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 The Obedience of Faith by Zac Poonen

Prayer is easiest for those who are like little children, for prayer is an acknowledgement of our helplessness and our impotence to God. Clever adults find it difficult to acknowledge that. That is why Jesus said that we must be like little children. The more we depend on our reason and our intellect, the less we will pray, and the more we will question why God does things in a way that our reason cannot understand.

The obedience that God asks of us is not “the obedience of reason”, but “the obedience of faith” (Rom.1:5). God gave no reasons to Adam as to why He did not want Adam to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. It was enough for Adam to know that God loved him and that therefore God's commands (even when unexplainable by reason) were the very best for him. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding” (Prov.3:5). So, when Adam failed, it was primarily a failure of faith in God's love and God's wisdom. This is where we fail too.

If we believe that God loves us intensely, and that He knows what is best for us - better than we can ever know - and that He is almighty enough to order all events on earth, then we will joyfully obey all His commands, yield everything to Him to do His will alone hereafter in our lives, pray even when we don't seem to get any immediate answers, and submit to everything He ordains for us, without any questions. If we don't have faith in God's wisdom, love, and power, then we will do none of these.

If we are like little children, we can come to God in simple faith and receive the fullness of His Spirit into our hearts easily (Luke.11:13). All we need is a clear conscience (with all known sin confessed to God and man), a hunger and thirst for the fullness of the Spirit, a total surrender of every known area of our lives to Him, and faith that our loving Father will certainly give us what we ask for. Then we can ask - and believe that God has granted us what we asked for, even if we don't have any immediate feelings or sensations. The external manifestations will come later. So be like a little child. Can `victory' be claimed by faith like 'salvation'?

1 John 5:4 says, “This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith” - and “the world” is defined by the Word as “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life” (1 John.2:16). So that teaches us that victory over all these is by faith. But what does this faith mean? It is the total leaning of our personality upon God in absolute confidence in His perfect love, wisdom, and power. Believing is the same as receiving - as John 1:12 makes plain. It is not intellectual faith. So, to trust God means that we receive (accept) His will as the best for us. That means we choose to deny our own will. That is what is meant by “crucifying the flesh” (Gal.5:24). To do this (denying our own will), we need grace to help us.

It all originates from faith. If we don't believe that God's will is the best, we will not even want to put our own will to death. This applies, for example when watching TV. Do you believe that what Jesus would do in such situations is the best - that is, not watch useless or sexually suggestive programs and movies? Or do you believe that what pleases your lusts is the best? That depends on whether you believe that God's will is the best for you. Without faith there can be no victory.

Think always of Jesus Whom you have to follow. Never forget that your flesh is weak. Jesus cried out for help constantly from His Father. You must do the same. Remember that the name of Jesus is a tower into which you can always retreat when attacked (Prov.18:10). And in that name you can ask your Father for anything, if ever you are in any difficulty in any place on the face of the earth.


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