Jesus told us to have faith in God. True faith works because we are trusting in the faithfulness of God to keep His Word. It's not because we have prayed forcefully enough or because we have repeated verses as if they were magic incantations.
Speaking God's Word is indeed effective in dismissing our doubts and resisting Satan's attacks. After all, that is how Jesus resisted Satan's temptation in the wilderness--by quoting Scripture to crush the perverse attraction of sin.
But the power in our words will be proportionate to the belief in our hearts. Our words must be connected to our faith in God's power and His goodness.
It isn't what we are saying when we are speaking to others in "faith lingo" or "Christianese" that counts. It's what we are saying the rest of the time! That is the true indicator of what is in our hearts.
If we really want to determine our faith level concerning a particular problem, we need to pay attention to what we say about it when our guard is down. Do our words line up with what God has said? Or are they filled with doubt?
If our words reveal that doubt is dominating, we must change more than our words; we must change what we believe. We must go back and settle the matter in our hearts, meditating on the faithfulness of God more than dwelling on our problems. Paul wrote, "And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, 'I believed and therefore I spoke,' we also believe and therefore speak" (2 Cor. 4:13). What we speak reveals what we believe.
FAITH WORKS BY LOVE Love is another important element involved in the working of our faith. Scripture tells us that faith works through love (see Gal. 5:6). These two are linked again when Paul tells us to put on "the breastplate of faith and love" (1 Thess. 5:8).
In Mark 11:25-26, Jesus adds another vital element to the faith equation: "'And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.'"
Wait a minute! Jesus was talking about faith. Isn't forgiveness a little bit off the subject?
No, Jesus was right on target because faith works by love. We are not walking in love when we have unforgiveness in our hearts; unforgiveness produces strife, and strife kills love, rendering faith useless. As Scripture indicates, "Though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing" (1 Cor. 13:2).
When faith is coupled with love, it is powerful. Sever the two, and you have just a lot of useless words. This truth has not been emphasized enough in the "faith message," and many believers have wondered why their faith isn't working. As a result, they have become discouraged.
"Love never fails" (Rom. 13:8), and neither will faith, when it works through love. Paul's prayer for the Ephesians reflected the strong connection between our revelation of the love of Christ and the strength of our faith.
He prayed: "That [God] would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height--to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God" (Eph. 3:16-19).
We can be filled with the fullness of God and spiritually strengthened in our faith only if we are rooted and grounded in His love.
FAITH, NOT FEAR While love is a powerful ally of faith, its opposite--fear--can literally choke the life out of our walk with God. Fear is a terrible enemy; it looks to devour our spiritual blessings at every opportunity.
Scripture refers to fear as a spirit. Paul notes that "God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind" (2 Tim. 1:7).
Renewing our minds with the truth of God's Word will drain the life out of the fear attacking our minds. Fear is like a dense fog that surrounds us and clouds our vision.
However, meditating on God's Word ignites a fire that burns away the fog, enabling us to see things from God's perspective. By focusing on God's ability and willingness to deliver on His promises, we shut the door to fear's entrance and open the door in faith to receive all God has planned and provided for us.