Last week I began a review of the book, Free to Be HOLY The Liberating grace of Walking by Faith, by Jerry Wragg & Paul Shirley. You can read part one by clicking this link.
This week I want to take a closer look at what the authors say about the roll of FAITH in a Christian’s spiritual growth.
Chapter three begins, “Faith is the foundational responsibility of God’s people…. ‘Faith is the pivot on which everything revolves’ and is the primary means by which we participate in our spiritual growth.” (p. 53)
The book emphasizes that through faith we conquer sin by the power of the Holy Spirit working in us (Eph 2:10; Phil 1:6; 2:13). The Holy Spirit works to, “illumine our minds, convict us of sin, increase our discernment, grant us power, produce gratitude, bring comfort, nurture faith, and lead us to maturity.” (p. 54)
But, we must saturate ourselves with “faith-empowered effort” in the process. To do this the writers say, “We must pour biblical truth into our minds, entrust ourselves to that truth, be alert, flee from sin, persevere, be prayerful and grateful in everything, and make God’s glory our highest aim. Through the Spirit, we have been given the mind of Christ (1Cor 2:16). When we entrust ourselves to the truth… and take every thought captive to Christ (2 Cor 10:5), then sinful perspectives give way to righteous ones.” (p. 54)
The Holy Spirit leads us to: “discern truth from lies (Heb 4:12; 5:14); we experience power over the flesh (Rom 8:4-13; Gal 5:16); we grow strong in faith (Rom 4:18-21; 2 Pet 3:18); we know a deeper love and intimacy with the Lord (Eph 3:16-19); our pride is subdued (1 Pet 5:6-10); and we are drawn upward in richer worship (Rom 12:1-3). (p.54)
Faith protects us from sin. “It functions as a ‘shield’ to protect us from ‘the flaming arrows of the evil one’ (Eph 6:16). (p. 57)
On pages 62-63 the authors discuss the issue of “Fake Faith.” They state, “genuine faith leads to genuine change, and where there is no change, there is no faith…. true faith is not fruitless.” They go on to say, “Because faith is our first responsibility in the Christian life, it is the first place we must examine when fruit is lacking…If you are not seeing spiritual growth and fruit in your life, the root problem can be traced back to some form of unbelief in your heart.”
The book breaks down what the life of walking by faith looks like. It includes:
- A life of Entrustment
- A life of Self-Denial
- A life of Submission (pp. 66-72)
“To entrust yourself to someone involves placing yourself at the complete disposal of his promises and character…Our Savior ‘entrusted’ Himself to God on the basis of His Father’s righteous justice in all things. The result was a willingness to ‘hand Himself over’ to the sovereign purposes of God. That’s the essence of genuine faith…. Genuine faith in God produces, not a fragile wish or inward focus on experience, but an unshakeable hope, anvil-hard convictions, and Spirit-empowered strength over the world, the flesh, and Satan’s schemes (Heb 11:3-40). (pp. 66-67)
Moses demonstrated a life of self-denial when he “…refused to be called the son of Pharoah’s daughter, choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin…” see Hebrews 11:24-26 (p. 67).
Jesus is once more our example when it comes to a life of submission. “Jesus in the Garden on the night of His betrayal, under the terrifying prospect of having His righteous life counted as sinful and condemned, in His humanity Jesus strained for hours to yield His will to that dark moment.” (p.69) “He was troubled in His soul as the divine will collided with the temptation to run for His life!…His humble submission in the garden was an act of obedient faith and a yielded will. The two always go together.” (p.70)
“God is working in us, but He promises to accomplish that work by means of commands we are called to obey willingly.” (p.71)
In the Old Testament there are thought to be 613 commands given to Moses for the Israelites to follow. Several studies have been done to determine the commands in the New Testament and the amount is usually listed as almost double the Old Testament commands. So when we think of being called to obey these commands willingly, how much study needs to take place to determine what we are called to obey. Even when we break it down to “love God and love others” there are still a certain amount of commands to follow to show love, because as scripture points out… love is an action (see 1 John 3:18).
In the end “Faith, not sight, summarizes the entire Christian life (2 Cor 5:7)…His truth is true, even when it doesn’t feel right. His will is ultimate, even when our experiences seem determinative. His hand is might, even when our circumstances seem omnipotent. His character is holy, even when our emotions betray us. His promises are final, even when despair seems permanent.… When we walk by this kind of faith, the sanctifying grace of God’s truth is unleashed in our hearts to conform us to the image of Christ.” (p. 72)
And that is our goal.
As we seek more and more to conquer the sin in our lives once and for all, the writers point out that conquering sin will not happen apart from the Spirit’s power working in us to:
- see sin rightly
- grasp biblical truth as our counter-offensive
- develop discernment and avoid deception
- cultivate endurance
- bring about victory and maturity
And it will not happen except we choose to:
- flee sin
- pour biblical truth into our minds
- think soberly about life, morality, and eternity
- press on in faith
- be prayerful and express gratitude in everything; and
- desire God’s glory through spiritual victory and maturity. (p. 81)
The authors encourage the reader to “yield your personality traits and emotional tendencies to the Spirit’s control” and to “stop using your education, experience, and accomplishments for self-interest.” (p. 84) Instead we should use all our skills to glorify Christ. “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor 10:31 cf. Col 3:17). (p. 84)
As we walk in obedience to the scriptures, we will be conformed more to the “holy character of Jesus day by day.” (p. 84)
I will finish up with part 3 next week.
I would like to end with a question that you can decide if you want to answer in a comment, or just think about it.
For yourself, what scripture is your favorite for giving you strength to walk out a life that looks more like Christ?