Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Eyes of Faith

By S. Michael Durham

(Sixth installment on faith)

Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12: 2).

Faith has eyes only for Jesus; that is God-like faith. Faith cannot survive gazing on any other. That is why the writer of the epistle to the Hebrews says, “Looking unto Jesus,” which in a recent blog we said means, “looking away to Jesus.” In the eleventh chapter of Hebrews the attention was on the faith of men. But now he wants us to look no more at men, as inspirational as that may be, and now focus our eyes of faith on Jesus.

Faith cannot survive long without seeing Jesus. He is its only object. As long as it beholds His glory, it thrives. Like a rose loves sunshine and develops in the sun’s rays, so does faith develop in the rays of Jesus’ excellence.

If you would have your faith strong keep Christ your focus. If you would be a person of faith do not take your gaze off of the Author and Finisher of faith. If you would excel in faith, then do nothing that would distract attention from the object of faith—Jesus. Learn to have eyes only for Him.

This is so important that you must resist the greatest temptation of all, the temptation to focus on the promises of God. Quite often it is so casually said that we must keep faith’s eye on the promises of God. But casualness is not godly rest; far from it! Casualness it is the devil’s nest. It is to lie in the enemy’s lair. Vigilance is faith’s friend and we must not get casual with the things of God, especially faith.

There is a good deal of truth that the promises of God are the food of faith. God’s promises fuel our faith. “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). But the promises of God encourage faith only because they are that, the promises of God. It is the character of God that makes His promises certain. What makes one man’s promises better than another man’s? The integrity of one and the lack thereof in the other. It would be better to say the impeccable character of God is the fuel of faith. Faith loves to behold the infinite God and lovingly trust the treasure of God’s person.

Someone may ask, “How do you separate God’s promise from God? Aren’t they one and the same?” Yes, a man’s word is an expression of his heart. This is no less true of our Father. But it is not the promises themselves to which faith looks, but the One who makes the promises believable.

It is right here that the devil’s trickery enters. He will work to turn your gaze away from the Promiser to the promise, or better yet, to what is being promised. If your focus is on what has been promised to you, faith will begin to waver. It will waver for one of two reasons.

First, as you keep your eye upon the thing promised, the promise will soon seem a difficult thing. You will begin to think the promise can’t come to pass unless you maintain your faith that it will. And when that happens your faith is looking to you. As long as you believe you have faith you will be encouraged, but the moment you stop feeling your faith you will fall into fear, frustration and faithlessness.

The second reason faith will waver when the eyes of faith is diverted to the thing promised is that you will begin to idolize it. It will become more important to you than the Lord. Your joy will be found in the anticipation of the fulfillment more than in He who has promised. This is one of the most subtle forms of idolatry. Unless, the Lord of mercy shows you your sin, you will maintain this idolatry and you will do so calling it faith in God.

When the soul has been forced to cease its adoring attention of Christ, faith cannot be maintained. It will vacillate and eventually wane. Do you see this, my friend? Has the thing you believe God has promised become all-consuming? If so, have you not yet noticed the difficulty to keep faith strong?

What is the answer? You must die to the very thing that God promised. More about this in our next posting.

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