Christian, what guides you, your feelings or your beliefs?
Christians have told me, “What a Spirit-filled service we had Sunday! I could just feel the Spirit move!”
I ask, “Was your faith increased?”
Blank stares are the standard response.
People will talk to me about a situation in their lives. More often than not, the conversation reaches this point:
Me: “Why did you do that?”
Joe Christian: “I felt…(fill in the blank).”
Me: “What does the Word of God tell you to do?”
We are back to the blank stare part of the conversation.
The conversation is often very similar when discussing doctrine – what we believe as Christians.
When did feelings supplant faith?
The things faith does:
Faith saves us – Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.”
Faith justifies us – Romans 5:1, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Faith is essential in prayer – James 1:6, “But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.”
Our faith dictates the size and number of blessings we receive from God – Matthew 9:29, “Then touched he their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you.”
Lastly, without faith, it is impossible to please God – Hebrews 11:6, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”
Obedience, staying away from sin, is not a matter of willpower; it is a matter of faith. Willpower may be involved, but faith is the fuel that drives the whole process of godly living. The just shall live by faith (Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 1:17; Galatians 2:20; 3:11; Hebrews 10:38).
When Christians sin, we show we do not have faith in God. When God gives us a “thou shalt…” or a “thou shalt not…” and we do the opposite, we are telling God we do not have the faith to believe He knows what is best for us.
In fact, every sin we do is disbelief that God is faithful.
1 Corinthians 10:13, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”
Let us break down the verse phrase by phrase.
“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man” – Whatever the temptation is, it is not unique to you. Everyone has faced it at one time or another.
“But God is faithful” – If someone tells you they will come and fix your broken screendoor. Because you trust them, you expect the screen door repair to happen. It is the same way with God. When God, in His Word, tells us He will do something, we should believe it. Why? God is faithful.
“Who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able” – God will not allow a temptation to come your way that you cannot say “no” to.
“but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” – Alongside preventing an impossible temptation, God will also provide a way to remove yourself from the situation.
Many Christians do not know the fundamental doctrines of Christianity. Many that know what they believe do not know why they believe it. The sin in many Christians’ lives is so prevalent that there is no noticeable difference between them and the unsaved, with the possible exception that the Christian attends church a bit more.
Joe Christian’s reliance on feelings has left us with churches filled with congregations with itching ears (2 Timothy 4:3-4). Christians who live by faith will welcome ministers stomping on their toes occasionally (2 Timothy 2:14) because they understand that God is faithful.
A personal note to my readers. Julie and I are going on vacation next week. I will not be sending a column to the papers. See you all in two weeks!
Preacher Tim Johnson is Pastor of Countryside Baptist Church in Parke County, Indiana. His weekly column “Preacher’s Point” may be found at: www.preacherspoint.wordpress.com