Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Cor. 5:17, NIV
I thought I would start by telling you a story of a young man who desired to be rich. One day, when he opened his mail, he received a letter from his bank stating that his balance was one million dollars. The man was excited. Then he pulled out his wallet and looked inside. It only had $10. He looked at the bank statement again and then at his wallet. Now he was depressed. Here was a statement that said he should have a million dollars, but all he had was $10. He thought he needed to work to make the statement come true. So he went out and got a second job and then a third job. While the amount in his wallet grew, he was discouraged as he realized that he could never earn the million dollars that the statement said he should have.
Now I know you think the young man was foolish. The bank statement wasn’t telling him what he needed to have, but what he already had! He didn’t have to work to get it; it was already his.
If you are like me, sometimes you treat the Bible like that bank statement. Love, joy, peace, righteousness I can have it all. Then I look at my life and I don’t see it, at least not in the degree promised. What is my first reaction? I need to go out and work hard at being loving, being joyful, having peace, etc. No matter how hard I work, when I look at the Biblical standard and compare it to my life, there is always an incredible gap. How discouraging! I can never make it.
We need to realize that when we come to Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, we are re-created. We have become a new person. The Bible [our bank statement] isn’t telling us what we have to work to become. It is telling us what, because of Jesus Christ, we already are. Let that sink in for a moment. We are not working to become something; we are not earning the promises of God. They are already “in the bank.” It is already who we are.
Now I know what many of you are thinking. I’m looking in my wallet and I don’t see it! Where is it? What do I have to do? We will get to that in a moment.
But the VITAL first step is to see and believe that you are a new creation in Jesus Christ. Sometimes we put ourselves down by thinking [or saying], “I’m just a sinner saved by grace.” Yes, I was a sinner. Yes, I am saved by grace. But that is not who I am anymore. I am in Christ and have been re-created in His image. I am a child of God with all the rights, privileges, and responsibilities of that position.
When we look in our wallet and see how far short we are, the devil likes to come and whisper, “You’re living a lie. See the failure, the lack of achieving the promises of God. This is the real you. You might not even be a Christian. Try harder if you want, but you will never make it.”
As usual, he is the liar and the twister of Truth. It is when we look at our failures and lack that we are living a lie, because that is not who we are. The Truth is that we are in Christ and already possess all the promises of God. To think that we are anything less than that is the lie.
So how does this work out? After all, we look at the promises of God and then we look at our experience and there is a wide gap. Do we deny what our eyes see and live in a fantasy world where everything is just perfect? How do we balance all this out?
Now faith is the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely guaranteed), and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of their reality—faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses]. For by this [kind of] faith the men of old gained [divine] approval. Heb. 11:1-2, Amp.
As we look at this, we need to understand that faith is believing something is real that we are not currently experiencing. Also, the word “hope” does not mean something we desire to happen [like we use it today], but it means something that we have full confidence is coming in the future.
So the first thing we have to do is settle in our hearts the truth of who we really are. If the Bible says that is who I am in Christ, then that is who I am. Period. Faith believes that it is true despite our current experience [which we don’t deny]. Hope looks forward in full confidence that one day our experience will rise to the reality of who we are. We believe this will be progressive in this life and reach its fullness when Jesus returns.
Untested faith is theoretical. It is only by the testing of our faith it moves from being theoretical to being a practical, living reality in our heart. For example, it is easy to believe that God provides all our needs when we have a good job and all our bills are paid. But do we believe it when we lose our job and we are three months behind in our bills? It is then we will know what we really believe.
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal which is taking place to test you [that is, to test the quality of your faith], as though something strange or unusual were happening to you. 1 Peter 4:12, Amp. Also see Heb. 11:17, Heb. 12:1 James 1:3, 1 Peter 1:7
We need to start by seeing the truth of who we really are in Christ, for we can never act or achieve above our vision. It is so important to have this established in our hearts. Living in faith throughout the various circumstances of life is then how we begin to draw out who we are and what we have and place it into our practical experience. This, of course, does not mean doing something foolish like not taking medicine because you have “faith” that you are healed. Remember that faith is acting on what is true; presumption is trying to manipulate God into doing what we want Him to do [usually on our time scale].
What happens if we lack faith for a certain area of need? Do not be condemned. We are all in a process, on a journey to that perfect day. Read and meditate on the Word of God in that area. Ask the Holy Spirit to birth genuine faith in your heart…and expect that it will be tested until one day you have no doubt that it is true.