Spiritual Realities

07.29.21 | Shepherding | by Dan Steere

Spiritual Realities

    Faith acts upon the spiritual realities that lie behind our visible circumstances.

     

    “Let no man’s heart fail on account of him;
    your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.”
    ~ 1 Samuel 17.32

    Faith acts upon the spiritual realities that lie behind our visible circumstances.

    One of the most prominent and reoccurring themes of Scripture is “the just shall live by faith.” (Habakkuk 2.4; Romans 1.17; Galatians 3.11; Hebrews 10.38) This truth is also the central focus of the Protestant Reformation – enshrined in the credo, sola fide. And yet, even among those who remain loyal to Scripture, this truth has often been reduced to little more than a method by which one obtains salvation. This is not the view of Scripture! Neither in its clear doctrinal passages nor in its multitudinous real-life examples does Scripture reduce faith to a mere one-time exercise that brings about new spiritual life. Certainly, saving faith DOES result in new life, but it does so as the first step toward an entirely new perspective – one that interprets all of life from God’s viewpoint.

    The life of David provides us with many examples of this vigorous, God-honoring thinking and acting on the basis of faith. And as we struggle to learn to live by this principle, we are instructed by this shepherd boy, who interprets Goliath and his challenge on the basis of faith in the power and covenant faithfulness of God. In this, David stands tall in an ages-long succession of godly men and women, who believed God’s Word, saw the unseen, and who, through faith, accomplished what was humanly impossible. (Hebrews 11)

    God’s people are all called to live their lives on this same principle. Here again, Jesus Christ has gone before us and by His implicit trust in the Father’s word – even in the face of cruel opposition – He shows us the way. In fact, David’s battle with the giant provides an Old Testament metaphor for Christ’s battle against the great enemy of our souls.

    David visited the army of Israel as it sat paralyzed by Goliath’s challenge. No one, including Saul, dared to face the giant in combat. Goliath was simply too big, too strong, and too well armored. Defeating him was manifestly impossible for any man. Although they were the “army of the living God (verse 36), none of the Israelites could look past the visible realities and believe that God could bring them victory. Even the personal, financial, and political rewards promised by Saul had failed to induce anyone to step up. (verse 25) So, it was not really Goliath’s challenge that had paralyzed them; their unbelief was what caused them to huddle in their tents.

    But where others saw impossibility, David saw an opportunity for God to work. His focus was on the spiritual issues involved, not on the outward circumstances. This is clear from his statements in verse 36. Goliath was “an uncircumcised Philistine.” In other words, big as he was, the giant was not under the covenant protection of God. Israel, on the other hand, constituted “the armies of the living God.” The army of Israel, comprised of His covenant people, was the means by which God would demonstrate His power and glory in the world. David knew where God stood on the issue, so the outcome was never in doubt. To his eyes of faith, this was a “no brainer.” Since it appeared that he was the only one willing, he concluded that this challenge was intended by God for him. And as he stepped out in faith, God blessed him with a great victory.

    Perhaps you have experienced this in your own life: the inescapable conviction that a certain challenge was intended by God for you alone. When God’s call comes, it inevitably involves a task that is too difficult for you and forces you to act on faith in God alone. The “giants” are different for each one of us – financial, relational, ministerial – but each one requires us to look beyond our circumstances and to lay hold of the spiritual truths God has taught us in His Word. Many times, both the challenges and the victories of faith are unseen and private. Yet for all that, they are no less real. And each victory strengthens our faith. The realization that we have been called to an impossible task keeps us humble, and that very humility makes us fit vessels for God’s power.

    If you, like David, are one of God’s children, the challenges will continue to come. Do not allow the unbelief of others to keep you from stepping out in faith.

    ~ Dan Steere

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