Faith & Righteousness, a matter of heart by Pastor Don
I love God!!!! When He wants me to get a lesson, He repeats it over and over. Pastor Don taught on the love of God. I was smiling through the Bible study because the Holy Spirit was sharing the same information He gave me. Pastor Don started out by praying that our faith would be built to a higher level through this study.
We started out in Romans 9:30 What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, but attained to righteousness, even the righteousness of faith;
It is a mystery, if we have faith and act in faith that God attributes it to righteousness.
Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
We must have faith that He is. That faith lets us know we are in right standing with God. Was God pleased with Abraham? Yes, for Abraham stepped out in faith and followed God’s direction. Abraham did not attain righteousness by keeping the laws and commandments perfectly. Abraham lived 100’s of years before God gave Moses the law. What pleased God about Abraham is he trusted God and He obeyed God because of faith.
Obedience is the result of faith. You can obey and not believe or you can obey because you believe. God values obedience because of belief. God is looking for faith, and our faith is counted as righteousness. Faith puts us in a position to be in right standing with God.
When God gave Moses the law, some obeyed the law from their head, but not from their hearts. They did not fully believe in God, and were just going through the motions. When there would be a choice given between an action based on faith, or an action that had no faith needed, they would choose the action with no faith needed.
Pastor Don then gave a few Biblical examples. He talked about Jacob who went to get a bride, ended up with two brides. One was Rachel. Rachel left with Jacob. Jacob had proved he was fruitful. He had repeatedly multiplied the animals under his care, showing that he had favor with God. Rachel did not fully have faith in God, so she stole her father’s idols. Hiding them under her buttocks, on her beast of burden. What was the fruit of trying to serve God and idols? She was barren. She didn’t consider that God sent a man halfway around the world to get her, who had proved his productivity. She made her choice to have idols. Her lack of faith put her into a position of unrighteousness. There was no law at this time, but she was not acting in faith in God.
We act in similar ways. We pray for things that do not happen, put our faith in God for a short while, then we start looking elsewhere for answers to what we prayed for. We do not believe God will provide. Sometimes we have put our faith in the wrong place. While our faith is operational in one part of our lives, we did not put our faith where it mattered the most.
Romans 9:31-32 But Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness. Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone. (Heather’s note, the Israelites stumbled at the stumbling stone who is the Messiah.)
The “it” that the people of Israel did not seek was righteousness by faith. They tried to have righteousness by the law, by works. That is the problem with the modern-day church, which is still seeking righteousness, but not operating in faith to receive it. Pastor Don said people get into routines in their prayer lives, deal with works and actions to try and get God to answer their prayers. When an answer to prayer does not come, or doesn’t come quick enough people start thinking, “God did not answer me because I did or didn’t do ____.”
Pastor Don grew up in a Baptist household, and he told us that Baptists believe in right standing with God, and before communion they are told to check themselves to see if they are in right standing. When prayers are not answered, sometimes they think that they are so righteous that God is not answering a prayer to teach them something, or that God wants them to bear with something.Catholics have so much guilt so, when prayers are not answered, they figure it is their sins, or lack of going to confession that brings no answer to their prayers. Pentecostals, if there is no immediate response to prayer, embrace one of two thoughts, that I did wrong, or they are doing so much good it is causing the devil to beat them up.
What most church denominations teach, is we have to do something to be in right standing with God. But our faith by itself places us in right standing with God. Everything else is excuse making. Why? Pastor Don gave another Biblical example.
Mark 5 talks about the demon possessed man of the Gaderenes. This man saw Jesus and ran to meet and worship Him. Jesus cast out the demon whose name was Legion, because there were many. Pastor Don said the demons did not have possession of all of the man because there was some part of the man, body, soul or spirit that let him run to the Lord. His diligence in seeking out Jesus set him free from demonic possession. Just like Hebrews 11:6 (see above) says, God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. By placing himself in the right position regarding Jesus, He was rewarded with liberty from demons.
Another example was the two thieves on the cross. One of the thieves said, Luke 23:42 Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.”
All the thief did was recognize Jesus is “Lord”. The act of calling Jesus “Lord” was an act of righteousness. He recognized in his Heart that Jesus was Lord.
Romans 10:1 Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved.
Where is Paul’s desire? In his heart. Our faith must reside in our heart, not our head. Heart faith pleases God.
Romans 10:8-10 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart (that is the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
With our heart we believe to righteousness, with our mouth to salvation. Someone told Pastor Don he had a person say the prayer of salvation and they used this verse with them. How do they know if the person said it from their head or their heart? Pastor Don said we cannot judge if a person is speaking from their head or their heart, only God knows. Real change happens only when we speak from the heart. Not everyone who says they want to change really want to change from their heart.
Someone came to Pastor Don and told him faith didn’t work for them. Their way of thinking, believing and identity had them thinking they couldn’t have faith. Pastor Don said maybe they could not ride a bicycle now, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t learn how to ride a bicycle. It wasn’t that they couldn’t, it was just that they had not had the right opportunities or chance to learn how. They could learn how if they chose to try. We have to get to a point of being willing to trust God.
In church there is a misunderstanding of what faith in God is. Many want to turn it to legalism or wrong thinking. Others think, “Oil me up, and then faith will work.” Some think, if you can get a few people screaming or having outward manifestations of faith, faith will work. They are missing the important thing – that it is in the HEART, as verse 10 states With the Heart one believes unto righteousness.
Pastor Don told us, if you say the truth often enough, at some point it can then reach your heart and righteousness, but if it just stays head knowledge, it is belief unto salvation. Many in the church do not operate in righteousness BY FAITH. God sets them apart as saved, but besides salvation, there is wholeness, health, and prosperity that comes with being born again. But that does not come unless with the heart one believes unto righteousness.
Psalm 103:2-5 Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget now all His benefits. Who forgives all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from destruction, who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, who satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
In church people do not believe the benefits. They believe to salvation, but do not believe for heaven on earth, or that God can help them out of their condition. Because of our thinking we limit the benefits we are not supposed to forget.
Pastor Don continued with more about the heart, which I will share tomorrow.
Hoping your day is blessed.
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