When the Word talks about testing our faith, I have a sneaking suspicion more than a few of us are unsure of what that means. We may have faced testing but not understood what Jesus was doing. We can summarize the testing of our faith into one word; choice. To explain how this works will require a few more words.
The importance of a free will
All the choices we make come from our free will. The free will God gave us is sacred and He will never violate it. We cannot violate the will of any individual either, without severe consequences. That is how serious it is. The will is so important that Jesus tells us about it in His Prayer, “Our Father Who is in heaven, hallowed (kept holy) be your Name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:9-10. He also refers to His will when He was in the garden, “Saying, Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but [always] Yours be done.” Luke 22:42.
The ‘will’ of any person is the gatekeeper to the spirit core of every person and determines their eternal fate.
I was at a grocery store once and noticed that just past the clerk were two conveyor belts for groceries. After a person had purchased their groceries, and was bagging them, the clerk would swing a gate to one side so she could slide the next person’s groceries to the unused conveyor belt. That gate allowed the clerk to control where the groceries would go. This illustrates how the will functions.
We all have experiences that come to us throughout our day; funneled by the will into our spirit core. Likewise, we have many thoughts and feelings that arise from within our spirit core. They could be from our spirit or they could come from ‘self’. We may not know which, in fact when we are immature it is almost impossible to know the difference.
Whatever the source, it is our will, our choice, that determines whether we will act on these thoughts and emotions. With thousands of choices made each day, many done unconsciously, our choices affect others around us and ourselves. These decisions will determine the growth and power of either our spirit or ‘self’.
Each decision, especially the tiny ones we don’t think matter, build and strengthen either our ‘self’ or spirit. If we feed ‘self’ it will control more and more of our decisions. If we feed spirit, then our spirit will control more and more of our decisions.
The war within
Every person has a will that grows and matures. The unfortunate reality is the spirit and ‘self’ nature inside battle for control all the time. The first assault we face on earth from the moment we are born is against our ‘will’ by our ‘self’ nature. ‘Self’ takes control of our will so we pursue ‘self’; abetted by the world and satan.
It is not a fair fight because satan and ‘self’ have no qualms about violating the sovereignty of our will. Once our will is co-opted only a pitched battle will free us from the control of ‘self’. Thankfully, God has made provisions to help, but He will not make our decisions for us. These decisions are our responsibility alone. The battlefield between ‘self’ and spirit is always where the testing of our faith takes place.
Our choice will always be, will we follow ‘self’ or spirit?
If we make too many choices for ‘self’ we find ourselves distanced from God. This is our choice, not His. ‘Self’ is an enemy to God just as satan is, for ‘self’ comes from satan. By agreeing with, feeding and making choices for, ‘self’ we are choosing to be God’s enemy. This saddens God, but He will not violate our sovereign will. He accepts our choices. That does not mean there won’t be consequences though. A righteous God cannot dwell with ‘self’. Therefore, when we choose for ‘self’, we voluntarily separate ourselves from His presence.
If, instead, we make decisions for spirit, we will draw closer to Him. He gives us great help and support as we grow in these choices. Over time, we will grow in spiritual maturity and may even become His Bride. We see this grace as real spiritual progress in Song of Songs 6:8-9. The virgin becomes the concubine; the concubine becomes the queen, and the queen becomes the dove; the undefiled, without spot or wrinkle Bride.
Remember God cannot, and will not, make our choices for us. Our will is sovereign and He will never violate it. I cannot stress this enough. Once we make our choice, we will experience all the consequences of that choice. If we err, our only recourse is to repent.
Decisions are neither ‘good’ or ‘bad’, they just feed either ‘self’ or spirit. Once we make a decision, it is settled in the spiritual realm. We then experience the consequences; physically, emotionally and spiritually. To correct any decision requires repentance. Repenting means that we turn from our decision; we choose the opposite of what we did. We need to declare and act on this repentance, otherwise it is just remorse. For real repentance requires action that must flow from a change within.
Be careful! We can repent of choices for ‘self’ and we can repent of choices for spirit.
Repenting of selfish choices is rare as we usually desire to feed and encourage our ‘self’ nature rather than kill it. Repenting of spirit choices is far more common. Many times on our journey we witnessed people give something of themselves only to repent of the choice later. That we could repent of our spirit choices sobered us to the all importance of the will.
Testing our faith
We have studied the will, ‘self’, spirit and the nature of repentance. What do these components have to do with testing our faith? Everything. As we walk with Jesus, He will continually give us opportunities to obey Him. These will appear as small choices, but these are all important because they are tests of faith. If we will obey we move on. If we don’t, we will have to retry until we get things right.
We will not progress until we pass the test of faith; the choice Jesus has placed before us. You may not recognize the lessons God gives. That is ok and normal. It takes time to recognize His handiwork. The important step is to ask Jesus what test of faith He is giving you. When you know, obey. Learn this lesson well. As God tests our faith, it will grow.
Homer and Wanda