"To call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith."|
- Romans 1:5 NIV
Some months ago, I heard a powerful man of God talking about one of the biggest mistakes that Christians make on a regular basis. He said that when the Lord gives us direction or instruction in a matter, instead of asking Him to strengthen our faith, we make excuses for why we will not obey. When I heard him say that, it was like a light went on in my spirit. I suddenly began thinking of all the bad habits, faults, and weaknesses I could overcome, if I only began getting serious about praying for more faith.
I thought about the passage in the Gospel of Luke, where Jesus tells His disciples: "If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, 'I repent,' forgive him." (Luke 17:3-4 NIV) And how do the disciples respond to the Master's instructions? "Increase our faith!" they declare. (Luke 17:5 NIV) Why did they ask the Lord for more faith? Because they knew that at their current level of faith, there was no way they could live up to Jesus' standards. They rightfully equated faith with obedience. The apostle Paul made the same connection when he wrote about "the obedience that comes from faith." (Romans 1:5 NIV)
For years, I've been confessing the apostle Paul's declaration of faith in Galatians 2:20 (NIV): "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." But now that I've gotten a clearer revelation of the connection between faith and obedience, this verse has a lot more meaning for me. Even though I knew that I had a new nature through my union with Christ, I still struggled with many of the bad habits that plagued me long before I surrendered my life to the Lord. This was simply because I still had a fleshly body that wanted to have its own way. These days, when I confess this verse, I focus on the part that says that the only way I can live this life "in the body"--or "in the flesh" (NASB)--is "by faith in the Son of God." This reminds me to ask the Lord to strengthen my faith, so that I can walk in greater levels of obedience all the time.
The Bible says that faith is a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8), and that He has given each of us a "measure of faith." (Romans 12:3) But we don't have to be satisfied with the amount we start out with. We can cooperate with the Lord to increase our faith on a regular basis. First of all, we need to pray for ever-increasing faith. Another thing we can do is to feed on the Word of God regularly. Scripture says that faith comes from hearing the Word of God. (Romans 10:17) That means that every time we listen to good preaching, or go to a Bible study, or even read the Scriptures, our faith has the potential to grow--if we are being attentive, and if we have an open heart. I have found that one of the most effective ways of boosting my faith is to hear myself speaking the Word of God. That's one reason why I make it a priority every day to read, study, memorize, and meditate on the Scriptures. A wise man once said, "If you have little knowledge of God and His Word, you will have little faith." The link between having a working knowledge of the Scriptures, and having great faith, cannot be denied.
When the apostle Peter heals a crippled man in the Book of Acts, he announces to everyone that this man's miraculous healing is a result of his faith in the name of Jesus, a faith that came from Christ Himself. (Acts 3:16) So when I need healing, I often ask the Lord to give me the faith I need to receive my healing. What obstacles could you overcome in your life, if you just got serious about praying for more faith on a regular basis? If you've been struggling with addictions, bad habits, and other sins, asking the Lord to strengthen your faith could make all the difference. May the disciples' plea be ours from this day forward--"Lord, increase our faith!"
Prayer: Lord, Your Word says that You are the "Author and Perfecter of our faith." (Hebrews 12:2) So I ask You to give me the faith I need to overcome the sin and sickness in my life. Teach me how to saturate myself with Your Word, so that I may partner with You in the growing of my faith. Thank You for the victories and successes that will be mine as my faith in You abounds!
- J. M. Farro