Understanding Spirit Faith vs. Flesh Faith


Many people struggle with faith.  Instead of the process being a ‘good fight’ (1 Timothy 6:12), it’s become unfruitful labor.

For various reason, the subject of faith has often become quite confusing.  People mean so many different things when they say, “I’m standing in faith.”  It seems to depend on what they have been taught about faith.

What many Christians are calling faith is actually born in the brain rather than birthed in the heart.  Here is another way of looking at that statement:

Intellectually reasoned faith is a product of the ‘Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.’  Spirit driven faith is a fruit of the ‘Tree of Life.’

I’ve heard some folks say that activating spiritual faith could also be explained as ‘taking a risk.’  In a sense, I understand that way of illustrating Bible faith.  However, I believe ‘taking a risk’ is misleading when describing God’s faith.

The Genesis ‘Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil’ offered (and still offers) mankind the opportunity to make independent rational decisions regarding the good and bad of life.  The Tree of Life (or Jesus) illustrates remaining connected to God as the source of wisdom in life.

(Note:  Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was a form of Hebraic terminology that meant ‘the full scope of life from beginning to end.’  Another illustration would be where Jesus was called, ‘the Alpha and Omega.’)

The purpose of Satan’s temptation was to encourage God’s children to be independent of the relationship of God’s counsel and think for themselves.  His lie was suggesting that it was not necessary to drink of the waters of life to live abundantly.  However, the independence he offered was a cistern of lies, half-truths, arrogance, self-interest, and self-deception.

The deceit and duplicity were in the forbidden tree having ‘fruit’ that gave an appearance of being wise.  However,  being wise without God is ultimately foolishness.

Another name for the forbidden tree is Flesh.  According to Romans 8:7 (NIV),

“The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God;
it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.”

When we are considering having faith, a person can attempt to secure it by using the process of natural reasoning.  That is what I refer to as Flesh Faith.   The person reasons that if they have followed the steps they were taught, and repeatedly stated some promise scriptures, then faith will follow and God will act on their behalf.  When the ‘answers’ are delayed, they boldly proclaim that they are ‘standing in faith.’

Before any reader assumes that I’m cynical about faith teaching or personal Word promise affirmations, I am not.  Those things can all be beneficial.
There is a great deal of faith teaching that can point a person toward deepening their relationship with Jesus.   Confessing and affirming the promises can nurture a heart connection with the Lord.  However, I’ve witnessed that many people are using the principles of faith teaching like inducements to get God to respond to their needs.  They are 2 + 2ing it to = 4.  But, God is very clear about the Flesh (natural logic without intimacy with God).  It will not and cannot produce anything that harmonizes with God.

In the process of striving to attain the promises with only the brain’s logic, the emotion of confidence is fleeting.  Rest and assurance are like butterflies that land on one’s shoulder and quickly take flight at the slightest provocation.

On the other hand, authentic faith, which stands firm in confidence, is that which is birthed in the heart.  It is the product of enjoying and eating the fruit produced by the Tree of Life (Jesus).  The God kind of faith develops on a daily basis of intentional communion.  It may be illustrated in any human relationship.  Faith in each other grows through fellowship.

What it boils down to is this:  Faith for anything is based on the amount of confidence one has in God.  Faith is ‘looking unto Jesus’ the Person (who resides in one’s heart) as the Source for the answer rather than looking unto ‘faith techniques and formulas’ to produce the desired manifestation.  Faith is not the creative force.  The Creator is the creative force of what one wishes.

Spirit faith is humble before God and does not demand the answers come by the petitioner’s predesigned expectation.  True faith honors the wisdom of God to paint the details.  One may ‘suggest’ the desired outcome, but also have confidence that ultimately God’s abundant answer will be superior.

Finally, authentic God faith can remain in the realm of mystery.  That is one reason it is called faith. 

I am thankful, beyond measure, for the teachings that took my Christianity from the passive “if it be Thy will” to greater confidence in discovering the heart of His will as revealed by the Word of God.  But, with that, I also acknowledge that I do not have to place my confidence in what I think I understand about the Scriptures.  I am so thankful that I can trust the Lord with my heart and not place any weight on what I think I know about the Scriptures or life circumstances in general.  It is a very firm and restful place to live from.

May the God kind of Spirit faith be yours!

Gary

 

Is Your Faith Stale Bread?


Faith is like a diamond.  It has many facets that give it its brilliance of life.    

Faith is better described than it is defined.  Some of those explanations include phrases like the following:

“Faith believes that God will not lie.”
“Faith is the bridge between heaven and earth”
“Faith has  eyes that see the invisible.”

It is vital to understand that faith does not have any power of its own to manipulate circumstances and conditions in one’s favor.  As a very wise mentor said one time, “Faith that has the ability, within itself, to perform the task at hand is a form of witchcraft.”  By that, he meant that if faith had its own power, a person could (and would likely) use it to manipulate conditions according to his or her own desires.  That is a wholly different thing than functioning with God according to the Word He is currently speaking.

Faith is the connection of confidence that receives power from God.  Faith is the committed conviction in the character of God in the present moment.  Faith relies, not on yesterday’s manna, but on the living bread of the word He is speaking today.  Today’s word will be consistent with yesterdays truth, but, like manna, the shelf life is based on what is being freshly spoken today.  Many people struggle with faith because they are trying to live on stale bread.  It’s still bread but lacks the flavor that produces confidence.

According to Hebrews 12:2, Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith.  Note that it doesn’t say that He was the author and finisher of our faith.  He says that He is the author and He is the One who continues to work it out, with us, to fulfillment.

The verse starts with the words, “Looking unto Jesus…”  The idea of the phrase indicates that the person’s ‘eyes’ have been distracted, but is looking back unto Jesus.

But, let’s make this even more vibrant.   The Greek word translated unto is also translated into.  The point:  A person could look unto Jesus and only rehearse the things they believe about Him.  Whereas the idea of looking into Jesus indicates a much more intimate gaze…looking into His heart, and with the senses of the Spirit hearing and feeling it beat.

As a person allows the Spirit of God time to open the eyes their heart and see into Jesus, they realize His supernatural pen authoring faith.

Finally, we notice something else in this verse.  It speaks of Jesus being the author and finisher of our faith.  Until recently, I had only seen this to mean that the writer of Hebrews was pointing to the great cloud of witnesses in Chapter 11.

But…then I saw something fresh that strengthened my relationship with the Lord.  I believe, as a spiritual revelation, I knew that the writer was taking the general stories of the Hall of Faith and was making them personal and unique.

I now see that, just as houses have floors, roofs, windows, and doors in common, there are myriads of unique styles in houses that are still correctly known as houses.  There are basic characteristics that make for what we describe as faith.  However, the faith of your neighbor may not be adorned like your faith.  Just as everyone, worldwide has distinct fingerprints, retina structure (and I understand ears), we all have personal and unique relationships with the Lord.

Encourage yourself in the fact that your journey of faith will be the result of a unique relationship with Jesus, and all those around you will be the same.

I close with this:  Several months ago I awoke with a “snapshot” vision.  It was of an upright Bible.  An image of Jesus was walking out of the open pages.

The message to me was that Jesus comes walking out of the pages of Scripture.  As we meditate on the Logos of the Word, Jesus becomes the Rhema (active spoken word)  He becomes a living, present, revelation.

Note:  Although, at times, valuable, meditation in the Scriptures is not the same thing as rehearsing what your favorite teacher says about the topic at hand as you meditate.  Meditation is a very personal, private communication between two covenant friends.  It’s the development of an intimate relationship.

May your faith be as fresh as today’s manna!

Gary