A lot of Christians think they understand what faith is. They think that if they’ve read their Bibles a few times, understand the message of salvation and believe that God can heal them (or deliver them or save them), then they are living by faith. They’ve made a decision that God loves them and so they believe they are in faith. They fail to understand that faith is more than that. It is a definite, purposeful act of the heart. It is not a mental exercise. If you want to learn how faith works in your life, then you need to know exactly what faith is and how to develop it.
Understand, accepting something as fact, like God’s ability to heal, for example, is not faith. That’s merely giving mental assent or reasoning with your mind. You can mentally acknowledge that something is true and still never really believe it in your heart.
Real Bible faith is a matter of the heart, and it carries with it God-given responsibilities. Let me give you an example. A man once went to Jesus for some help with his son.
“Teacher,” he called out to Jesus, “I brought my son so you could heal him. He is possessed by an evil spirit that won’t let him talk. And whenever this spirit seizes him, it throws him violently to the ground. Then he foams at the mouth and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast out the evil spirit, but they couldn’t do it.” (Mark 9:17-18).
Then he challenged Jesus with this statement: “Have mercy on us and help us, if you can” (verse 22).
When the father pleaded for compassion, Jesus threw the responsibility back on him, saying, “Anything is possible if a person believes” (verse 23).
The boy’s father was trying to get Jesus to do his believing for him. But Jesus cannot do that.
Finally the man broke down in tears and cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” (verse 24). He was believing in his heart, yet he was having trouble with it in his head. His heart was saying, I believe, I believe, I believe! But his mind was resisting.
Had this man known Proverbs 3:5, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding,” there would have been no problem with his head. He could have trusted more in his heart and less in his head.
In the end, when the father cried out in faith, “Lord, I believe,” he enabled Jesus to cast the deaf and dumb spirit out of his son and the boy was healed.
Jesus will do the work for you, but He cannot do the believing for you. You have to do that.
But remember, heart faith grows out of God’s Word.
If you want to condition your heart to be in the habit of believing, then you must give God’s Word first place in your life. You must feed it into your heart constantly. And you have to realize that the Word is actually God speaking to you...personally. It’s not just a lot of information for your head to carry around.
Then, you must make the quality decision that your body and all its physical senses will never override the Word of God in any given situation.
If your body screams, I’m sick! I’m sick! I’m sick!...don’t allow that natural, physical evidence to be the final authority about what you believe. Go to the Word as your final authority. And the Word says, “By [Jesus’] wounds you are healed.” (1 Peter 2:24).
So abide in the Word and let the Word abide in you (John 15:7). As you do, your faith will strengthen. You will know how faith works and experience the benefits of living the faith-filled life!