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Biblical, battle-tested, real-life help for "living by faith in the Son of God" (Galatians 2:20). — Steve Fuller

Five Common Misunderstandings about Faith — and How to Avoid Them

Mistake from Microsoft Publisher ClipartMisunderstandings about Faith

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?

Comments?  Questions?

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Category: Strengthening Your Faith

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10 Responses

  1. Kathryn says:

    Will the community here please pray for me to have true faith and eyes to see Jesus as irresistibly beautiful and His love as my greatest desire now and forever? Thank you.

    • Steve Fuller says:

      I am praying, Kathryn. I’ve probably mentioned this before, but fight to keep your eyes on him, and don’t focus on your unbelief or weaknesses.

      Not that you want to pretend that you are super
      pious or whatever — but Satan’s goal is to discourage us from looking to Christ by showing us our sin.

      Anyway, I am thankful for how much you long to see Christ, and for your perseverance in seeking him.

      In Christ,

      Steve Fuller

  2. Shawn Cox says:

    You hit it on the head with this posting. Faith is basically trusting God and trusting and knowing that he will fulfill his word. Even though what you may be believing God for may not have come to pass but you trust and know by faith that it will happen. Thanks for the post, Pastor Steve.

  3. pamela putumani says:

    Faith!

    I always without any doubt believe that whatever I ask from God will b true. Now,I’m due for an interview,I have said thank you already to God for the job that He has given me. Yes,I don’t have money like being rich,but I believe in Christ iam rich. Everytime I pray for something, I there n then start feeling that it has happened.
    I love God,I love Jesus,I love the Holy Spirit.
    Sometimes,I wonder if God,Jesus n the Holy Spirit knows me. Like, am I committed enough to b able 2 say God knows me.
    I have Faith and I try by all means to share with other people to build their Faith in Christ..I’m going to church tommorrow,I so wish I can go to church every Sunday..but,I don’t. I don’t know why.
    Help me pray to have that Spirit to go to church.

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Hi Pamela,

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. It is deeply encouraging to hear about your love for God the Father, for Jesus Christ, and for the Holy Spirit.

      Regarding going to church, I’d pray and ask God to show you what promises in the Word you are not believing, which would motivate you to go to church or what lies from Satan you are believing, which would make you not want to go to church.

      Then I’d pray over the promises in God’s Word, asking Jesus to forgive you for your unbelief, and asking him to strengthen your faith. As you do that, he will come to you and help you and change your heart.

      Let us know how this goes.

      In Christ,

      Steve Fuller

  4. Wendy Mendoza says:

    Great practical help in walking by faith and what it looks like. This post goes well with your other post, Should We Promise an Experience of the Spirit at Conversion.

  5. Sandy says:

    I have been so lost and started praying again after giving up on God. This morning I felt the need to type in about giving up. A I found this sight. I had prayed to get faith in God and feel his spirit. This information on faith is very helpful and I believe that the spirit directed me here. Thanks

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