Friday, December 4, 2015

Faith and the Holy Spirit

Here are a few “AHA!” moments from this morning. The focus was on the necessity of both faith, and the Spirit. We cannot have the faith that pleases God without the Spirit of God leading us in that faith.

1.     Satan does not attack our good works, he attacks our faith. Everything God does is by faith. We do not become righteous through our good works, but by joining God’s work by faith. Faith utterly defeats Satan, since it keeps us connected to God and what he is doing.

Without faith it is impossible to please God,[1] so Satan doesn’t focus on getting us to do bad things (since we can keep confessing our sins by faith and keep being fully right with God). Satan focuses on destroying faith. When we are not living by faith, we cannot glorify God by even one thing we do. And, of course, when we stop living by faith, we just go right back to doing all kinds of bad things anyway, much to Satan’s evil delight.

2.    Satan’s attack on our faith pushes in two directions: one, to transfer our faith from Christ to ourselves so that it feels like we have faith even though we are just doing good works in our own strength. This is what we see in churches where everyone is smugly self-content because of all the good they are doing “for Christ”, and yet they never seem to have an ounce of faith when it comes to dealing with anything to do with us! Of course, this is also what happens in our own churches during those times when we get caught up in feeling we are doing pretty good because of how well we are behaving.

Two, to put so much focus on how poorly we are doing, and how it is all our fault we are doing poorly, and we can’t trust God to do anything right, so that we are so demoralized from trusting God that nothing good happens. It is not that it is not happening because we aren’t being good enough; but that nothing good is happening because we have been deceived into letting go of faith.

3.    The only way faith can be faith is by the Spirit. This struck home very powerfully this morning. The righteous live by faith, and to live by faith, we walk in the Spirit. Living by faith, and living by the Spirit, are one and the same thing. It is not that faith and the Spirit are identical, but that faith requires the Spirit, and the Spirit must bring us to have faith.

It settled into me like this:

· Faith is trust in someone
· We need someone to trust
· God gives us his Spirit so that we have someone to trust
· God gives us faith so we can trust the Spirit we have been given
· We have no one to personally relate to in faith without the Spirit in whom we can trust on a daily basis
· We have no way to personally relate to the Spirit except through faith

4.    Would you be surprised to know that this led me to the Beatitudinal Valley?[2]

· God must bless us with poverty of spirit, otherwise we will swing between prideful independence or hopeless independence. All Satan wants is independence, no matter what the reason. God must make us see our poverty of self, so that we will begin the journey to being filled with his Spirit, and faith, and the righteousness that is by faith by the Spirit.
· God must bless us with mourning our impoverished condition because Satan would love to fill us with pride in our poverty. On one side, the world delights in its depraved condition, and, on the other side, it pridefully tries to do so much good that God has no right to call us depraved. Both selfishly doing evil, and selfishly doing good, keep us independent from God, so Satan wants to keep us from mourning our poverty of spirit. God graciously blesses us with consciousness of our poverty so we will mourn what we are like instead of justify what we are like.
· God must bless us with meekness that knows it cannot fix ourselves, and that knows it cannot be fixed the self-protective ways we want God to fix us, because we cannot fix our impoverished soul-condition by anything we do. Satan would love those who mourn to mourn in such hopelessness that we give up, turn from God, kill ourselves, anything that will keep God from being glorified in our mourning. So, God blesses us with the meekness that accepts it cannot fix itself, that does not try to fix itself, that does not tell God how he must fix us, and that does not feel hopeless about being fixed.
· God must bless us with a hunger and thirst for righteousness because righteousness can only be attained by faith. There must be a consciousness that we do not have any righteousness through anything we do (poverty of spirit), and an understanding that all the righteousness of Christ is ours through the gospel, received by grace through faith.[3] Satan would have those who arrive at meekness feel so hopeless about not fixing themselves that they believe they cannot be fixed. Such a belief will keep us from pursuing God for anything he will do for us since our pride things that, if we can’t fix ourselves, no one can fix us, God included. God blesses us with a hunger for what we see in him, giving us faith that he can justify us with the righteousness of Christ, he can sanctify us in the righteousness of Christ, and he can glorify us in the righteousness of Christ, all by his grace through the gift of faith.

Conclusion: Satan’s primary focus of attack is not on our good behavior; it is on our faith, specifically, our faith in the Holy Spirit. In a sense, our faith is not to be seen as us here on earth trying to have faith in Jesus who is way off in heaven. Instead, while we know our faith is in Jesus Christ, when Jesus said he would be with us always, to the end of the age,[4] he meant in the person of his Holy Spirit.

So, practically speaking, the Christian life revolves around personal faith in the present Holy Spirit.

This means that, God is working in us so we will have personal faith in the Spirit and whatever he is doing in us and around us right now. It is to be as personal as a child feeling faith because he or she is holding hands with the parent who is taking care of them. We are to be filled with the Spirit at all times, and everywhere we go, because our faith is in him, and our faith can only be faith if we have him right here with us to trust.

Any time we feel that faith is something we are doing for God, and that we must have faith no matter how we feel in life, our faith has really become a good work, something Satan loves to do to us.

On the other hand, when our faith is something we feel because we sense the presence of the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit has led us into the words of Christ where faith comes from hearing,[5] and we find that we have been given specific words and promises of Christ that give us faith, we can keep joining God in what he is doing for our own sanctification without ever falling into the trap of thinking we are doing something for God.

The Christian life should feel like children of God joining God in what he is doing.[6] We can only do this by faith in the Spirit who is the expression of God’s work into our lives every day.

No matter how distant this might feel from you, here is what to pray:

· To be FILLED with the Spirit
· To be EMPTIED of sarky, fleshly, self-centeredness, self-protection, anything of the sarky self that has no interest in the Spirit’s way of doing things
· To KNOW Jesus Christ by faith in the Spirit’s presence and work
· To KNOW ourselves in Christ, who we are by faith, as made known by the Spirit
· To LIVE by faith

What a gift to live by faith, and to have the personal presence of the Holy Spirit in the church to make everything in our lives by faith! The Spirit is given so we have someone to trust in daily faith, and faith is given so that we will trust the Spirit in his work instead of trying to do his work for him.

© 2015 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)


[1] Hebrews 11:6
[2] Referring to the Beatitudes Jesus gave us in Matthew 5:3-6
[3] Ephesians 2:8-9
[4] Matthew 28:18-20
[5] Romans 10:17
[6] John 5:1-47 shows this in the example of Jesus (see especially John 5:17, 19); John 15:1-11 shows this in the relationship of the vine and the branches; and Philippians 2:12-13 shows this in the way we work out our own salvation with fear and trembling in direct relationship to whatever God is personally working into us by his Spirit.

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