We Do Whatever We Believe
Not All faith is pure
The very fact that God needs to refine our faith suggests it is not totally pure. We would never try to purify gold that was already free of impurities. Doing so would be purposeless, as there would be no benefit from doing so. Therefore, since the Bible says we need our faith purified, not all faith is pure, but still faith, nonetheless. (1 Pet. 1:3-8)
To the degree that we believe lies, our faith walk is crippled. We can try to adjust our gait, pretending we don’t have a limp, make excuses for why we stumble, and perform with the best, but we will not truly succeed. Possessing a purified faith is critical if we are to “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Col. 1:10). Only the Lord can free us from the lies we hold onto that releases us to walk in the truth and in His Spirit.
Always Making Excuses
Like the lame man lying near the pool of Bethesda, we, too, make excuses. As the narrative goes, “… a man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had already been a long time in that condition, He said to him, “Do you wish to get well?”
This is where we all have to start. God is asking us what we want. We may say we want to be free of the lies and pain, but we are often unwilling to connect with our feelings and expose what we believe. We may desire to be free, but our actions express our true will. There is a major difference between what we desire to see happen and what we are willing to do. It is easier to play the victim, blame others or life, and seek sympathy and not get up and move in the direction of God’s freedom. To do this requires we take full ownership of our condition, but also that we put full reliance upon God to free us.
“The sick man answered Him, ‘Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I am coming, another steps down before me.'” The truth is, no one is keeping us from freedom except ourselves through our belief and our own choices.
“Jesus said to him, ‘Get up, pick up your pallet and walk.’” It is essential that we take ownership of our condition. Choose to move forward. Look to the Lord for His healing truth. “Immediately the man became well, and picked up his pallet and began to walk” (John 5:6-9). Though this man was healed physically more so than emotionally, it was still accomplished by belief. Someone might ask, “How do we know it was the man’s belief that healed him?” We not only feel what we believe, we also do whatever we believe. Our behavior is a direct reflection of our belief. The man heard Jesus’ words and chose to move in the direction of standing. If he did not believe Jesus’ words, he would have never tried to stand up.
Our behavior is a direct reflection of what we believe in our hearts. Someone may challenge this idea and say, “Even though we may believe a lie we can choose to do the right thing.” At first glance, this seems reasonable. For example, it is true that I can believe that I am worthless and have no value (a lie) and yet still choose to act out the truth anyway. I can become an overachiever, try to act like Jesus in everything that I do, and even wear my W.W.J.D. (What Would Jesus Do?) bracelet to remind myself to work harder to prove my value. I can do the “right” thing, but with the wrong motive. My heart belief produces not only what I feel, but also is the source of my motive. If I am doing the right thing in order to compensate or distract myself from the lies I believe, then my motive is impure and my “good” works are tainted. However, when my heart belief is the truth, my motive will be pure, my behavior His fruit and I will feel what the truth feels like.
When the lame man believed the Lord and chose to move in the direction of the truth, he was restored. When we believe, we are transformed. As soon as we believe the truth with our hearts, it transforms us. Transformation is the expected and instantaneous outcome of believing the truth with the heart. When the man heard the truth and responded to it, he was restored —transformed from being a cripple man into a walking man. It occurred the moment that he believed. Like unto our salvation that was instantaneous the moment we believe with our hearts (Rom. 10:10), so to, the transformation of our belief (faith) and behavior (the fruit) occurs the moment God persuades us of the truth within our hearts.
The Transformation God Brings About is Maintenance Free!
Once he was walking he did not have to do anything to maintain his new transformation. Neither do we. Once we know the truth in our hearts we will be transformed by it. This transformation is effortless, requiring no attention from us to sustain it. This is the fruit of the Spirit.
God’s fruit is too often thought to be a task to perform as opposed to something that God brings forth in us. We are called to be fruit bearers and not fruit performers. Any “fruit” that we do is bad fruit, even when it looks good. When we are performing “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, or self-control” then it is NOT God’s fruit, but only controlled behavior (something that even the unbeliever can do.)
How often we charge each other with an admonition to perform the fruit by saying something like, “You need to be more patient, kind, loving, self-controlled, etc.” The problem is, we typically do as we are told and then go and try to do the fruit and give it our best effort.
It is also very easy to misinterpret what we read in the post-Resurrection Scriptures as commands to go and do. Even though we declare our freedom from the Law, we quickly “… subject again to a yoke of slavery…” by trying to keep the New Testament “laws.” Even though we say we are free, we read the post-Resurrection Scriptures through the lens of Old Testament glasses. For example, we read a passage such as, “…may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ…” and subject ourselves to the impossible task of doing it. We set out to make sure that we do not do anything in spirit, soul or in body that might result in blame. There is a major problem with this interpretation.
This passage is not a description of a task we are expected to do or complete, but the outcome of what God has committed to fulfill Himself. Like so many of the New Testament “laws”, if we zoom it out within its context we discover the intended message; “God is at work in you and He will bring it about.” In this particular passage the “law” portion is sandwiched in between the words, “…may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely…” and “…Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.” God Himself is the one who will sanctify (make holy) us entirely —body, soul and spirit— and “He will bring it to pass.”
Transformation is a work of God that He will bring to pass as He purifies our faith and renews our mind. His fruit will be evident in our lives as an expected outcome of the work that He is doing. The fruit is not ours to produce, but to experience as the outworking of Christ in us.
The Life of Jesus: An Example of truth producing fruit
Jesus lived His life from the truth within Him. Because He knew the truth, the fruit of the Spirit was continually made evident in His life and behavior. This reality was never more evident than on the day He was crucified. His emotional and behavioral responses were based upon the truth every step of the way. Nowhere in the accounts given of this day do we find Him responding in fear, worry, anxiety, or any other typical lie-based emotion. He spoke words of encouragement to John, telling him to care for His mother. He offered eternal life to the thief. He expressed compassion and forgiveness to the very ones who were crucifying Him.
The only negative emotions Jesus appears to have experienced was the feeling of great distress over what the Father asked of Him in the garden and Him being forsaken of His Father while upon the cross. However, both of these instances was based upon the truth and not lies. The Father had asked Him to take on the sins of the world, suffer great torture and ultimate death. This was the truth. It was also true that He was forsaken by His Father as the sacrificial lamb carrying the sins of the world. In both of these moments His painful feelings matched the truth.
The good news is that we will probably never be asked to suffer as Jesus did, and will we ever be abandoned by God. Therefore, there is rarely any reason for us to feel what Jesus felt. More often than not, what we feel is lie-based emotions such as feeling; anxious, defeated, worried, fearful, abandoned, or overwhelmed. When we feel these emotions they will be based upon lies we believe. However, if we use what we feel correctly, they can lead us to the truth and ultimate transformation.