Feb 13, 2014
The most important part of our spiritual lives is faith in Jesus Christ.
But sadly, many people misunderstand what faith is, and how it works.
So I thought I would explain five common misunderstandings people have about faith, to help you avoid them.
Mistake #1 — Not Understanding that the Christian Life Is Lived by Faith.
It’s gloriously true that we are SAVED by faith in Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9). But for years I did not understand that the Christian life is to be LIVED by faith in Christ.
That is what Paul says in Galatians 2:20 —
“And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
The reason faith is so important is because everything needed in the Christian life flows from faith in Christ.
And I do mean everything — the provision of the Spirit (Galatians 3:5), heart-felt peace (Isaiah 26:3), all-satisfying joy (Philippians 1:25), earnest love for others (Galatians 5:6), whole-hearted obedience (Hebrews 11:8) — EVERYTHING.
But we will only experience this if we avoid the next mistake —
Mistake #2 — Thinking Faith Just Means Trusting Christ for Forgiveness of Sin.
Please don’t misunderstand. Faith in Christ MUST include trusting him for forgiveness of sin. This is the foundation of the entire Christian life.
But faith in Christ MUST ALSO include something more, as we see in Hebrews 11:6 —
“And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”
The reward God promises is the all-satisfying presence of Christ now and forever, as taught in passages like John 14:21; Philippians 1:21; Philippians 3:8; Colossians 1:27; 1 Peter 4:13-14.
So if we only trust God’s promise of forgiveness through Christ, and do not trust his promise of all-satisfying reward in Christ, we do not please him, because we do not have true faith. (I gulp a little as I write that. But when I read Hebrews 11:6 again, isn’t that what the author is saying?)
Mistake #3 — Not Understanding that Faith Means Trusting All that God Has Promised to Be to Us in Christ Jesus.
Abraham is our example of what it means to have faith (Romans 4:12). And for Abraham, faith meant trusting God’s promises —
In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be” … No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. (Romans 4:18-21)
For Abraham, faith included trusting God’s promise of a biological son. But that promise was for Abraham, not for all of God’s people.
And yet throughout the Bible we find hundreds of promises which God does give to all his people, covering forgiveness of sins (1 John 1:9), justification (Romans 4:2-4), heart-satisfaction (John 7:37-38), perseverance (Philippians 1:6), strength (Philippians 4:13), comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3-4), provision (Matthew 6:33), wisdom (James 1:5), and the list goes on and on.
So one way to see if you have biblical faith is to ask — “Am I trusting specific promises in God’s Word?”
Mistake #4 — Not Understanding that Faith Includes Trusting Christ’s Promise to Be Our Heart-Satisfying Treasure.
Too many of us think our problem is that we desire joy and pleasure TOO MUCH. But that’s wrong.
Our problem is that we don’t understanding that Christ promises to give us incomparable joy and pleasure IN HIMSELF. And so we either try to ignore our desires for joy and pleasure (which is impossible), or we seek them outside of Christ (which is sin).
But Jesus promises to satisfy all our heart-hungers in himself —
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. (John 6:35)
So faith means turning from whatever else I’ve been trusting to satisfy me, and instead trusting Jesus Christ to fully satisfy me in himself.
But many of us don’t experience this heart-satisfaction, because of the next mistake —
Mistake #5 — Not Understanding that through Faith the Holy Spirit Changes Our Hearts so We See and Feel Christ as Our All-Satisfying Treasure.
I just quoted John 6:35, where Jesus promises that when we come to him and believe in him, he will satisfy all our heart-thirsts in himself.
But how does that work? We can’t make it happen by our own will-power, because it involves a supernatural work of the Spirit (John 4:13-14; John 7:37-38).
And yet God promises to give us this work of the Spirit as we hear his word with faith (Galatians 3:5). This includes praying for more of the Spirit’s work (Luke 11:13), and setting our hearts on Christ as he is revealed in God’s Word (John 6:63).
When we do this, we will have times when we see and feel Christ’s glory so much that we overflow with joy (1 Peter 1:8). And as a result we will be more freed from sin’s power (John 8:31-32), more filled with love for others (Hebrews 10:34), and more motivated to obey God (Hebrews 11:24-26).
Paul says this faith-produced, word-focused, Spirit-given beholding of Christ’s glory is the key to spiritual life and growth —
“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18)
When was the last time you experienced this?
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And here are some related posts you might find helpful –
- My Ten Favorite Bible Verses on Faith
- How to Strengthen Your Faith
- How Is Faith the Substance of Things Hoped for?
- Ten Questions that Transformed My Christian Life
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