The Power of Active Faith
Overcoming the Stronghold of Unbelief
This teaching on the power of active faith is just one lesson of our free eCourse for personal transformation, "Matters of the Heart." All 24 lessons will be helpful to the person seeking restoration and freedom. They are also available in our Store as an ebook, a 176 page workbook and as CD and DVD sets of 24, 1/2 hour teachings.
"Blinded by the Light"?
Due to Adam’s sin, we were all born into a condition of not knowing our God. Unbelief, therefore, is the primary obstacle that every person on earth needs to overcome, since the faith connection to God has to be restored in order for us to be saved by His grace. Surprisingly, unbelief continues to be the primary obstacle that believers need to overcome.
But wait! Wouldn’t it make more sense to say this of un-believers? Certainly, unbelief is a huge obstacle for them—they’re still spiritually blind from birth—but that doesn’t diminish its power and effectiveness against those of us whose eyes have been opened by faith. In fact it is often (if not always) the thing that we don’t see which trips us up.
All Christians will tell you that they believe in Jesus. But have we been “blinded” by the light? The all-important issue of believing doesn’t end there. The demons also believe that the Father and Jesus exist, but they take no joy or peace in believing it, nor do they live yielded to Him in trust and obedience.
Since we are saved by grace through faith, it is entirely by means of faith that we are meant to access all that grace so freely supplies. For instance, God’s Word says that we who believe can be filled with all joy and peace “in believing.” If this is not what you are experiencing all day long, then perhaps there are a few things you still need to learn about recognizing and overcoming the stronghold of unbelief which may be quenching your faith.
The Power of Active Faith at Work
Believing is the active power of the new life—the power that activates the life that God desires to give us by His grace. The critical issue is believing God’s written Word with a full heart of faith. John says that he wrote his gospel in order for us to believe and to find life by believing (review Beholding the True Image).
But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. John 20:31
What John means by life is more than mere existence and it is not limited to heaven only. John is writing about a quality of life that is filled with joy, peace and love—what the Bible calls eternal life, New Creation life, or abundant life. Peter says that through believing we can find joy in the midst of trials and even receive the “end” or goal of our faith, the “salvation” of our souls—that is, experience peace and confidence of heart and mind in this life.
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials… Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:6, 8-9
There is evidently a way to hold our faith, even in the midst of hard trials, so that we have inexpressible and glorious joy—deep, inward encouragement. This is not will power. You cannot fake this kind of joy or work it up by your own efforts.
This joy is something anyone can experience by learning to fully believe God’s truth in the midst of a trial. But not just any truth will do! The feeling of being tried in our faith comes directly from a lack of trust in God about the situation. Therefore, being united by faith to the right truth about God will automatically begin producing joy in you as your trust is restored.
That is the power of active faith upheld by the Holy Spirit. Such joy is the fruit of dealing with unbelief and learning to activate faith with the truth of God’s Word. But know this: Very often your feelings, your understanding and your circumstances will seem to be shouting out that God’s Word can’t be true for you.
Unbelief is a stronghold that the enemy has built into every believer. We all have limits to what we are presently able to believe about God (“Does He love me in this?”) and to what we are able to believe God for (“Will He help me with this?”). If this were not so we would already be filled with the joy that Peter says can be ours in the midst of our trials—just as Paul and Silas experienced in prison.
If we are not there yet, it is vital that we begin to learn to recognize the ways in which our own unbelief is limiting our growth in the Lord and keeping us bound to patterns of the past.
Unbelief is also a block to healing. Jesus could not do many healings in Nazareth because of the town’s spiritual climate of unbelief. The lack of miraculous healings and supernatural events in the Western church may be a warning sign that a climate of unbelief surrounds us also.
Active Faith Fully Believes God's Word
Biblical faith in God is fully believing God at His Word, even in the face of great adversity. Such faith believes that God is true to His Word. Unbelief is the opposite of faith in God and His Word. Unbelief is the sin of hardness of heart that doesn’t trust God’s Person, purposes or promises. Unbelief is the stronghold that kept God’s people out of the land promised to them as their inheritance.
Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion… As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest.'" Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. Hebrews 3:7-8, 11-12
Forty years of wandering in the wilderness happened to the children of Israel because they drew back in fear and unbelief from following God and Moses into the Promised Land, their place of “rest.” Have you been wandering, seeking rest, yet finding none?
Our promised place of rest is “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding”—the peace that Jesus gives us in any situation whenever we surrender our fears and our obedience to Him and abide in Him. There is no peace without complete surrender. There is no abiding in rest without being willing to trust and obey.
Sometimes we have to labor to enter that rest. Always we have to keep watch lest the enemy “draw us away” from our new life of trust and obedience. Our promised land is a life of abundant joy and peace lived in close relationship with Jesus Christ in this life and the next.
Although heaven is promised to all who believe, God’s Kingdom on earth is promised to those who engage the battle of fighting to exercise their faith.
From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. Matthew 11:12
A convincing temptation to doubt God’s Word precipitated the Fall into sin. So convincing is the enemy’s deception, that at critical points in our growth we will find it much easier to believe the lies that the enemy has sown into our lives, than the truths from God’s Word that the Holy Spirit is seeking to teach us. Forewarned is forearmed!
Let us never forget that the Word of the Lord is the effective instrument by which everything that now exists was created. All of creation is a testimony to the truth and power of God’s Word to create and to sustain life. It is impossible that God could ever speak forth a Word that would not be true—His Word is truth. He cannot lie.
Yet, there is one whose word should never be trusted. From the beginning God’s Word has been contested by Satan. He seeks to “father” us into believing his lies, seeing from his distorted perspective and walking in his false ways.
You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. John 8:44
God Promises; Faith Believes
God seeks a people who will serve Him in Spirit and truth. God’s answer to the Fall was to cultivate a son of Adam who would believe God at His Word and therefore become the spiritual father to a nation of restored believers.
In calling Abraham, God promised him great things which Abraham at first gladly believed. Notice, however, that God did not make it easy for Abraham to go on believing the promises. The unexpectedly long delay between the promises and their fulfillment (with the birth of Isaac) severely tested Abraham’s ability to believe God’s Word..
Get the grace of believing He loves you--even in your times of unbelief!
Father, it is not my faith that saves me—I am being saved by Your love, Your truth, Jesus’ Blood, and the Holy Spirit’s power. Forgive me for taking credit for what I believe (for You alone opened my eyes) and for turning a blind eye to what I have not been believing (that You have already shown me to be true). I cast down all past pride and fear. I want to become able to see this hidden stronghold when it is blocking me. Help me to believe what You believe.
Next Healing Lesson
Lesson 14: Discerning the Accuser
Overcoming the stronghold of shame and blame
Interested in Going Deeper?
Don't just give these truths a "head bob"—take our free eCourse for Healing. For further study and for help working these truths into your heart and life, see The Power of Believing Part 2 (Head to Heart Guide 1). In all there are 24 Main Healing Lessons and 24 Head to Heart Guides to help you bring your heart to God and receive His Great Heart for you in return!