Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Defective Faith

"...So they took up Jonah and cast him forth into the sea; and the sea ceased from her raging. Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice unto the Lord, and made vows." (Jonah 1:15-16)

     The above verses are not a story about men who were heathens, saw the mighty power of God, and repented of their sins. This is an example of men who had a fear of God, and probably nothing more. This was a fear that made them weak-kneed, a fear that caused them to recollect their sins and faults, a fear that brought them to reverence before a powerful God. At least, this is what we may take from the little given about them in this passage. This fear, however, was a skittish reverence, rather than sorrowful repentance.

     The Bible says that at the name of God, even the demons fear and tremble. (James 2:19) They know He exists. This is already established. Yet they, along with Satan, have rejected God, and they will continue to do so for eternity. So the question then remains for our own hearts and lives: is there repentance from sin, and a life turned away from wickedness? Is there a rejection of the "Old man"? Has that fear birthed only reverence... or repentance? Do our action represent our fear: "I may be destroyed" or do they proclaim: "I have been redeemed."?

     Dependent on the answer are two very different outcomes.

   "...They will know us by our fruits..." (Matt. 7:16-20)  We can be recognized as saved through our deeds but it is not by these deeds that were are saved. Do you see the difference?

     If you are saved, yet constantly fear punishment and rejection for your sin, you are living under a condemnation that has been conquered at Calvary. Yet the sinner lives his life shackled and immovable by this eternity. It is a darkness that reeks of self-focused pity and hatred. It crushes him with the weight of unattainable piety. God did not call us to this. For what reason would you live this way as a Christian? If you have asked Christ into your heart and repented of your past life, there should be no condemnation or fear. You have been saved by the blood of the lamb, Jesus Christ, and He has freed you from these bonds. Otherwise your life becomes focused on good works and accomplishments. What you do or don't do becomes the basis for the salvation of others, and for yourself. This is a dangerous path.

     So what is the other side of this? Yes, we have sinned. Yes, we will make (Many) mistakes. The difference is, we live with the knowledge that despite our sins, we are not pushed away from God eternally. When we sin, we must repent, strive to do better, and remain in communion with God, knowing fully that our salvation is not determined by our actions. "Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; (1 Peter 1:13)

     The focus is not on self, but instead, God. Rather than looking to my actions and my words, I look to Christ, and His word, and how He will work through me. Does that make sense?

     With this knowledge, we will rejoice in our awesome God! We can live in freedom from the bondage of sin, and in utter devotion as a bond-servant of Christ.

     When you have been redeemed, you will desire to serve the One by whom you have been saved. You will strive to please and honor Him with everything in your being. You will be utterly sorrowful when you are brought to the knowledge of your sin, and will be quickly brought to repentance and restoration with Him.

     When the men on the ship bound for Tarshish threw Jonah into the tumultuous waves, they witnessed a miracle. The other god's they worshiped had never done anything like this! So out of fear, they made sacrifices to God. This was a God unlike the others. This was a God who they believed to be feared. However, that doesn't mean they changed their ways or stopped serving their false gods. They were still bound by a works based faith in many things, and in self. It was a defective faith.

     People will know you are saved because of your fruits. They will see an unwavering, steadfast joy as you serve God, the One who saved you from sin, saved you from condemnation, and saved you from an eternity without Him. This is how you are to live, so that you will have absolutely no fear when the time comes for you to die.

    Remember: "Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble..." 

   Don't live in condemnation under a defective faith.

     Acts 3:18-19- "... But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled. Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;"