Faith: Believing with the Heart
Faith is Static and enduring
- Once we believe something with the heart, it becomes fixed and steadfast and no one, including ourselves, can talk us out of it—even when it is not the truth.
- Unfortunately, many people believe the truth of the Gospel intellectually, but they have not been persuaded of the truth by the Spirit within their hearts.
- When the Spirit persuades us the truth of the Gospel in our hearts we have the assurance of salvation and cannot be moved. It would take God Himself to convince us otherwise —which will never occur.
- We come to believe all that we believe because someone or something persuaded us to believe it to be true. This is the “Trust and Authority Principle.”
Faith (what we believe with the heart) is static and enduring. Once we believe something with the heart, it becomes fixed and steadfast and no one, including ourselves, can talk us out of it—even when it is not the truth.
This was never more evident than in the early years of my ministry, just prior to the beginning of TPM. During this time I held a weekly support group for women who were survivors of childhood sexual abuse. The memories they recalled brought forth all kinds of terrible emotions. I asked them why they felt what they were feeling and they responded with answers such as “I am dirty and shameful,” “I am out of control and cannot make it stop,” “I must have done something to have caused it to happen,” “It was my fault.” I knew that all of these statements were lies and I tried to convince them of the truth. They, too, knew these were lies. The problem was that the lies still felt true. Nothing I said convinced them to let go of the lies they believed in their hearts so they might embrace the truth. They wanted to believe, but their lies were fixed and steadfast.
On the positive side, the steadfastness of heart belief is made evident by our certainty of the Lord’s salvation. When we believe the Gospel with our hearts, we are made right with God as the scriptures declare, “For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved” (Rom. 10:10). When we become persuaded of God and convinced of the Gospel, it is the “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Rom. 1:16).
Unfortunately, many people believe the truth of the Gospel intellectually, but they have not been persuaded of the truth by the Spirit within their hearts. Intellectual belief is not saving faith. Intellectual “believers” often struggle with feeling assured of their salvation. It is possible for them to be swayed by persuasive argument, knocked off course by a life difficulty, and if they don’t feel saved they deny what they do feel and try harder to believe.
They are doing their very best to “be saved” by trying to believe the Gospel, but because they have not been persuaded of this truth by the Spirit within their hearts, they lack the “assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen…” (Heb. 11:1). When we know the truth in our hearts we have the assurance of salvation and cannot be moved. It would take God Himself to convince us otherwise —which will never occur. When the Spirit has persuaded us of the truth in our hearts, we are confidently assured of our place with God. If we do not believe with our hearts, then we are not saved.
No person or circumstance can ever talk me out of what I believe to be the truth in my heart. This is why I have the assurance of my salvation. I did not decide to believe and become saved, rather, the Spirit convinced me (peitho = persuasion) of the truth and as an outcome, I believed. People who struggle with the assurance of their salvation may want to determine if they have believed with the heart, or if they have only a mental assent for the Gospel.
We are persuaded of the truth, not by effort or determination to believe, but rather because we have been convinced of the truth by someone or thing that we trust and know has a greater knowledge and understanding than we possess ourselves. This is why that unless someone with greater influence than God comes along and convinces me otherwise, I will continue to believe and be assured of my salvation. I believe because the Spirit convinced me of the truth of the Gospel.
We refer to this as the Trust and Authority Principle. We come to believe all that we believe because someone or something persuaded us to believe it to be true. We cannot persuade ourselves of anything. Everything that we currently believe was because we were persuaded of it. Belief is always the outcome of having been persuaded by some outside force. Once we are persuaded it requires someone or something that we trust and who holds a higher authority of knowledge to talk us out of what we believe.
I can know how to become a Christian with the knowledge I gained through instruction and study of the Bible. However, unless God shines His light into my heart and brings about this belief, I cannot be saved. Likewise, I can believe the Scriptures with my intellect and still never be transformed by them. Unless God enlightens me and “opens the eyes of my heart,” I cannot have faith. “For God, who said, ‘Light shall shine out of darkness’ is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6).
Faith is a Gift from God.
- We can increase our knowledge of the truth apart from God’s help, but only God can increase our faith.
- Faith—experiential heart belief that we believe to be true with absolute certainty—is only established in the context of an experience with God.
- We will “see” whatever we believe. The positive side to this is, when we know the truth in our hearts, we can “walk by faith and not by sight…”(2 Cor. 5:7).
- When we know the truth in our hearts, our emotions will match the truth we believe, and we will live out this truth spontaneously.
- It will require no more effort to live out the truth than it did to live out any lie we may have believed.
God gives faith to each believer. The Apostle Paul alluded to this faith when he admonished the church saying, “… Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you” (Rom. 12:3). Faith is a gift from God. We can increase our knowledge apart from God’s help, but only God can increase our faith.
Unless God illuminates our understanding of the truth we can never know it by faith. The Apostle Paul was saying this when he prayed,
May “…the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, … give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.” (Eph. 1:17-18).
Unless God does what this passage declares, we will never know the truth with our hearts. This is the essence of a pure faith.
The primary purpose of Transformation Prayer Ministry is to provide a tool by which God’s people may intentionally and purposefully cooperate with Him in His divine process of refining their faith. We all have faith, but not all of our faith is pure. This is why God is in the process of purifying it. Faith—experiential heart belief that we believe to be true with absolute certainty—is only established in the context of an experience with God.
We Feel and “See” Whatever We Believe
Once heart belief becomes established, it becomes the source of our emotional state, but it also becomes the lens through which we interpret life. We will “see” whatever we believe. The positive side to this is, when we know the truth in our hearts, we can “walk by faith and not by sight…” (2 Cor. 5:7). We will see life the way that God views it from a heavenly perspective. The same principle holds true when we believe a lie in our hearts. We will walk by this “faith” even if we are provided with a logical and rational explanation as to why it is a lie. This is because heart belief will always overcome intellectual belief no matter how compelling or convincing the latter may be.
Some people react negatively to the notion that not all faith is based upon the truth. If this were not the case, there would be no need for our faith to be refined as is described in the Scriptures (Jam. 1:3, 1 Pet. 1:7, Jam. 4:8). When I believe something with my heart, it becomes my faith.
For example, when Sandra was a child, she was abused by a relative. Whenever she remembers the abuse, she feels shame and guilt. She also feels a great fear of being out of control. If you ask her why she feels this way, she will say something like, “I know I didn’t cause the abuse to happen, but I still feel like it was somehow my fault. I feel dirty and guilty when I remember it. I also logically know that he cannot hurt me again because he is dead, but I still feel so afraid.” Sandra knows the truth with her mind, but her heart belief is contrary. She feels that what her heart tells her is the truth, although she knows intellectually that it isn’t true. No one—not even she herself—can talk her out of her heart belief, since it is fixed and steadfast.
This can be either good news or bad news, depending on what we believe in our hearts. God designed it to be this way. He created us to feel whatever we believe in our hearts. When we know the truth in our hearts, our emotions will match the truth we believe, and we will live out this truth spontaneously. It will require no more effort to live out the truth than it did to live out any lie we may have believed.
The Simplicity of Faith
- Faith is very simple. It is simply all that we believe with our hearts. If we believe the truth we will feel what the truth feels like—peaceful, assured, convinced, steadfast, confident, hopeful, unwavering, etc. If we believe lies we will feel what the lies feel like.
- This same faith (whether truth or lies) will translate into our behavior as an expression of the fruit of the Spirit or deeds of the flesh.
- Living out my heart belief—whether it is the truth or not—is effortless. When I know who I am in Christ and believe this truth in my heart, living out this truth will be effortless producing the fruit of the Spirit. This is transformation. (Rom. 12:2)
To some people this may feel like an oversimplification of faith. Actually, faith is very simple. If we believe the truth with our hearts, then we will feel what the truth feels like—peaceful, assured, convinced, steadfast, confident, hopeful, unwavering, etc. This same faith will translate into our behavior as an expression of the fruit of the Spirit. In like fashion, if we feel fearful, worried, anxious, overwhelmed, out of control, defeated, dejected, abandoned, etc., then what we feel is flowing from lies we believe. What will follow will be the fruit –or better put, the deeds of the flesh (Gal. 5:19).
Either way, living out my heart belief—whether it is the truth or not—is effortless. For example: I do not have to work at feeling worthless and no good and acting accordingly if this is what I believe about myself. I don’t have to look at myself in the mirror each morning and say, “You are a worthless piece of trash; go out and act like it.” If I believe this about myself, my behavior will follow effortlessly. But to live out the truth and act accordingly when I believe a lie in my heart would be a struggle. My intellectual belief would be fighting against my heart belief. When this happens, I am being “double minded.”
Similarly, if I know who I am in Christ and believe this truth in my heart, living out this truth will be effortless. When this is so, evidence of the fruit of the Spirit becomes obvious. This is transformation. (Rom. 12:2)
God desires that we hold a purified faith.
- When our minds are renewed with His truth, transformation will follow and each portion of our faith that is pure will produce its corresponding transformation and fruit.
- When we know the truth in our hearts, it will also feel true. If the truth does not feel true to us, then we have a contaminated faith.
- Gaining knowledge of the truth is a first step toward obtaining faith, but until the Spirit persuades us of this truth in our hearts, it is not faith.
- When we know the truth in our hearts, it will take no more effort to walk in it, than it did to walk in the lies we believed. It is the same process.
- A man’s spirituality is not measured by how much of the Bible he can quote or how well he understands the Scriptures, but rather by the evidence of genuine transformation. Is he bearing fruit?
- There is a major difference between attempting to produce the fruit by trying to be loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, gentle, faithful and self-controlled, and the spontaneous and effortless expression of these attributes. The first is a performance-based spirituality, while the latter reveals that “… it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me …” (Gal. 2:20).
Unless our faith is purified as with fire, it remains an impure faith containing lies. Of course, not all we believe is impure; much is the truth. It is purified faith that transforms us. Not everything we believe has to be pure before our transformation can begin. The more our faith is purified, the more transformation will be evident in our lives. Pure faith produces transformation and the Spirit’s fruit.
When our minds are renewed with His truth, transformation will follow. Each portion of our faith that is pure will produce its corresponding transformation and fruit. When we know the truth experientially in our hearts, it will also feel true. If the truth of God does not feel true to us, then we have a contaminated faith—we believe something contrary to the truth which is producing its own corresponding emotion. But just because the truth of Scripture doesn’t feel true, it does not mean we should neglect trying to live it out. Our obedience to God and His Word is appropriate and should bring about some measure of faith purification, albeit slowly. However, as long as our heart belief is contrary to the truth we hold intellectually, we will remain in a constant struggle. In this state we are “double minded, unstable in all our ways…” (Ja. 1:8).
At times, God desires that we challenge our impure faith by choosing to act upon the truth He has declared in order to see if it is true. In Malachi it says this concerning our stewardship, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows” (Malachi 3:10). God challenges his people to give and see if God will not give in return. God desires that we choose to trust Him even when we feel something contrary; but more importantly, He desires we identify the belief we have that causes us to feel something that does not match the truth. Obedience to the truth, in spite of what we feel, is good, but effortless fruit is better.
When Peter saw the Lord Jesus walking on the water in the midst of the storm, he was not feeling the truth in that moment. He was frightened and unsure, exposing his impure faith. However, the Lord challenged His impure faith and called him to come. Hearing the Lord’s command to come was a persuasion of Peter’s faith that allowed him to join Jesus as He walked on the water. However, after a few steps, more impure faith was exposed and he became fearful. He is often criticized because of his weak faith, but how many of us have ever walked on water? We need to keep it all in perspective.
When our feelings are contrary to what the truth should feel like, it is an indication we are harboring a lie. It makes more sense to identify the lie and seek the Lord for truth than it does to choose to push through our lie-based pain and simply try to obey. Obedience is good, but why not address the lies that are exposed, let God replace them with His truth, and obey with the peace of Christ? The TPM Process can help us with this.
We can study the Scriptures and try hard to believe them, but unless God grants us faith to believe with the heart, nothing will happen other than our becoming smarter. Unless He opens the “eyes of our hearts” we will not have a “…spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him.” (Eph. 1:17-18) Gaining knowledge of the truth is a first step toward obtaining faith, but until the truth we know with our heads becomes heart belief, it is not faith. In the same way that a lie-based faith transforms us and shapes us, the faith that God gives transforms us and changes our walk. It is not a question of us trying to make a change. The change will be a natural result of believing the truth at heart level. We must be careful here not to confuse controlling our behavior with transformation that the Spirit brings. Anyone can control their behavior in some measure, but only the Lord can transform us.
The primary reason for struggle in the believer’s life is that he knows with his mind how he wants to live, but his impure faith conforms him to a different behavior. It is a constant struggle to try to live purely and move toward the truth when we possess an impure faith. The same struggle would ensue if our faith was pure and we tried to revert back to our old behavior. This is good news because once our faith has been purified by God’s refining fire, we will know the truth in faith and walking in it will become effortless. When we know the truth in our hearts, it will take no more effort to walk in it, than it did to walk in the lies we believed. It is the same process.
The desired outcome of faith is transformation, and evidence of transformation is the free expression of the fruit of the Holy Spirit. A man’s spirituality is not measured by how much of the Bible he can quote or how well he understands the Scriptures, but rather by the evidence of genuine transformation. Is he bearing fruit? Jesus was the only one who had no need of transformation from an impure faith to a pure one. He started out with truth and possessed only truth throughout His earthly life. Lies never found their way into His thinking. This is why the Lord said this concerning Satan, “…the ruler of this world … has nothing on me…” (Jo. 14:30).
The free and spontaneous flow of the Holy Spirit’s fruit is an indication of a person’s true spirituality and evidence that he is walking in a purified faith. As Jesus said, “… the tree is known by its fruit …” (Matt. 12:33). If there is no fruit, there is a problem. There is also a major difference between a person attempting to produce the fruit by trying to be loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, gentle, faithful and self-controlled, and the spontaneous and effortless expression of these attributes. The first is a performance-based spirituality, while the latter reveals that “… it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me …” (Gal. 2:20).
A purified faith and a renewed mind that leads to transformation is the the purpose of TPM.