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Saturday, August 16, 2014

How Faith Overcomes - Part VI

Edward F. Lundwall Jr.

Because Satan gained control of the world by inciting our first parents to follow him by believing his gospel of seeking self satisfaction through human wisdom, the world's culture is devoid of love and light. In the world, the expression of love of someone is usually a conditional act of deception. “I love you because…” or “I love you if…” or “I love you when…” are the hidden phrases behind most “I love you.” Each implies a motive of getting something that is unknown by the other person. They are an act of darkness.

The result is pain and suffering or punishment if the deceitful one does not get his motivating desire or if he has gotten his hidden desire, he is unsatisfied, tires of it, or resents any responsibilities or consequences it brings with it. For example, a man may “love” his wife “because she is beautiful,” but when age, illness, childbearing, or accident reduces that attractiveness, his love turns to dissatisfaction, neglect of the marriage relationship, resentment of her expectations and his responsibilities, adulterous relationships, abuse, and even divorce.

Another example is the woman whose love is dependent on what a man can provide for her materially or to satisfy her vanity. When her expectations are not fulfilled, she acts out in selfish ways, pouts, manipulates, nags, often seeks those things in ways that are inappropriate, disrespectful, and disloyal. Both are acting darkly just as a child who pouts because he did not get what he wanted.

In Galatians 5, this character of worldly love is spelled out as the works of the flesh. Since the worldly person considers one's self to be his god, he or she claims a right to demand or force his will. One does whatever he needs to do to get what he wants whether he hurts himself or others in the process of overcoming the obstacles in his way by forceful self assertion. Examples of persons having fleshly character are found in dysfunctional families, socialistic political movements, revolutions, and crime elements.

What one truly loves is the object that one occupies their time obtaining. What people choose to love reveals where they put their faith. The person who loves the world believes that the world's culture possesses the things that benefit him. The same applies to God and the things of God, Hebrews 11:6 says, “…without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is rewards those who seek Him.”

First John 1:1-4 states that the basis of faith and fulfillment resides in the reality of Christ's coming. In Him is revealed the solution of the world's ignorance and the turmoil of personal nature of sin. He is the immediate Creator of all things before they were corrupted by man's sin (John 1:1-3; Genesis 1:31). In His resurrected Person, He becomes the Head and Life Source for the regenerate and a new creation: “So also it is written, ‘” Adam became a living soul."’ The last Adam (Christ) became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual. The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven.” (1 Corinthians 15:45-47; 1 John 5:10-13).

Through a trusting relationship with Christ, the corrupted worldly troubles can be replaced. The new birth that Jesus talks about in John 3 allows a person to become a new person from the inside out. “For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son that whoever would believe in Him would have everlasting life (Verse 16). Paul writes that by being a new person through faith in Christ, God “…has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places…” (Ephesians 1:3 NASU) How does one appropriate those spiritual blessings? Paul answers that question by example: “…we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18 NASU) The practical way of understanding “beholding…the glory of the Lord” is to understand that this is just seeing His surpassing worth.

How then does faith overcome the world and its lack of real love? It is by a willful replacement of worldly culture’s views and actions by the provisions gifted us through faith in Christ in three ways:

1. By continuing a daily learning attitude and practicing of Christ's commands (Matthew 28:20); studying, meditating, and applying the Holy Scriptures to your life (2 Corinthians 10:4, 5).

2. By reflecting God’s character by a pattern of pure and intelligent love; emptying of one’s selfish desires to be filled with the Holy Spirit's teaching through meditation and prayer (James 1:2-8).

3. By maintaining an appropriate relationship with the Lord on every level of maturity; being faithful to follow Christ’s leading in every area of your life and from every stage of your life (Philippians 3:12-14).

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