By Tim Exelby
Why does there seem to be a contradiction between our “faith” and our “actions?”
To give an example of what we’re talking about is our struggle with pornography, anger, resentment, etc. We know the draw to such things and it’s usually after we’ve given in to such temptations and are left to ourselves afterward that we start with the thing that we just gave into. The conviction is a good thing and it is definitely a sign that God is still moving and working on our behalf for forgiveness and healing. But the danger comes when we start to doubt our faith. We think to ourselves, “if I really believed in God then why did I do what I just did?” “If I knew that God was really at all places at all times then how could I have done what I just did?”
These are good questions that should be asked but we need to be careful as to where we go to find the answers to such questions. As Christians, we all know that we should be taking these questions to the Holy Spirit and seeking answers in God’s Word.
My own experience with this very contradiction of faith and sin:
As a police officer, I was required to carry a microphone on me at all times while on duty. There was also a camera mounted inside my patrol car which turned on every time my lights were activated. I also had the option of turning the camera/microphone on or off from my vest.
I noticed that whenever I had confrontations the knowledge that my words were being recorded kept my temper and mouth in check. My emotions were the same as when I wasn’t wearing the mic but I couldn’t understand why I could “think” through the situation when I was wearing the mic and when I wasn’t I would “act” out of emotions. Of course, I would regret those “actions” and ask myself why? Why would the presence of a mic control me better than my faith that I had an Omnipresent God with me all the time who was just as evident as that mic was.
As I said a minute ago, I would “think” the process through when I was wearing the mic. I didn’t want to be in my commander’s office watching the video and trying to explain my actions. So I would hold my tongue and my temper and get on to my next call for the day.
I would ask the Lord over and over to try to help me make sense of this duality of faith and struggle over sin. And as I thought, the verse in Proverbs 23:7 came to mind. “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” But we have scripture in John 4:24 that helps to further that thought. “God is spirit, and His worshipers must worship Him in spirit and truth.”
The completion of the thought is found in Romans 12:2. “And do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve God’s will-His good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Going back to that microphone, it was a thing in my life that I could control or allow to have control in my life. Its very presence was real to me, but I still had control over it.
God is not a “thing” to be controlled or pulled out like a magic wand whenever we want help through our struggles with sin. What we do need, much like the mic is His presence. We must actively seek to walk in His presence throughout our daily life.
John chapter 15 describes this “presence” in very clear ways. It seems that the chapter repeats itself over and over again but the point being made is very clear and can’t be missed. Our faith must be relational and rational. In order to be powerful and effective. It can’t only be rational. Rationale depends on our own ability and power.
The whole purpose of salvation was to bring man back to a relationship with the living God. through the work of Jesus Christ. Many of us think that this “relationship” is optional and isn’t needed. We only need to name it and claim it. John 15:5 says, “I am the vine, you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
Our relationship with God (daily, hourly, constantly) makes His presence in our lives much like that mic I had attached to my vest every day. It makes His presence relevant and real. It isn’t a distant momentary forgotten in the heat of the moment.
His presence does four things:
- His presence helps us to go into every situation of life with a “heads up” mentality. (be sober-minded and alert! 1 Peter 5:8-9) If God is real then the devil is surely real and we must be aware!
- His presence and our study/memorization of scripture help us to remember those same scriptures in our trials. (John 15:7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you).
- His presence helps us to “think” like Him and not like ourselves during times of trials. (1 Corinthian 10:13 “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so you can endure it.”)
It is His presence that warns us when we have gone farther than we should have on the computer and tells us to “shut it off and busy our minds with something else.”
It is His presence that reminds us of the old familiar territory we’re in and says, “get out of there! Flee the temptations of your youth!”
It is His presence that tells us to sometimes stop what we are doing, or trying to fix and to simply pray for His help.
- And …….it is His presence that is there when we fail, to tell us He still loves us and forgives us, and to get back up again in our walk with Him. (1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”) It is often in times of repentance that the Holy Spirit empowers me the most.
God’s presence isn’t just thought of in times of need, it’s part of our experience as we live our daily lives with Him, as a branch does to the vine it is connected to. An experience that provides support, nourishment, and life!