Spiritual Weapons, Part IV: Faith


An Ancient Battle

The  smirks and muffled laughter from King Saul’s soldiers quickened the footsteps of the shepherd David as he continued toward the stream in search of stones for his sling.  How they had roared when King Saul, who stood head and shoulders above all the men of Israel, had dressed David in the king’s own armor.  David too had to smile as he thought of the heavy coat of hardened leather that hung down nearly to his ankles.

But David knew that the Lord God’s armor and the weapons he now carried were immensely more powerful and strong than any made of brass or iron. As he knelt by the stream and selected five smooth stones, the roar of Goliath of Gath echoed across the Valley of Elah.  Goliath’s mocking challenge sent a shudder throughout the mocking soldiers and turned their laughter to faces filled with dread.

“Who is this Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God,” David thought.  “The Lord who delivered me out of the paw of the lion and the bear will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine!”

When Goliath looked across the valley and saw a mere youth coming to meet his challenge, he grew mad with rage, and his vision clouded with anger.  “Am I a dog that you come at me with a shepherd’s sling?” he said, then cursed the boy by his Philistine gods.

But David answered confidently, knowing that the battle was not his but the Lord’s.  “You come against me with a spear,  a sword, and a shield.  But I am come in the name of the Lord of Hosts, and this day He will deliver you into my hand!”

As David ran to meet the giant, he put his hand into his shepherd’s bag and drew out a stone.  Throwing the stone with his sling, David slew the great giant Goliath, for the stone flew straight and struck the Philistine’s forehead.

Who are the Goliath’s in Your Life?

As Christian soldiers, our King has fitted us with His own weapons and armor, and unlike Saul’s implements of battle, those of the Lord will work for anyone who will learn to use them.  We may overcome even the demonic forces we cannot see, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but are mighty through God.

To his disciple Timothy, the Apostle Paul writes,

This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you fight the good fight, keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith.  (I Timothy 1:18-19).  

In this passage we see  two spiritual weapons, and Paul says that by holding these weapons we may fight a good warfare.  In this article we will discuss the first of these weapons, the Spiritual Weapon of Faith.

What Is Faith?

In I Corinthians 12:9, faith is listed along with the other eleven gifts, or manifestations, of the Holy Spirit.  However, Paul describes a different kind of faith to Timothy in Hebrews 11:1:  “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (KJV).

Other modern translations are similar: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (NASB); “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (NIV).

Some may say, “Isn’t this description about the spiritual gift of faith, a gift that only comes from God on certain occasions?  Surely this isn’t the kind of faith we may have and use at all times!”

However, only five verses later we find the following: “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).  

Paul is describing, therefore, the kind of faith that pleases God.  Isn’t it our desire and our calling to please  God continually at all times?  If so, let’s examine the kind of faith in Hebrews 11:1 that we may use in all circumstances to be pleasing to God.

“Now faith is…”

This first phrase is very important, for it shows that faith is now.  I was sharing this thought with a man many years ago, and he objected saying, “But that word is just an adverb!  It doesn’t really say that faith is in the present.”

I understand that the word “now” is like the word “well” that we use to begin a sentence:  “Well, I don’t know about you…”  We don’t really mean “not sick,” for sure.  However, as an English teacher I knew that adverbs do convey time, so I believe the word “now” is meaningful in this verse.  Faith is now. We believe now that we are saved, even though we aren’t in Heaven yet!

Thus, faith is distinguished from hope, which indeed points to the future, as Paul says in Romans:  “For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it” (Romans 8:24-25).  

Later, we will see that faith is the “evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1), while hope looks to the future.

There is nothing wrong with hope, of course, for it is the basis or foundation of faith, as we shall soon see.  And both hope and faith come by hearing the Word of God (see Romans 10:17, 15:4).  Nevertheless, hope looks to the future, while faith is now!

“…the substance”

Faith is described as a substance, though not a physical substance but a spiritual substance.  This is why Paul relates in Romans 4:17 that God

“…calls those things which be not as though they were” (KJV)

“…calls into being that which does not exist” (NASB)

“…calls into being things that were not” (NIV)

Ultimately, the things we see around us were created out of the “substance” of faith through the commands or the Word of God.  In other words, even before something is seen or heard in the physical realm, it is first a factual reality in the spiritual realm, as the writer to the Hebrews relates, “By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible” (Hebrews 11:3).

The word “substance” also means “reality, assurance, confirmation,” or “title deed” (Thayers’ Lexicon).

What is a title deed?  It is the proof  of ownership.  This is why faith comes by hearing the Word of God.  When God tells us in His Word that we are saved, then we are saved.  Likewise, when His Word gives us other promises, we can be assured that they are ours, for we have the title deed.

Faith is the assurance that all of God’s Word is true, proof that we have what His Word says is ours, in spite of what we see in the natural or physical realm.

…of things hoped for,…

Hope exists to reveal what is in the future.  It is a belief in the future.  Therefore, hope is the foundation and basis of faith, for faith says, “I have now what I only previously hoped to obtain in the future.”

How does this work?  You might say, “I hope to be saved some day in the future.”  Yet one day this hope led you to hear what God has to say.  You hear that Jesus died for you, that you may receive salvation if you will only receive Jesus now as your Savior.  And by hearing this Word from God, faith is produced in your heart, leading you to have the assurance of your salvation now, even though you do not yet see it physically.

This same principle of faith works for the other promises of God as well.

…the evidence…

This word “evidence” means “that by which a thing is proved or tested, that by which invisible things are proved and we are convinced of their reality” (Thayer’s Lexicon).  Thus, we don’t need to see or hold a thing to know it exists because we have the evidence of our faith to know it is ours.

…of things…

This word seems simple enough, but it is extremely important in the definition of “faith.”  It means “an accomplished fact.”

Do you know that when God commands, “things” happen?  When we pray and petition God, we are not talking Him out of anything, nor asking Him to change His mind.  Prayers change us, not God.  In a real sense, praying is faith in action.  If we pray properly, we demonstrate to ourselves and to God our knowledge of His Word.  And when we do, we please God.

This verse in Hebrews contains a mystery that God wants to reveal to us:

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit,combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual wordsBut a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. (I Corinthians 2:12-14).

Based on this passage in Corinthians, therefore, we must not be like a natural man, and we must be careful not to say in our hearts, “This cannot be true!”

…not seen.”

The slogan of the modern man is, “I’ll believe it when I see it.”  But is this faith?

True faith believes before it sees.  Faith knows that God’s promises are already accomplished.  Faith is simply agreeing with God’s completed work in Christ Jesus, who said, “It is finished.”

But why, then, must we often wait to see these promises fulfilled so that we can see them?

First, the limitations of the physical world call for patience.  Notice how important hope is in the following passage:

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (Romans 5:1-5)

Hope is what gives us stability, the ability to believe in spite of what kinds of tribulations the world, or the enemy, hurls at us.  We need patience in this life, but patience cannot be produced in those who cannot wait.  People can’t grab impatiently for patience!

Also, we live in a physical universe and we are subject to time, and limited by time.  But is God so limited?

Just because we are limited, our limitations do not limit God.  Instead, God is pleased when we agree with Him, think like Him, act like Him, be like Him. Therefore, we need to agree with His Word no matter what seems to contradict it, even time.

Faith Works By Love

Since all believers have been given a “measure of faith” (Romans 12:3), how do we put this faith to work?  Jesus said that only a very small measure of faith will move a mountain!

As we have seen, faith works by hearing and hearing by the Word of God, while acting on His Word and  believing it to be true in spite of what we see in the natural realm.

 But the Apostle Paul also says that “faith works by love” (Galatians 5:6).  Do we really love God the Father?  How much time do we spend with Him?  How often do we talk with Him?

When you love someone, you desire to know all about that person.  You learn how she thinks, and talks, and acts, and feels.  You learn what he wants, and you spend all your time striving to please him.

By knowing these things about God, we know what to do, where to go, what to say that will please Him and bring glory to His name.

This is why David ran to meet Goliath confidently, knowing that the battle was already won, serenely assured that the Lord was fighting the battle through him.  David’s faith was a mighty spiritual weapon!

David and Goliath

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