Abraham, the father of our faith, believed in a God “who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist. In hope against hope he believed” (Rom. 4:17-18).
Nothing but faith is capable of seeing the invisible, believing the impossible. As Abraham’s children, we are part of a crazy bloodline of impossibilities. We see promises in sand and stars, and in our abject, quantifiable barrenness we dare to call forth a lineage of kings. Mind you, the heritage we hope for does not otherwise exist, except that we believe it does. Hope against hope. And so, in God’s improbable math, it does.
Yet faith does not only transform the world around us, it creates a fully transformed reality within us.
Matthew 5:48 says: “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” What happens when you read this verse? If you are like most, even a casual reading causes our hearts to respond with near lethal doses of centuries of ingrained unbelief. Every possible excuse and Sunday School explanation instantly leaps to mind, or we draw upon super-spiritual approaches which carefully mask our unbelief. It is a wonderful truth that we are made perfect in Christ, spiritually. But that is not the whole truth, meaning that is not the end of that truth. There must come a generation which is willing to take the command literally. We will never overcome the massive barriers of disbelief which force us to render this and other verses in purely spiritual, almost metaphorical terms, until we are willing to become terribly foolish in our level of obedience and proclamation. And what is our proclamation? It is that Jesus is Lord,even of the sin we do not think we can ever conquer.
G. Cambell Morgan said, “Salvation is righteousness made possible. If you tell me that salvation is deliverance from hell, I tell you that you have an utterly inadequate understanding of what salvation is…However enfeebled the will may be, however polluted the nature, the gospel comes bringing to men the message of power enabling them to do right.”
If He is Lord, then we are, right now, enabled to obey all His commands, not through self-will or self-effort, but through faith. Precisely because Jesus is Lord, when faith is transacted, God is able to bring an otherwise impossible thing to pass. Sin is really no different than any other mountain that must be cast into the sea, except that it has come to seem different in our minds and tradition. It looks bigger from our perspective because we are made of the same flesh in which sin dwells. But to God, who is spirit, and who calls us to that place in the spirit where sin becomes powerless, all we need is a mustard seed. Faith for holiness is a small thing. The matrix of life overwhelms our senses, smothering our ability to see reality and believe. We begin to break free when we regain the wonder of our big God. You know yourself too well, right? All your problems and foibles don’t inspire hope. I know, I get it. That is why we must believe, hope against hope.
“Faith…is by its very nature scarcely conscious of its own existence. Like the eye which sees everything in front of it and never sees itself, faith is occupied with the Object on which it rests and pays no attention to itself at all…The man who has struggled to purify himself and has had nothing but repeated failures will experience real relief when he stops tinkering with his soul and looks away to the perfect One.” (A.W. Tozer)