Lent Devotional Series #3: Confidence in God

A wooden block that says 'faith' next to blue flowersWhat is confidence in God? I remember when I first became a Christian, I felt like I was really lacking faith. I shared this at the end of a fellowship, during our prayer time and I asked brothers and sisters to pray for me – pray that I could have more confidence in God. Unexpectedly, the sister who prayed for me, prayed for my self-confidence. I did not really know how to react to it. Afterwards, I tried explaining to her about the difference between confidence in God and self-confidence, but she was really confused, and I did not know what more I could say.

We know that our salvation is “justified through faith”, we are saved through faith. However, at the same time, faith seems to be very abstract – we cannot see it, neither can we touch it. Is our faith only a metaphysical ideology or doctrine? We might see some brothers and sisters whose faith we admire. How do they achieve that?

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Galatians 2:20

Justified through faith – God’s Faithfulness

The book of Galatians in the bible is a letter from Paul to the brothers and sisters in Galatia, in which he spoke mainly about faith in Christ. He was hurt and quickly the Galatians had gone astray from the gospel truth, followed other teachings, and were dependent on the “law” to be saved. Yes, Paul corresponded “faith” with “works of the law” rather than “no faith”. To Galatian Christians, they did not believe in Christ Jesus, however they followed Jewish thoughts, thinking that they had to be saved through “works of the law”. Therefore, Paul mentioned the truth of “justified through faith”, so that they could understand that their salvation comes from Jesus Christ’s faithfulness, instead of the law. As a result, when it comes to “justified through faith”, it is not only about our faith, but more so, the faithfulness of God. In other words, “justified through faith” can be said as “Because we have faith in God’s faithfulness, we are able to be justified (justified meaning innocence, saved, pardoned)”. From this we can see that the most important part of “faith” is not down to us, but is the promise of God’s faithfulness! Isn’t it wonderful? The bible says that our faith can move mountains, but if what we have faith in is false, then it’s all in vain. Jesus Christ’s salvation on the cross is indeed true and reliable. In this case, the foundation and crucial part of “faith” is God’s faithfulness.

The restrictions of law – sin

Paul emphasised once again that we are saved through God’s promise, not by “the works of law”. At the same time however, Paul did not reject the law and the meaning of the law. Instead, he confirmed the value of the law. As he mentioned in Romans 5:20, “The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more,”. The law is to let people acknowledge their sins, so that they will know that they cannot save themselves. Law itself is good, it is from God for people to follow as a standard of their actions. The problem is, we all have sinned, so we cannot follow the law fully. As James said, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” If it was not for Christ’s salvation, we all have to bear the consequence of sin. “Faith”, therefore, is to admit we all sin against God, only through admitting our sin we can be saved through receiving the grace of salvation.

Building an intimate relationship with God

On the other hand, the Jews understood clearly, they could not be saved through their acts, therefore, they highly emphasized “circumcision”. This is a marker of a covenant with God, proof that they are God’s people. As God’s people, they must obey various Jewish traditions and manners, in other words, to be a Jew physically. However, Paul also disagreed, he pointed out, the bodily “circumcision” was originally a metaphor and to become Abraham’s descendants, one’s heart needs to go through “circumcision” to become a “real Jew”. In other words, to let Holy Spirit live in your heart and build an intimate relationship with God. The reason why Abraham was justified to be righteous was because he believed in God’s promise, not the circumcision he went through. How is our relationship with Christ, the Lord? Is He our God? Is He your God? Or Is He your parents’ God? When you attend church each week, is it a habit or a chance to see friends? Or are you longing to welcome and see God? When we serve the church, is it because of need? Or is it a calling from God? Does being baptised make you saved, or is it through Jesus Christ, the One who died on the cross for you?

Let us read this verse once again:

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Galatians 2:20

How strong and powerful was Paul’s declaration! He was not talking about big theories or giving a lesson; however, this was what he actually experienced, his life journey and the motivation to live! “who loved me and gave himself for me” these eight words have explained the gospel that we believe; it is the love of Christ, unconditional sacrifice. Moreover, to clarify that it is possible to have “faith” through following Paul, to take up the cross of Christ. For more about taking up the cross, please refer to last week’s article.)

Faith is:

  • God’s faithful promise.
  • Know that you are a sinner and repent.
  • Building a personal intimate relationship with God, to live everyday relying on the Holy Spirit.

Reflective question:

  • Do you know God’s promises? It is only through reading the Bible that we can understand clearly that God is faithful. How are you going to know Him more?
  • Sin is scary, but it is scarier to continuously sin within sin. Try and reflect on what are the areas that we have sinned against God, ask Him to forgive you.
  • Is God your personal saviour? How is your relationship with God today? How are you going to obey the Holy Spirit’s guidance?

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