Here at Russell Road Church we have been in a series entitled, “Faith That Overcomes”. You might ask, overcomes what? I’m glad you asked. Negative mindsets, bad attitudes, feelings of rejection and not being accepted, drug addictions, anger issues, unhealthy appetites, betrayal, financial struggles, marriage problems and health issues. All those are very real difficulties and hindrances and have the potential to keep us from all that God has created us for in His purpose and plan for our lives.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:23 it says, “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The Greek word for whole in this verse is “holokleros” (hol-ok-lay-ros). It means complete in every part, perfectly sound (in body). All those struggles, issues, and difficulties are consequences of sin and curses that are passed on from generation to generation. Nonetheless, God wants His people to be perfectly sound and complete in every part of their body, soul, and spirit. This was His plan for Adam and Eve in the beginning, and it remains His plan for His believers today.
However, to bridge the gap and be completely whole requires us to overcome the hindrances to our wholeness. God has created us as three part beings made up as three part creatures. Man is a spirit with a soul. These two live in an earth suit called a body. From the moment of conception, the spirit and soul are eternal; however, our body is temporal, so the days of our earthly vessels are numbered. From a spiritual perspective, the spirit and soul are of greater importance. In fact, scripture encourage us to nurture our spirit and soul, but forsake or buffet the desires of the body or flesh. These three parts are interrelated, with the success or failure of one part often affecting the other parts. A man can go to heaven with a sick body and a well spirit, but not vice versa. We have all seen how sick bodies can hinder or impede well spirits. Wellness and healing is for all, not just some. The church has been able to lead people to God’s plan of redemption and restoration in telling us what we must do, yet when it comes to main training, our walk with God and becoming whole is where our faith comes in.
The Bible tells us faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17). In order to grow towards wholeness we need to attain knowledge of God. Second Timothy 2:15 says, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth.” If it is possible to rightly divide God’s word, it is possible to wrongly divide it. The word divide denotes parts of a whole. If we are to understand God’s word in its entirety, we must dissect it and then fit the pieces together, much like a puzzle. Hosea 4:6 says, “My people are destroyed for their lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for me.”
In 2 Timothy 2:15, he uses the word approved, which means to pass the test. Our faith is always being tested. James 1:2-3; 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives freely, who gives to all liberally, and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” Verse 6, “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.”
God is not a respecter of persons, but a respecter of faith. God is not moved by our needs, God is only moved by our faith. He has promised in His word to supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).
In John 3:6 He tells us that which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the spirit is spirit. How do we have contact with or live in the natural world? Through our five senses: sight, smell, taste, touch and hear. Our five senses connect us to the world around us and help us to relate to our circumstances and surroundings. Jesus said that in the world of the flesh we live by the flesh (carnal). But faith connects us to the spirit world. For born again believers, what works in the natural (carnal) world does not work in the spirit (spiritual world). Second Corinthians 5:7 says, “For we walk by faith not by sight.” Here’s the problem. We try to use the methods and means that work in the natural (carnal) world to receive the things in the spirit world.
Living by the flesh (carnal) is living, speaking, or believing what our five senses or circumstances tell us.
Living by the spirit is living, speaking, or believing what God’s word tells us.
In Matthew 14:29 the word of God tells Peter what to do. Peter is led by the spirit (word) until he looks at his circumstances and believes what he sees rather than the Word of God. In verse 31 of Matthew 14, Jesus reveals how he views Peter saying, “Oh you of little faith, why did you doubt?” Regardless of what God could do in the spirit, it is forfeited when our carnal senses overpower us. Matthew 8:5-10, in verse 8 the centurion answered and said, “Lord I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word and my servant will be healed.” His servant was healed at His word. In verse 10 Jesus said, “Assuredly I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel.” In these two examples, one had little faith and doubt (Peter), and he began to sink because he was focused on the natural (carnal) five senses. The other one (the centurion) had great faith in response to God’s word and was healed.
My wife, Donita, and I were blessed with tickets to go to a John Tesh concert at Edison State College in Piqua. It was awesome. John shared his life story with us, and towards the end he shared he is in his mid-60s and had developed stage 4 cancer in his body two years ago and was given a year and half, at most, to live. He told us how his wife was relentless in her faith and was standing on Mark 11:23 “For assuredly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain be removed and be cast into the sea, and does not doubt in his heart but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.” John told us there were many times he wanted to give up, but his wife would not let him. He said he went to the doctor last week, and the doctor’s report said no sign of cancer. John was full of energy. Right there on stage, in front of us all, was a blessing and miracle of what faith in God can do.
No matter what our struggles are, whether disease, drug addiction, relationships, finances or attitudes, if we are just going by what we see and trying to solve our issues in the flesh (carnal) five senses, we forfeit the solutions God has for us. He truly has blessings, healings, and answers to our dilemmas in His word that will come to fruition by faith.
Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence (evidence means the dispute has ended) of things not seen. For without faith it is impossible to please God, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
In this season of Christmas, let’s not just live by what we see, smell, touch, taste, and hear (natural carnal). Let’s put our faith in God and His word and discover all He has for us in being made whole, because in God’s plan the best is yet to come.
The writer is the senior pastor at Russell Road Church, Sidney.