“Now the just shall live by faith” (Hebrews 10:38a). In this verse, the writer of Hebrews is quoting Habakkuk. Habakkuk lived in a day of apostasy and danger, and he wanted God to explain things. But God said, “You could not understand even if I told you what I’m up to. Your responsibility is to live in this age by faith, not by explanations.” (See Habakkuk 1:1-5, 2:4.)
There is no problem to which faith is not the answer in some way. Are you worried? Faith is worry turned inside out. Are you lonely? Faith brings God near. Are you burdened with guilt? Faith understands that the precious blood of Christ has atoned for that sin. Do you have trouble obeying the Word of God? You don’t obey the Word because you do not believe it.
It is important to understand this:
Faith Is Not…
- Faith is not blind superstition, nor is it closing your eyes to reality.
- Faith is not positive thinking or optimism. Faith may lead to these, but they are not the same thing as faith.
- Faith is not a leap in the dark. To the contrary, it is stepping into the light.
- Faith is not faith in faith. Sometimes people will tell you, “Just believe!” as if believing will make it so. The Bible says, have faith in God. (See Mark 11:22.)
- Faith is not altered by appearances. “Jesus said to him, ‘Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed’” (John 20:29).
- Faith is not fettered by feelings. Your emotions are the shallowest part of you. God does not do His deepest work in the shallowest part.
- Faith is not limited by logic. Faith is not contrary to logic; it goes beyond logic.
God tells us that faith is three things. (See Hebrews 11:1-2.)
- Faith is a confidence that rests in hope.
“Faith is the substance of things hoped for…” (Hebrews 11:1a). “Substance” here is sometimes translated as “confidence.” It also means “assurance.” It is something that we stand on. And it rests in hope. This doesn’t mean “perhaps,” “wish,” or “desire.” In the Bible, the word hope means rock-ribbed assurance based on divine revelation. There is no legitimate faith without hope, and no legitimate hope without faith. These cannot be separated.
- Faith is a conviction that sees the invisible.
“…The evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1b). The word evidence literally means “a conviction.” Faith is an absolute confidence that leads to a conviction about something you have not yet seen. “For by Him [Christ] all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible” (Colossians 1:16a; word in brackets added). There is a sixth sense, and an invisible world. Faith enables the believing soul to treat the future as present, and the invisible as seen.
- Faith is a communication from Heaven.
“For by it the elders obtained a good testimony” (Hebrews 11:2). This doesn’t talk about what they did, but what happened to them. They obtained. They were conscious of God speaking to them. If you put this confidence, conviction, and communication together, you will have something inexplicable, but glorious: faith.
What Faith Makes Possible
There are things you will never understand, apart from faith.
“By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible” (Hebrews 11:3). In the Bible, God is not explained or argued, but simply presented. God must be accepted by faith. “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is” (Hebrews 11:6a). “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God’” (Psalm 53:1a). God is the supreme fact, and the man who denies Him is the supreme fool.
Faith is the heart’s response to the character of God. When your eye is right, it responds to light. When your ear is right, it responds to sound. When your heart is right, it responds to God, and that response is called faith. “Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God” (Hebrews 3:12) Unbelief comes out of the heart. Faith honors God, and God honors faith.
“He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6b). You seek God by faith—not by your fame, feelings, future, fortune, friends, or fate. If you pray without faith, you don’t get an answer. “Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them” (Mark 11:24). How spiritually wealthy are you? What kind of reserves do you have? It is all according to your faith.
Where Faith Leads
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 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 12:1-2)
The destination of faith is to find, follow, and finish the will of God. How do we do that?
Be motivated by the saints.
You cannot see the “cloud of witnesses,” but the champions of faith who have gone before are now in the ring of honor, looking down and cheering us on as we run the race.
Be free from surplus.
“…Lay aside every weight…” These are not sins, but weights. You don’t run with an overcoat on. Lay aside every superfluous weight—ask yourself, “Is this a weight, or a wing?” There are things which are not bad in themselves, but about which you have to say, “That’s not for me if I want to run this race.”
Be free from snares.
A besetting sin is something you have been wrestling with for a long time, which trips you up when you’re running. Ask yourself, where do you keep falling? Hebrews 12:1 says, “Lay it aside!” The great enemy of faith is sin. If you are having trouble with faith, try repentance. Is this precious little sin worth not having a right relationship with God?
Be ready for the race.
“…Run with endurance…” This means determination. God does business with those who do business.
Be dedicated to the Savior.
“…Looking unto Jesus…” Faith is the byproduct of looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. He is the Alpha and the Omega. He is the one who fires the gun, He is the goal to which we run, and He coaches us as we go.
Put your eyes on Jesus. Fall in love with Jesus. Study Jesus. You will find Him in the Word. “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).