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How to Build
The Muscle of Faith

April 18, 2001

Re: How to Build the Muscle of Faith

Hi Jane:

I would like to share with you how we build the muscle of faith. You have repented and confessed your sins to Jesus, but you still feel condemned and God feels a million miles a way. What is it you are experiencing, struggling with? What is going on with you? Well first of all the moment you repent and confess your sin to Jesus, His forgiveness is an (Snap!) automatic fact. That doesnít have anything to do with how you feel or what is going on in your head, but is based on his promise in His word in 1 John 1:9 "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." God is not bound by anything except one thing: What He has said. Hebrews 6:18 and Titus 1:2 tell us it is impossible for God to lie. God also tells us about himself in the following passages that once He declares something He never changes it. This is because God is never wrong the first time:

1 Samuel 15:29 "And also The-Glory-of-Israel will not lie or change His mind; for He is not a man that He should change His mind."

Psalm 89:34 "My covenant I will not violate, nor will I alter the utterance of My lips." (Psalm 89:34)

Malachi 3:6 "For I, Yehovah, do not change."

Matthew 24:35 "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words shall not pass away."

Hebrews 13:8 "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, and forever."

What do these passages mean in our relationship with God? They mean that whatever God tells us in His word is absolutely true and will never change. God says the moment you confessed your sin He forgives it (1 John 1:9), forgets it (Psalm 103:12) and relates to you in His will and plan for your life just as if you never sinned (1 Cor 13:5).

Well, if this is true, then why do you continue to feel guilty and condemned and why does God feel a million miles away? Well what got you off track in the first place? What got you off track was Satan questioning Godís word, Godís love for you and your buying into that lie. When you bought into that lie you got your eyes off of your provider, Jesus, and onto yourself as the provider. As a result you stopped walking by faith with the Lord and started trusting in yourself and your own ways. You also stopped obeying Him. That is the opposite of faith. We have faith when we trust in Jesus as our source, not ourselves; and we demonstrate that faith by walking in obedience to Him and trusting Him to fulfill our desires when it is best and right for us and His Kingdom.

To have faith is not a feeling. We have faith when we choose to believe Godís Word. God says in his word:

"ĎFor I know the plans that I have for you,í declares Yehovah, Ďplans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.í" (Jeremiah 29:11-13)

"You will make known to me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever." (Psalm 16:11)

"Delight yourself in Yehovah; and He will give you the desires of your heart." (Psalm 37:4)

"I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness." (Jer 31:3)

These promises are true about what God says concerning your relationship with Him, not what you feel or what Satan whispers in your ear. But what happens when we stop having faith in what God says and as a result stop trusting and obeying the Lord? We stop exercising the muscle of faith. As a result, just like a muscle in our body, the muscle of faith becomes weak, flabby and atrophies.

How then do we strengthen and rebuild up the muscle of faith? First, by choosing to believe what God has said, not what we feel or Satan says to us. It is not God who is condemning us once we repent and confess our sins to him, but ourselves and the devil. If this is true, why then does God allow the devil to condemn us and ourselves to condemn us? Why doesnít he just flood us with the feeling of His love and forgiveness? Because in order to rebuild and strengthen the muscle of faith, you must learn to stand on what God has said, not on what you feel which is what led you to fall from faith in the first place. To overcome this false guilt and false condemnation requires exercising the muscle of faith. God is not punishing you by removing your feeling Him and His presence, He is simply healing you, helping you by motivating you to exercise your faith muscle by your choosing to stand on what the Bible says is true, not what you feel is true. If He just flooded you with the feeling of His presence and His love, like heroin, you would have no incentive to exercise your muscle of faith and it would remain weak and flabby and the end result of that would be that the very next time Satan tempted you, you would not be strong enough to overcome the temptation, you would fall again. This is the meaning of the second part of 1 John 1:9 which says "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Jesus doesnít just forgive you when you repent and confess your sin to Him, He also immediately begins healing you and that is what he is presently doing by allowing these feelings of guilt and condemnation so you can exercise your muscle of faith and strengthen it by standing on what he has said, not on what you feel or what Satan is lying to you about.

So what do you do when you are feeling condemned when Godís word says He has forgiven you and forgotten it? You ignore your feelings and stand on His Word. You confess what is true in His Word, not what you feel. You say,

"Jesus, thank you for forgiving me according to 1 John 1:9. Thank you that the first time I confessed that sin you forgave me and forgot it and donít even know now what I am talking about and are relating to me now just as if I never sinned; that this is true, not what I am feeling or what Satan is lying to me about. Praise and worship You Jesus that Your Word is true."

When you do this you are exercising and strengthening the muscle of faith. As you daily do this whenever these feelings or thoughts of condemnation come, you build up the muscle of faith and eventually your sense of Godís presence and love, joy and peace will return.

Second, you build up the muscle of your faith when you walk in obedience to Godís revealed will to you through the Holy Spirit. Paul wrote "But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh" (Galatians 5:16). If you remember I said you cannot overcome or control your flesh. The Bible says in Romans 8:6-8 that the flesh never did obey Godís laws and it never will. Well then, how do we bring our flesh into submission to God and keep from falling to temptation? Only one way: through walking in obedience to God in His will for you in your use of time. Remember, Why did David fall to temptation with Bathsheba? Because instead of seeking Godís will in His use of time and using it accordingly, he was instead idle, and an idle mind is the playground of the devil. David should have been with his men on the front line fighting their enemies. Instead he was idle on the roof and when he saw Bathsheba nude and bathing, he found he could not say no to his fleshly desires. This resulted in his committing adultery and murder. There is only one way to keep your flesh under control: it is by seeking Godís will in your use of time and then choosing to walk in obedience to him in your use of time. If your busy doing Godís will, your mind is occupied and there is no room for Satan to tempt you and thus no opportunity for your flesh to take over and fall.

"Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is." (Ephesians 5:15-17)

"Submit therefore to God, resist the devil, and he will flee from you." (James 4:7)

"Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things; and the God of peace shall be with you." (Phil 4:8-9)

When you exercise your will to walk in obedience to God in your use of time, you are exercising the muscle of faith and are walking in faith. When you are obeying God you are also walking in the Holy Spirit. This is what it means to walk in the Holy Spirit and what Paul means in Galatians 5:16 when he says "But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh." You wonít carry out the desires of the flesh because you are too occupied with Godís will in heart and mind to be tempted with the desires of the flesh. That is the only way you can keep from sinning in the flesh. Otherwise, if the flesh is idle and given opportunity, you will sin. That is a promise in Godís word you can count on also:

"For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God." (Rom 8:6-8)

"This I say therefore, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; and they having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality, for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness." (Ephesians 4:17-19)

Your mind is set on the flesh when you are following your thoughts in your use of time instead of choosing with your will to walk in obedience to Godís will for you in your use of time. So the remedy to overcoming your flesh is not to beat your flesh or try to exercise will power over the flesh. That only energizes the flesh, and since the flesh is in bondage to sin, it also energizes it to sin. What does this mean?  It means that even though temporarily you appear to be making progress in overcoming the problems of your flesh, in the end you will find yourself in deeper bondage to those problems, not overcoming them. The only remedy for overcoming your flesh is to seek Godís will in your use of time and then choosing to obey him in your use of time. You do that and you wonít have time to think about what you donít have or want, and Satan wonít be able to put thoughts into your head to cause you to fall because your mind will be too occupied with doing Godís will. "But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh" (Galatians 5:16). There is no other way, not on this side of heaven anyway.

So the reason why God feels miles away and the reason why you feel condemned is not because this is how God feels about you, but because your muscle of faith has become weak and flabby, and the Lord is allowing your feelings and the attack of Satan so you can exercise and rebuild your muscle of faith by standing on what His word says, not on what you feel, and by exercising your will to walk in obedience to Him even when you donít feel Him. You are walking in the Holy Spirit not when you feel Him, but when you are obeying Him; and when you are obeying Him you are walking in faith and God is pleased with you no matter how you feel (Heb 11:6).

"So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure." (Phil 2:12-13)

Sincerely in Jesus,

Dale P. Kruse
Pastor Evangelist

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