Bible Ballistics: Vol. 9 No.10 By Faith Or By Sight???
While many today are rejoicing in the political turn in America, we need to remember that even though some progress may have been made in bringing America back to God, we must be sure to keep our focus on our Lord Jesus and God Almighty. We must keep our lives yielded to the voice and directing of the Holy Spirit, because it is so easy to be distracted in this world, and find our selves walking by ‘sight’ rather than by ‘faith’ in The Lord Jesus Christ.
While we are surrounded by distractions on every side, we must make a concerted effort to keep our focus on Jesus. At the end of Hebrews 11, that great chapter of the “Heroes of the Faith”, we find a call to diligence in chapter 12.
“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about
with so great a cloud of witnesses,
let us lay aside every weight,
and the sin
which doth so easily beset us,
and let us run
the race that is set
2 Looking unto Jesus
of our faith;
who for the joy that was set before him
endured the cross,
despising the shame,
and is set down
at the right hand of the throne
3 For consider him
that endured such contradiction
lest ye be wearied
and faint in your minds.” Hebrews 12:1-3
While I’ve heard many describe these witnesses, mentioned in verse 1, as a great stadium filled with those saints who have gone before us cheering us on, I really don’t think this is an accurate or truly biblical perspective. This isn’t referring to a giant ‘pep rally’ in the sky, but rather it’s an encouragement to stand in the same faith that they stood in. The accounts revealed in Hebrews 11 are reminding us that the faith walk isn’t always what it seems to be. It’s not dependent on what others are doing or even what they think; it’s not an issue up for popular vote, but a choice of the will of each individual to trust and believe what God has said or to trust in something/anything else.
These verses in Hebrews 12 call us to remember the faith of those before us, the faith of the patriarchs, and of those who did wonders for God, by His power. I find it interesting that many who cling to the “name-it-and-claim-it” philosophy talk about the first part of chapter 11, and all the miracles and provisions of God, but they don’t have much to say about the last portion, which talks about those who suffered for their faith—oh my, I wonder why?
had trial of cruel mockings
yea, moreover of bonds
37 They were stoned,
they were sawn asunder,
were slain with the sword:
they wandered about
38 (Of whom the world was not worthy:)
they wandered in deserts,
and in mountains,
and in dens
and caves of the earth.
39 And these all,
having obtained a good report
received not the promise:
40 God having provided
some better thing for us,
should not be made perfect.” Hebrews 11:36-40
These who suffered were described as “having obtained a good report through faith”! Today there is much teaching that says we only suffer when we “lack” faith; but here God tells us that these were faithful servants who were called to suffer for their faith. Then we are lead right into chapter 12, where we are called to stand in our faith, and know that we are totally sustained by God regardless of whether He chooses to lead us into “prosperity” or into “suffering” as we stand fast striving against sin.
“Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.” Verse 4
While we live in this world we must continually be “striving against sin”, and that is exactly what Ephesians 6 is talking about as we are called to “stand against the wiles of the devil” and also to “withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand”. We are in a battle, and we have an enemy who doesn’t take it well when we resist and stand fast against him! It’s exactly what Paul is talking about in Ephesians 6:12; that we aren’t at war with people but with the spiritual and unseen forces of the enemy–Satan, the Devil, the Serpent.
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood,
but against principalities,
against the rulers of the darkness
of this world,
against spiritual wickedness
in high places.” Ephesians 6:12
“And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan,
which deceiveth the whole world: ……” Revelation 12:9a
The enemy is ever against us and we must be diligent in our pursuit of victory-always through faith-rejecting the evil and clinging to our God and His Word—always through faith.
because your adversary the devil,
as a roaring lion,
seeking whom he may devour:
9 Whom resist stedfast
in the faith,
knowing that the same afflictions
are accomplished in your brethren
that are in the world.
10 But the God of all grace,
who hath called us unto his eternal glory
by Christ Jesus,
after that ye have suffered a while,
make you perfect,
11 To him be glory and dominion
for ever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 5:8-11
We must recognize the enemy of our souls, and his tricks to distract us from our purpose. While God allows suffering and trials to come into our lives we can stand with Job in declaring (in faith):
“Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him. 16 He also shall be my salvation: …..” Job 13:15-16a
Job understood that while he couldn’t see why he was suffering, and he had no known sin that had brought in the discipline of God, he could trust His God and he did. We can also join him in choosing to “trust in him”; and to maintain our integrity, knowing that “He also shall be my salvation”!!! Our hope is in God, not our circumstances or our surroundings. Like Paul we can say:
“For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. 13 Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.” 2 Timothy 1:12-13
We can trust the God who holds us in His hand, and while neither Job nor Paul knew how their trial would come out, God did! God initiated it, God set Satan’s limits through it, and God knew that His servants would be victorious by FAITH!!!
“Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:” Philippians 1:6
Our God is trustworthy, and just like Job, He has you and me in His hand, and he has and always will filter everything that comes into our life through His fingers of love. And just like Job, if God has trusted us to endure hardness or trial, HE will bring us through it all. We just need to keep on trusting the God who rules, controls and sets the boundaries! (See Isaiah 14:26-27)
“And the Lord said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it. 8 And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? 9 Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? 10 Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. 11 But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face. 12 And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord.” Job 1:7-12
“And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? and still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause. 4 And Satan answered the Lord, and said, Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life. 5 But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face. 6 And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life.” Job 2:3-6
Both of these encounters were initiated by God—God knew what He was working in Job’s life, and trial. God was not only working in Job’s life but also giving us a record, an assurance of the faith walk in Him. And Paul reiterates this same principle in his letter to the Romans.
“And we know
that all things work together
to them that love God,
to them who are the called
according to his purpose.
29 For whom he did foreknow,
he also did predestinate
to be conformed
to the image of his Son,
that he might be the firstborn
among many brethren.” Romans 8:28-29
So, friends, my challenge to each of us today is to keep “Looking unto Jesus” for confidence and direction. May we truly learn to practice a walk of faith by God’s Spirit and not trusting simply in our physical eyes:
“…for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.”! (Rev. 19:6)
“This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh……25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” Galatians 5:16 & 25