We have covered two of the enemies to our faith. First, we found that our lack of knowledge or our ignorance when it comes to the word of God was the biggest enemy to our faith. Because we do not possess certain knowledge, knowledge that we have rejected, our faith has severely been impacted. Then we found that our failure to act as if God’s word is true was next on our list of enemies to our faith. Basically, we found that it is our disbelief in the word of God that prevents us from acting as if his word is true. The combination of these two are enough to keep our faith under constant attack.
A third enemy to our faith deals with what is called sense-knowledge. Sense-knowledge is the kind of knowledge that is based on physical evidence. This enemy forces us to concentrate only on those things that can be perceived by our five senses. We only believe those things that we can see, taste, smell, hear, or touch. Sense-knowledge requires us to rely upon physical evidence as the motivator for our belief system, which in turn drives our faith in God. By allowing this enemy to grow within us, we in turn, place our trust only in the witness of the senses or what the senses are telling us. But is this the kind of faith that God requires of us?
According to our earlier teaching, Faith Is, faith actually provides substance or assurance and then evidence. We noted that there is not a lot of difference between assurance and evidence other then the qualifiers for each of them, which involves hope and realities that are unseen, respectively. Everything in our life that we have learned has come through our five senses or through sense-knowledge. Now, faith is not at all perceived by the senses. Faith is actually the evidence of the thing hoped for, the evidence that the thing exists but it is not the thing itself (Hebrews 11:1). Faith is the substance or the tangibility of hope. While hope cannot change your circumstances, it can change your attitude about the circumstances. Hope is a goal setter and faith is the way to achieve the goal.
You see, we do not need evidence to believe in something that we can physically see, taste, smell, hear, or touch. The thing itself provides the evidence of the thing’s existence. Faith is the evidence that something does exists regardless of the witness of the senses or what the senses are telling us. Again, faith is not perceived by any of the senses.
For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience (perseverance) wait (eagerly wait) for it (Romans 8:24-25).
According to this passage, we see that we are saved by hope, a hope that we have yet to see. The passage goes on to say that hope, when seen, is not hope at all, for who hopes for what they already have and can see? When we have hope, we are looking forward to getting something that we do not already have. Once we have that something and we can see that something, then we have no more need for hope. It is by hope that we believe we are saved and as long as we have hope for salvation, which we cannot see, we will continue to trust God as we eagerly and patiently wait for that which we have hope. Again, faith or in this case, hope, is not perceived by any of the senses.
For we walk by faith, not by sight (II Corinthians 5:7).
In order to walk by faith, we must leave the world of the senses. As we walk by faith, we leave behind what our senses are telling us and completely trust God. This is the kind of faith that God requires of us, however let us caution you as to what walking by faith does not mean. Walking by faith does not mean that you can walk in the middle of the road with your eyes closed into the path of oncoming traffic and think that nothing will happen to you or that you will not be run over. Any claims that this is what walking by faith, as directed by God means, will not hold up. This is not what God had in mind when he told us to walk by faith and not by sight. We cannot disregard the laws of nature in your effort to walk by faith. When we walk by faith, we are not walking by our senses when it comes to the things of God.
While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal (II Corinthians 4:18).
When you take up this walking by faith, your mind is not focused on the things that can be seen. Your mind is not focused on the troubles around you. The things that are seen or perceived by your senses are temporary in nature and can only be seen for a time. When you walk by faith, your mind should be focused on those things that cannot be seen, for the things that are not seen or perceived by our senses are eternal and everlasting.
Set your affection (mind) on things above, not on things on the earth (Colossians 3:2).
Focus or set your mind on those things that are above and not on those things which are on the earth. You see, those things which are above are not seen, they have to be believed. And when you believe in or on such things, the things that are not seen, then your sense-knowledge is not involved, it all about faith, your faith. And you know it is faith, because you are not relying on what your senses are telling you.
Some people will disagree with this assessment because their faith is based one hundred percent on their sense-knowledge or what some would call head faith. Again, this type of faith requires one to rely upon physical evidence as the motivator for his or her belief system, which in turn drives his or her faith in God. One example of someone using head faith can be seen during Jesus’ visit to the disciple after his resurrection.
As the story goes, on the evening of the first day of the week when it was discovered that Jesus had risen from the grave, he appeared to the disciples in a locked room where they has chose to meet for fear of what the Jews would do to them.
At evening on that day, the first day of the week, when, for fear of the Jews, the doors were shut where the disciples were, Jesus came among them and said to them, May peace be with you (John 20:19 BET)!
Initially, when the eleven disciples saw Jesus in the room, they were afraid. They had doubt that it was actually Jesus thinking at first it was a ghost.
And that very hour they got up and went back to Jerusalem, where the eleven and the others had come together. And they said to them, The Lord has truly come back to life again, and Simon has seen him. And they gave an account of the things which had taken place on the way, and how, when he gave them bread, they had knowledge of him. And while they were saying these things, he himself was among them, and said to them, Peace be with you! But they were full of fear, being of the opinion that they were seeing a spirit. And he said to them, Why are you troubled, and why are your hearts full of doubt? See; my hands and my feet: it is I myself; put your hands on me and make certain; for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have. And when he had said this, he let them see his hands and his feet. And because, for joy and wonder, they were still in doubt, he said to them, Have you any food here? And they gave him a bit of cooked fish. And before their eyes he took a meal (Luke 24:33-43 BET).
But Jesus assured them that he was not a ghost, saying for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have. He then allowed them to see his hands, his feet, and his side. He even allowed them to put their hand upon him as he attempted to alleviate their doubts. And while they were full of joy and glad to see the Lord, they were also totally astonished, yet they still had doubt. Jesus then asked for something to eat. The disciples served him some fish and he ate it in front of them. Again, all of this was done in an attempt by Jesus to rid them of their doubt.
And while this may appear to be an example of head faith, keep in mind that this type of faith requires one to rely upon physical evidence as the motivator for his or her belief system, which in turn drives his or her faith. This was not the case with the eleven.
And later he was seen by the eleven themselves while they were taking food; and he said sharp words to them because they had no faith and their hearts were hard, and because they had no belief in those who had seen him after he had come back from the dead (Mark 16:14 BET).
Here we see Jesus with some sharp words for the eleven disciples because they had no faith, because their hearts were hardened, and because they did not believe those who had seen Jesus after his resurrection. Seeing Jesus and seeing the evidence of the wounds in his hands, feet, and side, did very little to motivate their belief system and drive their faith.
Now Thomas, one of the twelve, named Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples said to him, We have seen the Lord. But he said to them, If I do not see in his hands the print of the nails and put my finger into the print of the nails, and if I do not put my hand into his side, I will never have belief (John 20:24-25 BET).
Thomas’ statement, If I do not see in his hands the print of the nails and put my finger into the print of the nails, and if I do not put my hand into his side, I will never have belief does appear fit the definition of head faith. It appears that Thomas’ faith now requires physical evidence as the motivator for his belief system and until that evidence is presented or produced, he states that he will never believe. In essence, Thomas has placed his trust in the witness of his senses or what his senses are telling him.
And after eight days, his disciples were again in the house and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were shut, Jesus came, and taking his place in the middle of them, he said, May peace be with you! Then he said to Thomas, Put out your finger, and see my hands; and put your hand here into my side: and be no longer in doubt but have belief. And Thomas said in answer, My Lord and my God! Jesus said to him, Because you have seen me you have belief: a blessing will be on those who have belief though they have not seen me (John 20:26-29 BET)!
Because Thomas was able see the nail prints in Jesus’ hands, was able to touch those same nail prints, and was able to place his hand into Jesus’ side, he now has the physical evidence he needs to motivate his belief system. Unlike Jesus’ first visit to the eleven disciples, where his appearance seemed to have done more to foster their little to no faith, their hardened hearts, and their unbelief, the second appearance had an entirely different affect on Thomas, whose faith is actually motivated by what he has seen. Jesus summed up Thomas’ faith perfectly with this statement, Because you have seen me you have belief (John 20:29 BET).
This is sense-knowledge or head faith at its best. It is this type of faith that everyone in the world has, but this is not the kind of faith that God requires of us. Remember, God requires us to leave the world of the senses and to walk by faith (II Corinthians 5:7), completely trusting in him. Scripture tells us that it is necessary for anyone who comes to God to have the belief that he is (Hebrews 11:6). In other words, they must believe that God does in fact exist. However, with no physical evidence to prove God’s existence, it is extremely difficult for those who place their trust only in the witness of the senses or what the senses are telling them to operate beyond their sense-knowledge or head faith.
In all of this, we see that faith contingent upon sense-knowledge or head faith has several limitations and can become a hindrance to our faith. The story of Thomas was a great example of just how limiting faith based on one’s senses can be. Had Thomas not seen Jesus, not been able to see the nail prints in Jesus’ hands, not been able to touch those same nail prints, and not been able to place his hand into Jesus’ side then he would have not believed because there would have been no physical evidence to motivate his belief system and drive his faith. Remember it was Thomas who stated that he would never believe until he could see and feel the evidence for himself. Jesus summed up sense-knowledge or head faith perfectly with this statement to Thomas; Because you have seen me you have belief. It was what Jesus said next that revealed the true nature of faith. His statement, A blessing will be on those who have belief though they have not seen me (John 20:29 BET) clearly embodies the notion of walking by faith and not by sight or by our senses.
Relying on sense-knowledge or head faith can seriously hinder your faith. Focusing our mind on only those things that we can see, taste, smell, hear, or touch or physical evidence will limit or hinder our faith and is just another one of the many enemies to our faith that we need to overcome. (to be continued).
Enjoy your blessings. - KW