Faith is a word the apostle Paul used often in his writing. When writing to the Thessalonians, he wanted to know about their faith.
While the word faith means belief or absolute trust, it’s more than that—the word also implies loyalty and commitment.
Faith means being convinced that something is true. In 1 Corinthians 15:17, the apostle told the Corinthians that if Jesus did not rise from the dead, their faith was meaningless. He was saying that all they believed was utterly useless. True faith acknowledges that the message of Jesus’ death and resurrection is true.
True faith begins when we’re receptive—when we’re willing to listen. It starts with a kind of mental assent—it seems reasonable that it’s true. But that’s not true faith. True faith happens when we say, “Not only does it make sense to me, but I’m willing to stake my life on it.”
Paul quoted from Habakkuk 2:4, saying that the just—the righteous—shall live by faith. One way to think of the just is to think of those who were “justified,” or made right, by the death of Jesus Christ on the cross.
If we are justified, it means that God treats us as though we are not and have never been sinners. He treats us as His own—His beloved children. Instead of being God’s enemies, we’re His friends. Instead of fighting Him, we serve Him.
When God calls us just, or righteous, we enter into a relationship of love, confidence, and friendship. We need not fear or worry because there is no punishment for us.
When Paul says the just and upright shall live by faith, he means that those of us who have been made right with God live by our faith. That is, we live by our trust in the God who reaches out to us.
This is where many must fight the wiles of Satan. Instead of focusing on all God has done for us, they listen to the devil whisper, “Do you remember when you lost your temper?” “You’re worried about paying your bills, and if you worry, you don’t have faith, right?” “If you’re supposed to be a Christian, how could you have said what you did?”
The torments are there, and Satan never passes up the opportunity to remind us of past failures. All have failed, and we will continue to fail, but when we do, we can repent and move on.
Joyce Meyer said she went through a particularly difficult time several years ago when there was absolutely no joy or peace in her life. “Unhappiness filled most of my days. I repeatedly asked the Lord what was wrong with me, really wanting to know what my problem was. I was working so hard to please the Lord and trying to be the kind of Christian I thought I should be, but I certainly didn’t feel like any progress was being made.
“Then one day, I came across Romans 15:13 (AMPC) in a box of scripture cards: May the God of your hope so fill you with all joy and peace in believing [through the experience of your faith] that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound and be overflowing (bubbling over) with hope. That was it! I got it!
“I had plunged into doubt and unbelief, allowing the enemy to torment me with his evil lies. As a result, I had become negative, grouchy, short-tempered, and impatient. I was making myself miserable, and Satan was thrilled at the stronghold he had over me!
“This scripture changed all of that old thinking! I knew the answer. Jesus loved me so much that He not only forgave all my sins of the past, but He also looked ahead and forgave me for those moments of weakness when I’d fail in the future. I’m not referring to deliberate sin, but to human weaknesses, those times when I just don’t live up to all the truth I know.”
She continued: “‘Just think,’ I told my husband, ‘two thousand years ago Jesus not only died on the cross for all my sins before I even knew Him, but for all of my sins and failures until the day I meet Him face to face.’ That was such a powerful thought to me.
“Then I pondered the words of Paul in Romans 1:17. I finally understood the concept of living from faith to faith. I don’t have to allow Satan to sneak in with questions or unbelief. I can live every moment moving from faith to more faith to more faith.”