It is a fine line that we walk as Christians for we need to always be aware of what we hold to by faith. There are many things that people believe that have no basis in the bible, and many other things that are held as forms of Christianity that are based on twisted, wrong and even invented beliefs.
The challenge for all of us is to sift the truth from error and hold fast to what is good while we reject what is evil.
But in that process as we learn, there will be doubts. And doubts do us no good at all for doubt is what kills faith. Doubt is the antithesis of faith and while strength in the Lord is based upon faith, doubt brings weakness, destruction and death.
Here the scripture exhorts us to hold fast to our faith and to be in no doubt as to what we believe. But it also gives allowances for those whose faith is weak in some way. And that is the path of compassion that is one of the blessings of the Lord.
Faith is the victory over the world. Faith gives us the ability to stand before God, righteous by His gift through grace and able to be transformed into the image of God.
Faith is the key to all the gifts we receive from God and without faith there is no chance of salvation.
Hebrews 11:1 tells us that “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for.”
Those words of hope and assurance are words of strength. They indicate power and more specifically the power of transformation that comes from God, which we can receive only by faith until the realization of our hope in Jesus Christ is received.
When faith is strong we are strong. Faith is about relying wholly upon the strength of God to deliver, teach, exhort, train and transform our lives into the image of Jesus Christ. This is the purpose of faith, that we may become like Jesus and thus like God, built up in love and able to live with Him and with each other in perfect harmony.
Faith is built on such things as humility, compassion, mercy and love. And as the final verse of 1 Corinthians 13 proclaims, “So faith, hope and love abide, these three. But the greatest of these is love.”
And this is where faith leads us. By faith we learn and grow into the image of love and thus realize the hope set before us.
Doubt on the other hand kills the work of God.
When we doubt we cease to believe and faith fails. When we doubt we cease to believe that God can do anything and we accept failure as our lot.
Doubt leads to destruction for doubt kills faith and thus reduces the ability of God to work with us and in us. It is the work of satan to sow seeds of doubt in our hearts and minds for that is his number one weapon against Christians.
And satan will use all manner of weapons to sow the seeds of doubt in our minds. And know this, the battle for our souls is not a physical battle but a spiritual battle that is being waged in our minds as the forces of good and evil fight to claim us.
Satan uses physical things like fear to sow doubt in our minds. Things like, are we safe in this world where terror is on the rise? Will we have enough money for retirement? Will we be able to earn sufficient income to feed our family? Will thieves come in and steal my stuff? Will I or someone I love be caught in another mass shooting attack?
Or whatever else strikes fear into the hearts of people in this day and age.
When we doubt we stop believing. Specifically we stop believing that God is capable of protecting us and saving us from ANY situation.
But consider the examples of the apostles and disciples and prophets of days gone by. How many times were they in desperate situations but because they held fast to their faith they came through unscathed? Consider the afflictions of Paul or Daniel or Shadrach, Meshech and Abednego or any of the others who were imprisoned, shipwrecked, stoned, cast into dens of lions or furnaces, pursued by enemies.
Then consider the salvation of the Lord in each and every case, how God intervened and these disciples and prophets of the Lord were saved time and time again.
This is proof of the power of God to save those who have faith and hold fast their convictions in the Lord. And these examples have been set down for each of us to learn, remember and hold onto in our own times of need.
Would any of these people have been saved from the dire circumstances they were in if they had doubted? Probably not. And it is the same for us today. The hand of the Lord is not short but extends to all areas of our lives…if we have faith. So do not let doubt cloud your faith or prevent you from receiving the blessing and protection of the Lord as you walk with Him.
Finally, love conquers all. As noted in the verse from 1 Corinthians 13:13 above, it is evident that love is the greatest of all. And this is certain simply because God IS love and there is nothing greater than God.
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. – (1 Corinthians 13:13)
But while love is certainly the greatest of these three, the others are important in this day and age. In the future when the Lord returns we will no longer have need of hope because our hopes will be realized upon the return of Jesus. Likewise faith will be of lesser significance for we will have direct access and be able to stand in the direct physical presence of Jesus Christ and God the Father.
But today both faith and hope are important and necessary for it is our hope for salvation that keeps us going and it is by faith that we shall walk the journey to Christ and be transformed into His image.
As faith transforms us into the image of the love of God we learn to apply love in all situations. And this is part of the point of this section of scripture in Romans 14:20-23.
It is by love that we need to learn how to live upright, righteous and holy lives in Jesus Christ. And it is by exercising love towards ourselves and others that we show the love of God in us. These verses show aspects of the interaction of faith and love as we live and as we interact with others.
20 Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats. 21 It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble. 22 The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves. 23 But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin. – (Romans 14:20-23)
There will be people we meet in the course of our lives who do not believe some of the same things we believe. Some will hold fast to beliefs that in the total scheme of things are not critical to salvation. Such things as whether you can or cannot eat certain foods.
As Paul shows here in verse 20 that even though he believes everything is clean and thus OK to eat, it is through love that he would choose NOT to eat certain foods if by doing so it would upset the faith or the conscience of another person.
Paul is not saying that he is or did become a vegetarian, but instead that when he is in the presence of those who believe you cannot eat certain meats or other foods, then he would not eat those things for the sake of THEIR conscience.
This is showing the love of God to others because Paul was putting their concerns before his own.
And it is the same with many other beliefs that are held by the churches today. Some hold that you should not eat red meat on Friday and especially on Easter Good Friday. There is no biblical basis for such a belief and so it makes no difference whether you do or don't. However, if the other person is offended if you do eat meat on Friday or good Friday, then you are no longer walking in God's love towards that person.
The final verse of the section above pretty much spells out the faith process we all need to live by, and that is, be faithful in what you believe. Hold fast to the faith that you have and do not let another person take away what you have by sowing the seeds of doubt.
I would add to that though that it is important to have discussions and conversations with those who DO believe differently to yourself because YOU may learn something new. It may be YOUR belief that is not fully aligned with the truth of the bible. We are all learning and growing and we should not close our minds to anything that may help us grow.
But do not doubt. Listen to what they say and then confirm the truth from the scriptures. Ask them to show you where the bible says to do what they are saying or to believe what they believe. Test the words to ensure that what you hold onto is the truth and seek the truth from the Lord through prayer, bible study and the leading of the Holy Spirit.
The Lord has promised He will reveal the truth to all who seek. So hold faith, do not doubt and walk in love with all people regardless of what they may believe. You may learn something new and conversely you may the chosen vessel of the Lord to teach them something new when you approach faith through love.
(Photo sourced from freeimages.com provided by Pablo Medina)
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