For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.
Faith is a gift of God. As we all know, a gift isn’t something we earn, but something that is given to us as an act of love and good favor. Not one of us can take credit for our faith. And this is the first point the passage above is making. If we recognize the gift of faith, not to think more highly than we ought to think, but to think soberly. This means to think with a clear mind – not clouded by something that impairs us. Like pride, self-righteousness, or religion based on personal achievement.
Each of us has been dealt a measure of faith. Consider the power of faith. By faith, we are promised that mountains are moved. By faith we pray and see God’s power in our lives. By faith we discover the gift of salvation and receive Christ – for you are saved by grace through faith, and that not of yourselves.
Faith is the power to believe, receive, and walk victoriously in this life. Or as 1 John 5:4 puts it:
For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.
This wonderful passage explains it well. Whatever is born of God overcomes. Notice, it is not what we produce, but what God produces in us. That which comes from God overcomes the world – and that is our faith. Faith is not you and I forcing ourselves to believe. Faith is God revealing Himself and His plan to our spirit so we can believe in what God is doing.
When the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Lord, increase our faith,” Jesus held up a grain of mustard seed. He explained that if their faith was only the size of a tiny grain, it was enough. Why? That which is born of God overcomes the world. With God, size is irrelevant. The only measurement of truth is whether something is God’s will or contrary to His will. From this point we merely align ourselves with the will of God and believe He will do as He said.
Jesus then explained another important truth. On another occasion, the disciples failed to accomplish something they knew God had equipped them to do. When they asked why, Jesus said, “Because of your unbelief.” He then reiterated the truth that having faith the size of a mustard seed was enough. In other words, they had the faith, but they failed because of their unbelief. Faith is of the Spirit for it is born of God. Unbelief is of the flesh because it is born of man. The disciples didn’t lack faith. They trusted in their unbelief. They believed the flesh over the Spirit; therefore, they could not see the power of God.
We too struggle in this area. The real battle in our lives is not a lack of faith, but a lack of trusting in the faith God has given us. We tend to trust our flesh over God’s Spirit. Why does my flesh overcome me? It rises up and claims preeminence and I believe it. Yet God has promised that the faith He has given me overcomes the world – including my flesh. I trust the flesh over the word of God.
Yet an amazing thing happens when I remember the power of God. The flesh rises up to war against my mind and bring me back into captivity to sin. This can be anger, bitterness, greed, lust, or any other craving of the flesh. But how did I escape from the bondage of sin and receive the gift of salvation? I heard the word of the gospel message, believed it, and looked to the cross. I trusted Jesus to take away my sins and give me a new life and make me into a new creation.
This principle doesn’t change after we become children of God. In fact, it applies all the more. When my flesh rises up, I look to the promise of God – this is the victory that overcomes – I again look to the cross and believe God. I put my trust in what Jesus has already done for me. The Bible says that Jesus has put to death the flesh with it’s passions and desires, and I have been crucified with Christ. This body of flesh has already been done away with.
For many years I struggled needlessly because I looked ahead, striving to overcome. It wasn’t until I looked back to the cross that I realized my victory has already been accomplished. My flesh attempts to war against my mind, but it has no power over me unless I yield my mind to it. I have been crucified with Christ and am now free to live for righteousness. Not because I have done anything, but because I believe God’s word and receive this gift offered through the cross. It has already been done. I believe it and by faith live in the Spirit and not the flesh.
If you belong to Christ, you are already free. Believe God and live in the promise!
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