Thinking about "faith" today. I've heard it before, but in conversations about the gospel, which we as Christians express, (eg. "faith in the work of Christ, to reconcile us to God"). We are often confronted with what we now assume to be a fairly standard response.
Faith has been seen as a nebulous quality that some seem to possess. "I don't have the kind of "faith" you have", one might hear in a daily conversation. But of course, that is a nonsensical statement.
Faith is not a think to be possessed, but an action of trust one takes. In fact, we might say that faith is a synonym for "trust" or "reliance". Dictionary.com gives the basic definition of faith as, "confidence or trust in a person or thing: faith in another's ability". Interestingly, it goes on to give some further definitions, including this one, "Christian Theology. the trust in God and in His promises as made through Christ and the Scriptures by which humans are justified or saved." (reference).
So what exactly does it mean to have "faith" in this Christian Theology sense? The Dictionary definition informs, that it is by such faith "humans are justified or saved". Look at the parts of this admirable definition:
1) Trust in God...
2) ...and in His promises...
3) ...as made through Christ...
4) ...and the Scriptures...
FAITH: WHY IS IT NEEDED?
What a great definition. The reason man needs to be saved, in the first place, is because of sin. Our first parents (as Genesis 1-3 records), were created by God to live as regents of the earth, ruling creation in obedient fellowship with their loving creator. God's adversary, the Devil, determined to etch out a kingdom for himself, and so swayed Adam and Eve, through half truths and false promises. They rejected God, and joined the Devil's rebellion. As a result, God judged the race guilty, and condemned humanity to death, placed a curse on the universe, and gave people over to the domination of sin. In essence, God said, "you want to live rebellion against me? That is called sin. You will now learn what that truly means, by being given over to sin. Sin will rule you and dominate you, until you die. You will see that Master sin is a harsh enslaver, who cares nothing for his victims." So as man awaited the final judgement, he was committed over to sin, the flesh and the devil. The Bible articulates it this way, "in Adam all sinned" (Romans 5:12), God thus considers all people, "under sin" (Romans 3:9). As a result of this nature (called a "law" or "principle" living in our flesh in Romans chapters 8 and 9), "all have sinned [personally] and fallen short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23).
Now this explains what is going on in this world. Even when people determine to do good, to make a clean break from "bad habits", they find it an enduring trial, and often fall into a depressive spiral of being trapped all their lives. Jesus said, "everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin" (John 8:34).
The only way to be set free, is by the power of God. Only, we have made God our enemy, in our rebellion. The bible tells us that we are by nature, God's "enemies" (Romans 5:10) since, "a mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God" (Romans 8:7). What is a mind set on he flesh? The Bible describes the "deeds of the flesh" this way:
Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God." (Galatians 5:19-21).
So, when we set our minds on these things, we are demonstrating that we are, and are behaving as, the enemies of God. It also these things, that we willingly embrace, that we soon find are our true enemies. Like "Golem's Ring", our "precious" sins, begin to twist and destroy us, enslaving us to their service. "The wages of sin [paid out daily in increments] is death" (Romans 6:23). We are being killed, but we are also being made less and less human.
Humanity was created glorious, "in the image of God" (Gen 1:27), destined to "rule" (Gen 1:28-29), "crowned with glory and honor" (Psalm 8:5-8). But in become enslaved to sin and the devil, we lose that glory, we corrupt that image, and we become, "like brute beasts, creatures of instinct" (2 Peter 2:12). In fact Peter goes on, these brute beasts who live by animal instinct "food for the belly and the belly for food", are "born only to be caught and destroyed, and like beasts they too will perish" (2 Peter 2:12b).
So we are, in a proverbial pickle.
FAITH: WHAT IS ITS PROMISE?
To be continued...