We are all saved, we are all justified, as Romans 3:28b says “… by faith without the works of the Law.” This is a faith which we are given as a free gift from God and as such, it is utterly unmerited. Like all gifts however, to be of use to us however, we need to accept it and act upon it, otherwise we render it worthless. If we do not accept a gift, we cannot possess it. Romans 12:3b goes on to explain this gift of Faith, saying “God has dealt to every man the measure of faith.”
What this means for us is that each of us has her or her own unique gift of Faith** from God which is perfectly suited to us. Since it is a free Gift from God and is undeserved and unmerited, then no man can be pride themselves in their faith. As it is given to each man, this also implies not only its total diversity but also the breadth and the depth of the gifting. It is not just for the select few, but “to every man,” just exactly was we need it.
In the book of Acts, we find the evidence of a divine apportionment of faith clearly demonstrated in Acts 10:24-48,
“And the next day they entered into Caesarea. And Cornelius was waiting for them, and had called together his kinsmen and near friends. And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshipped.
But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up! I also am a man myself.
And as he talked with him, he went in and found many who had come together. And he said to them, You know that it is an unlawful thing for a man, a Jew to keep company with or to come near to one of another nation. But God has shown me not to call any man common or unclean.
Therefore I came without complaint, being sent for. I ask, then, for what reason have you sent for me. And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting until this hour. And at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing.
And he said, Cornelius, your prayer is heard, and your merciful deeds have been remembered before God. Therefore send to Joppa and call here Simon whose last name is Peter, he is staying in the house of Simon, a tanner by the seaside; who, when he comes, shall speak to you.
Therefore I immediately sent to you, and you have done well to come. Now therefore we are all here present before God to hear all things that are commanded you by God.
Then Peter opened his mouth and said, Truly I see that God is no respecter of persons; but in every nation he who fears Him and works righteousness is accepted with Him. You know the Word which God sent to the sons of Israel, preaching the gospel of peace by Jesus Christ (He is Lord of all!); that word which was published throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John proclaimed; how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, and He went about doing good, and healing all those who were oppressed by the Devil, for God was with Him.
And we are witnesses of all things which He did, both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed Him and hanged Him on a tree; but God raised Him up the third day and showed Him openly, not to all the people, but to witnesses hand-picked before by God, even to us who ate and drank with Him after He rose from the dead.
And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained of God to be the Judge of the living and the dead.
All the Prophets give witness to Him, that through His name whoever believes in Him shall receive remission of sins.
While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell on all those hearing the Word. And those of the circumcision, who believed (as many as came with Peter), were astonished because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out on the nations also. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Then Peter answered, Can anyone forbid water that these, who have received the Holy Ghost as well as we, should not be baptised?
And he commanded them to be baptised in the name of the Lord. Then they begged him to stay certain days.”
Succinctly, what happened here was that the Gentiles in the house of Cornelius received the Holy Spirit when Peter visited them. Now these Gentiles were not circumcised Jews, and this was probably the first time they has heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ and were certainly not baptised into the Lord Jesus Christ, and yet, the Holy Spirit fell heavily upon them all and they immediately began to speak in tongues.
Nowhere here does it say or infer that all their lives were immediately and instantaneously aligned with God’s standards or God’s requirement, or further, than they were all delivered from all the iniquity of the sins of their Gentile heritage which had, in terms of the Jews, defiles them.
When Peter saw that the Lord God had obviously and with absolute certainty accepted the Gentiles present, he called them all to be baptised in the name of Jesus.
Later in Acts 15:8-9, Peter speaks of this experience saying:
“And God, who knows the hearts, bore them witness, giving them the Holy Spirit even as to us. And He [God] put no difference between us [Jews] and them [Gentiles], purifying their hearts by faith.”
From Peter’s experience and writings we can see clearly God’s fundamental requirement for receiving the Holy Spirit: a heart purified by Faith.
Now, according to the Bible, our hearts are tricky things; for as Jeremiah 17:9 warns “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” Yet, Solomon councils us in Proverbs 4:23 to “Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”“Issues of life” here may also be translated (as does the NIV1984 version), saying that the heart “is the wellspring of life.”
It is through our deceitful hearts which God works our redemptive processes, one bit at a time. But as faith is a gift from God of which no man can boast, so too is the redemptive process in our hearts, a thing which we ourselves cannot honestly attest to. Self flattery and self pride from deceitful hearts make such assertions of ourselves, or others for that matter, completely unreliable. The redemptive process is, after all, a slow process for most of us. Once God has purified our hearts to His measure, He then proceeds to work on us from there, from the inside to the outside, in His infinite sanctifying grace. This process continues until our whole personality has been submitted to the control of the Holy Spirit. As Hebrew 10:14 says of Jesus and this process: “For by one offering [sacrifice] He [Jesus] has perfected forever those who are sanctified.”
Note here that the writer of Hebrews says that “He has perfected.” It means that Jesus has made it absolutely complete – lacking nothing. The original Greek texts emphasises the perfections of the process and in the present tense, inferring that Jesus has forever, in perfect perfection, sanctified us. Nothing can be added, nothing can be taken away.
By comparison, the writer of Hebrews uses the progressive tense when speaking of sanctification, in the same sentence. In other words, we have been sanctified, we are being sanctified and we will be sanctified….. it is an ongoing and continual process. This is the reason we have the Holy Spirit in us, to help us work out our sanctification as our “helper,” as our “paraclete” – the one who comes alongside to assist.
Do Christians fail? The answer is a clear and certain, Yes. We constantly and regularly fail; which is why Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit. We all sin and continue to do so, though perhaps to lesser degrees (if there are lesser sins) as we move on in our relationship with God. Yet the Holy Spirit is always there to lift us up and, without condemnation, to correct us and tell us how to get back on line, and back where we should be. In this, the Holy Spirit will convict us of our sins such that we know exactly what we need to do to get right with God again. There is no condemnation in the Holy Spirit. He is our God, and like Jesus, is a servant leader. He wants us to get back to where we should be, and be correctly aligned with God the Father.
By comparison, when we sin, the enemy will condemn us and oppress us with a heavy dull guilt. He never gives clues to solutions to our sins (obviously) and just seeks to drag us down and separate us from God and the leading of the Holy Spirit. Lies, condemnation and half-truths are his game plan.
We have been warned in Second Corinthians 10:4 that “the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds…” These are the same spiritual and supernatural weapons which the enemy assails us with and which we need to know how to counter and render ineffective against us. We do this by constant affirmation of who we are in Christ, so that when the words of the enemy come against us, we can recognise his lies and not fall into his entrapment, and separate ourselves from our heritage in Christ. As Hebrews 3:13 says: “But exhort one another daily, while it is called today, lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.”
Better we learn and repeat who we are in Christ, than accept the lies of the enemy which are aimed and intended solely for our defeat and destruction. As Hebrews 12:1 says, the sin which is around us can so easily beset us, ensnare us and ultimately overcome and defeat us. Hebrews 12:4 goes on to warn us of the seriousness of our situations, warning “You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin.” Clearly we need to expect opposition from the enemy and from sin.
It is for this reason that we have the Holy Spirit of God dwelling within us, for without Him, we would not be able to overcome the enemy by the strength of our flesh and will only. Not only that, without the Holy Spirit, we would be blind and deaf to the works of the enemy in our lives and we would be totally ignorant of the location of the true path which the Lord God wishes us to travel.
Even so, I believe that many Christians are defeated because they rely on the words of enemy which tell them “Good enough already…..no need more.” The “good” becomes the enemy of the “best.”
Without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we would be pridefully relying on our own abilities to assess our faith and our walk with God. When we do that, the path inevitably leads to our destruction, for pride filled eyes can only lead a pride filled heart to the inevitable path of destruction.
Without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we would be unable to avail ourselves of deliverance. Without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we would be unable to receive the gift of faith which allows us, under the guidance and tutelage of the Holy Spirit, to be victors over God’s enemy, for remember, He who is within us is greater than He who is in the Word! All this is possible when a Heart is Cleansed by Faith.
As I was writing this article I felt called to include a passage on definitions of Faith. However, as they are a bit lengthy, they are posted as a separate article for reference.
Nevertheless, a simple working definition of Faith is: “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”