Spiritual Battlefields: Our Faith

cannon facing old battlefield

When we talk about faith, we probably all have someone we can look to as a great example of faith through the trials and battles of this life. In turn, any of us might be someone else’s roll model. This knowledge should encourage us all to consider the daily examples of faith we demonstrate. For all of us, we should be striving to turn faith into a habit, learning to rely on God more than we rely on self or other people.

II Corinthians 5:7 simply says that we walk by faith rather than sight. That’s tough. Right there is where the battle over our faith lies. We’re used to things being visible and tangible in this world. We’re used to seeing and touching everything we know. That’s the evidence that something is real — that it can be sensed or measured in some way. Faith is all about trusting in things we cannot see, feel, touch, or otherwise sense.

Hebrews 11 defines faith as an assurance and a conviction in things we cannot see. We believe in God and Heaven though we cannot see no touch either. If that belief becomes faith, those things become tangible in our minds. Think of being in a dark room. You know their are things in the room even though you can’t see them. If we stay in the darkness too long, however, our eyes adjust, and the light can be painful to reintroduce.

The Source of Our Help

Faith should be always driving us toward the light. Think of Mark 2:1-12 where a group of people work together to get a mutual friend to Christ. The friend could not walk to Christ himself, so his own friends were willing to take him to Christ in faith that Jesus could heal. They were confident He was their source of help, and He is our help as well. Psalm 121:1 says that the Lord of Heaven and Earth is our source of help. The first battle we have is in knowing the source of our aid.

So often , we come to Christ in prayer with a remedy for our problems already in mind. Instead of trusting in Him, we try to guide our God. We try to tell him how He should help us. Instead, we should be turning to Him in faith and laying out our troubles at His feet, knowing that He can provide help. It might not be the help we expect, but it is the help He offers to us.

Overcoming the Obstacles

Back in Mark 2, the friends find the path to Jesus blocked. Sometimes, we have to put some extra effort into getting to Christ. There will always be reasons to quit, and we justify giving up so easily at times. Our journey toward our Savior will not always be easy. There will be obstacles. There will be troubles. The group of friends in Mark 2 were determined to get to Jesus, and they took a risk to get to Christ in an unconventional way.

How many ways could their solution have gone wrong? Let’s be honest. Digging into somebody else’s roof to interrupt a great teacher delivering his message would seem like a bad idea. Getting to Jesus is not always a conventional journey. We have to be willing to take risks for Christ and for each other. We have to be determined. We have to be okay with failure. If we have that strong knowledge that Jesus is the only true source of help, then it should make us all the more determined to keep on when fear, frustration, and trials try to keep us away.

Our giving up on Christ is very often rooted in basic fear. Mark 4:35 records Jesus calming a storm for his disciples, and He asked them, “Why are you still afraid? Have you no faith?” Jesus treated faith as the cure for fear. When we allow fear to motivate our attitudes and conduct, when fear influences our worldview and how we treat people or groups of people, we are demonstrating a lack of faith. Faith drives out fear so that we can press closer to Christ despite the things of this world that might keep us away.

The Real Victory

In Mark 2, when Jesus saw the faith in the friends who had brought the paralytic man to Him, Jesus decided to act. Our faith can help Jesus have an affect in other peoples’ lives. Our faith can help others grow their own faith and come closer to Christ. Still, Jesus first words were probably not what they expected, but that was the real victory. They brought their friend so his body could be healed, and Jesus began by healing the man’s soul.

We have to look for the real victory, and that includes giving up what we might think the win should be. We can only see so far, and God is capable if fixing problems we can’t even see. The real victory of faith is so much bigger than any solution we can come up with. It’s a change in our lives that only Christ can bring. If we can keep that in mind, it helps drive away fear in the face of obstacles. It helps us look for our one true source of hope.

Victory in the Cross

three crosses

Over the course of this series about those close to the cross, we have reviewed four things that increase when we grow closer to the cross: our understanding of His love, our grace toward others, our commitment, and our responsibility. The closer we stay to the cross, the more our lives will look like His. Furthermore, the cross brings us forgiveness and ultimately salvation. It is the death that brings eternal life. We understand that there is victory in the cross.

Victory & Peace in the Cross

I Corinthians 15:50 helps us understand that we will be changed from something physical to something spiritual when Christ comes again. Death will have no more victory over us because we will be clothed in immortality. That victory over death is possible because of the cross.

We are also victorious over sin because of the cross. Isaiah 53:4 tells us the Messiah would be wounded for our sakes and that His pain would heal us. A moment that would be considered defeat under any other circumstances became victory over the sin and death that have so much power in this world.

Philippians 4:4 then reminds us there is peace to be found in the cross. This world and its struggles are not everything. We look for something better. Remember how peaceful Mary and John were at the cross. They had peace — peace that passed all understanding — and we can have that peace as well when we grow closer to His cross. We have the peace of forgiveness, the peace of redemption, the peace of hope.

Sharing the Cross

We then share that victory and peace with others. Hebrews 4:16 calls us to approach God’s presence with confidence, and that confidence leads us to share Him with others. Because of the cross, we will live in a way that sets us apart from the words. The cross changes our lives and attitudes in a way that separates us. We have a peace and confidence that should set us apart.

When we are far from the cross, we blend in with the world. We may be aware of Christ, but we have not completely given ourselves over to Him. The closer we get, our priorities begin to change. Our attitudes and our conduct changes. Our love for others changes and grows. We became something better and new. We have peace and hope because of the victory of the cross, and we should want to share that hope with others. That victory is meant to be shared.

lesson by Donn Koonce

Mary & John at the Cross

three crosses

We’re spending a couple of lessons looking at those who were physically near the cross and the lessons we can learn from them. We’ve already talked about how our living closer to the cross means we increase our commitment, our responsibility, our understanding of His love, and our grace to others. Because we closely see what happened on the cross and what it means, we can share that meaning all the more in our own lives.

Mary at the Cross

We see Jesus’ mother at the cross watching her son who is being put to death, ridiculed by others, and treated like a common criminal. She knows her son’s innocence and is powerless to do anything. How would you or I react in such a situation? What would we expect to see a mother do? Would we expect wailing, anger, perhaps even bargaining? Mary is not recorded as doing any of these things.

In Luke 2:39-51, we can read about Jesus as a boy, staying behind in Jerusalem and speaking with the teachers and amazing those around Him with His understanding of God’s word. After Mary and Joseph bring Jesus home, we read that Mary kept these events in her heart. More than once, we read about Mary putting pieces together and keeping them in her heart. She was learning about her son as He grew, and she was seeing where He was going.

Prior to that, in Luke 2:34, Simeon prophecies to Mary about the pain in her Son’s future. She had already grown close to the cross before it happened. She understood His message and His love for others. That love extended to Jesus’ mother as He appointed her to care for the apostle John and he for her in John 19:26-27.

John at the Cross

Like Mary, we don’t see much reaction in this closest of the apostles. For him, everything is coming together. Jesus had predicted his own death and resurrection three times prior to entering Jerusalem, and John alone took these prophecies to heart. Of all the apostles, John is the only one we read of being close to the cross. He did not try to save Jesus. He did not try to end the injustice going on around Him. He was there, and He knew why Jesus was there. John understood the commitment Jesus made. He was already close to the cross.

John teaches us about Christ’s love in his books. He stays committed to Christ, and he shares that commitment with us to this day through his writings. We can read about his confidence in the name of Jesus, his hope, and the love of Christ. John saw that love shared on the cross. He knew what Jesus had to go through to give us hope, love, and grace. It had a lifelong impact on John, and it should have the same effect on us.

Us at the Cross

When the cross has a full effect on our lives, it will change us as it changed Mary and John. It should strengthen our commitment to a Savior who was willing to go through so much, and we should want all the more to share that love with others. But it takes courage to get that close to the cross. We can’t run from it. and be His. We can’t hide from it and be His. We have to approach that cross of sacrifice, crucify self, and allow Him to guide us.

lesson by Donn Koonce