Faith Gone Wrong

I can’t get away from the book of Hebrews.  To be honest, I haven’t tried.  I read through it a couple of months ago, but found myself not ready to move on once I got to the end.  It continues to be a wonderful journey with Holy Spirit highlighting various verses, phrases, even individual words, and then helping me really see them.  One particular verse, and the insight He has revealed in it, is radically affecting my understanding of the rest of the book of Hebrews, the Bible, and my everyday life.  Please read on to join us in this part of the journey.

Hebrews 11:1 NIV (2012)  Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. . .

This is such a familiar verse, one we frequently quote in our preferred translation.  Perhaps it helped that I was reading it this time in an updated NIV, so a couple of different words jarred me out of rote recitation, forcing me to stop and consider it again.  As I did, the simplicity of faith became clearer than ever before.

Haven’t we used this verse primarily for things – even good things and promised-by-God things – and in so doing, made this thing called faith a hard work?  Think about it in some of the following familiar statements: “I’m believing God for _________  (fill in the blank), and ________ and ________.”  “I don’t have enough faith for _________,   only enough for _____________.”  “She only had enough faith for this part, not for the whole ________.”  “I must not even have a mustard seed of faith.”

We don’t find statements like these in the Bible, though we certainly hear and use them today. What’s the common denominator in all these modern-day so-called faith statements?  It’s an “I” focus.  Faith has become all about us, about our efforts to believe enough for whatever end result we seek.  What an endless and wearisome cycle!

But the Bible is good news!  The faith, confidence, and hope of Hebrews 11:1 are to be in Jesus Christ alone, not in our ability to believe for the desired change in situations or circumstances for ourselves or others.  Don’t believe me?  Look at the previous verse.

Hebrews 10:39 NIV (2012) But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.

Since Hebrews is written to believers in Christ, we belong to those who have faith and are saved.  What faith is required to be saved?  Simply, faith in Christ Jesus alone – in what He fulfilled and finished completely in our place because we never could.  In Him all our needs are met.  Like the believing-while-in-unbelief man of Mark1, our focus (and our faith) is to be Jesus, not what He does or will do.  In Christ, all work (healing, too) is already complete and all provision is already made, though our natural eyes may not yet see.  He, Jesus Christ, is our answer.

No longer is our question, “What am I in faith for?”  Rather, it becomes, “In Whom is my faith, my confidence in what I hope for, and assurance about what I do not see?”  And the answer comes via two questions.  Is Jesus Who He says He is?  Does He always point to our Father?  Absolutely.  He can be fully trusted.  He cannot lie.  Whatever He has promised is for all time.  That’s where we fix our eyes, regardless of current circumstances.  Our faith is not even in what He has promised, though we can bank on it.  Our faith is in Jesus Christ, the totality of Who He is, the very Promise Himself.  Therein is His peace.  Therein is His rest.  Therein is our confidence and our assurance about what we do not see.

This major, radical, mind shift is causing a major “tilt” in my brain multiple times a day as the adjustment – the refocus – takes hold, forcing the old-and-gone-wrong to leave forever.  What a wonderful journey, though, this faith in Christ Jesus alone!

1 Mark 9:24 – “help my unbelief” – Jesus helped the man focus only on Who He was, no longer mixed with what his natural eyes saw – it was faith in Jesus alone

A Simple Picture of Faith

During the summer of 2006, my husband and I took on the task of re-sealing our deck, along with the many posts and all the stairs that lead up to it on the second floor.  We chose to use clear sealer, so we had to pay close attention to where we started and stopped painting, in order to know what was yet to be done.  Tom commented more than once that he hoped this sealer was doing something, because he sure couldn’t see any difference where he had painted.  At one point, he implied that it might not be working because he didn’t understand how it could.  My reply was, “You don’t have to understand how it works.  Just apply it.”

The Holy Spirit immediately began to open my eyes to the spiritual meaning of what I had just spoken.  How many things in our Christian walk work this way?  We don’t understand how a Bible principle could possibly work, so we don’t even try it.  We turn away from the possibility that, at the right time, what was only working in the spirit realm, the invisible, as we simply obeyed the Word, would be made visible to us, and our lives would be forever changed for His glory.  We choose to walk by sight, not faith.

Hebrews 11:1  “Now faith is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses].”  AMP

Ours is not to understand it all with our natural minds, but to live a life of faith.  We are simply to apply the “sealer,” the Word of God, according to the instructions, and leave the results to Him.  When we applied the deck sealer, we couldn’t see that it had done anything; that is, until it rained.  Then, our faith became sight as the water beaded up, unable to penetrate the wood any longer.

As I wrote this in my journal, the Lord gave me a practical example from the Bible – forgiving.  How is it that I am set free inside when I make the choice to forgive someone who has hurt me and made no attempt to make things right?  This doesn’t make sense to my natural mind, yet it still works this way.  If I will simply receive God’s Word (Christ,) allowing Him into every part of my life, I will see, in time, His righteousness revealed through me.

Fast forward to the present . . .  One of the things my husband and I have on our to-do list this year is to have the deck pressure washed and sealed again.  We did it three years ago, so why do we have to do it again?  You see, the sun, rain, leaves, ice, and snow keep beating on the deck, wearing the sealant down over time – not to mention people and animals walking on it.  The sealer can only withstand so much “abuse” without breaking down, leading to eventual decay of the wood, if not regularly re-applied.  Regular application of Christ is also required to keep us sealed and protected from the harmful elements that are always ready to penetrate and cause destruction.  It may not feel or look like anything happens for a while, but keep applying (receiving) the sealer.  The storms will come, and that’s when you see.  What would have worn you down in the past just beads up and rolls off, not leaving any lasting damage.  The Word Christ – I don’t have to understand how He works.  I just need to believe and receive Him!