When the Eternal God came down out of Heaven, out of the spiritual domain, when He entered into the physical world of time and space which He had created, He did so by conceiving a child in the womb of a virgin named Mary. When Mary gave birth to this Child, He was given the name Jesus, which means: the salvation of God, or God saves. And so it was that God manifested in the body of a Man with flesh and blood like you and I. Having been conceived by God, He is the Son of God. Having been born of a woman, He is also the Son of Man. Having no earthly father, He inherited no sinfulness and though tempted in every way He remained perfect throughout His entire life. In this manner He demonstrated not only what God is like, but also what man can be with the life of God on the inside. He came calling sinners to repentance and consequently found no favour among the self-righteous, nor the political and the religious leadership who eventually conspired to have Him put to death (political and religiously minded people still hate Him). The greatest crime that has ever been committed was when they nailed Jesus, the Son of God, the embodiment of love, truth, mercy and justice . . . to a cross.

But God in His foreknowledge knew exactly what they would do even before He began the creation of the world. He knew that when He gave mankind the freedom to choose the knowledge of good and evil that they would choose to go their own way sooner or later because He had created them as free and independent beings seperate from Himself. While they stayed in agreement with the will of God that was revealed to them i.e. that they not eat of the fruit of good and evil, they were the perfect image of the perfect God. When Eve sinned, Adam was present with her while the devil's temptation persuaded Eve to eat of the forbidden tree and when he ate the fruit offered to him the whole world came under the influence of the devil and the sentence of death. The cost of freedom is high, but without freedom love cannot be truly expressed.

However, God's purpose and plan all along was and is to bring forth children, for God desires Godly offspring (Malachi 2:15). He could certainly have made beings filled with His Spirit that could not do anything but His will. However, He didn't want robots. His plan was and is that each and everyone of His children will have willingly chosen to be filled with His Spirit. Each and every one of them will have seen the wretchedness of their life without Him and will have turned to Him in repentance. In response He would forgive their sin and place within them a new spirit. With their cooperation, He would write His Laws upon their hearts and cause them to walk in His ways. Thus they would become His children by being spiritually born again of the Spirit of God.

To accomplish His ultimate goal, He would have to come and purchase their salvation with His own life, with His own blood. In this manner, the justice of God is satisfied, the mercy of God is demonstrated and the love of God is manifested. For both mercy and justice to exist, there must of necessity be a sacrifice. And that sacrifice was made by God when He sent His Son to experience death on a cross in order to satisfy the need for justice by paying the price of our sins, for it is written: The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). The mercy of God is satisfied for He can and will forgive all who turn from their sin. And the love of God is manifested in that there is no greater love that anyone can have than to lay down his life for a friend. And God calls us His friends when we turn to Him.

And so it is written: He who had no sin became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). Note that this verse says that "we might become the righteousness of God". It says 'might' because it is contingent upon us believing God. It has to be by believing for it was by believing the lie of the devil in the Garden of Eden that Adam and Eve became disodient sinners reliant on self and filled with fears. So when we believe what God says about the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we believe that He will grant us a new life in Christ, when we believe we are a new creation, it is then that we receive. Whatever God has promised for us is received when we believe. Oh hallelujah! Repent and believe and you will receive: forgiveness of sins, eternal life and the gift of the Holy Spirit to dwell within. This is the Gospel in a nut shell.  

 

 

The Apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans said these words: So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes (Romans 1:15-16). This statement provokes the question: Why was Paul writing to the Romans telling them he wants to come to them and preach the gospel? Were they not already Christians?  The fact is, all of Paul's letters were written to believers who had already heard the gospel, either directly through him or by others. The reason he wrote these letters was to impart to them aspects of their new found life in Christ that somehow had escaped their understanding. And so we find ourselves with the letters of Paul wherein we do not find a complete systematic analysis of the New Covenant. Instead we find pieces of the revelation scattered throughout his letters as he addresses a certain matter in one letter and reminds them of a particular aspect in another. For example, Romans has a lot to say about the death of the sinful nature but not much on the new creation. And so it is that many Christians have but a partial understanding and apprehension of all that the gospel has for them.

All who are Christians believe that the Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross for their sins and that they are saved by faith; they know they are born again and have got their ticket to Heaven. But somehow life is still a continual struggle against sin. They try to be a good person but they keep on losing it with their children, their spouse, their boss, their neighbour . . . They believe in telling the truth, but try as they might to always be honest they find that the fear of judgment, fear of rejection, fear of being controlled, fear of this and fear of that will cause them to lie. Before they have even had time to think about it, the words come out their mouth and they enter into condemnation because they know that what they have spoken is not the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Besides that, exaggerations and omissions to paint a better picture are the common experience.

Jesus said that if you look at someone to desire them sexually, you have already sinned in your heart. And as far as turning the other cheek is concerned and loving your enemies . . . it just seems impossible. When the pressure is on, the natural reactions take over. You do your best and you fail. You repent and confess your sin to God and receive His forgiveness, and then you find yourself repeating the vicious cycle of failure leading to condemnation as you become increasingly aware that you do not live up to the standards of your own conscience, let alone the standards of God. Some may even wonder if they are truly saved.

For all of us, trying hard to be good only works when the going is easy, but when the going gets rough, reality speaks louder than our good intentions. This is the most unfortunate experience of the vast majority of those who call themselves Christian and of many sincere church going people. The life they lead is in fact no different from the experience of any other person in the world who believes in holding to a moral standard with their own will power. This ought not to be.

In contrast to the above experience, there is a new and living way revealed in the Scriptures that speaks of a transformed life. This life is described in many different ways throughout the Word of God, of which we will mention but a few. It is first found in the writings of the prophets where they said that God will put His Law in our minds and write His Law upon our hearts (Jeremiah 31:31-34). It's there again in the promise of a new spirit and a new heart (Ezekiel 11:19) and get this!, that He will cause us to walk in His ways (Ezekiel 36:26-27). And all these promises can become our reality because He would actually be in the midst of us and dwell within us by His Holy Spirit (John 4:17 Zephaniah 3:17). When Peter preached the first salvation message he said, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 2:38-39).

Jesus described it as being born of the Spirit, saying that we must be born again. Paul spoke of it: as being crucified with Christ; as being led by the Spirit; as being raised up in newness of life; as being freed from sin and kept by the power of God. Wow! He said that we are a new man; a new creation; created in Christ Jesus.

John the Apostle spoke much of the indwelling Holy Spirit saying that those who believe would receive Him and He would dwell in their midst (John Chapters 14-15). In the first letter of John he explains again and again: that we can know that we are Children of God when we are abiding in His Love; that we are born of God; that He has given us of His Spirit; that He is in us and we are in Him.

Despite all these verses from His Word, many still find this overcoming, victorious life unobtainable. Well actually, for the natural man it is actually impossible for this new life can only be lived by faith. You have got to believe for it. Take this promise found in the short letter written by Jude: Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling.

The question that arises is, "When are we going to believe Him to do it." Let us hear the answer to that question: He will keep us from stumbling when we believe with all our heart that He will keep us from stumbling. It's by faith and not by works. When we actually believe that God Himself will keep us from stumbling and we demonstrate our faith by ceasing from trying hard to keep ourselves from stumbling, whilst at the same time desiring with all our heart not to stumble (Blessed are they that hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be filled), we will move from faith in our selves to keep ourselves, to truly having faith in God. We then receive by faith the grace that God has promised to those who enter the New Covenant through the Blood of Jesus Christ. Hallelujah! 

We are saved by grace and that through faith. It’s by believing hard, not trying hard (I know this is not good English but I hope you get what I mean). You’ve got to faith it to make it (again not good English). This is also what is actually meant in the saying of Jesus where he calls us to deny our self. You have got to give up entirely from self-effort in order to follow Him and take up your cross daily.

Taking up your cross had special meaning to the disciples who were often witnesses of men who were sentenced to death by the Romans. A man carrying his cross was as good as dead, or to put it another way, he was a dead man walking. So Jesus was saying to consider your self-life dead.

Paul’s personal testimony puts it this way: I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me (Galatians 2:20). That is the testimony of someone who is no longer relying on self effort but is living by faith in the Power of God.

Yes, there is a life to be lived that many Christians rarely experience and that is the crucified life that Paul speaks of in the above verse from his letter to the Galatian churches. We also find it mentioned in the letter that he wrote to the Romans where he calls upon us to reckon ourselves dead to sin and alive to God.

Again and again, the scriptures tell us that the just shall live by faith (Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38), and because this new life is to be lived by faith and not by works, any attempt to produce this life by sheer will power will be doomed to failure. Most appreciate that we are saved by faith and not by works but for the most part there are few that learn to live by faith and not by works, with faith producing the works by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. It’s a glorious life, a victorious life, a joy filled life, a life where you never get bored because you’re walking with the Lord.

The carnal sinful spirit that was dead in trespasses and sin is replaced by a new man, a new spirit. Because this new creation is created in Christ Jesus and is made one with God by the Holy Spirit, this new person is born of God and what is born of God does not sin and cannot sin (1 John 3:9). HOWEVER, the mind, will, emotions and the depths of the heart where one believes still needs to be renewed to conform to this truth from God’s Word in order for the manifestation of the Spirit to become evident in this life.

It is by grace through faith that one is saved AND it is by grace through faith that we are to live the life He has promised whereby He writes His Laws upon our hearts and causes us to walk in His ways. Paul’s admonishment to the Galatians reads, “Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect in the flesh.” The perfection of our spirit was immediate when we believed, i.e. grace by faith and not by works. That is how we began. The ongoing purification of our hearts and the renewing of our minds is also to be by faith and not by works lest anyone should boast so that all the glory goes to God.

Grace through faith is the gift of God. And such a wonderful gift it is. Faith is not a work. It’s not something you do. Rather, it is something you believe. But when you change what you believe, it automatically changes what you do. If you really believe with all your heart, the works will follow your faith, for faith without works is dead.

Even the world understands this principle. They know that if a person believes they are a failure, they will never succeed. And so they have motivation seminars to inspire people to be success minded. The scripture reveals that as a man thinks in his heart, so is he (Proverbs 23:7 NKJV). This is a profound truth. Change what a person thinks in their heart, let their deepest thoughts be renewed to what God says about them as a new creation, and their life will be transformed. Thus it is written: And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God (Romans 12:2 NKJV).

The person who is struggling to overcome in his own strength is not to be condemned for his trying hard for they have a good intention in that they desire not to sin. Their need is not to change their hatred of sin, or to give up saying that it can’t be done, but to see God’s plan for them to overcome sin through faith in the work of God imparting grace to them as they believe in what God has already accomplished on their behalf.

The whole world is under the sway of the evil one (1 John 5:19), but through Christ Jesus, the god of this world is defeated and the influence of the world that would cause us to sin is put to death and we get to experience liberty from sin through our faith for it is written . . . whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith (1 John 5:4).

Once upon a time . . .

Many years ago when my children were young and we were gathered around the dinner table, I recall a time when I was going to lose it with one of my boys. Inwardly I was about to cry out, “Oh God, give me patience!” Right at that moment a remarkable thing happened. The Holy Spirit ‘checked me’ and answered my prayer before I voiced it. Instead of an expression of frustration, out of my mouth came these words: “Thank you Lord for your patience.” Immediately I was patient and was able to deal with my son appropriately. At the time it was just, "Wow", and I never realized there was an important lesson to be learned in that experience. I guess I am a slow learner, for it took me about fifteen years to fully understand the import of what had happened.

In the midst of that experience is this simple truth. We give thanks to God for what He has already done. And because of that act of faith in the giving of thanks, we find that we receive that which we are desiring and believing for because it is the will of God for us.

As my wife and I continued to grow in the knowledge of God and in love for one another, we became increasingly aware of the importance of being transformed by the renewing of our minds. One day it occurred to us that here we were believing God’s Word for our healing, our protection and our provision, but why weren’t we believing God for our righteousness. Around this time my wife was inspired by the Lord with this song.

Jesus, you are the vine and we are your branches

Your life is flowing, flowing through me

The same resurrection life that rose you from the dead

That resurrection life prevails in me

 

I have your love, your joy, your peace

I have your patience, goodness and kindness

I have your gentleness, self-control and faith

‘Cause your nature oh God

Your nature prevails in me

 

With this song, God was helping our hearts to believe in the new creation that we had become, He was helping us to see what He had created us to be in Christ Jesus by His Holy Spirit who was dwelling within us; He was teaching us how to live and love by faith.

Faith is expressed in two fundamental ways, one is based on what He has done in the past and so we believe what His Word says He has already done. And the other is based on His promises that include things for the future and so we believe God will do what He said He will do. Both expressions lead us into thanksgiving to God. With regard to those things He has already done, we receive when we believe and give thanks. With regard to those things He promised He would do, we ask believing, then we receive and give thanks. With one we take in faith what He has already given and with the other we ask in faith being confident that He will give us what He has promised to give.

One of the great problems that stumbles many believers is that they are asking God to do what He has already done. They think they are asking in faith, but in fact they are in unbelief regarding what He has already done on their behalf.This can cause great discouragement and often leads people into a fatalistic lifestyle that allows the enemy of our souls to wreak havoc in their lives by convincing them that everything that happens is the will of God for them. We are called to suffer persecution and to endure tribulations that come from the unbeliever, but that which is directly from the devil we are called to overcome by submitting to God and resisting the devil in order to see him flee. 

The foundation of our faith in God is to be found in His Word. Indeed it is written: Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17). And so it is to the Word of God we will go and there we will find not only how to receive faith, but how we may make our faith more effective and how to have the faith we have increase so that we may grow from faith to faith. Amen.

Effective Faith

Philemon 6 says: that the sharing of your faith may become effective by the acknowledgment of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus (NKJV). Here it is again, this time from the Amplified Bible: . . . that the participation in and sharing of your faith may produce and promote full recognition and appreciation and understanding and precise knowledge of every good [thing] that is ours in [our identification with] Christ. 

Let's look at this carefully. Your faith will become effective BY, the acknowledgement of every good thing which IS in you in Christ Jesus. While it is good to give a mental assent, the English word 'acknowledgement' has a deeper meaning that is almost lost in our common usage of the word. I shall quote from an old dictionary I have in my possesion. Being published over a hundred years ago, its meanings are closer to that which is written in the Old King James Bible.

The Concise English Dictionary published 1907 with the emphasis mine:

Acknowledge: To own or recognize by avowal or by some act; to assent to the truth or claims of; to admit to be; to own or confess; to avow receiving. Therefore: we ackowledge what is in some way brought before our notice; when we confess we make known. 

Acknowledgment: The act of acknowledging; owning; recognition; avowal; confession; expression of thanks;

Avowal: An open declaration; frank acknowledgment

If you truly believe the Gospel, that it is no longer you who lives, but Christ who lives in you, you will speak it out just as Paul did: "And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, 'I believed and therefore I spoke,' we also believe and therefore speak" (1 Corinthians 4:13).

As surely as you are saved by faith and not by works, you also overcome sin, the flesh, the world and the devil by faith and not by works. Everything good thing that is in us in Christ Jesus can only be manifested by faith. Believing in the Lord Jesus Christ means to have faith in Him, to have faith in His Word.

Therefore, if the Bible says I'm a new creation: I give thanks and declare it. If I'm feeling like I am overwhelmed: I declare that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. If I'm in a situation where I am being tempted: I declare my submission to God and then I resist the devil and he flees from me. If I realise I'm being angry and bitter toward someone: I confess my sin to God and declare that I'm a new creation and that these things do not belong in me. By acknowledging every good thing which is in me in Christ Jesus, my faith is made effective. Hallelujah!

Increasing Faith

In Luke 17:5 we find these words: And the apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” I believe that the answer to this request given by Jesus is one of the most misunderstood passages of scripture. Most English translations have an editor's note as a heading that says something like "Faith and Duty" or words to that effect. Unfortunately, such a heading is entirely misleading and as a consequence the essence of the Lord's reply to their question is lost. So let's have another look at this parable and see how the Lord actually answered their request:

Luke 17:5-10 NKJV And the apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” So the Lord said, “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you. And which of you, having a servant plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and sit down to eat’? But will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare something for my supper, and gird yourself and serve me till I have eaten and drunk, and afterward you will eat and drink’?  Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not.  So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.’ ”

The Lord's response to this request of the apostles begins with Him making a statement about faith:  “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you. Pay attention to the grammar here. The subject matter is faith, and if you have faith, you can say . . . and 'it' that is your faith, will obey you and 'it' will accomplish what you have said. This is similar to other verses about faith where the Lord tells us that if we speak to the mountain and do not doubt (Mark 11:23 Matthew 21:21). In other words, faith moves the mountain or faith moves the mulberry tree. The evidence that faith is involved is that the mountain or tree moves.

Now we come to the rest of Jesus' teaching on how to increase your faith. Contrary to the common heading, there is not a change of subject to speak about their service or duty. It's a parable that answers their request to have their faith increased. So then, when he introduces the 'servant', he is telling them to treat their faith as a servant, a servant that obeys. And when you see that the servant has not finished it's work, you do not let it rest until it has done all that you require of it. Jesus brings to their attention that as you would not put the servant to rest until it has finished its work, you also are admonished not to put your faith to rest until it has accomplished the task you put it out to do. You leave your faith 'out there' until its work is completed. This is how you increase your faith.

He then finishes off by saying we ought not to thank the servant/faith, presumably because it is really thanks to God that he has granted that we might exercise our faith. And likewise, do not become proudful and think that we are something because the tree or mountain moved as this would be counter productive to increasing our faith.

An example from scripture that illustrates this understanding is when Jesus prayed for the blind man and asked him what he could see. "Men like trees'', was the reply. Jesus did not put his faith to rest, but commanded healing again and then the man was completely healed.

I once prayed for a man who had pain in his lower leg. When first I prayed, the pain was only partially gone. I prayed again. Only slightly better. After four or five attempts, the man could still feel a twinge. Once again I prayed and it was finally completely gone. I just kept my faith 'on the job' until the man's leg was completely pain free.

My daughter once prayed for a fellow traveller on an international flight from Argentina to New Zealand. Her companion was not immediately healed, but as is common with young people these days, they exchanged their facebook details. My daughter disembarked at Auckland and the other young lady continued to Australia. My daughter did not withdraw her faith and three days later the young lady contacted my daughter on Facebook, explaining that her back was healed and wanted to know more about this Jesus in whose Name she had been healed.

So then, the lesson from Jesus is: leave your faith 'out there' until it's done its job and thereby your faith will grow.

The Fight of Faith

The fight of faith is the inward battle of the heart and mind to fully believe so that we do actually see the mountains move on a regular basis. Once a man cried out to Jesus, "Lord, I believe. Help me with my unbelief."  The passage that contains this cry, perhaps the cry of many of us, is another one of those portions of scripture that is seriously misunderstood. Compounding the problem of our lack of understanding of this passage is that we often fail to take the synoptic gospels synoptically. It's often important to get all the scriptures from other parts of the Bible that speak of the same event or subject so as to get a complete picture of what is being taught. So below we wiil look at all three Gospels. We will notice that the Luke version is quite short, we might say a summary of the event. The Mark account is a little longer where we find the cry, "Help me with my unbelief", and finally the Matthew 17 passage where we find more of Jesus' response to the disciples when they asked Him why they couldn't get the demon out. 

Luke 9:37-42 

 Now it happened on the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, that a great multitude met Him. Suddenly a man from the multitude cried out, saying, “Teacher, I implore You, look on my son, for he is my only child. And behold, a spirit seizes him, and he suddenly cries out; it convulses him so that he foams at the mouth; and it departs from him with great difficulty, bruising him. So I implored Your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.”

Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you and]bear with you? Bring your son here.” And as he was still coming, the demon threw him down and convulsed him. Then Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the child, and gave him back to his father.

Mark 9:14-29

And when He came to the disciples, He saw a great multitude around them, and scribes disputing with them. Immediately, when they saw Him, all the people were greatly amazed, and running to Him, greeted Him. And He asked the scribes, “What are you discussing with them?”

Then one of the crowd answered and said, “Teacher, I brought You my son, who has a mute spirit. And wherever it seizes him, it throws him down; he foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth, and becomes rigid. So I spoke to Your disciples, that they should cast it out, but they could not.” He answered him and said, “O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him to Me.” Then they brought him to Him. And when he saw Him, immediately the spirit convulsed him, and he fell on the ground and wallowed, foaming at the mouth. So He asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?”And he said, “From childhood. And often he has thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”

When Jesus saw that the people came running together, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “Deaf and dumb spirit, I command you, come out of him and enter him no more!” Then the spirit cried out, convulsed him greatly, and came out of him. And he became as one dead, so that many said, “He is dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. And when He had come into the house, His disciples asked Him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” So He said to them, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.”

Matthew 17:14-21

And when they had come to the multitude, a man came to Him, kneeling down to Him and saying, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. So I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not cure him.”Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me.” And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour.

Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”

 

The context of this event comes sometime after Jesus sent out the Twelve to preach the gospel, cast out demons and heal the sick. They had been doing it for quite a while. It was when Jesus came down from the Mount of Transfiguration with Peter, James and John that He came upon this situation. So we find that the disciples could not understand why the demon would not leave, they had no doubt cast out many demons but not this one. Then the father of the boy cries out, "Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief." Later, the disciples asked, “Why could we not cast it out?” Now listen carefully: So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. 

So then, all through this passage, Jesus let's everyone know that the problem was unbelief. He calls them a faithless and perverse generation. He tells them that "all things are possible to those who believe." He says that if you have faith, the mountain will move. So then, what makes us think that Jesus now makes the type of demon too difficult and you need to fast and pray to remove this kind of demon. That is very poor grammar and very poor logic. The subject of the discussion is their unbelief, their lack of faith. When Jesus says, "this kind", He is not referring to the demon, but to the kind of unbelief that they were all afflicted with. This kind of unbelief does not go out but by prayer and fasting.

With prayer combined with fasting, we suppress the flesh so that we can better hear what the Spirit is saying. Some describe it as drawing closer to God or as putting ourselves into a state of greater intimacy with the Father. From that 'spiritual place', where our heart is more intune with Him, the unblief will be cast out!

The kind of unbelief that the disciples were encountering is discerned from the circumstances described in this event as follows: The disciples knew their authority. They knew it was the will of God for the demon to be cast out. They had been appointed for the task and sent out to do it. They had already experienced the joy that comes from seeing that the demons were subject to them. Intellectually, they knew their authority. However, out of the mouth the heart speaks. They asked Jesus, “Why could we not cast it out?” This question reveals that in this particular circumstance, they didn't really believe. If they had truly believed with all their heart, they would have left their faith working and the demon would have gone, for faith moves the mountain. This is a clear case of head knowledge versus heart knowledge. Intellectual assent versus believing in the heart faith. Thankfully, we can come to God for a change of heart and this kind of unbelief can be cast out through the greater intimacy that is brought about by prayer and fasting. Amen.

 

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