Part I: Faith
A lot of people don’t understand the importance of positive and right attitudes in the Christian life. We cannot forget that being obedient in attitude is just as important, as whether you are consistent in obedient in behaviour. You cannot have good heart attitudes while living a sinful lifestyle, but you can have obedient external behaviour with bad attitudes.
The attitude that we are going to look at today is faith.
Oftentimes we hear about people being either optimistic or pessimistic. Or a third type of people call themselves realists. Pessimism makes a pretty convincing case: “As a pessimist you are always either right, or else pleasantly surprised.” Think about it, I mean, that sounds pretty good to me, of course until it is practiced in real life… Yeah, of course I’m joking. Letting a pessimistic attitude creep in against us can be very easy, especially in consistent hard times. A pessimistic attitude will harm us a lot more than in just putting us in a bad mood. It will cause bad circumstances to happen in our life. Man was made in God image, and since God speaks things into being, he made us to also carry this image in the human person. So when we grumble negative thoughts and especially negative words in bad attitudes, we are creating circumstances to be negative around us.
The truth is though, that when we become Christians, we realize that in the long-term optimism and realism are one and the same thing for us, because all things work for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose. And everyone who accepts Christ is automatically called according to His purpose.
Scientist’s have known of something called the “placebo-effect.” Tests are done with an experimental healing pill, and with a fake pill, the “placebo” that looks exactly the same, but has no medicine inside. The placebo patients are not told that they are getting only a placebo, so when they believe they are being healed, many of them often heal supernaturally. Usually researchers try to make up some kind of biochemical explanation for patents that believe they are healing actually heal, but the placebo effect is entirely a spiritual thing. This is not only in health though, but it will work in any circumstance. Jesus said that if we truly had faith we could command a mountain to be cast into the sea and it would obey. We often seriously de-literalize passages like this because of our lack of faith. Our faith controls the reality around us, and when we accept God’s promise, what He has spoken to us we are bringing His reality into our lives and circumstances. When we doubt God, we bring the devil’s reality for us into our life and circumstances. By faith or doubt we choose whose reality will operate for us.
Paul and Silas were thrown in a Roman prison, bound firmly in chains and stocks. It looked as if there was no way to escape. The devil would have liked them to accept his reality over them by letting circumstances dictate their attitude. He tried to make them accept an attitude of doubt because of their circumstances. But rather than let their circumstances dictate their attitude, they rose up in faith. They praised God because they knew that He is good always and His goodness never changes. They made a joyful noise to God because they were not afraid whatsoever. As a result God sent an earthquake to destroy the prison and set them free. Now since God never changes, this Paul and Silas principle of praising God through bad circumstance will work for us just as much as it worked for them. James gives faith as essential to receiving from God:
James 1:6-8, “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”
You see, the double-minded are those that can praise God when circumstances are good, but when any hardship comes up in their life, they believe that God is bailing out on them and grumble rather than praise. The double minded man lets his attitude be dictated by circumstances. This is why he is constantly wavering like a wave in the sea. He believes in God’s provision when he sees it, but not otherwise. As a result he will receive NOTHING from the Lord. If he was in Paul and Silas position, he would throw a self-pity party and feel victimized by God, rather than trusting in God. God’s reality of deliverance would be fully open to Him, but rather he chooses to accept the devil’s reality of defeat and he gives the devil legal rights to align the circumstances accordingly. As a result there would be no breakthrough.
The main point when it comes to faith is this…
Rather than let our attitude be dictated by circumstances, we must dictate circumstances by our attitude.
Besides all our personal struggles we have a real test of our faith for this organization itself. I’m sure we have all wondered at least somewhat whether this college really will make it. But rather than roll over and accept what the devil says, that because there is only 17 students and not much funds we will shut down in a couple years. Rather than be like the double-minded man and let these circumstances dictate our attitude, we can rise up! and let our attitude dictate these circumstances! We can speak in faith our God will provide for all our needs according to His riches and glory in Christ Jesus.
I know a lot of us are going through personal trials and hardship as we are conformed to Christlikeness. There is a special bonus when you praise and thank God through hardship. So keep up the attitude of faith, and realize that all these hardships are just part of God’s plan, and He will not give us more than we can handle.
Part II: Spiritual warfare and attacks on our faith:
Just like Job had false counsellors who gave some truth and some falsehood surround him in his time of trial. There will be demons assigned to you to give false advice. And feed you half truths, stretched truths, and even some outright lies to discourage you and take away your faith. They operate by putting a thought in your mind, and making it sound as if it is your own thought, thus you let down your guard. They will attack you with thoughts of doubt, and if doubt is a stronghold in your life then the demons will be able to subtly impose physical emotions of doubt, at the same time the thought hits. You might not have known that demons can impose emotions as well as thoughts, but they most definitely can.
Whatever you do, don’t believe that you are immune from this. Peter was a very intensely committed follower of Christ, who really loved Jesus. He had a problem of pride and selfish ambition though, and this caught him on several occasions.
Mathew 16:15, He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
16 Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
17 Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
So now you read between the lines and see Peter then unknowingly let the spirit of pride send prideful thoughts and feelings on him, telling him how much better he is than all the other disciples because of what Christ promised and spoke over him. This pride he chooses to allow then opens the gate for more intense deception, deceive him into doubting Jesus statements about his future crucifixion and rebuking Him a few verses later. He was so prideful at this point that he thought he knew better than the Son of God, and rebukes Jesus himself. Jesus rebukes him in return but says “get behind me satan, for you are not mindful of the things of God, only the things of men.”
Peter was given the great secret of knowing the Christ was the Son of God. This revelation came straight from God, Jesus hadn’t told anyone, and Peter hadn’t just guessed it. It is such as secret that the next verse Christ forbid the disciples from telling anyone about it. So if even one of Christ’s extremely zealous inner circle disciples who received privileged secrets and revelation straight from God and followed Christ everywhere had a demonic being attached to him, that how much easier is it for us to be deceived by those things if we are not watchful.
Paul talks about the spiritual warfare over our thought life in 2 Corinthians 10:4-5,
So Paul had experience in the spiritual war over his thoughts and was warning the Corinthians to watch over their thoughts very carefully lest they also be deceived.
So, how do we tell whether a thought of doubt is our own spontaneous thought flow trying to be rational about a situation, or is sent from a demon? Its not often easy or obvious to tell the difference, so I will give a few examples of things to watch for:
Four major lies the devil uses against us to get us into negative mindsets of doubt. There are more than four obviously, but these three are some of the biggest lies I have found:
1. “What if…”
You can go along trusting God on something for his provision, but then the “what if” hits your mind. What if God doesn’t provide? What if God doesn’t help you through your circumstances? Then what are you going to do? What if you heard wrong from God? What if that promise doesn’t apply to you? There are countless of these “what if” questions, and it is probably the number one way the devil puts doubt in us.
The solution to this is to praise and thank God that He is your provider and be confident that He will provide, rather than try to find a rational reason why you can trust Him. A lot of us will miss out on provision if we keep meditating on what backup plans we are going to take if God doesn’t provide, rather than trust God without any rational explanation other than that He cares for us, and has promised to meet all our needs.
2. “well God didn’t heal so-and-so so why would he heal you?” I’m just using healing as an example, you can fill in the blank with any type of God’s provision really. So what do we do to overcome this lie? First of all, we have to realize that it comes from demonic spirits of doubt assigned to us, and it is not part of our own thought processes. If you can actually believe this, then you have basically won this battle. Demons are tricky, and sometimes they will play a thought though your head in first-person, such as “I don’t think God will provide for me if he didn’t heal so-and-so.” Therefore making it very strongly seem as if you yourself have thought the thought. I know this because I have been going through oppression, and they were doing things like this to deceive me. The more you grow in holiness and intimacy with God, the less ability demons have to deceive you. This is why the devil had to tempt Jesus in person, because demons could have no access to impose temptation against Jesus from putting thoughts in His mind, since He had a sinless and intimate relationship with God. We often worry way more about sinful habits, than about sinful attitudes which are even worse to have. So remember that even if you have overcome most sinful habits you’ve had, you also have to overcome your sinful attitudes. The more our attitudes and habits are conformed to God’s will the less thoughts and temptations can be imposed on us. On to the question though. Why do some people seem to get answers to their prayer, but someone else prays the same prayer and does not receive anything? The answer is that it’s none of our business to compare our situation with theirs. There are a lot of reasons why someone may not be receiving from God. It could be lack of faith, lack of intimate relationship, lack of obedience, lack of persistence, or even it could be a Job situation, could be a Job situation where God is testing them to see whether or not they will trust him, or it could be something else. If God has not answered them that is none of our business, and we should not fall into double-mindedness and assume that God is failing them. What matters is that we are doing our part to receive an answer or breakthrough from God and we don’t let the negative situations of others cause us to doubt God’s provision in our own life.
3. After getting a vision of something great you sense is of God you may get this:
“That’s not God, you just made that up in your own thoughts. You are being prideful by believing that God would do such great things through you, you need to repent of this pride or God will judge you”
Accepting this lie will bind you into an irrational fear of pride, designed to keep you in doubt and low expectations for as long as possible. We often limit drastically the amount of work God can do through us by accepting this fear of pride. Many people with large callings are afraid that if we believe God to do great works with our life such as with Church History or Bible heroes that we are being prideful. So we refuse to accept any large-scale callings God is placing on us, because we think that we are making them up in our head out of pride. When attacking a one-talent person the devil will trick them into thinking their work is useless and they must seek a five-talent calling. But when attacking a five-talent person, the devil will trick them into thinking that by believing they will be used large-scale by God they are prideful, and that they should only expect less-influential callings.
One last but definitely not least point in developing an attitude of faith. This is the most important point of all regarding it….
fervently and persistently for God to give you faith. I had to pray for faith before I got the attitude of faith. Unless you are naturally gifted, you will probably have to pray for faith too. This is the most important thing you can do to develop faith. Fasting and prayer.