Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for- Hebrews 11:1-2 NIV
It’s a big stinking deal in the whole Christian experience.
Faith in Jesus saves even the vilest sinner from their sins (Romans 10:10, Ephesians 2:8, Hebrews 10:39). It is faith and faith alone that made sinful people righteous even before Jesus came on the scene (Romans 1:17, Romans 4:1-12, James 2:21-23) and without faith there is no way we can please God no matter what we do or don’t do (Hebrews 11:6).
That being said
As critically important as those things are, faith is even more than all that. Faith is also one of the most powerful defensive weapons we have as we do battle against the powers of this dark world (Ephesians 6:12).
Ephesians 6:16 tells us how it works:
In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
Satan wants to hit us where it matters most from a spiritual perspective. If we don’t have confidence in God and belief in His goodness we are more-or-less done from a spiritual perspective. Therefore, Satan wants us to replace our belief in God’s goodness with doubts and our confidence in God with fear.
Faith is the anecdote to Satan’s assaults on our trust in God.
Faith is critical to success in the spiritual battle because faith keeps the enemy from stealing, killing and destroying our trust in God and His goodness (Matthew 13:3-9)
Here’s the thing though.
Faith is a fragile thing in a world as broken as ours. When bad things happen (and bad things happen all the time in a fallen world) the enemy plants doubt in our minds concerning the goodness and sometimes even the existence of God. These flaming arrows of doubt can be devastating when we are not holding firmly to the shield of faith (Mark 4:14). Because faith is such a fragile thing it is something we must intentionally cultivate in our lives. We nurture and cultivate our faith when we:
Remember all the good God has done for us personally-
From the beginning God’s people have constructed monuments to remind themselves of God’s faithfulness in their lives (Genesis 12:6, Genesis 28:18-22, Genesis 31:35, Genesis 35:14-20). Making the choice to be ruthlessly intentional about remembering the goodness of God is critical to maintaining and growing our faith. Satan’s arrows are doubts he plants in our mind concerning God’s goodness and ability to do what needs to be done in our lives. The habit of remembering God’s faithfulness in the past keeps us from being shaken in the present when life is hard or God feels far away (Psalm 42:2-5, Psalm 77:10-12)
Intentionally sow the spiritual in our lives-
Our world is governed by the law of sowing and reaping (Job 4:8, Proverbs 11:18, Galatians 6:7-8). This just means we all typically get back what we give or do, usually in a greater measure than we sowed. If a person plants a potato they harvest a whole bunch of potatoes—not a single potato or a bunch of turnips. The law of sowing and reaping is every bit as applicable in the spiritual realm as it is in the physical. When we are intentional about sowing prayer, Bible reading and worship into our lives and then put what we learn into practice; we inevitably harvest more faith AND a steadiness to our faith that keeps us standing firm in the worst spiritual storms Satan and life throw at us (Matthew 7:24-29).
Routinely hear the word taught-
Romans 10:17 tells us one way we acquire greater and nurture the faith we already have is through hearing the word of God spoken and expounded on. This is one more really great reason to be in a church where the word is faithfully taught (Hebrews 10:24-25, 2nd Timothy 2:4)
Pray for more faith-
In 1st Corinthians 12:9 the apostle Paul tells us faith is more than just a belief in something we cannot see it is also a spiritual gift. Like all spiritual gifts we are free to ask God to give us the gift of faith. Because faith pleases God more than anything (Hebrews 11:6), asking for more faith is not a request God typically denies those who ask for it with a sincere heart (Matthew 7:7-11, 1st John 5:14).
Thankfulness is nothing more than noticing. The more we choose to notice all the things God has done for us and in us, the more our faith grows (Colossians 3:16).
Choose to live life in Christian community-
Being in community with other Christians grows our faith because God uses His people to love and care for one another in times of need (John 13:34-35, Romans 12:10, Galatians 5:13, Ephesians 4:12, 1st Peter 1:22). When we are loved and cared for by God’s people our faith in God’s love for us is increased. Being in community is also where we here stories about God’s provision and care for others. Hearing stories about God’s care for others increases our own faith in God’s ability to care for us.
Faith is believing all the promises of God even when we don’t see those promises fulfilled in the here and now (Hebrews 11:6). Our faith renders Satan powerless over us. When we are walking in faith God uses us to lead others into greater faith in Jesus. This realty literally makes faith a spiritual super power. We keep our super power in working order by nurturing it and trusting God to grow it.