Faith - Part III
“But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them who diligently seek Him.” —Hebrews 11:6
PAUL DISCUSSES FAITH quite extensively, but when he uses the term faith, he is always referring to what Christ did at the Cross. This is most important part of faith. For faith to be faith, it has to have the right object, which is the Cross of Christ. Faith in Christ and the Cross is the only type of faith that God will accept. Faith in anything else, whatever it may be—no matter how good it might be—can never be fully recognized or accepted by God.
What I’m about to say will not sit well with many Christians, but it must be said. If a believer looks to another means to receive from God—prayer, reading the Word, witnessing, fasting, or any other Christian discipline—then God cannot honor such. God only honors faith in Christ and Him crucified. The Cross is where the price was paid, the sin debt was handled, and sin was defeated. If the Cross handled those things, then it has procured everything that we will ever need.
The church world is in the condition that it’s in because of its lack of teaching on faith and a total misuse of faith. If we are to please the Lord, and I have no reason to believe that any Christian does not desire to please the Lord, then the only way we can do so is by placing our faith in Christ and the Cross.
Paul was very adamant when he said that the only way we can please God is by faith—faith anchored totally and completely in Christ and Him crucified. For the Holy Spirit to work in our lives, then our faith must be anchored in the Cross, which gives Him the ability to work in our lives the way that He sees fit. The Holy Spirit works exclusively through the means of the Cross, and the Cross alone. He cannot work through any other avenue.
If we are looking to something other than the Cross of Christ, then the Holy Spirit is severely limited as to what He can do. Now, we must understand that the Holy Spirit is God, and because of that, there is nothing that He cannot do. Notwithstanding, if we do not understand the effects of the Cross in our everyday lives and living, then the Holy Spirit will be restricted in working in our lives. Let us say it this way: we cannot afford to live our Christian lives without the help of the Holy Spirit, but we limit Him by placing our faith in something other than the Cross of Christ.
Walking After The Spirit
The Bible teaches that, as believers, we are to walk after the Spirit, but what does that mean? In very simple terms, walking after the Spirit means to place our faith in Christ and Him crucified, which gives the Holy Spirit the ability to work unhindered in our lives. Before the Cross, the Holy Spirit was greatly constrained as to what He could do in the lives of those who lived under the old covenant. This was because the blood of bulls and goats could only cover—not take away—sin, which meant that the sin debt still hung over the head of mankind.
But when Christ came, He came with the purpose of redeeming mankind by going to Calvary, which not only covered sin, but removed sin completely, taking it out of the way (Col. 2:14-15). By Christ dying on Calvary’s Cross, never to be done again, He satisfied the demands of the broken law, became a curse for us (Gal. 3:13), and provided a way of salvation that leads not only to eternal life, but also a more abundant life. This act now gives the Holy Spirit the ability to take up residence in our lives, and to work daily in our lives. Of course, the more abundant life that Christ spoke of has to do with our everyday lives and living.
The Holy Spirit alone can make us what we ought to be, and if we don’t truly grasp how the Holy Spirit works, then we will constantly come up on the short end of the stick. As believers, our victory is not meant to move up and down, and it won’t, providing our faith is anchored in Christ and the Cross. The only way that we can lose our victory is by looking to something other than the Cross.
Everything that comes to us from God, without exception, comes to us on the basis of Jesus Christ and Him crucified, and our faith in that finished work. And when I say everything, I mean everything. The Cross has made it possible for us to receive what we need from our heavenly Father. This means that if we need salvation, it’s found in the Cross. If we need blessing, it’s found in the Cross. If we need the baptism with the Holy Spirit, it’s found in the Cross. Everything is found in the Cross.
Sadly, most of the church world is trying to live for God on the basis of merit, which is never going to end well. By trying to earn something from God, we depend on the strength of self-effort, and self-effort is never enough. I like to say it this way: you can depend on works, which will never be enough, or you can trust in the finished work of Christ, which is always enough. Faith in the finished work of Christ is the key that unlocks the door to receiving the blessings that God has in store for His children, and it’s the only currency that will spend in heaven.
God can only deal with sinful man through the means of the finished work of Christ. This means that works are out, and when we speak of works, we speak of depending on anything other than faith in Christ and the Cross to bring about victory over sin. Works are the antithesis of faith. If we depend on works, we will fail. Let’s use this little formula to explain the point:
Object of faith: Performance
Power source: Self
By trying to overcome sin by self-effort, you will never become victorious, but rather continue to fail. Why? Because you are trying to do something that only the Holy Spirit can do. The Holy Spirit is the only one who can bring about victory in the life of the believer. This is an insult to the grace of God, and to Christ Himself. In essence, when a Christian turns from the
Cross to something else, we are saying that what Christ did at the Cross was not enough, and that we have to add our works to it. Instead of depending on self-effort to overcome sin, try this:
Focus: Christ (John 14:6)
Object of faith: the Cross (Rom. 6:3-5; Gal. 2:20-21)
Power source: Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:2)
Result: Victory (Rom. 6:14).
This little formula is a short way of saying that everything you receive from God is paid for by Christ through what He did at the Cross. You will find that dependence on the finished work of Christ for everything brings about the help of the Holy Spirit, which guarantees victory in every aspect of our lives. I’ll say it this way: the reason why most Christians are not experiencing victory in their lives is because they are trying to bring about victory through works, which frustrates the grace of God.
We need the grace of God to work constantly in our lives, but that grace can only come about through faith in Christ and Him crucified. What Christ did at the Cross made us free, and it’s the only thing that made us free. But He doesn’t stop there. When Christ died on Calvary’s Cross, He also makes us free as we live our everyday lives.
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