It is a prominent theme throughout the New Testament that the Christian life is lived by faith. One example of that is our current topic; our family resemblance to God.
The Bible teaches that believers are indwelt by the very seed of God. His Spirit lives inside us. As such, we have taken on a new nature; a nature prone to righteousness. Now if righteousness is our new inclination, why do we struggle with sin? If our family resemblance to God is in our moral character, why is that resemblance, at times, hard to recognize? The answer to this question is multi-faceted and I have written on various aspects of this many times; Galatians 5 and the War with the Flesh, Temptation Vs Sin, and The Exchanged Life are a few examples for your perusal. But for today’s post, our focus is on the role that faith plays in this conflict.
Walking by faith is essentially living as if what God says is true, even when our experience stands in contrast to God’s promise. When my experience does not seem to line up with God’s promise, which am I going to believe? I am going to believe and trust and rest in God’s promise. And one of His promises that saturates the New Testament is a life set free from the power of sin. How do we put this promise into action?
God says that I have a family resemblance to Him in my character. I don’t always feel this in my sensory perception. I sometimes feel sinful. I feel evil. I feel anger, malice, jealousy, and a host of other sinful passions. But because the Christian life is lived by faith, God is asking me to confess those passions, push them aside, and cling to the promise of all that became new in me.
This is not just spiritual theory. Once I take the very real first step of clinging to His promise, I take the next step of living into the promise. We often put the cart before the horse here. We try to live the Christian life by our willpower; by beating ourselves up about our performance and committing to trying harder. Faith is something we see in our distant past when we first believed.
But living, active, daily faith must come first. When we consistently believe that we actually have a new nature, a new disposition, and a new power, we can fully live into God’s commands. Living by faith is not license to ignore God’s commands. It is not thinking we somehow live above God’s commands. Living by faith is believing that I have the power, by Christ in me, to live the life; to live into all that Christ commands.
I cannot emphasize the practical nature of this faith enough. My practice when faced with temptation is to literally tell myself that failure is not who I am. It is not my identity. It is not my new character of righteousness. It is not befitting a child of God.
Does this sound too simple? Do I ever fail? Yes, we all have our downfalls in our conflict with the flesh, the world, and the devil. But failure does not have to be our common experience. And yes, it is that simple. It is living by faith in God’s promise of a life set free from the power of sin.