Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Use Your Faith for Personal Holiness

I've noticed that we are taught to use our faith in order to receive a variety of things from God, such as: salvation, healing, money, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. But what about using our faith to overcome lingering behavioral flaws in our character? For some reason it seems we've thought that the solution is we just need to try a little harder.

But God hasn't only made provision for us to be like Jesus in external things like our ministries - He has also made free provision for us to be like Him on the inside. God hasn't only made provision for us to prosper and be in health - He has also made provision for our souls to prosper. So that means we can use our faith in order to be done with carnality and any other type of lack of victory in our lives.

Someone once said that any failure in the Christian life is really a failure in faith - because all the blessings of the Christian life are received through faith. So instead of trying to overcome in your own strength - use your faith!

How does it work? Well if it was sickness you were dealing with and you felt a symptom return, you would maintain the confession of your faith. You would say, No. I'm not accepting that as reality. The reality is, "By His stripes I was healed," then the manifest power of God backs up your confession.

In the same way, when it is a character issue you're dealing with and you feel tempted by an old weakness, do the same thing. Rather than try a little harder, maintain the confession of your faith! Believe! Say, No. That's not me - because the power of the cross has given me the victory! I have the character of Christ. And the devil will flee. It's not just a matter of will-power. It's a matter of believing.

Very often when a believer yields to temptation and sins, somewhere along the line, somewhere in the equation, there was unbelief. Very likely, at some point he caved-in and said in himself, Yeah, it's no use - I don't have the victory yet. And then he acted-out his negative belief. If we correctly label unbelief as part of the equation of our past failures - then we've identified the key to future victory.

When you think about it, trying to overcome the world (the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life) through any means other than through faith, is bound to fail - because the victory is in the cross alone. Jesus Christ didn't save us through faith and then expect us to become perfected by striving in our own strength. He already knew that would be impossible. The faith that saved us is the same faith that keeps us.

Then someone may ask, But what if hereditary curses, demons or personal sin are at the root of the problem? Even if they are, all Jesus Christ ever asked anyone to do was believe. Jesus Christ never called anyone to fight the devil. He said, "Only believe." To say, "Rise, take up thy bed, and walk," or to say, "Man, thy sins be forgiven thee," are six and one-half dozen: either one achieves the same thing. Jesus saw their faith - He did the forgiving.

On another occasion Jesus healed a woman in response to her faith, and then said, "Go and sin no more." Faith was all Jesus ever looked for. When we believe, God takes care of the rest. The only fight we are called to fight is the good fight of faith. "This is the victory which overcometh the world, even our faith."

Now that doesn't mean you'll never have to resist the devil, rebuke a demon or cast one out - especially when you're ministering to someone else. But when the Holy Spirit leads you to do so, remember you'll be doing so on the basis of victory, from the standpoint of faith, on the basis of Christ's victory and Name, on the basis that your sins and the curse have already been dealt with on the cross - not from the angle of a person who is still legally defeated by the devil.

Make Christlike character a point of faith, just as you would prosperity or healing. Faith is always in the now, therefore say you have Christ-like character now. When the devil challenges that truth, hold fast to your confession. When you are tempted say, I have Christ's character.

This is the victory that overcomes the world. We will never achieve through striving what is already an established fact. Since it is already an established fact, we only need to believe and confess that it is so. I already have the character of Christ.

The Gospel itself (the Word, the message of the finished work on Calvary) is the power of God unto salvation - to all who believe. And that salvation includes personal holiness. God's way is always by grace through faith. Faith is the only way to receive the grace we need to walk in personal holiness and victory.

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