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Sunday, July 20, 2014

How Faith Overcomes – Part IV

Edward F. Lundwall Jr.

When, in academic circles, humanism becomes actively atheistic, the world culture aggressively aims at destroying faith, and consequently, lives. In the last four decades, the drug and sex obsessed culture has continued the pattern of self-worship. Immorality, homosexuality, and the breakdown of marriage have manifested itself in the works of the flesh resulting in over 50 million abortions, a 50% marriage failure rate, increasing gender and role confusion, and the multiple problems associated with single and same-sex parenting.

Preceding the works of the manifested works of the flesh, however, inward battles in thought and emotions take place. Matthew 12:24 (NASU) describes this: “… the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart “(defined here as the emotional life). The popularity of counselors and psychiatrists are evidence of the battles in thought and emotions brought about by a struggle with the promptings of the flesh to act in ways that are both destructive to ones’ self and to others. Emotions alone are confusing. “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9 NASU)

Emotional life only exhibits what the mind embraces. The intellect is the place where inward and outward battles are fought and decided. Second Corinthians 10:3-5 explains, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing that rises up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.”

Most counselors and psychiatrists agree with the Bible. A person’s emotional life is formed and controlled by thought life, because when man relies simply upon his own emotional reasoning, strife and confusion result. Emotions magnify thought life. Human history bears abundant witness of this. When one relies on his own wisdom, emotional conflict results and, when one harbors on an idea that causes emotional conflict, it becomes more intense. In so doing, a person becomes the center of his own life, making himself a god. In doing so he makes his emotional ideas define perceived needs as absolute that must be met! Sometimes he gets these thoughts from or about other humans he believes can meet his needs. Satan used this mental and emotional connection when he tempted Eve: "For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil" (Genesis 3:5 NASU). Being a self-appointed god by believing that their choices were better than God’s protective boundaries (commands) led Adam and Eve to believe that that authority was rooted within their own selves. Thereby, they discounted any other source of consideration, even God's warning.

Worldly culture caters to this self-focused perception of life. Political and advertisements, for example, convey messages to persuade others to respectively vote or buy on the basis of for self-centered benefits. Invariably, all the works of the flesh are expressions of self-centeredness like a sovereign god! This results in consequences which exclude or harm others. Eve’s decision to reject God’s wisdom for the sake of following her own, led to persuading Adam to follow her delusion. This principle of reasoning has not only produced conflicts within families, but also innumerable societal problems, and wars between nations.

Yet there is hope! Sufficient cultivation of faith overcomes worldly influence. Jesus said, “In the world, you have tribulation. But, take heart, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) He lived out a trust in the Heavenly Father (John 5) that overcame all the hostility that the world could throw at Him. He was persuaded that what God declared (protective boundaries) was what the person who wanted to be free from the effects of world exposure must focus his life upon. Jesus replied to Satan’s worldly persuasion, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4)

This is how believer’s faith overcomes the world; he exposes and saturates his mind to the truthful ministrations of God's Word. Jesus said, “If you continue in my word, then you are truly disciples of mine, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (John 8:31 & 32 NASU) Paul stated in Romans 10:17, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” “The Word” here is not the written Word, but is the Greek word for verbal transmission. This fits in the context superbly, i.e., “hearing and hearing” from the ministry of a preacher in the preceding verses 14, 15 of Romans 10. In our information age of technology, the “hearing and hearing” of God’s Word can be easily achieved through printed/written text, audio listening, and visual multimedia presentation on the Internet and television as well as in the traditional Church setting. However, we are admonished in 1 Thessalonians 5:21, to “examine everything carefully and to hold fast to that which is good.” Like the early believers of Thessalonica, we need to search the scriptures daily with open minds and heart to obey the truths we find. (Acts 17:11) Discernment is vital, since the battle of faith to overcome conformity to the standards of the world resides within the mind, choosing what to think and feel. In doing so, we will be freed from the domination of sin and its consequences (John 8:31-36; 1 John 3:9; Romans 7:23-8:5; 2 Corinthians 3:17, 18).

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