Just as repentance is turning our backs on loving ourselves more than we love The LORD, faith is realigning ourselves to look Him full in the face. Doing so signifies that we wish to have an open relationship with Him, where we hide nothing from Him because we trust Him. (As He knows everything there is to know about us, then there is nothing we can actually hide from Him, although most people mistakenly think they can deceive Him in some way.) Like repentance, faith is something we must be serious about from the start, and it's also something we will learn more and more of as we live each day with Him as our first love.
Central to exercising faith in the Godhead is the matter of coming to the place where we agree with Him about everything. That may sound extreme to some. However The LORD does not ask us to trust Him blindly, but to do so because we are discovering how reliable He is. At one point in the New Testament we are reminded that even if we prove faithless towards Him, He will remain faithful to Himself and to all His promises. That He is consistent in all things is important - it means we don’t have to fear what mood He is in when we wake up each morning. We can be confident that He is the same faithful Creator He has always been and we can continue to trust Him completely. This means that no matter how painful it is for us to humble ourselves, there is absolute safety in agreeing with Him about ourselves and the best way to live now. Another New Testament writer encourages Christians to go on confessing their sins to the Father, knowing that as we do so He is “faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” The Greek word translated “confess” carries with it the thought of “agreeing about”. Faith towards God starts for each one of when we agree with Him about the seriousness of our failure to love Him as we should. From then on we need to go on trusting His judgement above ours, for ultimately we are acknowledging that the Creator is wiser than those He has created.
The need for faith in Him is not confined to our attitude towards our sins, but it is a matter of trusting Him in every aspect. This means committing ourselves to making choices to live according to His will not ours, whilst trusting Him to keep us safe whatever the outcome. Some people mistakenly think that faith only concerns how we think about certain teachings to do with God. In fact throughout the Bible we find accounts of people who made choices which affected their lives dramatically, because they loved The LORD sufficiently to motivate themselves to do what He asked them to do. Whilst none of these people were perfect in their love for Him (many in fact made some very big mistakes), they were all sincere in their desire to please Him. The writer of the book of Hebrews in the New Testament lists some of these people, and reminds His readers how they repeatedly put their own lives at risk by choosing to agree with God rather than with other people. There is a cost to doing this. Such people found themselves ostracised by their peers and forced to live outside the society of their day and many were persecuted, tortured and killed for their faith.
Whilst the latter is perhaps unimaginable in the West at the moment, in other parts of the world Christians are frequently attacked for their love of Christ, which gives them something better in life than going along with the crowd, and many are put to death for their loyalty to Him. This is the narrow and difficult way which Jesus told His potential followers they must take. Even in places where Christians are not physically persecuted, there has always been a price to pay for trusting God over and above the norms of the society in which they live. We require an inner discipline to “carry our cross” daily in many things, but when the world around us notices that we are no longer on the broad road followed by the majority, we also need a faith which expresses itself in an outward determination to trust our redeeming God no matter what it costs us. As Jesus taught His followers about the dangers of worrying about material things, He urged them to do the very opposite - to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,” adding that all the other things we need will be provided by our Heavenly Father who knows and cares about us.
Another thing which it is important to know about exercising faith towards God is this. We have already explored how no-one apart from Christ has managed to keep the greatest commandment. We have seen that the consequence of this is that sin prevents people from knowing The LORD. To deal with this problem, the Father allowed His sinless Son to be killed unjustly and thus bear the penalty for our rebellion. All potentially could therefore regain contact with their Creator, but not everyone does so. This is because The LORD waits for us to seek Him with all our hearts before He makes Himself known to us. Yet even searching for Him is a response to Him seeking for us. Remember, Jesus made clear that no-one can go to Him without His Father motivating them in the first place.
When The LORD speaks to us in this way, we have to choose how we respond. It is possible to dismiss what we experience as some form of nonsense - this is unbelief and will in time make us deaf to The LORD’s voice - or far worse, will cause Him to stop trying to get through to us. Alternatively, we can choose to take notice of Him and respond by doing what He says. This is the simplest definition of faith found in the Bible; it is being obedient to what The LORD says to us. The writer of Hebrews mentioned above said that faith was essential if we are to please God, and that the twin starting points for faith are confidence that He exists and that He rewards anyone who diligently seeks Him. Without discovering faith in these two areas, then we will be unable to take up His offer of a new life in Jesus Christ. The strange thing is, and this can only be explained to those who experience it, is that even this faith is a gift from Him. If you lack it then ask Him for it, but in asking you are accepting that He is there to listen and will reward you if your request is sincere. From then on you need to exercise your faith every day by continuing to walk in obedience to Him.
You may be wondering why we need to respond to Him in this way and why faith is important. Remember the problem - we have all messed up our lives by failing to love Him as we should. Even after repenting of living like that, we will still make mistakes and still get things wrong. Knowing that perfection is beyond us in this life, The LORD has always looked for something other than faultlessness from us in response to His love. That alternative is faith and from Adam onwards it has always been the Father’s way of salvation. Faith rather than perfection is what, as we read in Hebrews, enabled people like Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses and many others to please God. Quoting an Old Testament prophet, one New Testament writer expresses this truth as follows: “But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for ‘the just shall live by faith.’” Elsewhere the same author wrote at length about the way The LORD has always accepted faith as the alternative to getting things right. The importance of this to anyone who is setting out on the Way of Christ is to remember that your Father in heaven knows that you will still get some things wrong, but He has provided an alternative means for you to be credited with righteousness. That means is for you to keep on trusting Him, to keep listening to His voice and out of your love for Him to do what He asks you to do.
Faith is one of the most important themes throughout the Bible and there is much more that could be said. Remember as you continue your journey that the faith He looks for is obedience which flows out of your relationship with Him. It is not obedience to various rituals or any religious system or a list of “dos and don’ts”. Faith is the response of a child who trusts their parent to only tell them to do what is best for them and for others. Faith is confidence that the God of the Bible is reliable in all respects, confidence which is shown in the way we live.
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