JOURNEY TO FREEDOM
UNIT IV Key 2 FAITH
SCRIPTURE PRINCIPLE: In addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one. Ephesians 6:16
In Romans 8:18, Paul says, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” Each of us was born to receive a place in our Father’s home in Heaven forever. Heaven is worth all the battles we must fight before we get there.
Our faith in Christ will not make an easy pathway through life for us. Prosperity theology is a common false teaching in our culture today. It sometimes teaches that if we manage our money the way its leaders recommend, financial benefits will come to us. While there are certain money management principles mentioned in Scripture, and we can benefit if we live by them, these do not guarantee an easy life.
An even more deceptive idea that has developed out of prosperity theology is that Christians will never have marital problems, their children will turn out well, they will never develop a serious illness, they will never be the victims of violence, and they will never be unemployed for any significant period of time. What happens to the faith of these people if their spouses treat them badly, their children rebel, they develop terminal illnesses, they are raped, or they submit hundreds of job applications without finding gainful employment?
Prosperity theology is not real faith. Prosperity theology teaches people to keep rules and regulations in an effort to avoid disaster. Prosperity theology is based on the Law rather than the Gospel. Prosperity theology leads people to blame themselves for their failures or when disaster strikes. Frequently it leads to a loss of faith in God, when in reality their faith was never in God but rather in their own ability to keep the rules.
Prosperity theology leads others to throw stones of judgment at those who are experiencing disaster, rather than reaching out with helping hands or at least words of encouragement. Prosperity theology leads people to ask, “What did you do wrong that caused this to happen to you? You must have done something bad. If you had done better, this would not have happened to you.” Many who already had a weak faith have left the Church under such an onslaught of criticism.
Real faith believes Psalm 46:1, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Real faith understands that when disaster strikes, God is in the middle of it with us. In a fallen world, bad things are going to happen, and some of those people to whom bad things happen will be faithful Christians.
In Daniel 3, we read about three Jewish men who refused to pray to a pagan idol. The penalty was death. The king gave them one last chance, saying, “…what god is there who can deliver you out of my hands?” Their answer was, “…our God Whom we serve is able to deliver us . . . even if He does not . . . we are not going . . . to worship the golden image that you have set up (verses 15 & 17-18).” That is real faith.
This story has a happy outcome. When the three faithful men were thrown into the furnace, Jesus made Himself visible in the midst of them. The pagan king of Babylon saw that “…the appearance of the 4th is like a son of the gods (verse 26)!” He had no other frame of reference, but he was aware that he was in the presence of a Power far greater than himself.
Battling lustful desires, sexual fantasies, the urge to objectify other people, negative thoughts, negative emotional states, distorted thinking, the negative influence of the people around us who have their own issues of sin, and the urge to strike out at the people around us who are negative, can make us feel as if we are in the fire. And we are.
What we need to see is that the battle itself is because our sexuality and our total selves are in the fire of God’s mercy. We are letting the Holy Spirit shine the light of truth from the Word on our thoughts, attitudes, sexual and other fantasies, secret agendas, hidden motivations, pride, self-deception, self-will, and anything else He shines His light upon.
We need faith to be in the fire. We need faith to believe that giving forgiveness is not somehow betraying ourselves, we need faith to offer love to people who respond with hostility and rejection, and we need faith to surrender our agendas and accept that God’s will is better. We need faith to believe that all the pain is going to lead to deliverance and joy. We need faith to believe that God will keep His promises that He gave us in His Word.
Jesus is in the middle of the fire with us, He has already gone to the cross on our behalf, and He is familiar with our weakness and our need. Faith tells us that we are never alone.
SCRIPTURE: (Write what each of these verse or passages mean to you and your situation.)
I Thessalonians 5:14-24
STUDY GUIDE (Feel free to write on the backside or use additional paper if necessary.)
1. Have you ever been angry with God for not making your life better, or have you ever blamed Him for bad things that happened? Please explain your answer.
2. What is wrong with that attitude?
3. Can you think of times when God sent you blessings that you had not expected, which surprised you?
4. How do you know when your faith has grown?
5. How has your growth of faith changed your attitudes?
6. What do you learn about spiritual warfare in the following passages?
2 Peter 1:3
7. On a scale of 1-10, how victorious have you been lately (1 is lowest, 10 is highest)? Please explain your answer.
8. Did you use any memorized Scripture to battle temptation lately? What was the result?
9. How is your spiritual life in general, how are your private devotions, and how are things at your church/fellowship group?
Plan of Action: (You may want to read the story in Daniel 3 and develop a plan of action based on what you learned from the temptations that the three Hebrews overcame.)