- Rev. Joseph A. Bias
Shoring Up the Foundations of Our Lives
"For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, 'The just shall live by faith.' ” Romans 1:17
Wherever we were on our Christian journey of faith in Jesus Christ before the emergence of the Kovid-19 virus, we are not there today. We have all been shaken, upended and distracted by the demands to fundamentally change the way we live in this country. Our daily routines have been thrown off and things we took for granted are not readily available to us if at all anymore. In the midst of all this, our faith has been tried and in some ways we have been found wanting. Some have been so bombarded with the noise of doom, gloom, and negative speak that they have begun to unwittingly be an echo chamber for all the unrighteousness we find swirling around us.
So we need to take and honest, objective assessment of the things we believe, we say, we think and we do. God is not angry or in anyway grieved or disappointed in us. He loves, and there is no condemnation for those of us who are in Christ Jesus our Lord. But He does want us to be on our guard and not be overwhelmed or blindsided by the works of the devil, that would seek to dominate our attention and bind us in the same web of anxiety, fear, anger, malice, judgmentalism, cynicism and resignation to the purveyors of death who seek only to kill, steal and destroy. But it is important now to remind ourselves that we are called to a higher purpose.
God has called us to live by faith. If this mandate has any meaning it is most profoundly needed today. We live in a world that is increasingly dismissive of our faith, dismissive of the manner of our lives and particularly our submission to the Word and will of God. In some ways by virtue of the constraints imposed on our normal patterns of connecting with our brothers and sisters of faith, some have lost , (temporarily) a sensitivity to those who need us most, the young, the lost spiritually and the lonely, the elderly who are isolated by Coronavirus restrictions and so on. They are adrift in the world of irrational politics and fear mongering with no one there to encourage them, to comfort them and to challenge and to sharpen them in their walk of faith in the midst of the warfare that we are all facing because we are followers of Christ.
This is our calling. The just shall live by faith. Without faith it is impossible to please God, because they that come to Him must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. [Hebrews 11:6]
We are the just. But some would say, by whose authority do we claim to be the just? Are we boastfully claiming that we are somehow better than everyone else? No. We claim to be just by no less than the declaration of God Himself,
“But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” Romans 3:21-26
We are the just by virtue of our faith in Jesus Christ. Also, God has declared us righteousness, which is the basis of our justification by faith. We are the just; therefore we must live by faith. But that is not so much a commandment as it is a promise from God. Living by faith is our privilege. It does set us apart from the world and places us in a super-natural position in the world.
Because we understand that we are first and foremost spirit beings who are eternal. We see the world from an eternal perspective that the natural man (our mind, emotions [feelings]) cannot comprehend apart from faith in God, particularly by the presence of the Holy Spirit in is.
This is one fundamentally important reason we are admonished to pray in the Holy Spirit in order to build ourselves up in the most holy faith. As we pray in the spirit we nourish and strengthen our inner man, our eternal spirit.
“But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit...” Jude 1:20 NKJV
Why do we need building up? Because, though we possess a great treasure in that the Holy Spirit, God the Father and Jesus now dwell with us and in us, the power or the dunamis in us is fueled by prayer in the Spirit which produces faith to hear and to heed the Word of God. Apart from the work of the Holy Spirit in us we have no power. But having received the Holy Spirit we now have the dunamis, the power to be witnesses of and for Jesus Christ our Lord.
We are likewise by the same Spirit empowered to live the Christ imitating life. And by the same Spirit we have the power to believe that every promise of God for us is ours and is made manifest in our lives whenever and wherever we need to appropriate them.
Living by faith we resist fear because faith works by love and perfect love casts out fear.
What or who did Jesus fear? Nothing, and no one! What should we fear? Nothing! [Philippians 4:6] There is but one fear we embrace, which is not a trembling anticipation of terror, but a Godly reverence, recognition of, and submission to, the absolute dunamis, (power) and authority of God.
Therefore we set our affections on things above. That is, we seek those things that make for life and joy and peace. We seek to live in the Kingdom of God here and now on the earth.
And what is the Kingdom of God?
“...for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Romans 14:17 NKJV
The more time we spend pursuing God through prayer in the Holy Spirit, reading, studying, meditating His Word and worshiping Him, the more He makes His dunamis, His power, available to us.
No one has a corner on favor with God except to the extent that we become fully reliant on His grace. Therein, we all have favor and great access to the measure of the resources of God’s glory. But, there is only one pathway to that favor and blessing. It is Jesus Christ our Lord.
Therefore, we do not boast in ourselves. Whatever measure of success, talent, or resources we may have acquired or attained, we know that all are gifts from God. Each of us, male, female, Christian, Jew, unbeliever, atheist, rich, poor, slave, free, adult, child, king, priest and president, ditch digger, garbage collector, janitor or CEO, all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.
“But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” Romans 3:21-26 NKJV
But, we do not enter into His presence by boasting, by pride, by arrogance, by unforgiveness or judgmentalism. We enter that place of rest, peace and dunamis by faith, by humility, by grace, by forgiveness, by gentleness, kindness and love.
“In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.” 1 John 4:9 KJV)
“Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. We love him, because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:17-19 KJV
So here is a re-shoring principal of the fundamentals of our faith. A believers in Jesus Christ, born again by His Spirit we are saved by grace through faith, therefore we are children of love. That is our natural state of being and the fundamental element of our character. Love motivates the way we relate to our Father God, to our Savior Jesus Christ, to our teacher, comforter, power source and Guide, the Holy Spirit.
Love motivates how we relate to our loved ones, family and friends. Love also motivates how we relate to our enemies. People, flesh and blood, are not the subjects of our warfare. We wrestle not with men but with spiritual forces in high places. In that warfare we are more than conquerors because Christ loves us and gave Himself for us.
If the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ means anything (and it does mean everything) it means that the spirit of death has no power over us. The works of darkness have no power against the light in us. The forces of evil, violence, destruction and anarchy cannot prevail over the love of God in our hearts.
As we pray in the spirit, as we look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith we keep ourselves in the love of God. We are never out of His love for us because nothing can separate us from His love. But, we can miss the blessing of His will for us when we act contrary to our Godly nature to love our neighbor as ourselves, to love our enemies as we love our friends and to leave all judgment to Jesus.
In this current climate of political division and targeted attacks against the foundation of our nation’s principles of freedom and justice as expressed in our Constitution we are challenged to be and to stay vigilant. In matters of witnessing our faith in Jesus Christ before the world, we are commanded to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.
Let me conclude with this. God is still in control of His creation. We are still His people and He cares for us. He will preserve us whole until the day Jesus returns for us. In the mean time, we live, and move and have our being in Him knowing that no weapon that is formed against us will prosper and every tongue that arises in judgment against in judgment we will condemn. This is our heritage as the servants of the Lord and He declares us His righteousness.
Here is an article I recommend on the matter of being wise as serpents and harmless as doves. https://www.gotquestions.org/wise-serpents-harmless-doves.html