Last week we entertained the wild idea that I really can trust God, who is ordaining all things, not only in the world at large but in my daily life, even with my “want to’s.”
Can a sovereign God not change my thoughts and actions from sinful to obedient, from making excuses for sin to repentance for sin, from fear to faith, from sloth to diligence, from discouragement to enthusiasm, from sadness to joy, and from hate to love, whenever He desires to do so? So, I live by complete faith in that sovereign God, every day attacking the world, living in complete freedom, thinking, saying and acting naturally and spontaneously, trusting that Daddy is changing the desires of my heart to conform to His. Right?
Get serious! If I really believe I am living consistently by faith in that way and not doggedly trying to do my best to make something of my life and not screw it up, the glass that Paul says I see through darkly in this life (1 Corinthians 13:12) is not only dark, it is completely opaque; no light is getting through to me. I am completely blind to who I really am and how I am living. Actually, I am beginning, finally now in later life, to realize that, for me, living by faith is, and has always been, an extremely erratic experience at best.
However, despite the difficulty in doing so, living by faith in Daddy, far above all worry, discouragement, frustration and defeat, is His revealed will for us all. “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord (by faith), so walk in Him (by faith)” (Colossians 2:6).
This continuing life of faith produces the fruit of the Holy Spirit mentioned in Galatians 5:22f: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace . . .” When I am walking by faith, unconditional love for others floods my heart, even for my enemies (Matthew 5:44); I am aware of an overwhelming joy that, unlike happiness, is not dependent on circumstances around me (John 15:11); I am inundated with peace, even in the midst of tribulation, that is impossible for me to understand (John 16:33). These are evidences that I am, indeed, living by faith.
So why the disconnect? Why is that not my regular, consistent experience? I am painfully aware, as is any Christian with an ounce of self-awareness, that even though this life of faith is God’s revealed will for me, it is not my habitual practice. There are a number of factors that contribute to my inability to consistently “walk by faith.” Paul says that he was always on guard against Satan’s attacks because he was not “ignorant of his devices” (1 Corinthians 2:11).
Sadly, many Christians are “ignorant of his devices,” along with a misunderstanding of the pull of the world and a blindness to the depravity of our flesh, our “bodies of corruption.” (1 Corinthians 15:42-44). All three—the world, the flesh, and the devil—take us from simply trusting in Daddy for everything to living again by our default, intuitive way to live—by the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil, by making good choices, by the law.
We have discussed this at great length in these postings, because we have heard the phrase, “living by faith” so many times it has become almost meaningless. For example, we have been told that a good Christian tries to live by always making good choices and not bad ones. I am told that “When faced with a decision you must use your sound mind, evaluate pros and cons, then make the good decision. Successful people make good decisions.” What could possibly be wrong with that? Isn’t that “living by faith?”
The Bible tells me that I am now free from having to live by the law of making “good choices,” or the law of having to “set my mind on things above and not on things of the earth” (Colossians 3:2), or any other law. I am are “no longer under a tutor” (the law – Galatians 3:25). Satan is not trying to trick me into making the wrong choice; he wants me to make either choice, he doesn’t care, as long as I do the choosing, which is walking in “the flesh.”
A “good choice” inevitably produces a pride of which we are oblivious, and a “bad choice” ultimately produces defeat and discouragement, of which we are all to painfully aware. Both results are a temporary victory for Satan, the certain result of trying to live by “making good choices,” and not by faith.
“Living by faith” is listening to Daddy, who actually lives in my heart by His Spirit, as He tells me, “You are free to follow the desires of your heart, because I am, right now, capturing your heart and giving your desires to you (Psalm 37:4).” He is, unbeknownst to me, busily at work changing those desires and motivations to conform to His.
He is not showing me what I “ought to, need to, and should do,” i.e., “what good choices I should make.” Instead, Paul says God is actively “producing in me both the desire and the ability to do what pleases Him” (Philippians 2:13 – ISV)—literally changing my “want to’s” so I cannot help but do what Daddy wants me to do. “For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20). I am “compelled” to do so by the love of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:14). I could do nothing else if I tried!
We simply trust (have faith), moment by moment, day by day, that He is accomplishing this promised task on His own timetable, as we go about daily life, doing just exactly what comes naturally, which just happens to be, according to Philippians 2:13, what He wants us to do! That is living by faith, and is the exact opposite of living by making good choices—the law.
However, my mind tells me that it is too good to be true that the Holy Spirit is actually changing my “want to’s,” just exactly as the Bible says He will do, with absolutely no help from me. When the rubber hits the road, I find it hard to believe He is really doing anything at all with me when I don’t see any changes occurring in my life.
So, I reason, living by doing what I want to do would be a disaster. I don’t believe all things that happen to me are working together for my good and come straight from the hand of a God who loves me, even though He clearly tells me that. Why don’t I believe what He says?
The battle against Satan has nothing to do with our conduct; Jesus has taken care of all my failures completely and forever at the cross. The battle is always the battle expressed in the prayer of the father of the demon-possessed man in Mark 9:24: “I believe, help my unbelief!”—the battle is always to believe, to trust that Daddy has me, safe and sound and right on schedule.
So, are you “making good choices,” not only in what you do, but also in what you say and think? Its time to trust that job to Daddy, who never makes a bad one.