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Unbelief Limits God

The question I would like to explore is, are we doing things, or believing things that are keeping us from experiencing the fullness of God's presence?

I reckon we do believe things that keep us from experiencing the fullness of God's presence - it's called unbelief - which is wrong belief.

Consider this: when Jesus was talking about seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness - what did He say that we should not do? That's right - do not worry about what you shall eat and what you shall wear. In other words, a mindset of insecurity which is unable to trust God to meet the basic needs of life. I believe this could be one of the things that keeps us from knowing that we are right with God. If we are worrying about basic provision - it means we don't believe that God accepts us as we are. Think about that one for a moment.

When Jesus spoke about the type of heart that does not receive the Gospel - what did He say prevents the Word from bearing fruit - and it is fruit because we're talking about seeds here.  Matthew 13:22.  There we have it - security issues yet again.

The Greek verb translated "to believe" actually means "to trust". Perhaps our wrong thinking simply constitutes a lack of trusting in God?

What's the first commandment in the Law of Moses?  Exodus 20:3.

We read in Ephesians 5:5 that idolatry and covetousness are one and the same thing:

When this verse talks about inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God - it is talking about knowing the righteousness of God in Christ and the peace that comes from that (See Romans 14:17).

So, if we worry about getting our needs met and if we covet - does it mean that we don't believe we are right with God as we are? Or, if we don't believe that we are right with God - is that the result of worrying about what we shall eat and what we shall wear?

Why Christians Do Not Receive the Blessings of God

I remember listening to a sermon by Joseph Prince "Why Christians Do Not Receive the Blessings of God". He explained that it's because they are trying to earn their blessings and quoted Romans 4:13.

This really does sound like the story of my life: my subconscious mind is completely conditioned to deserve things. We are all like this in fact. This is why Christians run around church like crazy people; trying to be someone they're not, convincing themselves they're serving God, doing perfunctory routines and duties. Come on, admit it, you've been there!

It seems that when we are busy with church stuff, we are better able to believe that God will take care of us and meet our needs (a viewpoint encouraged by the pastor). But as soon as we stop serving, tithing - we are reduced to insecure, nervous wrecks! Well I know I was!

This whole concept of effort-and-reward is built into our lower nature and it has to be de-constructed through the message of grace.

Do you know what it is? It is pride. God resists the proud. We become proud when we seek after the power of God so we can fulfil all the criteria, tick all the boxes of how we should look, think and behave. Then, we feel as if we will then meet God's requirements.

Have you noticed how ardently believers seek advice on how to stop sinning? They become obsessed with it to the point whereby they fail to appreciate what Jesus has done for them already. Do they know that God imputes no sin to them? They want to stop sinning, not out of their love for God, but out of sheer terror at the thought of the consequences of continuing to sin. We want to deserve things so that we can rest in the fact that we had something to do with it. The Gospel completely takes away our involvement in such matters. God shows His love for us in that when we were still sinners - He sent Jesus to die for us.

We become ashamed of our guilty past and believe that seeking power from God so we can achieve things, will take away that shame. In our minds we have this mental picture of a set of scales that is totally weighed down by sins of omission and commission from the past. There is this subconscious impulse to redress this imbalance through things we do for God. That's when we start prattling on with the, "Use me God" and "Fill me with Your power Lord so I can be a vessel of your mighty power". If we knew God accepted us as we are - I'd bet all of that Christian claptrap would stop! I remember thinking to myself at one stage, "I just want to be normal". I got fed-up with this predictable idea of what a "good" Christian should look and sound like.

We want people to pat us on the back and complement us on how good we are. Why can't we just rest in the fact that we don't have to change anything, except our guilty conscience, when it comes to being blessed by God?

Taking on God’s Responsibilities

I was struck by something I heard Bertie Brits say, "Faith is not something that you do - faith is something that happens to you". *

Faith is to be persuaded of the truth of something. When the Bible talks about believing something, it means to trust. We do not believe God for things - we believe in the One whom He sent.

The ability to believe is actually an aspect of love (See 1 Cor. 13:7). God is love. The ability to trust God is something that God has given to us, is a gift - it is not something that we do.

Look at what happens when we try to believe God for something in our own strength? We try to trust in God for individual things, like a new car, by anxiously repeating Bible verses such as Phil. 4:19. Does it work? No, it does not.

Let's take this concept further: if believing, or trusting, is not something that we do - then everything else that 1 Cor. 13:4-7 or Gal 5 says love is - is not something that we do: it is something that we receive as a gift. We should not fool ourselves in believing that we can be kind, longsuffering, gentle, compassionate, trusting or patient in our own effort.

If we could “do” love in our own effort – we could keep the one-and-only commandment that Jesus gave to the world: that we love one another. But we can’t keep the commandment of love, the one commandment that fulfils the Ten Commandments – that’s why we need the Holy Spirit in our lives. It is the Holy Spirit who gives us the divine nature through the anointing.

As soon as we attempt to re-produce these qualities of love in our lives, out of a sense of guilt, fear or coercion - we grieve the Holy Spirit and interrupt His work in our lives. Only religion tries to coax people to be more kind, patient and longsuffering than they actually are. As a result - religious people often become weird, confused, frustrated and pretentious individuals.

We should not take responsibility for something that God takes responsibility for. Take worry for instance: worry occurs when people take responsibility for working out the fine details of their lives - instead of casting their care on the Lord and not leaning unto their own understanding.

How can we facilitate this flow of the divine nature in our lives?

It helps to "step outside" of our ego and see ourselves as the product of God's will. We need to step out of the way and realise who we truly are in Christ. Otherwise, we become limited by who we perceive to be according to what we perceive with our physical senses. When we get our own limited ego out of the way of God, we allow the nature of God to flow in our lives. We do not know what the next step will be – we just know that we are led by Him and that His will is good.

We can facilitate this flow of divine nature in our lives by simply looking at the cross. We keep looking to what Jesus did on our behalf. That's how holiness flows. That's how compassion for people flows. That's how healing flows. That's how it all flows! Praise God! There is no need to take our eyes off of Jesus' performance and put them on our own - as soon as we do, sin is strengthened in our lives.

* Bertie Brits, Faith without Efforts:

Rules Produce an Apparent Holiness

Did you realise that law preaching can actually give the appearance of curbing ungodly behaviour?

Basically, our actions are governed by our desires; our desires are determined by our beliefs and attitudes. So if a father tells his son to do his homework or he won't get a present for his birthday - he will do his homework. But he is not doing his homework out of love - it is out of fear, lust and a want for approval.

Wrong Motives

We all have subconscious programs in our minds that govern our lives, although many people still believe the illusion that they have perfect conscious control over everything that they do. This assumption is carried into the church.

So when the preacher gives the congregation a list of rules, they can become subconsciously compelled to act upon them - but it is not the Holy Spirit, it is not the divine nature and it is not love. Such desire to do what is right comes from fear and a want for approval (God and the congregation). There is the fear that the other church members won't accept someone in their ranks who does what the pastor says is wrong. Then there is all the fear of rejection by man and God.

God Loves a Cheerful Giver

2 Corinthians 9:7 says that God loves a cheerful giver. It is not just our money that we give to the church, in relation to offerings: we also give our time, skills and energy to the church as well, when we serve in the church. I believe that 2 Corinthians 9:7 applies to anything that we do in the name of serving God. To be cheerful means that we do not serve God out of grudging obligation (2 Corinthians 9:5).

Hearing the Message of Grace

It is much better to listen to the message of grace and allow that teaching to melt away all fear of condemnation - knowing that God loves and accepts you - just as you are. It can be no other way. If salvation depends on what you do - none of us would make it. But thankfully, Jesus has already paid the price. Therefore, as little children make mistakes sometimes, so do us as children of God.

In this wonderful atmosphere of no condemnation - those people-pleasing programs are disabled and our fear is taken away so that we can experience the divine nature and walk in His grace, peace and strength.

Don't be tempted by the appearance of holiness that the law brings.

Love The Sinner – Hate The Sin

There is a saying in the church, “Love the sinner – hate the sin”. But like many sayings in the church, the reasoning behind it is flawed and unscriptural. Such sayings belong to a bygone age of the church and should have long since been forgotten.

An Eye for an Eye…

A lot of the errors that we are seeing in the church are caused by confusion over the truth which causes some Christians to cling to Old Testament ideals. Jesus came to refute such erroneous thinking. In the Old Testament we see the phrase, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” This phrase comes from Exodus 21:24; Leviticus 24:20; and Deuteronomy 19:21. Jesus debunked this saying as He sought to implement a new and better covenant – a covenant based on unconditional love.

38 "You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' 39 But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. 41 And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.

Matthew 5:38-42

What is Sin?

We have to ask ourselves what sin is. Sin is the reaction of the soul to an absence of God; it is the nature, character and personality of a person who is in need of the love of God, which is the nature of God. Compassion allows us to see people who we would once have labelled as “wicked” or “evil” as being people who are in need of love and making a cry for help.

Judgementalism and Pride

The phrase “Love the Sinner – Hate the Sin” is incorrect because it encourages Christians to take the moral high ground and to judge, criticize, reject and condemn the nature, character and personality of others.

1 "Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. 3 And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me remove the speck from your eye'; and look, a plank is in your own eye? 5 Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.

Matthew 7:1-5

Jesus told people not to judge others in Matthew 7:1-5. He also went on to explain how people tend to judge other people as a means of projecting their own issues onto them. Other people become a smokescreen for the very issues which they are seeking to divert attention away from. This is something that the Pharisees did when they brought the woman to Jesus, in John 8. The Pharisees were willing to stone this woman to death because of her adultery. These men wanted to test Jesus, as well as diverting attention away from their own sin.

In effect, loving the sinner and hating the sin is like accepting the person but not accepting their personality. But the personality and character of a person is who they are. So to hate their sin is to hate who they are.

I know that the Bible says that God no longer sees our sin and that Jesus has already bore our old nature upon Himself upon the cross. Nevertheless, if we choose to judge a person according to the expression of his carnal nature, we may end-up not walking in love towards that person as we ought to. If we judge another believer in this way, we react according to what our five senses tell us, rather than what the Bible says we should believe according to faith.

Love With All Discernment

We must, of course, love with all discernment. I believe there are too many naive Christians who believe that they should just trust everybody with everything. But the Bible actually says that we should be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. (Matthew 10:16).

Condoning Wrongdoing

As Christians, we are not to condone a person’s wrong beliefs, attitudes, motives, ideologies and behaviour. But at the same time we are to be cautious about criticizing and judging them according to who they, what they believe and how they behave. It is difficult for people to change long-held beliefs, traditions and bad habits. We should only seek to confront and challenge a person about their sin, if you know it will do them and/or other people some good.

We do not have to condone or agree with what a person does and how they behave. But if you hate their personality and behaviour, it will only lead to acrimony and discord between you. Galatians 5:26 says, “Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.”

The “Everyday Supernatural”

I believe that there is a time and place for the spectacular. But more than anything, I believe that God wants to move in people’s lives in what I call the everyday supernatural. The everyday supernatural is those things that happen in our lives that are a miracle in themselves, but we often just pass them off with a logical, perhaps scientific, explanation.

Childbirth, for instance, falls within this bracket of the everyday supernatural. The everyday supernatural includes those things that we know are a miracle from God, an answer to prayer. Although some people might not see it the same way we do, it will be enough to make some people think and perhaps wonder if indeed there was a supernatural agency involved in that situation.

We think that with faith we have to go around changing everything that does not seem to be the way we want, suppose and expect them to be. But in doing so we often miss out on what God is doing. God can set the scene by allowing us to go through challenging times, but we then ruin it all by getting anxious and frustrated and seeking to escape the situation by making all of our selfish demands by “faith”. It is a classic case of man’s desires clashing with God’s desires.

16 This then is what I mean. Let your lives be guided by the Spirit, and then you will certainly not indulge the cravings of your lower natures. 17 For the cravings of the lower nature are opposed to those of the Spirit, and the cravings of the Spirit are opposed to those of the lower nature; because these are antagonistic to each other, so that you cannot do everything to which you are inclined.

Galatians 5:16-17 WNT

We must remind ourselves that God’s ways are not always in synch with our ways:

8 "This plan of mine is not what you would work out, neither are my thoughts the same as yours!

9 For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than yours, and my thoughts than yours.

Isaiah 55:8-9 TLB

8 "I don't think the way you think. The way you work isn't the way I work." God's Decree. 9 "For as the sky soars high above earth, so the way I work surpasses the way you work, and the way I think is beyond the way you think.

Isaiah 55:8-9 MSG

God wants to move in our lives in such a way that we put a poignant message across to other people about whom God is and who we are in Christ. You could say that a lot of the time, God wants to make us an enigma. God wants us to be so strategically placed and so yielded to Him, that we can provoke other people to think in such a way that challenges the beliefs that the world has instilled in them.

But we often get in His way because we don’t know what God’s plans are and we assume that we know what God wants us to do. We have to look beyond the most logical things sometimes and suppose that God might actually want to do things differently.

We are not meant to work out everything little detail of what God wants us to do. We are meant to work towards being more Christ-like, being more responsive to the direction of the Holy Spirit. This is what it means to work out our own salvation. Part of that process includes a moving away from supposing that we know how, and when, God wants to move in our lives and just being willing to trust Him, no matter what happens. In trusting God we must be willing to forfeit our own plans, our own understanding of the situation and our own need to control what happens.

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The Bible Invites False Interpretation

The Bible invites people to misinterpret what it is saying, based on the attitude that we adopt when we read it. The Old Testament invited people to try to be right with God by keeping a set of rules. We read later on in the Epistles that the Old Testament could never be fulfilled by works and that it was introduced to show man his need for a Saviour and the grace that only the Saviour could bring.

Similarly, a verse of scripture such as John 16:23-24 invites believers to ask anything in Jesus’ name and He will do it!

23 "And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. 24 "Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

John 16:23-24

If a believer is coming from an anxious disposition – he will use this verse to demand those things he wants with a belief that they will make him happy. He will then look at the miracles of God in the Bible, and the testimonies of other Christians, and use them as a basis for his fantasies; he will then seek God through prayer so that He will meet his supposed needs in some spectacular, supernatural way.

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Faith for Salvation in the Life of Lydia

There seems to be some debate amongst theologians as to whether the word “that” in Ephesians 2:8 is the gift of God pertaining to faith to salvation (which is obviously a gift from God) or the faith required for salvation. The Living Bible seems to support the notion that faith for salvation is a gift from God. The Holy Spirit was involved in opening the heart of Lydia, the seller of purple, in Acts 16.

13 And on the Sabbath day we went out of the city to the riverside, where prayer was customarily made; and we sat down and spoke to the women who met there. 14 Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul.

Acts 16:13-14

We also read in John 6:44 that no-one can come to faith in Jesus unless the Father draws him.

The Bible also tells us in Corinthians 2:14 that we cannot receive spiritual gifts or understand spiritual truths unless the Holy Spirit reveals them to us.

14 But the man who isn't a Christian can't understand and can't accept these thoughts from God, which the Holy Spirit teaches us. They sound foolish to him because only those who have the Holy Spirit within them can understand what the Holy Spirit means. Others just can't take it in.

1 Corinthians 2:14 TLB

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Faith and Prayer as an Expression of Insecurity

I have come to understand that the way we approach faith and prayer is quite often from a standpoint of insecurity. When a person is insecure they often seek to control the way things happen.

Insecurity leads a person to establish specific expectations. When things do not happen exactly the way that you expected, then you become frustrated and disappointed. It is during such times of disappointment that you can read a whole lot of meaning into the situation that has no solid basis whatsoever.

Say for instance, a person might have a job interview lined-up. The person is anxious by nature, and as expected, the person is rather nervous about the forthcoming interview. In this anxious state, the person sees this job interview as the only means of fulfilling his needs. He feels that if he does not pass the interview, he will feel like a failure and he will be distraught as he believes that he will not get his needs met as a consequence.

The day of the interview comes and as expected, he is decidedly nervous. The interview ends and it just so happens that he did not pass the interview. Understandably, the person is disappointed, but he takes the occasion to mean that he is a failure and he is overcome by a sense of dread that he will never get a job, and therefore, will struggle to get his needs met.

If an insecure person such as this gets hold of faith teaching, he will be delighted that there is a means available by which he can control the power of God at will. The security of an insecure person comes through the belief that he has control over what does or does not happen in his life. He will read of testimonies of people who applied God’s Word to a particular situation in order to bring about a specific outcome and meet a specific need. This approach is perfectly scriptural.

But the mistake that people often make is in trying to use faith in order to make specific demands on God in order to control circumstances – when it is done out of a sense of insecurity. Faith works by love and there is no fear in love. If a person fears, they will not have love, and therefore, they will not have faith.

Expectations Beyond the Word

As soon as we take our expectations beyond the primary steps that Jesus illustrated in Matthew 6, we go too far and end-up missing the blessing. A reason for this is that we still have little comprehension of how awesome it is to be right with God. I think a lot of us are still in the throes of despair, so we find it difficult to let go of the myriad of expectations that we cling on to for hope.

These expectations do not come from the hope aspect of love; therefore, they are not from God. Specific expectations such as this include the hope for a particular job role, place to live, person to marry and so on. These expectations are nothing more than fantasy and are the futile attempts of the impoverished carnal nature to induce an expectation of fulfilment. When these fantasies are allowed to rank above the presence of God in terms of importance and ability to satisfy - we become covetous, and therefore, idolatrous.

There are, of course, times when God gives us an assurance of specific things that He has planned for us. The Holy Spirit can even reveal things that are to happen ahead of time (See John 16:13). But this kind of vision usually only comes to us when we are in that state of surrender to God. It is important that we get our own selfish beliefs, attitudes and ideas out of the way so that God can lead us according to the promise of His Word. (See Romans 8:14). Probobly the biggest hinderance to being led by the Holy Spirit is living according to rules. (See Galatians 5:18).

Unfortunately, when an anxious Christian gets hold of faith teaching, he is likely to attempt to turn these futile, carnal hopes into faith by giving them a present-tense timeframe for their attainment. When these expectations are not fulfilled by God, the so-called man of faith will then lapse once more into despair, and perhaps guilt, as he blames himself for not being blessed the way he expected to.

The breakthrough comes when we gain an understanding of what righteousness is and the love that it brings. When we gain this understanding, it sets us free so that we no longer worry about what will, or will not, happen in our lives, whether or not we will get our needs met and the need to live according to a set of rules.

Hope can be a specific thing; for instance, a single person can hope that he will get married one day. This is something that the Bible promises. Just because he puts the fulfilment of that expectation in the future, it can still come to pass and it does not mean that he lacks faith.

But a believer can get into error when he insists that God provide him with a wife immediately. Some Christians will even go a step further than this and claim a particular woman for their wife, just because they like the look of them from a distance.Kenneth E. Hagin taught in his books that we should never go beyond the Word when it comes to trusting God for a particular promise.

Distractions to Seeking the Kingdom of God

What opposes a Christian seeking purely the kingdom of God and His righteousness is that he is convinced that created things will bring him the peace, joy and sense of security that he seeks.

This misunderstanding comes out of a failure to understand and appreciate the greatness of God’s grace. Only when a believer comes to know the reason why his soul has lusted after things in the past, will he come to realise his true need for those things that Jesus said we ought to seek after first.

Too many of us are seeking after the kingdom of God as just another item on our prayer list. If we came to understand even a fraction of just how wonderful God’s peace is, we would be able to abandon all of our other wants that we believe our conditional in our attaining wholeness.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon said:

“God has only to give you what you want to make you feel the emptiness of it!...You will generally notice that when the Believer gets near to God, tastes the unseen joys and eats the bread that was made in Heaven, all the feasts of earth, all its amusements and all its glories seem very flat, stale and unprofitable!”
—1891, Sermon #2225

There are some Christians who are trying to believe God for miracles of healing and financial provision, yet they are still burdened with fear and guilt. How can a Christian believe that God will heal him when he does not even believe that he is right with God?

Without this sense of right-standing with God, he will feel that there is something wrong with him and that he has to keep a set of rules in order for God to accept him. If a believer does not know he is right with God, sin will continue to play an active role in his life.

We cannot seek after miracles by faith when we are living in sin and not walking in love. It is therefore important to recognise this spiritual condition and to remedy it by learning about the promises of God, especially with regards to faith, love and righteousness. We must take the fundamental first steps of faith without getting too far ahead of God.

Righteousness Based on Hope

We know that hope is an expectation of good and that it is the opposite of despair. We also know that hope is not an aspect of the unredeemed nature but is an aspect of the Divine Nature. If a person does not walk in love, he will have no hope in him.

In order to have faith for provision, it is vital to access the hope that God’s love affords us. What happens a lot of the time is that believers are simply assenting to righteousness, then trying to believe in God for all kinds of provision. But without hope, despair will mar any attempt to sustain faith for provision for anything beyond a very short period of time.

So when it comes to expectation in the life of a frustrated and despairing believer, I am convinced that we can achieve a lot more by narrowing our expectations to right-standing with God, freedom from guilt, peace and joy. When we have these fundamental, primary promises of God operating in our lives, we are then in a position to trust in God for anything.

The more a person is prone to doubt and despair, the more grace from God is required. Therefore, if an anxious person is able to experience peace and joy, through acknowledging Christ, in situations that would normally throw them into a state of panic – then they know that something supernatural has taken place. They know that the promises of God as written in the Bible are indeed true. If the primary promises of Jesus are put into effect, then we can rejoice that every other promise of God’s Word will be put into effect in the perfect moment.

The beginning of a life of faith in Christ begins with a person being able to see their need of God’s righteousness as a free gift by faith in Christ. This first step also continues with the attainment of faith for right-standing with God, freedom from guilt, peace and joy. I would say that everything just flows from there. This is the solid basis for hope, which is the expectation of good. Without that hope, a person will always have a sense of despair and apprehension about them. This apprehension will always counteract faith because it opposes trust and belief in God’s promises.

Seek Righteousness First – Part 3

The word “righteousness” in the New Testament is the Greek word dikaiosunē (G1343). According to Thayer’s Greek Definitions, this Greek word means:

1) in a broad sense: state of him who is as he ought to be, righteousness, the condition acceptable to God
1a) the doctrine concerning the way in which man may attain a state approved of God
1b) integrity, virtue, purity of life, rightness, correctness of thinking feeling, and acting
2) in a narrower sense, justice or the virtue which gives each his due

As you can see, the righteousness that God has imputed to us, which Jesus Christ died so that we might have, is the power to live right. It is the power to live right that makes us acceptable to God.

I would say that it all comes down to expectation. Expectation is the key to disappointment. Expectation can put the will of man ahead of the will of God. Expectation can lead to a sense of guilt and unbelief as a believer puts all sorts of religious expectations on himself.

The Bible says that we who believe in Christ have been made the righteousness of God in Him. However, what happens if the next day we go and do something that we should not, or we are plagued by negative thoughts, or people are rude to us, or we don’t see the evidence of the victory that we were expecting?

We become defeated when we take such things to mean that we have not been given righteousness as a free gift; or we can suppose that we have been given right-standing with God as a free gift, but it is up to us to obey the rules. We can bring these expectations into context with the admonishment of Jesus in Matthew 6:31-33.

31 "Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32 "For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
Matthew 6:31-33

It is so easy to fall into the trap of agreeing that you have been made right with God, but then the despair that still clings to you drives you to panic and complain because you still don’t have the provision that you believe you need.

In the case of Matthew 6:31, Jesus uses the examples of food, water and clothing. If you already have food, water and clothing, then you will not worry about them. It is when you don’t have these things that you worry about them. But Jesus tells us to not worry about these things. In order to stop worrying about such fundamental needs, we really do need the peace and joy that only God can bring. But quite often we do not see peace and joy alone as being sufficient for our needs, and as a result, we seek after provision before the kingdom of God.

Seek Righteousness First – Part 2

A lot of Christians make all sorts of efforts in order to live a blessed way of life. The approach often leads to all kinds of works and faith formulas. Yet I believe that Jesus Himself has given us the best formula for getting all our needs met and living a blessed way of life in Matthew 6:33.

Christians tend to assume that the kingdom of God and His righteousness is seeking to avoid sin with an effort of the will and to do good works, all with the aim of going to Heaven when your time on earth has come to an end. But Romans 14:17 tells us what the kingdom of God really is.

In Matthew 6:33, Jesus promise that all these things, being all the things we need in life, will be added to us – if we will seek to maintain a sense of God’s righteousness in us through faith in Christ; we are also to seek God according to His Word, so as to maintain a flow of supernatural peace and joy in our lives - supernatural because it is in the Holy Spirit.

The Concise Oxford English Dictionary provides two meanings to the word supernatural.
1. (of a manifestation or event) attributed to some force beyond scientific understanding or the laws of nature.
2. exceptionally or extraordinarily great.

Both these meanings are true of the supernatural peace and joy to be found in the Holy Spirit. We are seeking peace and joy beyond natural means; beyond logical or even scientific explanation. When the world says we ought to be in a state of despair, anxious, sad or fearful – we are to maintain peace and joy by means other than what would seem natural to those in the world.

There has been an incredible amount of Christian teaching during recent times regarding the importance of maintaining a healthy thought life. Quite rightly too because the thoughts you think today contribute a great deal towards determining what kind of future you will have.

Most teaching puts the emphasis on the believer thinking the right thoughts. This is correct but we also need to acknowledge that no matter what thoughts we think, if we do not have the peace that only God can bring, then we are not going to win the battles in our thought life.

No amount of positive thinking or confessing scripture is going to bring you a victory if there are areas of stubbornness and selfish ambition in your attitude. Attitudes and motives are everything. If your attitudes and motives are wrong, then your desires, your thinking and your expectations will also be wrong. These wrong thoughts patterns are what lead to wrong behaviour.

There is an element of truth in that God will often hold off from blessing people when they sin. But it is not so much the wrong behaviour that wards God off, it is the thinking that goes behind it – it is the unbelief. Essentially, wrong behaviour is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to sin. If we are to really get serious about tackling sin, we have to look beneath the surface and check-out our thought life.

It is love that brings us the peace that enables us to stop the continuous flow of superfluous thoughts that are not from God, but are from the soul, and therefore, form no useful purpose in our lives. When those thoughts are strong enough they spill out of our mouth in the form of murmurings and complaints.

We need the love of God so that we can bridle the tongue. But in order to get the love of God flowing within us, we have to welcome that love by coming into agreement with God.

Seek Righteousness First – Part 1

Jesus Himself said that we should seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness first. (See Matthew 6:31-33).

Romans 14:17 says that the kingdom of God is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Unfortunately, too many people are trying to seek righteousness as a first step, by seeking perfection by keeping all sorts of strict religious rules.
Paul wrote to the churches, contrasting the difference between righteousness by faith and righteousness by works.

The righteousness that is imputed to us is not just right-standing, positional righteousness – it is the power to live right. The power to live right and obey God is love. Faith for righteousness is therefore the precursor to experiencing God's love and for living right.

Hebrews 11:1 tells us that faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

To be righteous by faith means that we believe we are accepted by God, just as we are – even though we cannot see the evidence of that righteousness, according to our judgements concerning our conduct.

If Word of Faith teaching tells beleivers that they can believe they are healed, despite their physical symptoms – then they can use that same kind of faith to believe that they have right-standing with God – just as they are. If the Bible says we are right with God because of what Jesus has already done for us – we should believe it without hesitation!

Bearing As a Means of Self Acceptance

I think bearing and concealing also has something to do with the way you see yourself: when you choose to accept yourself the way you are, you make a decision to accept love so that you hardly notice your own imperfections, let alone be provoked by them.

When the Bible says that love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8, Proverbs 10:12), it can be taken in the context of the way God sees us, the way we see ourselves and the way we see other people.

Some Christians believe that in order to please God, you have to make yourself fully, consciously aware of all your weaknesses, but that is not what God’s love does. Bearing or concealing together with longsuffering enables a person to forebear themselves or another person – just as they are without any exception and without any prerequisites. Forbearance is all about acceptance.

Love enables a person to accept themselves and other people, just as they are, without first having to insist on some sort of change being made. Christians mistakenly believe that they have to constantly examine themselves for hidden sins or that they have to remind themselves of past mistakes. But the Bible says that we should forget the former things and look towards the future.

13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:13-14

Longuffering in Relation to Bearing (Part 2)

Love does not announce another person’s personal problems to other people, when doing so will be of no benefit to the other person or to anyone else. Bearing or concealing has nothing to do with keeping silent about criminal activity - love will expose a person’s wrongdoing if the other person’s actions have a detrimental effect on other people. If it is a private matter, then love will be more inclined to keeping silent about it.

The Biblical concept of longsuffering, on the other hand, has more to do with the subduing of a sinful, passionate reaction to other people’s sins and wrong behaviour; this passionate reaction is along the lines of anger and resentment.
Although the Greek word for bearing or concealing used in 1 Corinthians 13:7, also appears in 1 Thessalonians 3:1 in the context of forbearance or endurance - these two attributes of love, longsuffering and bearing, are not the same. Longsuffering and bearing both have a vital part to play in the establishment of Christ-like character.

When a person has a nature of love, they will hardly notice the faults of other people, unless it is important for that person to know about it. If you were consciously aware of what some people were up to, it might change the way that you behave towards them.

We can sometimes feel offended and frustrated that we did not know what a person was doing when we had relations with them. But it is often the will of God that we are not made aware of such things because it would be of no benefit to either party. You could argue that you could have warned the other person of their sin and its potential consequences; but bear in mind that if that was the case, then God would be the first to let you know about it.

We have to face facts that we are not meant to know everything. Some things are just none of our business. As the saying goes, “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.” It is dangerous because you might not know enough or be in a position in order for you to effectively act upon the little knowledge that you have. This is why gossiping and heresy is so dangerous, because it can change the way you perceive certain people and the way that you act towards them.
Just because someone you know is doing something wrong, that does not give you the right to treat them unfairly, be rude to them or to reject them.

When two people form a relationship, they have to come as they are, under the proviso that they will stay just the way they are throughout the duration of the relationship - not that you can transform them into something else, given a bit of encouragement and persuasion, if they do end up changing for the better, then that is a bonus.

None of us are perfect, that is why we need the love of God to cover up and hide our imperfections, so that the other person hardly notices them, or at least, has the endurance to put up with it.

We usually develop this confidence in the love of God, to cover up and mask our imperfections. When God wants to make us favourable in someone’s sight, He will throw a veil over our imperfections, so that the other person does not see them. God can gauge just how much of His glory and how much of our flesh, our imperfection, the other person sees. The love of God not only covers the way we look, but also what we do and what we say.

This covering works both ways: we have to be willing to accept the love of God so that we do not become overly sensitive to the imperfections of other people. When we accept fear over love, it is so that we can protect ourselves from harm and loss. Fear rejects love and ensures that we are sensitive to the imperfections of other people. The result is that without a covering of love, we will only see the worst in someone who will cause us to criticize and reject them.

Whilst we may think that this is a suitable course of action to adopt in life, it can keep us out of the will of God and can cause us to become very resentful and rather lonely. It is the classic nobody-is-like-me and nobody-is-good-enough-for-me syndrome. We do not become more holy, despite what some people think, by taking the moral high ground and pointing out other people’s sins and imperfections.

Longuffering in Relation to Bearing (Part 1)

There seems to be a correlation between the Biblical concept of bearing or covering, stegō (G4722), and longsuffering, makrothumeō (G3114).

According to Geneva Bible Translation Notes on 1 Corinthians 13:4, the Greek word makrothumeō (G3114) means literally, "defers wrath".

4 Love suffers long…
1 Corinthians 13:4

4 Love meekly and patiently bears ill treatment from others…
1 Corinthians 13:4 WET

The term suffers long or longsuffering is the Greek word makrothumeō (G3114). This word is made up from the words makros, long in terms of time or distance, and thumos, passion primarily used in reference to anger and wrath.

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes says the following about longsuffering in this verse:

The love of God, and of our neighbour for God's sake, is patient toward, all men. It, suffers all the weakness, ignorance, errors, and infirmities of the children of God; all the malice and wickedness of the children of the world: and all this, not only for a time, but to the end. And in every step toward overcoming evil with good, it is kind, soft, mild, benign. It inspires the sufferer at once with the most amiable sweetness, and the most fervent and tender affection. Love acteth not rashly - Does not hastily condemn any one; never passes a severe sentence on a slight or sudden view of things. Nor does it ever act or behave in a violent, headstrong, or precipitate manner. Is not puffed up - Yea, humbles the soul to the dust.

Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible includes the following description with regards to longsuffering in 1 Corinthians 13:4.

The word used here μακροθυμεῖ makrothumei denotes “longanimity,” slowness to anger or passion; longsuffering, patient endurance, forbearance. It is opposed to haste; to passionate expressions and thoughts, and to irritability. It denotes the state of mind which can bear long when oppressed, provoked, calumniated, and when one seeks to injure us; compare Romans 2:4; Romans 9:22; 2 Corinthians 6:6; Galatians 5:22; Ephesians 4:2; Colossians 3:12; 1Timothy 1:16; 2Timothy 3:10; 2Timothy 4:2; 1 Peter 3:20; 2 Peter 3:15.

Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible says the following about longsuffering in 1 Corinthians 13:4

Charity suffereth long - Μακροθυμει, Has a long mind; to the end of which neither trials, adversities, persecutions, nor provocations, can reach. The love of God, and of our neighbor for God’s sake, is patient towards all men: it suffers all the weakness, ignorance, errors, and infirmities of the children of God; and all the malice and wickedness of the children of this world; and all this, not merely for a time, but long, without end; for it is still a mind or disposition, to the end of which trials, difficulties, etc., can never reach. It also waits God’s time of accomplishing his gracious or providential purposes, without murmuring or repining; and bears its own infirmities, as well as those of others, with humble submission to the will of God.

John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible includes the following description with regards to longsuffering in 1 Corinthians 13:4.

such a person is slow to anger when abused, not quick of resentment, nor hasty to revenge when affronted; but exercises forbearance, suffers long, and bears much, and is ready to forgive:

Concealing The Things God Tells You

Concealment is also important for believers who receive revelation knowledge from God, which they are not yet ready to share with other people. Be warned, God will test you in this area.

God could reveal something seemingly amazing to you and in your eagerness to do something for God and to please other people, you open your mouth and tell other people about it. But guess what? They are not ready to receive that revelation, and because of this, they cannot understand or relate to what you are saying.

Such tests are often designed to make us see that our motives are not right: we often seek the wisdom of God so that we can use it for our own selfish purposes. If a believer is insecure they will often seek after the right things with the wrong motive.

You will also notice that you can develop an overwhelming urge to share things with other people with the expectation that they will listen to what you have to say with enthusiasm and encourage you with it.

But time and again you may find that whenever you have this expecation, you usually find that when you actually do tell people your secret - you find that you don’t get the response that you were expecting and hoping for. A lot of the time, when you tell other people things, you find that they are quick to discourage you and to cause you to reconsider.

The motive for sharing such things often comes out of a sense of inadequcy and the feeling of rejection from others. The people in your world might impress you with their confidence, charisma and anecdotes of what they do. This leads some people to feel a sense of inferiority in comparison and hence the need to achieve and to provide interesting anecdotes to people.

God has called us to be witnesses for Christ, but this does not necessarily mean that we will always have exciting anecdotes to tell, neither does it mean that we will always be living a life of luxury with all the latest cutting-edge fashions, furniture, gadgets and mod-cons.

Witnessing for Christ has a lot more to do with who you are as a person, much more than what you do or what you have. What you do and what you have usually comes as a direct consequence of who you are as a person.

I think we want to share things with other people, whether they be positive or negative, when we are in desperate need of the approval of others. We might be with people who tend to gossip about other people, at work for instance. We then proceed to join in with other people’s judgements of other people because we want to form an alliance with that group and to escape the kind of critisism they are giving other people. As the saying goes, “If you can’t beat them, join them.”

When we have the love of God in us, then we have the peace, joy and assurance that we need, and therefore, we no longer feel the need to gossip to to let other people know about the secrets that God is confiding in us.

We need the love of God so that we can know when to keep quiet about the things that God is revealing to us personally. If God gives you a message of the great things He has for you, it is your responsibility to be sensitive as to how and when you choose to share that information with other people.

Christians who live disappointing, uneventful lives are often rather scant on exciting anecdotes, so they are usually a little too keen to tell others about what God has said to them. If God tells you that you are going to travel the world extensively preaching His Word, it would be wise for you to stop and ask yourself if it is really the right time to share that information with other people.

Love Bears (Covers) All Things – Part 2

The Greek word stegō (G4722) appears a total of 4 times in the King James Version of the Bible. It is translated as forbear twice and beareth and suffer both once.

According to Strong’s Dictionary of Greek Words, the Greek word stegō (G4722) translated bears in the King James Version, means:

From G4721; to roof over, that is, (figuratively) to cover with silence (endure patiently): - (for-) bear, suffer.

According to Thayer’s Greek Definitions, this Greek word means:

1) deck, thatch, to cover
1a) to protect or keep by covering, to preserve
2) to cover over with silence
2a) to keep secret
2b) to hide, conceal
2b1) of the errors and faults of others
3) by covering to keep off something which threatens, to bear up against, hold out against, and so endure, bear, forbear

The main meaning of this word is to cover. Strong and Thayer both agree that this concept of covering, in the context of the Bible, includes to cover with silence. Strong continues the analogy of covering with silence to mean endure patiently.

Vincent’s Word Studies says of this word, in this verse:

It keeps out resentment as the ship keeps out the water, or the roof the rain.

Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary gives expression to this word in 1 Corinthians 13:7, meaning a holding fast to integrity under stress, without lapsing into selfishness and complaint:

Beareth all things — without speaking of what it has to bear. The same Greek verb as in 1 Corinthians 9:12. It endures without divulging to the world personal distress. Literally said of holding fast like a watertight vessel; so the charitable man contains himself in silence from giving vent to what selfishness would prompt under personal hardship.

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes provides the following description:

Love covereth all things - Whatever evil the lover of mankind sees, hears, or knows of any one, he mentions it to none; it never goes out of his lips, unless where absolute duty constrains to speak.

Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible describes the concept of “bearing all” in this verse, as follows:

Beareth all things - Compare the note at 1 Corinthians 9:12. Doddridge renders this, “covers all things.” The word used here (στέγει stegei) properly means to “cover” (from στέγη stegē, a covering, roof; Matthew 8:8; Luke 7:6); and then to “hide,” “conceal,” not to make known. If this be the sense here, then it means that love is disposed to hide or conceal the faults and imperfections of others; not to promulgate or blazon them abroad, or to give any undue publicity to them. Benevolence to the individual or to the public would require that these faults and errors should be concealed. If this is the sense, then it accords nearly with what is said in the previous verse. The word may also mean, to forbear, bear with, endure. Thus, it is used in 1 Thessalonians 3:1, 1 Thessalonians 3:5. And so our translators understand it here, as meaning that love is patient, long-suffering, not soon angry not disposed to revenge. And if this is the sense, it accords with the expression in 1 Corinthians 13:4, “love suffers long.” The more usual classic meaning is the former; the usage in the New Testament seems to demand the latter. Rosenmuller renders it, “bears all things;” Bloomfield prefers the other interpretation. Locke and Macknight render it “cover.” The “real” sense of the passage is not materially varied, whichever interpretation is adopted. It means, that in regard to the errors and faults of others, there is a disposition “not” to notice or to revenge them. There is a willingness to conceal, or to bear with them patiently.


In summary, Albert Barnes attributes two meanings to the attribute of love to “bear all”. Firstly, it is to keep secret the faults of others and so as to not gossip. Secondly, the word may also mean to forbear, bear with and endure. It is used in this context in 1 Thessalonians 3:1 and 1 Thessalonians 3:5. This makes the concept of “to bear all” similar to that of longsuffering in verse 4.

Albert Barnes agrees that both meanings have their relevance and summarises with the following statement:

It means, that in regard to the errors and faults of others, there is a disposition “not” to notice or to revenge them. There is a willingness to conceal, or to bear with them patiently.

Albert Barnes also makes the point that the concealment of other people’s errors has a correlation with the previous verse: see 1 Corinthians 13:6.

Love Bears (Covers) All Things – Part 1

In the same way that seemingly minor attributes of a person’s character or physique can become attractive to another person, people can adopt a disfavourable attitude towards the attributes of someone whom they do not favour.

A work colleagues laugh, the hairstyle of someone you know in church, there are so many things we can identify and dislike in another person if we do not favour them. A small spot on someone’s nose can become like a mountain with people that we don’t like.

It is human nature that we identify all the things that we like and find attractive with the people we favour, whilst simultaneously turning a blind eye to the little imperfections they have. Similarly, we tend to identify and pour scorn upon those minor imperfections that people have, if we do not favour them, whilst ignoring the good qualities that they have. The love of God can accentuate the good attributes of a person’s personality and physical looks, and at the same time, cover up the things which are not so appealing.

It is an aspect of love to cover up, and ignore, those things which are not so favourable, even to the point whereby we don’t even notice them, whilst if we do notice them, we certainly don’t let them bother us.

8 And above all things have fervent love for one another, for "love will cover a multitude of sins."
1 Peter 4:8

8 Above all continue to love one another fervently, for love throws a veil over a multitude of faults.
1 Peter 4:8 WNT

7 [Love] bears all things…
1 Corinthians 13:7

7 [Love is] always slow to expose…
1 Corinthians 13:7 Moffatt NT

Actually, the love of God can take things a step further to the point were we can actually find something interesting or enjoyable about a person, which we would normally not even notice or we would even dislike. This is something that often happens in romantic relationships. Say for instance, you could fall in love with someone who feels insecure about themselves; as a result, he or she regularly fishes for compliments. Without love, this little character flaw could become rather irritating, but with love, it could be seen as rather sweet and endearing.

When God’s love influences the way we perceive things, we see imperfection covered by His perfection. Therefore, we cannot help but accept or even delight in the faults of others.

It can be quite an unpleasant surprise when a person falls out of love with someone they were once close to, without love, they suddenly see that person for who they really are. All of a sudden, those things that the person accepted or even delighted in become highly noticeable and are likely to make the person wonder why they did not notice those things before or why delighted in certain characteristics before.

God’s love not only covers, it also resists taking offence and getting angry over things. So even if a person notices something they dislike about a person, with love, it will prevent them from getting irritated about it.

Perhaps then, the ability of love to cover, is also linked to the ability of love in relation to longsuffering?

Trust as an Antidote to Fear

5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. 7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and depart from evil.
Proverbs 3:5-7

Implicit within trust is the belief that God will never leave us nor forsake us, that He loves us more than we can ever know and that He will protect us and meet all of our needs. We should make ourselves aware of the fact that God has a plan for our life and that worry is one of the biggest hindrances to that plan being actualised in our life. God is for us and not against us.

If we can just learn to trust God, no matter what is happening around us, then we are in a good position to be able to allow the Holy Spirit to guide us and to meet all of our needs.

In the Lord’s Prayer, the Lord Jesus Christ said, “Thy will be done…” He did not reel-off a whole list of demands and wants. Sure, Jesus also said, “Give us thy daily bread…” But again, there is an element of trust in this statement: we trust that God will meet our needs in His method and timing – not ours.

A prayer from an anxious mind will say something like this: “Lord, I’ve got to get that job! Lord, I don’t know what I’ll do if I don’t get it – I’ll be so disappointed if I don’t. Please Lord; please give me the strength and wisdom to impress those people at the interview so that I get it.” The truth of the matter is that we don’t even know if its God will that we get that job. We tend to think that prayer is about demanding what we want – when we want.

When we pray, it would usually do us better to say, “Lord, I know you love me and I know from your Word that you will supply all my needs. Therefore Lord I am trusting you in this situation and I trust that your will be done according to Your will.” Most of the time when you pray to God, rather than seeking to ask for something, you should use the time to express your trust towards God. This brings us back to what Kenneth E. Hagin once said in that we ought to substitute praise for prayer a lot of the time.

It is not really about believing God for specific things – it is more to do with trusting the broad-based concepts, promises and principles laid-out in His Word. It is more to do with trusting in God that your needs will be met and His will be done – more than anything else.

It is believing that God’s Word is true and that God Himself is faithful. Believing that God can do awesome things is not for the purpose of encouraging believers to fantasise about specific wants.

I am convinced that the reason we read about God performing miracles in the Bible is so that God can take the ceiling off our expectations. When we are anxious, we often seek to ascertain the boundaries of something, including our own limitations or the limitations of other people. Our beliefs and expectations are then controlled by those imaginary boundaries.

God knows this and He saw to it that the Bible we read and base our lives upon, shows us that we serve a God that is not limited or restricted in any way. Fear seeks to determine a person’s limitations and faults. But with God, He has no limitations and faults and the miracles we read about in the Bible testify to this fact.

Faith and Trust As A Primary Step

1 Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God,
Hebrews 6:1 NKJV

1 Let us stop going over the same old ground again and again, always teaching those first lessons about Christ. Let us go on instead to other things and become mature in our understanding, as strong Christians ought to be. Surely we don't need to speak further about the foolishness of trying to be saved by being good, or about the necessity of faith in God;
Hebrews 6:1 TLB

1 So come on, let's leave the preschool fingerpainting exercises on Christ and get on with the grand work of art. Grow up in Christ. The basic foundational truths are in place: turning your back on "salvation by self-help" and turning in trust toward God;
Hebrews 6:1 MSG

We know that to have faith toward God is the same as believing His Word and trusting in His faithfulness. Hebrews 6:1 suggests that a Christian ought to move beyond the basic, primary principles of repentance of past conduct and of faith in God. Faith in this context, I believe, is more founded in a broad-based trust towards God. Basically, one of the primary steps that a Christian needs to make is the decision to trust in God no matter what.

Paul was warning Christians in Hebrews 6:1, to make sure that they do not get caught in the trap of missing the fundamental basics by trying to get saved by their own efforts, as The Living Bible emphasises in this verse, and the need to have faith in God.

The Message Bible recognises the context of faith in this verse in relation to trust and therefore gives it due emphasis with the phrase: and turning in trust toward God. A first step is something that is so utterly vital that a person cannot afford to miss it and continue without it.

The necessity of trusting God and not trying to please Him through our own good works is something that all Christians should embrace as the first step. But because Christians fail to trust God as they ought to, they suffer the consequences and have to be reminded to trust in God.

The Apostle Paul is definitely not saying that the subject of faith should not be preached. Faith is based on an understanding of the Word of God, particularly the finished work of the cross. It would be foolish therefore to suggest that teaching on the development, and application, of Biblical faith was something that should be taught as a initial step in Christianity, before moving on to other, more important subjects.

Biblical faith is the substance of Biblical teaching – a Christian cannot achieve much without it. Without faith teaching, we would be left with religious rule-keeping and nothing that can transform people’s lives. This argument further supports the belief that the necessity of faith in God in Hebrews 6:1 is a generalised trust in God.

Faith and Trust

We cannot escape the fact that faith works by love, and as such, faith requires a trust in God in order for it to work. Without trust, our faith in God will be nothing more than an anxious attempt to implement a formula; or we end-up treating faith as if it was a chance thing, a gamble, that might just work, so it’s worth giving it a shot.

Faith should always be approached with the attitude that if we get it right, if we have the right understanding and right motive, then it will work every time. But without hope you will not have the positive expectation that is faith; without trust, you will not be able to trust the One who hears your prayers and meets your needs.

Without trust in God you just end-up putting your faith in other people and things. It is incredible how some believers can develop a faith in tithing as a means of getting their needs met, but they are still reluctant to trust in God. This de-personalises the concept of a loving Father giving good gifts to His children and turns tithing into a formula that will never work.

Trust is vital in obtaining intimacy with God. In the natural sphere, you could not obtain intimacy with your spouse if you did not trust him or her – it is the same with God. The Holy Spirit lives in us – you can’t get more intimate than that! But we can grieve Him and desensitise ourselves to His leading.

We cannot just sudy the Bible, keep rules or even implement faith formuals. No matter how much revelation we gain from God’s Word, we need love, which includes trust, in order to be able to have faith for anything. We could gain an amazing depth of revelation from God’s Word, yet without love, we will not be able to be led by the Holy Spirit, and therefore, will be unable to practically apply that knowledge.

Intimacy with God makes us sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Intimacy with God comes through love. The Bible tells us that we can understand all mysteries and all knowledge, but without love, we are nothing. We are nothing because without love, we will be unable to be guided effectively by the Holy Spirit. See 1 Corinthians 13:2.

Faith Cannot Work With Fear

What happens when a believer approaches the subject of faith when he is in a state of fear, is that he tries to make faith work without first developing a sense of trust towards God. In this sense, we de-personalise faith. God is our Hevealy Father, and as such, we shoud trust Him as a child trusts his earthly father.

When we take the trust element out of faith, we end-up having a relationship with God like we would with our boss at work or with our bank manager. The sad thing about the approach of some believers towards prosperity teaching is that their sense of insecurity and lack of trust towards God turns faith into some kind of cosmic ordering system.

Our relationship with God is personal; we can respond towards God just in all the same ways in which we respond to other people. We can respond to God with love, joy, fear, anger, hurt and so on.

Anger arises when we feel powerless in a situation and when we feel that someone else is either in control of us or they are trying to control us. Our anger towards God arises when we feel a sense of powerlessness in a situation and we are unable to move the hand of God in order to make things happen the way we want. Trust in God eliminates anger towards Him.

It is quite possible to have distrust towards God and yet be hardly consciously aware of it. In such cases, we can tell if we harbour distrust towards God, when we find ourselves provoked to anger towards Him.

All the aspects of love are about maintaining peace: our own peace, the peace of others and the peace of God. When we choose to trust in God – we make a decision to accept peace in our lives, as we rid ourselves of anger towards Him.

Trust as a Remedy for Past Hurts

I think the reason why we don’t want to trust God is because we still adopt the attitude that we have been hurt by other people and by God and that we are the innocent victims of an injustice. Some bad things might have happened to us and we might feel bad about it – but blaming God, ourselves and other people is not going to help us and is not going to allow us to cooperate with God.

If we choose to see ourselves as victims, we see other people, and perhaps even God, as our enemies who cannot be trusted because they might hurt us again. The best thing we can do, therefore, is to forgive them. Foregiveness means that we no longer choose to blame other people for hurting us and that we longer hold onto grudges and we allow ourselves to trust God and other people, as the love of God allows us to.

Forgiveness hands over the reigns of control from our own fear-filled and insecure minds - to God. Forgiveness is about surrender, as we choose to let God deal with the situation, with the understanding that we might still be hurt again. But even if we do get hurt again, we can choose to feel hurt or to rise above it in peace, but only if we accept God.

Faith Without Trust

Galatians 6:15 says that faith works by love. But it is not just the hope aspect of love that faith works by. The Greek word translated faith in the Bible is actually the noun form of the word believes or believeth in 1 Corinthians 13:7. Some Bible versions actually use the noun faith in 1 Corinthians 13:7, proceeded by a verb or preposition, instead of just using a verb. For instance, The New Living Translation says that love never loses faith.

Various modern translations, such as the New International Version, use the word trusts in this verse instead of believes. Faith works by believing and by trusting. Belief is often attributed to a thing such as a product or the circumstances of a situation. Whereas, trust in more personal in that it relates to a person or to God.

Jesus gave us one commandment in the New Testament. But that one commandment is actually divided into two commandments that work together:

34 "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
John 13:34
37 Jesus said to him, "'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' 38 "This is the first and great commandment. 39 "And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' 40 "On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets."
Matthew 22:37-40

In a similar vein, faith works by believing and trusting. I would say that trust is a personal thing: we trust in a person or in God. Whereas belief is more attributed to God’s Word: we believe that God’s Word is true.

Prosperity teaching can become inbalanced to the point whereby it de-personalises the subject of prosperity by emphasising the believer’s efforts to confess scriptures that pertain to prosperity, rather than just simply trusting God. In a sense, this causes people to use Bible verses as a formula for prosperity. We really ought to consider using Psalms 84:11-12 as a formula for prosperity.

If you want to be blessed, instead of just confessing scriptures all the time, it would be better to take some responsibility and do what the Bible says we ought to do: walk uprightly and trust in God.

Anyone can read the Bible out loud, regardless of what his real beleifs and motives are. We should not expect to be blessed by God if our believing, thinking and expecting is not right.

Hope Facilitates Trust

I believe that the Biblical concept of hope, as an aspect of love, is a generic, broad-based expectation of good. It is only a state of despair, an absence of hope, which leads a person to insist on specific outcomes, and thereby, entertain fantasies.

This kind of hope comes out of peace and joy. When you have peace and joy you cannot help but expect good things to happen to you. It is only when a person lacks peace and joy that they will have a sense of foreboding about everything.
When a person has this kind of hope, they are more prone to just leaving things to fate. Hope will lead to a que sera sera kind of attitude, because although you might not know exactly what will happen in the future, you know that things will work out well for you in the end. This complies with what 1 Corinthians 13:8 has to say about love: Love never fails...

Faith Without Hope

There are many Christians who are trying to believe God for specific things, when they are still burdened by a sense of despair.

Without hope, a believer will struggle to be able to believe the promises of God’s Word and trust in Him for even a short period of time. Without hope, a person will never expect good things to happen, and therefore, will by nature be insecure.

Galatians 6:15 says that faith works by love. Without love a person will have no hope, and without hope, they will never expect anything good to happen. Without hope, a person will always be living in a state of dread and despair – even when circumstances aren’t really all that bad.

Fear causes people to exaggerate the challenges they face. Remember the ten spies who gave a bad report in Numbers 13:31-33.

31 But the men who had gone up with him said, "We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we." 32 And they gave the children of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, "The land through which we have gone as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great stature. 33 "There we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight."
Numbers 13:31-33

It is for these reasons that many Christians seek after the promises of God in such a short time frame. They are trying to implement faith without dispelling fear and implementing hope. Then they get frustrated when God does not bless them how they want, when they want. When this happens they get angry with God and those people who encourage faith in God’s Word. These people have a soul which is on the defensive, so they instinctively make up all kinds of doctrines to defend their position, provide an excuse when things go wrong in an attempt to make sense of what is happening in their life.

This creates a great deal of dissension in the Body of Christ, with some believing in prosperity, faith and healing and others being opposed to it. Unfortunately, there are many misnomers and extremes coming out of teaching on subjects such as prosperity, faith and healing. This further encourages those opposed to seeing the power of God moving in His people, on this earth and in this time.

Most of the time it is not faith teaching which is at fault, but the attitude and motives of fearful, insecure believers who try to make it work for them in a way that God does not intend.

Love as a Remedy for Guilt

The Concise Oxford English Dictionary describes the word "guilt" as:

a feeling of having done wrong or failed in an obligation. An obligation, according to the same dictionary, means: an act or course of action to which a person is morally or legally bound.

Love is motivation to action: we need love in order to fulfil the things that are required of us. Without love we are unable to do the things we are meant to do. If we fail to do what we are morally or legally bound to do, we end-up with a sense of guilt; or as the dictionary puts it: a feeling of having done wrong or failed in an obligation.

But if we are made aware of what love is from the Bible, and the fact that it must be received from God, we can be set free from guilt. A proper knowledge of what love is, sets us free from trying to do what love is, and does, in our own effort. A failure to walk in love can be attributed, at least in part, to a failure to understand that God is love (see 1 John 4:16) and that only God is good (see Matthew 19:17). Love is not something we do, but moreover, something that we receive.

An understanding of righteousness also sets us free from a sense of guilt. Righteousness means that we are accepted by God as we are without condemnation.

The Old Testament asserted that we had to try to adhere to God’s perfect standards – something that mankind could never do. The sacrifice of Christ paved the way for the New Testament which, for those who believe, makes God our Father and we His children.

In the same manner as an earthly father-son relationship, our Father in Heaven is longsuffering towards us and accepts us as we are, knowing that we grow in His grace as we learn more about Jesus.

As we transition our thinking from an Old Testament perspective to the New – the way we see God changes: we no longer see God as a harsh taskmaster, keen to punish the most minor slip-up. Now we see God as being our loving Heavenly fathe - kind, gentle and loving towards us, eager to see us grow and develop, only punishing us in order to correct us.

A major part of this development is the knowledge of what love is and that it is not akin to sheer willpower alone. As soon as you begin to really understand a particular aspect of God’s love by studying the Word, you gain a sense of relief as you realise that it is something that you can never achieve in your own effort.

The Bible says in 1 John 5:3 that His commandments are not burdensome. In Matthew 11:30, Jesus Himself said, My yoke is easy and My burden is light. If love was something that we could do ourselves, then it would be burdensome. But love is something that we receive from God, and as such, it is not burdensome.The knowledge of love brings a relief to those people who feel utterly weighed-down by the demands of religion and other people.

The knowledge of love, what it is and its true Source - exposes self-righteousness for what it is and debunks the kind of religion pioneered by the Pharisees, scribes and chief priests of Jesus’ time. The knowledge of love exposes fraudsters and highlights self-righteousness for the sham that it is.

Hope Versus Dread, Fear and Despair

Hope is the opposite of despair. The Concise Oxford English Dictionary says that despair means: The complete loss or absence of hope.

The word despair only appears once in the King James Version of the Bible. Although the Greek word used is also translated as despaired in another verse of the New Testament.

According to Strong’s Dictionary of Greek Words, the Greek word exaporeomai translated despair and despaired in the King James Version, means:

Middle voice from G1537 and G639; to be utterly at a loss, that is, despond: - (in) despair.

According to Thayer’s Greek Definitions, this Greek word means:

1) to be utterly at loss, be utterly destitute of measures or resources, to renounce all hope, be in despair

Joseph Thayer uses the term to renounce all hope in his description of despair. So despair is the opposite of hope. It stands to reason that if a person has this hope aspect of love in their life, they will be unable to succumb to despair.

Despair comes when a person seems to have no other option than to trust in their own limited ability, other people, or the circumstances of life. Despair is always the result of an absence of God or simply not being made perfect in love.

The word dread is closely related to the word despair; the Concise Oxford English Dictionary describes the word dread as: great fear or apprehension. Dread is fear and often manifests itself as a vague sense of foreboding – as if something bad is going to happen, although you do not quite know what.

This is the total opposite of the Biblical concept of hope, which is the Greek word elpizō (G1679) (verb) or elpis (G1680) (noun). Hope is the expectation of good, whereas, fear is the expectation of bad. Fear or dread, just like hope can be either vague and generic or it can be specific.

Fear is caused by an absence of love, and therefore, is separation from God. Fear is the result of spiritual death. Fear, therefore, can be seen as encompassing a whole range of negative attributes, such as anger, bitterness, pride, envy and so on. More specifically though, fear is usually a negative expectancy of a future event. Fear is a projection of past, negative experiences into the future. I would therefore say that fear, the strictest sense of the word, is despair.

We see despair in action in story of the disciples in the boat during a storm at sea in Matthew 8. Jesus put a demand on His disciples for love that would rise above despair. Jesus knew precisely how they would respond. But the fact that He acted as if they should have been calm, suggests that through Him it is possible to maintain peace even when it seems that your life is in danger. Obviously, something supernatural is required here. See John 14:26-27.

If the disciples had the peace that Jesus promised in John 14:27 – they would not have reacted the way they did; it would have been impossible for them to do so, because John 4:18 says that perfect love casts out fear.

If fear is despair or dread and if hope is the attribute of love that is the closest equal opposite of despair or dread, then we could read John 4:18 as:
There is no despair in hope; but perfect hope casts out despair, because despair involves torment. But he who despairs has not been made perfect in hope. We could also read that verse, substituting the word "fear" with "dread".

It seems rather difficult for the mind to grasp spiritual concepts such as love. Only the recreated spirit of man can receive the things of God as the Holy Spirit reveals them. Too many Christians are still living according to a works mentality: they take the responsibility of love upon themselves without knowing how to access it.

When a believer develops knowledge of what love really is and that it only comes from God, it sets him free from the burden of having to live right by his own strength and his own understanding. A works mentality spurns God’s love and welcomes guilt.

Faith Works by Trust and Hope

I am convinced that faith will not work without love, because faith requires the two vital ingredients of love that we have just studied: belief (or trust) and hope. According to the Concise Oxford English Dictionary, the word hope means:

1 A feeling of expectation and desire. A cause or source of hope. Grounds for hoping.
2 Archaic: a feeling of trust.

Again, we are directed towards trust, as hope is a feeling of trust in archaic terms. The modern sense of hope is an expectation and desire. We often say thing like, “I hope things will go well at my job interview next week.” Kenneth E. Hagin and E.W. Kenyon have both written about the difference between faith and hope. Hope says, “I’ll have the promise someday.” Whereas, faith says, “I have it now.”

Faith and Love Are Interdependant

The Theologian John Gill suggests that faith and love are interdependant, as his description of 1 Thessalonians 5:8, in John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible, includes the following statement:

Faith may answer to the former, and love to the latter: these two graces go together, faith works by love, and love always accompanies faith; as there can be no true faith where there is no love, so there is no true love where faith is wanting.

We know that faith works by love because of what Galatians 5:6 says. But we also know that faith or trust is an aspect of love, because of what 1 Corinthians 13:7 says. I believe that all the components of love are interdependent: you cannot be kind to someone, for instance, unless you are longsuffering towards them; neither can you believe God for a miracle if you do not forgive a person, and therefore, are not longsuffering towards them.

The Divine Nature | TNB