Living by Faith Means Suffering for Truth and Righteousness
Hebrews 11:6-8 says: “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith. By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.”
Noah had to build the ark in order to properly recognize God’s authority and be diligent in seeking Him. Abraham had to leave his own land and go into a strange land in order to do the same. The suffering of each to act upon God’s Word was the only way for them to obtain His grace and be pleasing to Him. They would not properly be regarded as true men of faith if they had been disobedient in these things and if diligent obedience was not the overall testimony of their life. Many think they can have faith in Christ and be in God’s grace without diligently following the way that faithful men like Abraham and Noah lived. Yet that is as great a delusion as anything can be. This is also why the “faith alone” doctrine falls flat on its face. Acceptable faith in Jesus Christ suffers to follow the truth of God’s Word and to do righteousness before God. James chapter two makes it as clear as anything can be that a living faith absolutely must do this, and that people cannot be justified by faith alone. The faithful, righteous, godly men of the Old Testament are consistently held up in the New Testaments as examples for us of being justified by faith in God’s sight through Jesus Christ. There is no other type of faith in Christ than the type of faith that men like Abraham and Noah had. And those who point to the worst moments in the lives of the faithful men of the Old Testament to try to defend sin and compromise in their own lives, and to overall try to mitigate the uncompromising nature of acceptable Christianity, are doing something which these men who died in faith did not do themselves and would doubtlessly find abhorrent and shameful.
Living according to fleshly lust is guaranteed to result in spiritual death and condemnation (Romans 8:13, Galatians 5:19-21, etc). Choosing friends and family over faithfulness to God’s Word is idolatry which leaves one in the realm of darkness and ends in outer darkness where there is a furnace of fire, along with weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 25:30 with Matthew 25:41 and 46). Pursuing riches and financial security at the expense of obeying God’s Word is idolatry which leads to hellfire. Riches can’t deliver one from God’s wrath on Judgment Day nor from calamity in this life.
Proverbs 11:4: “Riches profit not in the day of wrath: but righteousness delivereth from death.”
Yet our society is especially godless and has trained people to rely on instant gratification in an unprecedented way. Walking straight before God and acting according to His commandments often means foregoing momentary pleasure and comfort, while not even receiving a benefit in exchange which can be felt good about- unless you really take to heart that God’s truth will prevail in the end and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. It involves much patience then to walk this way and the persuasion that all that is of man which is not subject to God’s authority is under the condemnation of death. Noah had to have this persuasion to build the ark. Such a persuasion is only logical. Noah is certainly a type of Christ. Christ would not have come to redeem man from his sins if His own judgment was not that all that is of man which is not subject to God’s authority is under the condemnation of death. That should persuade us to die to ourselves and suffer for truth and righteousness according to God’s Word, even if nothing else will.
A true walk of faith must be entered into by a proper recognition of God’s rightful authority over us through Jesus Christ. Such demands repentance and works that are in keeping with, or fitting for, repentance. There is no true faith without true repentance wherein one recognizes where they are out of line with God’s authority and does whatever is in their power to amend that. This involves restoring that which was stolen, breaking off from all idolatry and all idolatrous pursuits, forsaking all deceit, giving up all lascivious behavior, letting go of all malice, assuming one’s duties to the poor and needy which had been set aside, honoring and getting in line with God-ordained authority in one’s life, and doing whatever else it takes to come into line with God’s commandments wherever one can see that they have been out of line with them. This would also include choosing to face reproach from man which inevitably comes with being faithful to Christ. It also must include a surrender to call people out of sin as a witness for Jesus Christ. These things also involve a readiness and willingness to come out of churches that are out of line with God’s Word and do not represent Jesus faithfully, as well as a willingness and readiness to join in fellowship with those who wholeheartedly want to be under the authority of God’s Word and are therefore in a position to follow Jesus faithfully. From that point, one must take up their cross daily and make choices to come into line with God’s Word as they are confronted with more light from the Word and face new circumstances which inevitably call for further steps of obedience. Receiving the demands of God’s Word and fulfilling them without murmuring and complaining is living by faith in the true God.
Abraham is set forth in Scripture as a man whose faith we are to follow, even being called “the father of faith” whose footsteps we ought to walk in Romans 4:11-12. Besides Hebrews 11:8 which we looked at earlier, we see in Abraham’s life how he exercised faith by a proper recognition of God’s authority and hope in God’s promises which caused him to act quickly upon God’s Word. Such an exercise inherently involves suffering for truth and righteousness. We must swiftly do what God says, even when that is painful. This is epitomized in Genesis chapter 17 by how Abraham had himself, along with every male born in his household, circumcised at God’s command. Abraham did this on the very same day which God commanded it (Genesis 17:26-27). He embraced the inconvenience, the pain to his body, along with the risk of his reputation, in order to be obedient to God and walk acceptably before Him. That also shows the true spiritual symbolism of circumcision in the Bible.
Abraham’s obedient faith which was ready and willing to suffer for truth and righteousness to obey God was also eminently displayed by his taking Isaac quickly to the mountain which God told him to offer Isaac upon. God told Abraham to do it; and Abraham rose up early in the morning, took Isaac, and went to the place which God told him to go (Genesis 22:1-3).
We thus read in Genesis 22:4-18: “Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off. And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you. And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together. And Isaac spoke unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together. And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood. And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. And the angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me. And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son. And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen. And the angel of the Lord called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.”
This is the type of faith which is necessary to be a part of Abraham’s spiritual seed, to be in covenant with God like Abraham was, and to inherit the blessing through Jesus Christ which God promised to Abraham. This also demonstrates the attitude towards God’s authority and reliability which we must exercise and walk in order to live by a faith which will save us on Judgment Day.
Those who think logically will know that they can’t afford to not live according to God’s Word and to be left to their own devices. Jesus Christ has validated the truth of the Bible by His resurrection and proven that He is the King of mankind who will come back in glory to condemn His enemies and reign eternally. Since Christ is the Supreme authority and power who will reign in the end, then every way that a person would have to suffer and be inconvenienced to come into line with His Word would have to be well worth it. Every choice to neglect and refuse to do so would thus have to be exceedingly foolish.
Moses learned these lessons well. He thus chose to suffer to get his feet in line and to keep them in line.
Hebrews 11:24-26: “By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.”
Hebrews 12:1-2: “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith (the original text simply says “faith” and not “our faith”); who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Romans 6:16: “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?”
Aaron’s email is: [email protected]