By Paul Ellis
Ever since James wrote that “faith without works is dead,” Christians have been busying themselves with all sorts of busy-ness to prove to themselves that they really, positively do have faith. But much of what passes for Christian works could be done by anyone, with or without faith. Let’s not kid ourselves. If what we’re doing is humanly possible, it can’t be a work of faith. I don’t say that to make you feel bad, but to free you to do great exploits! Faith is for moving mountains. Faith is for healing the sick, raising the dead and otherwise demonstrating the gospel. To be specific, faith is for doing the works and greater works of Jesus:
“The person who trusts me will not only do what I’m doing but even greater things, because I, on my way to the Father, am giving you the same work to do that I’ve been doing. You can count on it.” (Jn 14:12, MSG)
I suspect the chief reason why many Christians live no different from their unsaved neighbors is they don’t know about the awesome authority that God has given us. So instead of healing the sick, as Jesus instructed us to do, they’re asking God to heal the sick. Instead of proclaiming life over their hurts, they’re complaining and speaking death over themselves.
In this short series on prayer, we have contrasted the Biblical way with the traditional way to pray. InPart 1 we saw that there is a difference between praying with hope and praying with faith. In Part 2 we learned that faith doesn’t move God – He’s already moved! In Part 3 we saw from scripture that answered prayers are sometimes delayed by the devil. The enemy is surely opposed to our prayers, but he’s probably not the main reason why our prayers aren’t answered. No, the hindrance to most of our prayers lies between our ears. The problem is we don’t appreciate what God has already done for us. More to the point, we don’t know how awesome and powerful is the One who now lives within us.
“Children, you belong to God, and you have defeated these enemies. God’s Spirit is in you and is more powerful than the one that is in the world.” (1 Jn 4:4 CEV)
Who do you think you are?
In Part 3 the punch-line was resist the devil. Here’s today punch-line: Renew your mind and learn to interpret your circumstances through the finished work of the cross. What do I mean by that? I mean it should be normal for you to see yourself as completely forgiven, sanctified, righteous, healthy and prosperous – all because of Jesus. Is this how you see yourself? Here’s a simple way to find out. When you get sick, which of the following statements best describes how you respond?
(1) “I am sick but I’m going to ask God to heal me.”
(2) “I am healthy but the devil’s trying to rob me.”
If you chose response No.1 then you’re starting from a place of defeat. By asking God to do something He’s already done, you are confessing ignorance of what Jesus has accomplished on the cross. Maybe you’re not sure of what He’s done. Then you had better find out because faith, by definition, is being sure (He 11:1). How can you be sure when you’re unsure? Look at what you’re saying: I am sick… The focus is squarely on your physical condition. Do you know what the King Jimmy Bible calls it when we are more mindful of our physical circumstances than God’s word? Carnal mindedness. And you know what that means, right?
“To be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace” (Rms 8:6, KJV).
Do you know that you can be in the Spirit yet walk after the flesh? This happens when you put your feelings (what you see and hear etc.) ahead of your faith in God’s word. In effect, you are trusting in your praying performance instead of resting in His finished work. Pray like this and you will reap nothing because your faith is misplaced. Instead of standing on what Christ has done, you’re essentially saying God needs to act again and He won’t unless I first do something. You have more faith in you’re doing than in what Jesus has done.
If you want to release life and peace into our circumstances, be spiritually minded. That doesn’t mean “think spiritual thoughts.” To be spiritually minded means be led by the spirit. Your renewed spirit, like the Holy Spirit, already trusts God regardless of the circumstances. To be spiritually minded is to walk by faith, not by sight. So speak to your condition and say, “By His stripes I have been healed” (1 Pe 2:24).
If you chose response No.2 then you’re starting from the place of victory. You might declare, “As He is so am I in this world. The old man who suffered sin’s curse is dead and buried and I am a new creation. Sin and sickness no longer have dominion over me.” I’m not asking you to deny your physical reality but to have faith in a higher reality. I’m not saying the problem you are facing isn’t nothing; I’m saying that this Jesus who lives in you is Really Something! Here’s Andrew Wommack writing in Grace – The Power of the Gospel:
“I’ve changed. I know now that I’m not the sinner trying to become holy. I am the righteous whom Satan is trying to make unholy. I’m not the sick trying to get well. I am the well that the devil is trying to make sick. I’m not the poor trying to be prosperous. I am the prosperous that the Enemy is trying to make poor. This is a totally different attitude and mindset. But I’ve found it much easier to fight from the position of victory than to try to fight to obtain a position of victory. It’s infinitely easier to release something I already have than to go get something I don’t.” (pp.117-8)
When you’re sick your flesh will pull in one direction (“I need healing!”) but your spirit will pull in the other (“By His stripes I am healed!”). Flesh and spirit are opposed to each other and you will have to choose (Gal 5:17). The carnally minded believer will heed the flesh, but the spiritually minded believer will heed God’s word. This is not a question of having more or less faith – you already have the same measure of faith as Jesus (2 Pet 1:1). This is about putting your faith to work and releasing what God has already given you.
Plant this seed
In this short series I’ve given you some keys on how to pray effectively. I have given you truth in seed form. Perhaps you’ve been blessed reading these posts. Maybe you even clicked the “like” button or forwarded posts to your friends. But understand that nothing will change in your life unless this seed takes root in your heart and grows. It’s now up to you. Are you content to live no differently from your unsaved neighbors? Or do you want to see the Kingdom come and His will done in your world?
Be warned that neither the devil nor your flesh will like what you’ve read here (Ga 5:17). Jesus said the devil is a thief who likes to steal seed (Mk 4:15). Right about now this thief will be suggesting you go visit Facebook or he’ll be reminding you to take care of some task that really needs to get done. He’ll do whatever it takes to get your focus off Christ and the cross. But we are not ignorant of his schemes.
I began this series with Wommack and I’ll finish with him. Here he is writing in Spirit, Soul and Body:
“I’d confess aloud, ‘By His stripes I was healed.’ My body would counter, ‘Oh no you’re not!’ Then I’d answer, ‘Yes I am – the Word says so!’… You will have to overcome the same conflict! You don’t just say, ‘All right, I see the truth. Flesh, I now renounce you and choose to walk by the spirit!’ No, it’ll be a traumatic experience when you turn around and head the other direction. Your mind and emotions have been indulged now for many years. They’ve always said that whatever you see is more real than what’s invisible. There’s going to be a fight.” (p.117)
The good news is it’s a fight you can win, for greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world. Have faith in Jesus! Speak to your mountains! Heal the sick! Rebuke that storm! Change the world!