Debie Misir: January 14, 2009

Is Your Faith Real?

“Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?” (2 Cor. 13:5).

Paul admonishes the church at Corinth, and likewise all believers today, to examine themselves to see whether their faith is true and real. I can imagine Paul’s genuine concern and holy fear, being a true shepherd and servant of God, behind his admonition. Paul fears for their eternal soul and speaks the naked truth in order to get them to examine the genuineness of their faith to determine whether their salvation is assured. Paul knows that there are many professed Christians who sincerely do not know if their faith is real. Then there are others who do know that their faith is not real and true but yet pretend everything is ok because they are ashamed, embarrassed, or prideful. This is a very serious matter and very real in today’s churches the same as it was in the days of Paul and the original Apostles. We must examine our faith and we must be real and honest in our introspection. Our salvation is at risk. We must know that our faith is real and we must know it individually and personally, for this determines whether we are saved and have inherited life (eternal life in Heaven) or we are not and hence will die in our sins (eternal torture in Hell).

I have spoken to many Christians who are not sure if they are saved. They said all the right words, thought they repented, go to church and do all the works they think God desires of them, yet they do not know that they know they are saved. Someone said to me a few weeks ago, I wish I was sure like you. I want to know that I know that I know. I am not sure that I do. Those were very sad words to me for this is someone who has been in Church for quite a while and is very knowledgeable in the Word of God. But I encourage everyone to be as introspective and honest and real as this person, for this is the first step in the right direction. Beloved if you are not sure then you do not know God and you do not have real faith. I encourage you to come back to the foot of the cross with a completely believing, repentant, surrendered heart and invite the Lord in, asking Him to transform your life. I assure you when you are saved, you will know Him who saved you, and you will know that you know that you are saved.

I have witnessed the lives and walks of many others which do not reflect the life of Christ or obedience to His commands in many ways, but they claim to be very sure. Jesus Christ said if we know Him we will keep His commands. “We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands.” (1 John 2:3). If we say that we know Him and do not keep His commands then we are liars. “The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him.” (1 John 2:4,5) The Word of God also says, we who claim to know Him must walk as He walked, “Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did” (1 John 2:6), otherwise our faith is not real. Yes sanctification is a process and we are all a work in progress, but everyone who possesses real faith will sincerely desire to walk like Christ and will endeavor to practice this walk daily. This is not something you strive at, but something that will come naturally to you when you are saved. Your heart will change. Your desires will change. Your walk will change. It is not a one time thing, but a gradual process having a visually different pace for every person. However a visual progress will validate the process every step of the way. People will see the change in you.

I have also seen many who seem to be genuinely striving in serving God with everything they have until they experience a great trial; then they fold saying they have lost their faith; it is too difficult to walk with God they say. Their view of the overcoming, victorious life of a Christian in all in the physical realm, even though the Word of God clearly tells us that life in the Kingdom is love, joy and peace in the Holy Ghost. If they are not consistently physically and materially blessed, then they lose faith. Do you lose faith when bad things happen to you? Did you stop believing on His Word? I submit that you do not believe on Him and never did. One cannot choose to believe His Word concerning blessings, prosperity, anointing and gifts, and not concerning trails and sufferings; and He did say in His Word that when we follow Him we will suffer painful trials? “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.” (1 Peter 4:12). He also said these are temporary and will work out a greater glory for us, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Corinthians 4:17). When One has real faith meaning they know in whom they have believed, that He cannot lie, and that whatever He has promised He will bring to pass. They will endure to the end, not looking to the trial knowing it is temporary. However difficult it is and however much their flesh may cry; they will know that it cannot be compared in any way, shape or form to the greater glory that is awaiting them….simply because He said so. He is His Word. He has exalted His Word above His name. Those who lose faith never possessed real faith and cannot lose what they never had.

I have seen yet others who claim to believe and have faith, but walk as defeated Christians. They rejoice in the good times and are utterly defeated in the bad times, oftentimes magnifying the bad times and resorting to a walk of depression, complaining, anger, and blame. In this they are no different from the world, sometimes worse. This should be our first clue. Their actions and reactions depend on their circumstances and situations and not on the Word of God. Their faith is in the world and not in the Word as they profess. They look for prosperity of self, rather than prosperity of soul and spirit to confirm their salvation. Their eyes are not set on things above, things eternal, but on things below and temporary. Every moment of hardship, trial, suffering, and sickness, brings doubts, great fears, and worries. They do not “count it all joy” as the Word of God commands, but sink into dark despair and depression, refusing to go to church claiming they cannot pray or worship for the worry and suffering in their lives. Those who come to church demand prayers every day for months and years and yet still do not rise up out of their mindsets of defeat and pity. Beloved a life a defeat is a sure sign that your faith is not real.

Still others, who claim to believe, live the perfect Christian life; go to church often, pray regularly, sing in the choir, read the bible, feed the poor etc, yet they do not know God. They have never experienced Him; His divine love, communion and glory. They have religion, but no relationship. Beloved it is crucial that we know whether our faith is real and if we are saved. We must have the assurance of our salvation -- and the Disciple John says we can know. “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” (1 John 5:13)

What is Real Faith?

The Christian Faith is not, as some believe, a clutch for the poor, wishful thinking, speculation, insanity, or plain stupidity. It is not being able to believe in things when you have no idea whether they are real or true but would like them to be. It is not building a world of make-belief in which you feel safe, secure, and loved. No, the Christian Faith is very real and very true. It is not based on suppositions or speculations about things but it is based on complete trust in someone, Jesus Christ. If I say I have faith in my cousin that she will always be there for me when I need help, it must mean that I know her; that I can trust and depend on her because of what I know of her character, her personality, her integrity of heart and her love for me based on my experience with her and my knowledge of her. I will not say I have faith in her if I never saw or knew her before. It is the same with the Christian Faith. We cannot say we have faith in God if we do not know Him. The author of Hebrews says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1). Faith is substance and evidence of that which you believe.

The Bible says to each is given a measure of faith. It is a gift of God. Each of us, believer and unbeliever, starts out with this measure of faith with which we can and must come to God believing that He exists “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6). Even in this measure of faith, there is substance and evidence. God is not asking us to blindly believe in Him, but has already given us evidence of His existence. First He gave us a deep inward knowledge of His existence – The Word of God says He placed eternity in the hearts of men. This is that emptiness in man which can only be filled by God; and He has given us a conscience. Second He has given us visible outward evidence of His invisible qualities -- His eternal power and divine nature -- from all that was created since the beginning of time, “For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20). The Bible also records how He has placed us in our specific homes that we may search for Him, already knowing deep within us that He exists.“From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. “God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.” (Acts 17:26,27). So God has made us with enough faith to know that He exists, to search for Him, and to come to Him believing that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

This is the measure of faith that we each start with and it is a faith already based on the evidence of the existence of God. With this knowledge, we can choose to come to Him and surrender our lives to Him. If we do so, He comes and lives in us. Then the search to truly know Him begins. As we continue to surrender our hearts and lives daily to Him, God begins to reveal Himself in a process over time to us. As He reveals Himself in us and to us, we will know that we know that we know Him and that we have inherited eternal life with Him in Heaven. It is a supernatural impartation which cannot be taught or earned, but which comes when we are saved through real faith by grace. As He imparts revelations of Himself in us, we receive of Him and our hearts are transformed and our lives changed daily forever.

When you have revealed knowledge of Christ, you will trust Him absolutely in everything for you now know His character and integrity, His purity and holiness, His power and might, His grace and mercy, His justice and love, and His perfect love for you. You will fully believe that He is working ALL THINGS for your good and you will depend utterly on Him to lead and guide your life by His perfect will, abiding in His Word each and every moment. You will understand that you are not of this world and no longer live for this world or self. You will relinquish your hold on everything, take up your cross and follow Him. Like Moses who abandoned His life in Egypt to go into the desert following only the commands of God, you will abandon your life on earth and live according to Heavenly principles and commands, setting your eyes on things eternal. Nothing in this world will severely tempt you, for you will understand that this world is temporary and will soon melt away. “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. (2 Peter 3:10). You will live your life trying to usher as many souls into the kingdom of God, all the while longing for the second coming of the Lord and looking forward to that day only.

When you have revealed knowledge of Christ, you will know Him in whom you have believed, you will trust Him absolutely, you will abide in His Word, you will follow Him faithfully and obey His commands, and your life will change. This is what it means to have real faith. In this you will have the assurance of your salvation.

Do you have real Faith? Test yourselves…

Do you genuinely believe in Jesus Christ as the son of God who died for your sins and rose again, and have you openly confessed Him as such?

(Romans 10:9, 10) says “That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” This is the first step in your assurance. You must sincerely believe and confess your faith. It cannot be empty words or words spoken to please someone else. You must believe.

Have you surrendered your life to Jesus Christ and now submit to Him as Lord of your life, sincerely endeavoring to obey His commands? Do you practice walking as He walked?

John says, “We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.” (1 John 2:3-6). Of course we know that the two major commands the Lord gave us which encompasses the Ten Commandments and more are the following: Love the Lord with all your heart, all your soul, and all your might, and love your neighbor as you love yourself. Among other specific commands the Lord gave us are: to go into all the nations and preach the gospel, lay hands on the sick, cast out demons, and make Disciples of all nations. The Word of God also admonishes us to not forsake the assembling of ourselves, to not be unequally yoked, and more. Do we endeavor to obey these commands. If we are in Him, we will.

Do you sincerely love God and not the world and the things of the world?

God commands us “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.” (1 John 2:15-17). The Word of God is very clear on this point. If you are saved, the world and its pleasures and pride will hold no appeal to you anymore. This is not to say, you will never be tempted for our flesh which can never be redeemed is still sinful and will continue to war with our spirit. But, the more we surrender to God and abide in His word, the more we can overcome.

Do you habitually and persistently practice righteousness rather than sin?

The Word of God says, “If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him.” (1 John 2:29). On the other hand, "He who does what is sinful is of the devil" (1 John 3:8). If we are born of God, we will endeavor to do what is right in God’s eyes always. Though we may fall from time to time as our flesh continues to war against our spirit, we will not practice sin, but rather we will practice righteousness. The promise “sin cannot be master over you” will become life in us.

Do you love your brothers and sisters?

John says, “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death” (1 John 3:14). Jesus Christ laid down His life for us and said “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13). He essentially showed us what loving someone means by demonstrating it Himself. The Word of God says God is love. If He is in us and we abide in Him, we also must have this selfless, unconditional love. The Bible tells us that when we are saved, the love of God, the Holy Spirit, is shed abroad in our hearts. Do you have this love?

Are you always conscious of the Holy Spirit living dwelling inside of you?

“Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.” (1 John 3:24). Paul says, “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children”. (Romans 8:16). God had already given us a conscience when we were born, but now when we are saved, we have the Holy Spirit Himself abiding in us, teaching us all things, guiding into all truth, warning us of evil, and convicting us of every sin. Anyone who is saved cannot be unaware of Holy Spirit for He makes Himself known in every area of your life all the time. Anyone who is aware of the Holy Spirit living inside of them will not desire and indeed cannot deliberately do anything to dishonor or grieve Him. Anyone who is saved is very much aware of the Holy Spirit and sincerely tries to live their lives in obedience to Him, worshipping God in everything they desire, think, or do.

Do you believe, accept, and abide in the Word of God in your daily lives, in the true Gospel of Christ and not follow any other Gospel?

John warns, “See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father.” (1 John 2:24) Paul also cautions in the book of Galations against following other Gospels other than what you have heard from the beginning. Paul was specifically referring to the Gospel which teaches that you can earn God’s favor by works. “But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.” (Galations 4:9-11) Our faith must only be in Christ and the finished work of the Cross, for we were saved by faith through GRACE and through GRACE alone we now abide and will continue to abide in Christ until He comes again. Our faith must not be in our works but our works must come from our faith. Do you believe and abide by the true Gospel?

Do you long and hope for the return of the Lord, the day when He will come and receive us unto Himself?

Paul says, “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.(1 John 3:2,3).” Do we long for the day when He will come and we will behold Him in the flesh and He will transform us fully to be like Him. Do we find ourselves constantly crying “Come Lord Jesus come.” If our faith is real, we will.

It is of vital importance that we have the assurance of our salvation and we can have this by testing the genuineness of our faith – it means the difference between life and death for each of us. We cannot afford to play church any longer. We cannot go on doing the religious things we normally do hoping that we are saved -- we cannot afford to not know whether we are saved or not. We cannot live the Christian life without experiencing for ourselves the divine essence of the Lord in a deeply personal relationship with Him. Beloved we must wade through all deceptions of pretence, performance, pride, need for man’s approval, doubt, traditions of men, religion, and self-pity and seriously examine our faith to ensure it is real so that we may have the assurance of our personal salvations.We must know that we know that we know we are saved. It is a personal matter of life and death for each of us for all of eternity.

If you do not know the Lord whether you thought you did or not, pray with me: Lord Jesus I believe you died and rose again. I repent of my sins and I ask you to wash me clean. I invite you into my heart Lord and ask you to transform my heart and change my life forever. Lord let me have the assurance of my salvation. Help me seek you out more and more and to live for you and only you from this day forward. Thank you Lord.