In my sermon – Go to God – I focused on our need to go to the Lord, specifically in prayer. Within that sermon, the subject of the two natures dwelling within the hearts of believers came up. Some of you who may have not yet watched, read, or listened to that sermon may be curious as to the two natures that I am speaking of. Well, the two natures (parts) that dwell in the hearts of all believers are the nature of worldliness and the nature of spirituality. As you may have heard me say before, and as scripture states, these two natures are contrary to each other.
These two natures are constantly at war with each other in the heart of all believers. You will often hear some speaking of their ‘inner demon’ and how they have to hold back or fight their inner demon(s). Others often talk about something weighing on their conscience. Both of these sayings speak to the mind, or the heart, of someone. We often find that our morality and what we will do in our morality is being tested, not just by those around us or things that may happen in life, but by our own self.
So, what I desire to do is a study on this war that goes on inside of us. For every believer, we desire to do everything possible to what is right and good in order to please the Lord. However, before we can even get to the point of talking about the conflict within, we must first determine our morality. In other words, we must first know who we are. So, what we are going to do first in this study is take a lot out ourselves on the inside. Do you know thyself?
Levels of Faith
How do you respond in certain situations and to those that are around you? Every last person living in our world today is guided by their very own morals. I do not know if you realize this or not, but our morals are dictated by what we believe in. In other words, what you believe to be right in your heart, you will do. What you do not believe to be right in your heart, you will not do.
What is right and what is wrong is not necessarily the same between one person and another. The reason being is because not everyone believes or has faith in the same thing. With this being said, I want to take a look at faith in this week’s bible study – specifically faith in the Lord. There is a way that the Lord has determined to be right for us and to guide us in how we live in the world. The question is whether or not we have the faith to be guided by the morals that the Lord has set for us.
Now, I am of the personal belief that there are levels to faith. Depending on how you want to look at it, I believe that there are three main levels to faith. I will show you these three main levels in scripture so that you can see that my belief of these levels comes from sound doctrine. I also want to point out that within each of these three main levels, I believe we can have sub-levels which I will also show to you in scripture. Alright, let’s dive into these three levels of faith and what they can determine about our morality.
Level of No Faith
The first level of faith that we are going to take a look at within this study is the first level which we will title – Level of No Faith.
The one thing I want to point out about this level of faith is that everybody starts out at this level of faith. There is no person that was born a full blown believer in the Lord. Now, with this statement being made, I can introduce you to the two sub-levels that exist within this level of faith.
There are those within the level of having no faith, who have absolutely no faith in the Lord – this is an absolute (final). Those who have absolutely no faith have reached a point where they have no desire to turn to the Lord. In having no desire to turn to the Lord, these people do not desire to please the Lord and have fully given themselves over to sin (worldliness).
In giving themselves over to worldliness, they go where worldliness will lead them. This is to say that worldliness determines their morals. Does this mean that all of their morals are completely wicked? Absolutely not. However, we could say that of the three main levels, they would more easily fall to wickedness (sin). Not only is that the case, but those of absolutely no faith in God stand in opposition against Him. This means that their way of worldliness and sin will not lead to the salvation promised by God but will ultimately end in their destruction (Prov. 10:29; 14:12).
Now, I do believe that there are many ‘good’ people who reside in this sub-level because they find it hard to believe in God and they make the choice to choose not to believe. There are several people who say and do good things but have no faith in the Lord. Because they have no faith in the Lord, their faith in Him is dead; they are fully convicted of this faith and there is no turning back from it. Those who will give the Lord a try are not in this group.
I don’t believe that any of that is new information about those who are fully convicted in not having any faith in the Lord. Now, I do want to point out that they are not the only ones who are a part of those that have dead faith. In scripture, we will see that there are many so-called believers who also make up this group of people who have dead faith. Let’s take a moment to look at James 2:14-26.
In his letter, on a couple of occasions, James specifically states that faith without works is dead (Jas. 2:17, 20). I want you to understand that James was specifically talking to those who proclaim to have faith in the Lord but do not move in their faith in God. We will see this as James expounds on this thought.
James asked, “If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit (Jas. 2:15-16)?” The idea proposed here by James is that the believer should be moved to help those who they are able to help. Faith is not simply saying something with little to no thought and no effort. Faith moves and it moves out of the heart!
One of the best examples of this happening in our world today is when we say something and typically never get around to doing. We may not be able to lift a hand to help all of the time, but when you tell someone that you are going to keep them lifted up in prayer, you should put that faith in motion and actually lift them up in prayer! Again, there are many that proclaim to be of Christ but they do not move as Christ moved. What I mean by this is to say that they are not living as Christ lived. Therefore, the person that does not move in faith is showing themselves to have no faith – their faith is dead.
There is still another group of people that reside in another sub-level under having no faith that I want to bring up in this study. Again, to be clear, all people start off in this group. Though we once had zero faith, we have seen that we were able to grow in having faith in the Lord, right? Well, the same thing is possible for others as well. So, while there are some who will have dead faith, there are others that reside in this group who have the ability to grow from having zero faith to having a little faith.
I believe Peter said it best when he said we should be like newborn babies. Peter wrote that as newborn babies desire milk, we ought to desire the word of God so that we can grow (1 Pet. 2:2). Again, we all have to start somewhere and in scripture, we will see that it is at this level where we become curious of the Lord. I believe that Nicodemus was at this level when he went to visit Jesus by night (John 3:1-8).
Nicodemus was a Pharisee, one of the religious leaders of the Jews. At the time of his visit, Nicodemus was a man who was curious about the teachings of Jesus and he wanted to learn more. Specifically, he wanted to learn how he could inherit eternal life. This man, I do not believe had yet reached even a level of a little faith – he simply had a curiosity.
So, I believe the newborn babies have a curiosity to see what the Lord tastes like, to speak figuratively. Some will taste and see that the Lord truly is good while others simply won’t like the taste (Ps. 34:8). Those that do not like the taste will slide over into the other sub-level of those who have dead faith. Those that give the Lord a taste and like what they have tasted will do one or two things.
As Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God (John 3:3).” So, some that give the Lord a taste will truly enjoy what they have tasted and turn to Him. In other words, they truly do become newborn babies as born again believers.
On the other hand, others, after liking what they have tasted, may not fully commit to becoming a born again believer, yet, at the same time, they are not going to turn away just yet. They will go back to get another plate and give the Lord another taste – their curiosity has not been satisfied.
Level of Little Faith
So, those that have given God a try and those that have become new born again believers move up to the next level of faith – those of little faith. Again, let’s make it clear that all believers have been at this level of faith as well. Nobody starts off being strong in the faith. We all start off not having any faith and then growing in faith.
Jesus did say to the disciples that with the faith of a mustard seed in Him, they could move mountains (Matt. 17:20). Yes, with a little faith we can move mountains, however, we should also understand that it is not good to be stagnant in the faith. Let’s dive into this level by taking a look at the two sub-levels of little faith.
To explain this level of faith, I will liken this level of faith to that of being a teenager. What I mean by this is that teenagers are at an age where they are highly persuadable; they can be persuaded into doing anything whether that is a good thing or a bad thing. I believe that Satan tempts us in all stages of our faith, but that we are more susceptible to falling for his temptation as both newborn babies and as teenagers in the faith.
So, ideally, those of little faith should desire to continue to grow and mature in their faith in the Lord. Again, taking a look at Peter’s writing, we will see what we can do to go about maturing in our faith. Peter writes, “giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love (2 Pet. 1:5-7).”
We add virtue and knowledge by our diligence in studying Christ and sound doctrine (1 Tim. 4:13; 2 Tim. 2:15; 2 Pet. 1:10). Virtue is defined as morally good behavior or character. Now, there are morals that are set by worldly standards. As I mentioned earlier in this study, there are several people who have no faith in the Lord who have some qualities that we believers would even say are good qualities.
Yet, as a child of God, we can grow those good qualities by adding on the virtues that Jesus taught and showed through His life. Again, there are people who at the level of no faith, have really good knowledge by worldly standards. Yet, the truth of the matter is that those who are consumed with worldliness, pay very little attention to spirituality. So, as genuine believers of Christ, we should seek to grow in our knowledge and wisdom of the Lord. We do this, again, by diligently studying the sound doctrine of the Lord.
A faith that continues to grow and mature over time, becomes a faith that learns to have self control and patience. I believe self control and patience to be very important to a child of God. Self control helps us when it comes to dealing with wickedness. Patience helps us to be able to endure in times of trouble. As James wrote, “the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing (Jas. 1:3-4).”
Let us also remember that I said there are those who did not fully commit to having faith in the Lord at the level of no faith, yet they still moved to the level of little out of curiosity. Now, some of these will grow so much more in their faith at this level that they become born again believers. As born again believers at this level, their faith will also blossom and mature.
So, it is certainly a good thing to grow from having little faith to a faith that matures. However, there are many people on this level of little faith whose faith does not grow – this is not good. On this thought, Peter said, “For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins (2 Pet. 1:9).”
Where one on this level of little faith is strengthening their faith, the opposite may be happening for others. If we do not exercise our faith – putting our faith to practice – then our faith is not growing and getting stronger. We are not adding virtue, wisdom, knowledge, self control, and patience. The results of this means that faith would be getting weaker whereas faith should always be growing stronger.
In the verse prior, when Peter had spoken of adding to faith, he said, “For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 1:8).” The goal for all believers should be to grow in their faith so that they can bear fruit in the world. This is something that I discussed in a recent Sunday School – Abide in the True Vine – be sure to go read or listen to that lesson if you have not done so already.
Now, those who are not maturing in their faith, they become barren and unfruitful. For those in this sub-level who became born again believers and do not bear any fruit, we are told that the Lord takes those branches away from the True Vine, which is Christ (John 15:1-2). I want to make it clear that these believers do not lose their grace or their salvation.
Genuine believers will never lose their salvation. We may lose our joy and our gifts, since we are not using them, but we will never lose our salvation. We see this promise of not being lost throughout scripture. Jesus said to the disciples, “This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day (John 6:39-40).”
Again in scripture, Paul writes that our salvation is sealed. Paul wrote, “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory (Eph. 1:13-14).”
Falling back down to zero
With that said, let us remember that there are still those that decided to give the Lord a try but did not fully commit to Him and become a born again believer. Unlike those that became born again believers, we find that these individuals’ faith gets so weak that they actually lose the little faith. Here is someone that actually falls back to having no faith.
Because those in this group never gave their hearts to the Lord, or grew in their faith, worldliness will be their moral guide through life unless they genuinely repent and turn to the Lord in genuine faith. Because they never gave their heart to God, they never gained salvation over the world. Because they do not have salvation, their fate will be the same as those who have absolutely no faith in God.
Level of Strong Faith
The last level of faith is made up of those who have persevered with great patience – we are strong in the faith. Those that are strong in the faith are led by the Spirit – this means that the way of God is their moral guide. Now, does this mean that they are perfect? Absolutely not. Again, those who are strong in the faith have added virtue, wisdom, self control, and patience to which I believe they continue to do so.
In adding these traits to their character, I believe those that are strong in the faith have also grown in their humility to the point that they will admit they are not without fault! Not only have they grown in their humility, they have also grown in their love as well.
So, those that are strong in their faith are more capable of living a life that is pleasing to the Lord. We who are strong in the faith take on the image of the Lord and are able to reflect that image in the world around us. What this means is that those who are strong in the faith are, again, not barren because they bear much fruit to all of those that are around them.
Now, I believe that all of those within this level of being strong in the faith share in that they all continue to seek to grow in their wisdom, knowledge, and faith in the Lord. This growth happens because we desire to move forward in our faith without doubting the Lord. Through our perseverance and patience in the Lord, we certainly more and more through our trials and tribulations to remain steadfast in our faith.
Yet, one thing that I do want to set up for our next study is the fact that even though we may become strong in the faith, we still face conflict in our life. The conflict that I am going to focus on in my next study is that war that takes place on the inside. There is a war that determines whether we are going to do right or wrong in life. So, let’s pause right here for the time being.
The next study will not be shared until January 26, 2022. Be sure to keep an eye out for my next study! I certainly hope that you enjoyed this study and will share this study with others!