, power, and promises.

Romans 12:3 For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think,  but to think soberly; as God has dealt to each on the measure of faith.
So we are all given the measure of faith we need to navigate this Christian life. But our faith must be developed the same way you develop your muscles. Your muscles develop by resistance to the machines in the gym or by pushing against gravity. Your faith is developed by fighting against temptations, trials, and tests as you walk the life of Christ. So you and I must look at trials as the exercise machine for our faith. Troubles come to test you and to develop your faith. So we must stop complaining, and worrying about troubles. The is nothing positive about complaining, murmuring and worrying. Give God praise and thanks while you are in a trial, facing temptations and tests. You are not thanking God for the trial but thank Him for the victory you expect while you are in the trial. That’s how you develop your faith. That’s what James says in James 1: 2-4 Count it joy when you fall into trials, temptations and tests, because it is trying or developing your faith which will develop you to be more like Jesus.
There are many types or levels of faith – faithlessness, lack, weak, little, wavering, radical, strong, and great, overcoming faith. Jesus encountered them all in the Gospels. The three Hebrew boys in the Book of Daniel had radical faith because they placed their lives on the line for the Word of God. Jesus demonstrated overcoming faith while he was on earth. Overcoming faith is where you win against trials, temptations, and tests, every time. That’s the kind of faith you and I must aspire to have but it can only happen through Christ for we can do nothing worthy without Him.
 1 Timothy 4: 12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.
2 Timothy 4: 7-8 I have fought a good fight, I have finished [my] course, I have kept the faith:  
Paul is stating that we are in a faith fight. Why? Because we Christians represent the Body of Christ on the earth, then satan and the kingdom of darkness is fighting against us through trials, temptations, and tests. Also it is a good fight for those with strong faith.
The fight is good because we win. You can’t win a faith fight with weak faith, or little faith or wavering faith. You need to develop strong faith to win that faith fight against the kingdom of darkness. The challenge is that you develop strong faith through temptations, trials and tests. The Christian life cannot avoid these challenges and it is a life of cross-bearing.
But there are many enemies to your faith – fear, worry, doubt, and unbelief, the love of money and dependence on material possessions, pleasing people instead of pleasing God, love of title or position, believing in your own intellect, accepting the practices of secular society and human reasoning without spiritual understanding. I want to identify three enemies to your faith – fear, worry, and doubt.

I believe that the greatest enemy to your faith is fear. Because fear comes by hearing the word of the devil. Fear is the opposite of faith. The source of fear is satan. Fear leads to worry, doubt, and unbelief
The greatest challenge to our faith is fear. This is where the devil lives. The greatest fear of the devil is for you and I to believe that the Word of God would always come to pass and that the promises of God would not fail. If we live like that we will defeat fear.
Fear paralyzes you, intimidates you, and makes you inactive and ineffective. It leads to depression, sickness, and even death. The devil and his kingdom of darkness does not want you to act on the Word. He does not mind if you only believe and stay inactive. The Bible says we must be doers of the Word and not hearers only. The foundation of fear is unbelief that what God promises in his Word will not happen.
While on a boat in the middle of a storm, the disciples awoke Jesus and pleaded that He saved them from drowning. He answered, "Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?" Then He rebuked the sea and it immediately grew calm (Matthew 8:23-26). That was overcoming faith.
How do you handle fear? You have to speak to it by reminding yourself of what the Bible says about fear. You speak what the Word says to fear. Remember 2 Tim 1:7 God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of love, power and a sound mind.

Worry is negative meditation. Worry is negative forecasting about things that you do not have control over. Worry means that you are depending on your own strength and intellect; and that is neither wise nor healthy. When you worry you dig up the fears of your past, let them disturb your present and contaminate your future. You forget that God is (omnipresent) in your past, your present, and your future all at the same time. You have to trust God who is already ahead of you.
Worry changes nothing positively. It is wasted energy that undermines your faith. It makes you sick, miserable, and not a nice person to be around. People don’t like to be around worriers because worry is like the flu. It contaminates if you stay around it. Worry is a silent killer of your faith.
I believe that worry is a decision. Some people think that worry is normal or natural. Jesus tells us differently. Matthew 6:25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
“Take no thought” means “do not worry”. Jesus would not tell us this if he knew we could not do it. Obey Him. Make a decision
not to worry. Instead do what he says in verse 33 - But seek first the kingdom of God"
The apostle Paul gives the same instructions in Phil 4:6-7Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ JesusHe says be careful for nothing or be anxious for nothing – in other words “Don’t worry about anything”
So don’t worry - pray! Don’t worry – give God praise. Don’t worry – give God thanks that He is bringing you out of your trouble, sickness, depression, strongholds. Don’t worry but make a decision to praise and thank God in the middle of your trial, temptation, or test. It may not make human sense but we are not interested in making human sense when we are about pleasing God. Why? Because in Isaiah 55:11-12 He says the His thoughts are higher than our thoughts and His ways are higher than our ways. So don’t worry about making human sense, focus on pleasing God. This is what will defeat the enemy of worry and increase your faith.

Doubt (and Unbelief) 
Few attitudes are more disheartening and destructive to your faith than the notion that God doesn't hear our prayers, doesn't answer, or doesn't care. It is easy to come to such conclusions when God doesn't respond when we want or how we want. Too many times we look want satisfy our senses when we pray. But the Bible says in 2 Cor. 5:7 “We walk by faith and not by our physical senses)
Doubt is deadly to your prayer of faith (or petition prayer). 
This is one reason why we pray for the same thing over and over and over. It's a lack of confidence in our prayers. When you order something on the Internet or by phone today, you don’t go back and order the same thing tomorrow. You have confidence that what you ordered will be delivered to your house. It is the same type of confidence we must develop in our prayer. I am not saying it’s wrong to pray for something over and over. Developing the faith to believe and receive takes time, it’s a process. You have confidence that you will get what you ordered. You must develop the confidence that God has answered your prayer by faith and begin to thank Him. You also must now behave like you already have the answer. This is what the word says – believe and receive. And even if you don't receive what you pray for, still thank God because He knows what you need more than you and I.
Mark 11:22-23 For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. 24 Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them

Remember your prayer request must be consistent with the Word of God. Believe you receive – thank God that your prayer is answered.  But you must continue to pursue a life of holiness and sanctification. Your prayer must also be in line with the scriptures. Believe you receive by faith and thank Him until you see the answer to your prayers. He may even answer in a way you may not like but we trust Him because he loves us and knows what's best for us.
Do you have confidence in your employers because they promise to pay you at the end of the week but doubt when it comes to God? God is greater than your employer, so we must believe and receive the promises that God makes in the Bible and eliminate your doubt.

So we understand that to win the faith fight we need strong faith, overcoming faith. That type of faith is developed by resisting temptations, trials, and tests of the kingdom of darkness. They are enemies of our faith that must be defeated. We must speak and practice the Word of God to our doubts and fears.
  • Don’t worry, pray. Don’t worry give God thanks. Give God praise and glory
  • By faith in God we expect victory every time. Victory over fear, doubt and worry.
  • It’s by our faith in God that we please Him. 
  • Let us be “Be faithful as He is faithful”