Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all (as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations”) in the presence of Him whom he believed—God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did; who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, “So shall your descendants be.” And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. And therefore “it was accounted to him for righteousness.” Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification. Romans 4:16-25 NKJV
It has been proven over and over again by numerous studies that active people live longer, healthier lives than inactive people do. I’m sure by now that most of us have heard at one time or another that the best way to enjoy the life we have is through proper diet and exercise. Simply put, eat only those foods which have been proven to be beneficial to our overall health, and spend at least an hour a day doing moderate exercise, which can be accomplished by simply doing anything other than sitting. Walking, working around the yard, or cleaning your house can all fulfill the requirement of being active.
As you consider that advice, can you see where the same could apply to us as believers concerning our spiritual lives? In order to live a healthy and productive spiritual life, we need to be careful what we consume and daily exercise our spiritual muscles. This leads us to ask the question though, what exactly is our spiritual muscle? I believe the Bible makes it clear that for those who choose to believe the promises God has made to us, faith in those promises becomes the spiritual muscle we exercise. So our first step in our personal spiritual fitness plan is to determine the best way to exercise our faith.
Quite a few years ago while playing softball on my church league team, I had occasion to break my wrist rather severely on a collision at home plate. The result was having my entire arm put in a cast up to, and past my elbow for a period of six weeks or so. This was probably one of the more uncomfortable periods in my life because I was told to do absolutely nothing with that arm or hand until the cast came off. You can imagine my relief when the time finally arrived where the doctor felt the bones had healed enough to finally remove the cast.
Of course, having never broken anything before, it came as a severe shock to find out that although the bones had healed, the result of being totally immobilized for that length of time was that my arm was completely useless! The muscles had weakened to the point that I could barely lift my arm much less do anything with it. What followed were a few weeks of serious physical therapy in order to build up the muscles to the point where they were before the accident, which also gave me more than enough time to understand the old saying, “use it or lose it”.
When we consider our faith as a muscle which needs exercising to become strong, I personally believe there are three steps we can follow in order to do that. The first is rather obvious but also often overlooked and that is simply that we need to know the promises God has made to, and for us as believers. If we say we believe, than it follows that we chose to believe the promise of forgiveness of sins and of eternal life. These however, are not the only promises that God has made on our behalf and it is up to us to study His Word and discover all of the other ones He has given to us.
Secondly, as we study His Word and discover the promises of God, we must also choose to believe what He has promised and not entertain the thought that He is incapable of keeping those promises. In this passage, Paul calls to our attention the example of Abraham and his wife Sarah on the occasion of His promise that they would have a son. Of Abraham, Paul says that although fully aware he was over one hundred years old, “He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief”, but instead gave glory to God “being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform”. We too, must never doubt that God can do as He has promised.
Third we must make the choice to act upon our faith, which in essence is the “exercising” part of this equation. When the cast was removed from my arm, I was promised that with a lot of effort on my part, the strength would return. At that point I had a choice to make and I chose to act on that promise and worked like crazy to build up the muscles which had atrophied. Abraham believed, and went to his wife with the good news. You will recall, though, just what Sarahs' reaction was; laughter. Because Abraham believed and exercised his faith, Paul says “it was accounted to him for righteousness.”
As we approach what many believe is the rapture of the church, it is sad to say there are quite a few who have taken Sarahs' road and look at that promise of deliverance and in essence laugh. Peter puts it this way;
knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” 2 Peter 3:3-4 NKJV
Do you know the promises God has made to us as believers? Do you believe He is able to fulfill those promises on our behalf? Have you acted on that belief and exercised your faith? If not exercised, our faith will become weak. Flex your spiritual muscles and act on your belief so that just as in the case of Abraham, God can say of us “it was accounted to him for righteousness.”
But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Hebrews 11:6 NKJV