Lesson 13

Living the Life of Faith

(Romans 1, Habakkuk 2, Hebrews 10, Micah 6)
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Introduction: We are at the end of our studies on forgiveness. Assume your personal life has made that same journey this quarter. You have repented, God has forgiven you, and you stand completely justified before God. Feels wonderful, doesn't it? Now tell me, how do live the next minute, the next day, the next week? What do you do next? Let's dive into the Bible and find the clues to living the life of faith!

  1. Faith Life


    1. Read Romans 1:17. How does righteousness come to us? ("From first to last" it is by faith.)


      1. Now the practical question: what does it mean to "live by faith?"


    2. Let's explore some texts that repeat this same phrase and therefor should help us better understand what is means to live by faith. Read Habakkuk 2:4. This text seems to define living by faith by what it is not. What is not living by faith? (Being "puffed up" and having desires that are not upright.)


      1. I've heard of "Puff Daddy" (no guarantees on the spelling). What is living by "puffed up," instead of faith? (Your life depends on your own (inflated) view of yourself instead of depending on your trust in God.)


        1. Would you say that anytime you live by trusting yourself you are living on "puffed up?"


      2. Habakkuk 2:4 also speaks of desires that are not upright. How about your life: are your desires be opposed to your faith? Let's break this test down by gender, even though I realize that generalities are just that - only true for some.


        1. Guys, how many of you have a beautiful woman in your workplace (or at church, or in the neighborhood, etc.) and you spend your idle time thinking about how you can convert her to becoming a Christian? Or, are your thoughts about her of a different nature? (Just a little test about your desires versus your faith life.)


        2. Ladies, let's take that same beautiful woman and add that she is intelligent, rich and maybe a little arrogant. Are your thoughts about her how you can convert her to becoming a Christian? Or, are your thoughts more in the nature of competing with her? Finding flaws in her? Sharing her faults with others?


      3. Are "puffed up" and evil desires related concepts? If so, how are they related? ("Puffed up" is pride. Pride is the root of sin. If you live to advance your pride, as opposed to advancing your relationship with Jesus, then your desires are improper.)


    3. Read Hebrews 10:38. Here is another illustration of what it means to live by faith. What does living by faith mean here? (Trust in God.)


      1. God says He will not be pleased if we "shrink back." Have you ever had a "shrink back" experience in your life? (About six months ago I was having a huge struggle with the issue of "shrinking back." I had a trial coming up before a judge with a terrible reputation. I kept asking God to give me courage, but the task kept weighing on my mind. God expects us to simply trust Him when we face difficult times.)


      2. Part of the context for Hebrews 10:38 is Hebrews 10:32. What is the opposite of "shrinking back?" (Standing your ground in the face of suffering.)


        1. This suggests that as we progress in our Christian life, we may get weaker in our faith life. Have you seen this in yourself or in others?


    4. Read Galatians 3:11&14. What does living by faith mean in these texts? (Living in the faith that Jesus saves us from our sins. Living in faith means that we live in the power of the Holy Spirit.)


      1. Why is the law mentioned as a counterpoint in v. 11? (This gets us back to the "puffed up" issue. Pride in keeping the law is still pride. We do not save ourselves by obeying the law. However, living a life in the Spirit is living in accord with the law through the power of the Holy Spirit.)


    5. What bigger picture do these texts teach us about living by faith? (They paint a picture of the following life: we understand and accept the sacrifice of Jesus on our behalf. Because of the great debt we owe to God, our aim in life is to promote His kingdom through obedience and service. Our aim becomes reality through the power of the Holy Spirit. Although we may be tempted to take pride in our obedience, we recognize that pride is not appropriate because we would be nothing without Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Promoting the Kingdom of God puts us in the line of fire for the Devil and his supporters. A faithful life means that we trust God, and do not shrink back, even through fearsome times.)


  2. God's Requirements


    1. Read Micah 6:6-7. This reminds me of school; a multiple choice question. What present should you bring to God?


      1. A calf for a burnt offering;


      1. Ten thousand rams and lots of oil;


      2. Your firstborn child; or,


      3. None of the above.


    1. You do not have to be in doubt about the answer because it is found in Micah 6:8. Read it. What does this suggest is the correct answer to the multiple choice question? ("None of the above.")


      1. What do the multiple choice answers have in common that gives you a clue they are all false? (All of the multiple choice answers involve trying to make up for our sins. We sin and then bring God something to "make up" for the sin. Just as we cannot save ourselves by obedience, so we cannot earn forgiveness by post-sin efforts.)


      2. Does this mean that God does not want us to repent? (No. It means that God's goal is not apologies, excuses or penance.)


      3. What does God want instead of apologies and excuses? (He wants obedience.)


        1. If you are a parent, do you understand God's desire here? What do you want from your children - profuse apologies and excuses or obedience?


    2. Let's examine in more detail the Micah 6:8 answer to living a life of faith. Are justice and mercy the same thing?


      1. Assume you are speeding and the police catch you. Do you want justice or mercy?


      2. Assume I am speeding in your neighborhood. Do you want justice or mercy?


      3. Are we in the role of the speeder or the speeding victim in verse 8? (Both. I think God is telling us that when it comes to our actions, we need to be just. In our illustration, that means do not violate the rights of others. It also requires us to show mercy to others when they "speed" in our neighborhood. Our lesson has, of course, the perfect illustration: Jesus' life and His death on the cross for our sins.)


    3. The final ingredient to living the life of faith is to "walk humbly with your God." How does this compare with walking "puffed up?"


      1. I get the picture on humility. But what does adding the word "walk" and "with your God" add to your understanding? (Our "walk" is the direction of our life. Pride is a terrible problem in my life. My bet is it is a problem in your life too, since it is the root of sin. As we live in faith, we continue to progress towards the goal of becoming more like God's ideal for us.)


      1. A few months ago I read an editorial in a church paper that stated (without providing a shred of evidence) that many church members were racists. I was outraged at the blatant name-calling and righteously concluded that the writer of the article was an obvious racist himself. How does this fit into the "walking humble" requirement? (Can you see how this is part of the "puffed up" problem? The writer of the editorial was puffed up by his self-righteous slander of fellow church members. But I was puffed up too, by my self-righteous reaction. The truth is that the writer of the editorial is a racist, I am a racist and so are you. We are all sinners, and hurling insults and accusations at each other says something about the state of our "humility" in our walk.)


      2. What could be done in your church to promote a humble attitude among the members?


        1. What can you do to promote humility in your life?


        2. Is humility an important part of discussion about the Bible? (Humility is important. But, humility is not the same as the incorrect notion that all ideas are equally valid.)


    1. Friend, living the life of faith is not just talk. Satan has faith in God ( James 2:19). Because of Jesus' sacrifice, we stand forgiven, we stand justified and we stand at the beginning of our walk in living the life of faith. Will you commit to forward progress? Will you be conscious of whether your life reflects your talk?


  1. Next week we start a new quarter on the book of Hebrews.

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