This article is a supplemental to the Wednesday CLIA class on January 15, 2014. Though a lot of ground was covered discussing faith and fear with Hebrews 11 being the foundation text, there are some parts that time did not permit elaborating on during class. If you are at the home page of the website, it is suggested you click on the title of the article. The app that permits you to just hold your cursor over scripture references to see them displayed works better on some browsers when the reader is at the article page.
The apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:27 said, “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” Studying that single verse reveals a wealth of information in the definitions of the words it was translated from.
Where it says ” I keep under,” King James English reveals little to us about the original thought Paul was likely trying to convey. Using just a Strong’s Concordance reveals so much more. We see that “keep under” comes from the Greek word ὑπωπιάζω (hupōpiazō) that is defined as meaning, “to hit under the eye (buffet or disable an antagonist as a pugilist), that is, (figuratively) to tease or annoy (into compliance), subdue (one’s passions): – keep under, weary.”
In class Wednesday night we talked about faith and fear with references on building faith and conquering fear. The bowl of candy passed around on a night where some were participating in a corporate fast was to point out realities of myriad temptations that work to tempt us out of the will of God. Fasting is the act of YOU (the spirit YOU that lives in your physical body) working to bring that body YOU live in under subjection to YOUR will that YOU are daily yielding to God.
Paul compared it to beating the body into submission in 1 Corinthians 9:27. No, he was not suggesting you smack yourself silly when temptation in any form comes. He was making the point in seriousness and severity of how important it is for the spirit YOU alive in that body to be the one in control of the flesh rather than the flesh controlling YOU. Remember in Matthew 18:8-9 where Jesus said, “And if thine eye offend thee . . .” (entices you to sin)? What was the severe command there? No, it was not a literal command to tear out your eyeball; it was Jesus making the point of the lengths you need to go to be the one in control of your flesh rather than your flesh controlling you.
I use “YOU” in all capital letters to point out that YOU are more than the sum of your fleshly parts. Remember when it was mentioned in class how our bodies are made up of about a trillion cells? Do you remember when it was also mentioned that about ten times that amount comprise the bacterial flora of our guts that help us digest our food so that the flesh stays alive? Now, are the bacteria in your gut YOU? Are the cells that make up your eyeballs YOU? It depends on how you define YOU.
As Pastor Mike Singo has pointed out many times, we are trichotomous (divided into three parts) beings. We have a body (flesh), soul (mind) and spirit. The meeting point where spirit and body connect is the mind. The spiritual battle rages in the mind as the flesh wars against the spirit. The flesh is at enmity with (hostile against) God (Romans 8:7).
The YOU that remains after the flesh is dead and buried is the spirit. However, your spirit is not some blank hull. No, that two-way street between the spirit and the mind allows the real YOU to control the flesh, and it allows your spirit to take in all the memories, emotions and other input available in the mind. The spiritual YOU will one day live in a new body, but this flesh we are all living in is corrupted by sin. It is made up of the elements of this earth (copper, zinc, iron etc.). It decays back into the earth once YOU leave it at death. While in your flesh YOU are responsible for bringing it under subjection daily.
The bowl of candy passed around was not a joke in class just because people were fasting. It was taking advantage of a real situation to make a point about the lusts of the flesh that draw us away. Sure, it was just a bowl of candy, but are not all the lusts that entice us like candy during a fast? And each candy favorite is unique to the one who desires it. I remember one person taking a lollipop and another accepting a creamy caramel hard candy. It is good that those who indicated they were participating in the corporate fast did refuse the candy.
Real temptations come as we determine in our hearts to serve God just like candy in a bowl during a fast. The temptations (lusts of the flesh) are often wrapped up in pretty wrappers by our enemy. The flavor of the temptations is also often sweet or savory at first. However, just as sweet candy may lead to tooth decay, and many of the most savory foods often lead to heart disease, any lust that is conceived to the point of sin definitely brings death (James 1:13-15).
So, what does that have to do with faith and fear?
We talked about things we are afraid of when it comes to faith. We feel called to do certain things in the Kingdom of God, yet we are afraid at times to step out and begin or to continue walking in faith. We talked about how we trust the brakes on our cars more than we trust God at times. Few would test out the brakes on their cars before heading down the steep driveway at Living Waters Church of God. However, each one of us has more than likely thrown out a fleece as Gideon did because we need confirmation after confirmation before stepping out in faith to do something we really feel God is telling us to do.
Hebrews chapter 11 calls us to remember what faith can accomplish. Written to Hebrews, this chapter spoke to them on a personal level about the faith they were supposed to be practicing now. They knew all the stories of the mighty heroes of their history as a people from the time they were children. The stories of heroes who were giants in faith were used by Paul to elaborate on what faith can accomplish. Noah, Moses, Joseph, Samson and others are mentioned. The miracles accomplished through the faith they lived are touched on in Hebrews 11.
In Hebrews 11:5-6, we see the contrast of Enoch who walked so much in faith that God translated Him to Paul, making the point that ” . . .without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” The word “rewarder” means “remunerator,” and that is tied to a payment. There is a payoff to faith! Not because we deserve it, but because God desires to grant it. Abraham’s faith was counted to him for righteousness (Genesis 15:6). The contrast is how it is impossible to please God without faith.
Moses and his people who he led out of Egypt under the guidance of God were, by faith, able to cross the Red Sea as if by dry land. When the Egyptians tried to cross in pursuit of them, they drowned (Hebrews 11:29). Faith had a payoff for those who had it, For those who did not, it resulted in a loss.
Still, what does that have to do with faith and fear?
Faith begins by walking by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). Does that happen overnight? Maybe, for some. One of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit is the gift of faith. Like other gifts, there seems to be times where the gift of faith is situational. The scripture says how spiritual gifts are ” . . .divided severally as he will” (1 Corinthians 12:11). I say situational meaning based on the circumstances one may be in and according to the will of the Holy Spirit.
We see, according to the Bible, that there is an office of prophecy (Ephesians 4:11) and a gift of prophecy (1 Corinthians 12:10). One may be called to be a prophet while others may exhibit the gift of prophecy at certain times and places. So, there is the gift of faith that is given as the Holy Spirit wills, and there is the overall faith we are to grow daily in our lives.
Yes, growing faith. Remember the mustard seed? If you plant that tiny seed, it grows into a plant big enough to be a home for birds. The key to understanding a concept about faith in the mustard seed scriptures (Mark 4:30-32) is that the seed was planted, and it was a real seed. In other words, the spiritual YOU takes a tiny amount of REAL faith and PLANTS it where God wants YOU to PLANT it, and then it grows into what everyone then sees as a miracle payoff from the Living God! This is also why we have the scripture that tells us to not be weary in well doing for in due season we shall reap if we faint not (Galatians 6:9).
Okay, so where is the fear part?
This ties into the armor of God in Ephesians 6, especially the shield of faith in verse 16. Ephesians 6:16 reads, “Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.” Notice that it says, “Above all . . .”
YOU need all of the parts of the armor intact and in place. However, I know what it is like to lay down the shield of faith. I was almost spiritually killed when I did it. My wife felt led to point out all the armor pieces I had intact and in place, and how I was missing the shield of faith during a difficult time. That was her walking in the gifts of the Spirit helping me.
Without the shield of faith in place, there is no defense against the fiery darts shot at YOU by our enemy. Strong’s Concordance defines them as fiery missiles, spears or arrows. When you start getting shot at, fear comes. Would you stand there and let me shoot real flaming arrows at you and smile at me the whole time? However, if you had a shield that was guaranteed to stop and extinguish every single one of them, you would not be afraid.
The fiery darts Paul mentioned were to convey a spiritual meaning using a concept. He used examples from physical reality referring to brutalities inflicted in warfare using weapons such as bows with arrows that are on fire. Flaming arrows kill people and set entire cities on fire. We know that our battle as Christians is a spiritual one. We do not arm ourselves with bows and arrows or guns and bullets to fight against our enemy, the devil. The weapons of our spiritual warfare are not carnal (pertaining to the flesh) (2 Corinthians 10:3-6). However, as Christians, we are very familiar of the damage that can be inflicted on us spiritually as our enemy attacks us if we let down our spiritual armor or shield.
Oh, if there was enough time to add in the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, and how it has both offensive and defensive uses. If I did, this article would be much longer.
When do the arrows start to fly? As soon as you pick up that shield of faith and begin to wield it! You are not supposed to put it down once you pick it up. However, we do lower it at times, and we may get a bit lackadaisical in wielding the shield of faith at times. This is especially true if we start walking by sight and not by faith.
It happens when we start to follow the flesh. It begins when we start to follow a way that seems right to us (Proverbs 14:12 and Proverbs 16:25). It initiates when we fail to love the Lord with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength (Deuteronomy 6:5), and when we stop trusting in the Lord with all of our heart and begin leaning on our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5-8).
Now understand something else Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:27 KJV when he was talking about the flesh. He said, ” . . .and bring it into subjection . . .” The word “subjection” means to be a slave driver in controlling the flesh. To enslave it to YOUR will that, in turn, YOU yield to God. The flesh is not supposed to control YOU or YOUR mind where the flesh and the spirit connect. Why? Well, the rest of the verse sums it up nicely where it says, ” . . . lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”
We could continue making these connections in God’s word forever. I hope this gets us all thinking about faith and conquering the fears that hold us back from even planting a mustard seed of it.