The Fight Of Faith I
THE FIGHT OF FAITH: PART I
A. Introduction: We have been talking about the fact that through faith in Christ, we are heirs of God who have an inheritance. Gal 4:4-7; Eph 1:11; Rom 8:16,17
1. We possess our inheritance through faith and patience. Heb 6:12
a. Faith is agreement with God: you know what He has said, you believe it, and you express your agreement by the way you talk and act.
b. Faith believes it receives when it prays (Mark 11:24). That means:
1. You must know God's will before you pray. I John 5:14,15
2. You must believe the answer is yours before you see it.
3. You don't pray to see what will happen -- you pray because you know what is going to happen.
c. There is usually a period of time between when we accept God's Word about our inheritance and we see results.
2. Many Christians lose their inheritance in between the time they believe they receive and the time they see results because they give up.
3. They lose the fight of faith. There is a fight involved in faith, and we want to talk about it in this and the next few lesson.
B. In I Tim 6:12 Paul told Timothy to fight the good fight of faith. What does that mean?
1. Fight = AGONIZOMAI = to struggle; lit: to compete for a prize; fig = to contend with an adversary; gen = to endeavor to accomplish something. All three of these elements are involved in Christian living.
2. Notice, the goal / purpose of the fight of faith (what we seek to accomplish) is to lay hold of eternal life.
a. What does it mean to lay hold? -- Claim eternal life (NEB); Take possession of eternal life. (Wuest)
b. Don't we already have eternal life? I John 5:11
3. Yes we do -- in the sense that God has already said yes to it, provided it through Christ. (promise has been offered, now must be fulfilled)
4. God offers His Word, His promise, to us, and where He gets the right cooperation, He fulfills it, brings it to pass in our lives. (Salvation = example)
5. Remember also position and experience in Christianity.
a. Position = what God has already done for us / made us through Christ.
b. Experience = what we actually experience or possess.
c. How much these two match depends on our response to God's Word.
6. The promised land was already given to the children of Israel in the sense that God had given His Word to them -- it's yours. Deut 1:8
a. But, they had to enter into the land and take possession of it -- and, they faced obstacles. Num 13:28-33
b. Remember, the first generation to arrive at the land did not possess the land even though God gave it to them = didn't lay hold! Num14:30
7. You must understand that when you pray, even though God has already said yes, you may not see the results / answer immediately
a. You must be able to stand on God's promise until you see results.
b. You must stay in agreement with God's promise until you see results.
c. That is the fight of faith; takes place between when you believe and receive.
8. There is much to say / learn about the fight of faith, but in this lesson, we want to deal with why there is a period of time in between believing and receiving.
9. Why don't we see immediate results? Why is not the question we need to ask. a. The Bible is not a book of whys as much as it is a book of "What nows?".
b. We usually ask "why" for the wrong reasons.
1. We feel that knowing why will give us control in the situation.
2. At the root of the question is an accusation against God that He has been unfair to us by allowing this to happen.
10. However, since it is a question many people ask, let's see what we can discover.
C. Why is there often a period of time in between when we pray and when we see results? Consider these points.
1. I don't fully know! That's just the way it is.
a. That may seem like an unsatisfactory answer, but, if we would focus more on the "that's just the way things are, let's deal with it" aspect of our life rather than struggling with"why", we'd be a lot happier.
b. We are told that in the evil day there may be a time of must standing until we see. Eph 6:13
2. We are called to live and walk by faith. Rom 1:17; II Cor 5:7
a. The only time you can exercise / demonstrate faith is when you cannot see.
b. Rather than focusing on the fact that we can't yet see, we can rejoice in the opportunity to please God by taking Him at His Word. Heb 11:6
3. God's Word, God's promise, is compared to a seed in Mark 4.
a. That means there are some ways in which God's Word works like a seed.
b. There is a period of time in between when the seed is planted and you see results.
4. Timing is involved in God fulfilling His Word. Gen 21:2; Rom 5:6; Gal 4:4
a. There are all kinds of factors unknown to us which God is taking into account and causing to serve His purposes.
b. You have to be able to trust God for the right time -- not passively (whatever will be will be), but in faith (God is at work and at the right time I will see the results).
5. There are two things you must understand about this period where you don't yet see the fulfillment of God's promise.
a. There is / are resistance / obstacles from satan against which you must stand your ground on God's Word.
b. God is at work behind the scenes for His glory and your good.
D. Once again, we can look at Israel and get some insight into these things.
1. God supernaturally delivered Israel from Egypt -- He redeemed them. Ex 12:51 a. That didn't stop Pharaoh from coming after Israel and attempting to keep them in bondage. Ex 14:5-9
b. Just because the devil has no right to afflict us doesn't mean he won't! Pharaoh and Egypt = satan and bondage.
2. Just because you tell him to leave / stop doesn't mean he will go / do so immediately.
a. He seeks to intimidate you -- if you back down from your stand on God's Word, he doesn't have to / won't leave / stop the attack.
b. We see that clearly demonstrated in the ministry of Jesus. Mark 8:31; Mark 1:23-26
3. Why does it work that way? The Bible doesn't say directly.
a. It seems satan has been given free reign for a time = Adam's lease.
b. satan is reluctant to go, and does so only in the face of one who stands his ground.
4. This didn't seem to bother Jesus, so we needn't let it bother us; deal with it.
a. We pray, there is no immediate change, and we think -- maybe it wasn't God's will = we waver.
b. What if Jesus would have done that when He cast the devil out and it threw another fit? It wouldn't have come out!
E. To get from Egypt to the promised land involved a passage of time (from the promise to entering in to their inheritance).
1. The time was filled with a difficult journey -- a trip through the Sinai. Why? That's life in a sin cursed earth.
a. The Sinai is mountainous and dry: Mt. Sinai = 7,400 feet; 1" to 8" rain.
b. Desert places and the opposition they present (lack of food and water) are here because sin is here. Gen 2:6
2. There were two ways God could lead them. Ex 13:17,18
a. Both ways were difficult -- that's life! But God took them the best way.
b. Why didn't He just beam them there? It doesn't work that way!
3. Why wasn't sweet water waiting for them when they reached the first spot along their journey where they ran out of water? Ex 15:22-26
a. That's life in a sin cursed earth!!
b. God wanted to use the situation / they could have used it as an opportunity to practice trusting God.
c. Faith has to be exercised to grow strong. James 1:3
d. You don't know where your faith is (how much you have) until it's tested.
e. God doesn't create these difficult circumstances -- that's life in a sin cursed earth. But, He can and will take advantage of them for His glory and our good if we will cooperate with Him.
f. But, they missed a marvelous opportunity to trust God, exercise their faith, and get ready for the big tests (obstacles) in the promised land.
F. Even though the trip through the wilderness from Egypt to the promised land was about a two week journey, it took Israel two years. Deut 1:2; Num 10:11
1. Two years for a two week trip may seem like too long to us, but God was at work: Much good happened -- events of potential great value to Israel.
a. They had opportunities to trust God for food, water, direction, protection, healing, etc.
b. God met with Moses on the mountain and gave them the law.
2. God knew what was up ahead -- walled cities and warlike tribes when they got to the promised land -- and they needed time to develop their faith on smaller challenges to get ready for the big ones!
3. What appeared to be wasted time or too much time was actually the best way for it to happen.
4. We find out once Israel finally enters the land, that one of the things God had been doing during that passage of time was putting a fear of Israel and their God into the hearts of the heathen in the land. Josh 2:9-11
a. God was doing that to pave the way for Israel's victory and to save any of the heathen who would come to Him.
b. Much good was being accomplished during the passage of time -- if Israel would have only rested in that.
5. When Israel finally entered the land, it was inhabited by people serving satan = obstacle. Why? That's life in a sin cursed earth!1
6. We might ask: Why didn't God just drive them all out at once through a mighty miracle so Israel didn't have to fight?
a. Because He wanted people like Rahab to be saved.
b. It was best for Israel. There weren't enough Israelites yet to keep the land from being overrun by wild animals. Deut 7:22
G. When we don't see immediate results, we often give up -- we lose the fight of faith, that stand we must take on God's Word until we see with our eyes!
1. That is when you must understand God is at work behind the scenes and you don't know all the factors involved because you can't see them.
2. Instead of being worn down by thought such as: why is this happening, why aren't I seeing results, you must have the confidence that God is at work. And, have done all, I'm going to stand until I see.
3. You might say: couldn't God remove all the obstacles, stop all the free will choices of those who oppose Him and His people and just make everything work out right at this moment?
4. Of course He could -- He is God almighty!! But, consider these points:
a. It just doesn't work that way.
b. Men really do have free wills which God allows them to exercise and those choices do sometimes affect us.
c. God is allowing sin to run its course, and we still live in this world.
5. But God is in complete control = He's got it all under control!!
a. Their choices / your choices are not beyond His control. God causes them to serve His purpose and weaves them into His plan.
b. You don't know all the factors -- you don't know how your life is affecting others -- or how this period of waiting in your life is affecting other people.
c. God knows all the factors, He maximizes them for His glory and our good.
d. This sometimes bothers us because we are time creatures. But, it doesn't bother God at all.
H. Conclusion: We haven't said all there is to say about the fight of faith,but keep these two thoughts in mind:
1. Be encouraged that a waiting period is normal. If you are doing anything wrong which is causing the delay -- God will show you. Phil 3:15
2. Be exhorted to keep an active faith during the waiting period that God is at work -- He's working good and good means good.