The Faith of Mockery

By Stephen R. Phinney

What good is there if a person (a so called Christian) claims to have faith but their faith is not backed by fruit? How can one be certain in Divine Truth? What is the evidence of pure and interactive faith? Faith to some is an intellectual assent to a religious belief system that mocks God. Is there a litmus test to find such pure faith? Could “good works” be the true and living proof of Faith parted from Heaven? Can a true Christian be a product of false faith?

Divine Faith is backed by miraculous works of Christ. Faith being by itself functions much like a person who is independent – living death. The real question that needs to be asked is that of independence. Since faith independent of the miraculous manifestations of Christ (Christ’s works) is dead, could it be true that a person suffering with an independent spirit is revealing a “false faith”? Independent people cause suffering in the hearts of their loved ones because they will not allow anyone to get in the way of their independence. People of independence find shelter and refuge in a fortress that has walls that refuse others to get close to them. They find it impossible to embrace intimacy. They tend to believe that their faith is a personal and private matter. From what we discover in the scriptures, this is opposite of the truth. Even demons believe in Divine Truth but their independence denies them Christ. James 2:19

Could it be true that independence is the evidence of false faith? Anyone who uses their intellectual assents, “fact faith”, to prove their dedication to truth, might be in a position of mockery. But those who show their faith by the miraculous works of Christ in their day-to-day living are confessing true Salvation. If the “tree of knowledge” is the homeland of the enemy, would it be safe to say that one of his goals is to deceive man into believing that faith is an intellectual assent? Maybe the term “intellectual accent” is too offensive, what about the knowledge of truth without the burden of proof – God’s miraculous work?

Independent people are known for justifying their actions. Justification is the act of bringing out righteousness or overlooking ones wrongs. If a person functions in a faith that replicates true Faith, they are demonstrating the act of bringing out their own rightness and needless to say, overlooking their own wrongs. The true test of self-justification is this; when you confront an independent person, they will be quick to bear for themselves internal condemnation and self-judgment – while giving the appearance of being right. If pushed, they will punish, chastise and work to make others feel lesser than themselves. An independent person suffers with a life-style of guilt and hidden condemnation. They have moments of truth vs. a life of truth. They lie, cover up and deceive others into thinking that they are doing well, when all the while they are falling into a dark hole of self-judgment.

True justification through Christ is much different. The actual definition of justification is that of the illustration of Passover – forgiveness. Independent people try to forgive themselves without the appropriation of Christ’s redemptive justification. Justification is a gift and it comes to us through grace, a free will offering from Christ. It means to “remove one’s sins from someone.” It is noted in the Greek text as “remission.” Remission is the process of restarting or being given a second chance at His mission. In order for this to happen, one’s sins must be put aside or “sent away.” The Hebrew text reveals to us even a clearer understanding of this, that of “to place on the side, to disregard or bypass.” In the Old Testament, man’s sins where removed, or passed over, until the next animal sacrifice took place. The “sinners” sins where placed on the animal and killed in order to send the sins away. This is why Jesus had to become a permanent sacrifice for all sin – to permanently provide a pass over of all past, present and future sins. The Old Testaments version of sacrifice did not change the heart or character of man; it simply temporarily removed the sin itself. Whereas the New Covenant, blood sacrifice of Jesus, removed the sin, the power of it, guilt, and changed the identity and heart of the man. In short, He made us just – just as if we did not sin.

People of independence tend to mock God by attempting to accomplish more faith, or prove their faith, by expecting fruit just because they have obtained faith. In reality, faith is not accompanied by its inevitable and expectant fruits. True faith is alive, active and is mixed with the love of God, which produces good works. Independents profess and presume of faith. The end result is a barren and destitute tree that cannot produce fruit. Even demons have this kind of faith. This type of “false faith” consists of intellectual belief of sin and the work of Christ instead of repenting and returning to God to rely on His promises. Independents usually focus on getting themselves bailed out of selfish behavior or using God’s promises to prosper themselves. They lean toward treating God like He is some type of slot machine. When works are practiced instead of being a result of faith, they are false works, which produce plastic fruit.

Can non-Christians produce real fruit? This question demands an answer with a question. Can pine trees produce apples? Of course not! This is one of the toughest doctrines for Christians and non-Christians alike to embrace. All the “good works” of unsaved people do nothing. They may see temporary benefits here on earth but the eternal value is useless (James 2:20). Unsaved people are in need of new life. They need to ask the Lord Jesus to come and dwell within their moral bodies. This process is called being born-again. Once a person asks Christ into their lives, the Holy Spirit comes to live within them. This process of sanctification converts them into a “fruit tree.” Now the life of Christ, through the seed of faith (Matt. 17:20) He places in the new believer, can begin producing real fruit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23).

Can Christians be a part of “false faith?” One of the greatest controversies of Christianity is that of “sinless perfection.” A Christian never becomes sinless because of the sin that remains within the moral bodies of the believer. Sin means “to miss the mark” and all Christians have the choice to sin even though they are perfect spiritually in Christ Jesus. Even the most obedient Christian cannot say that they have not sinned as a believer. James 4:17 reveals that “the one who knows what to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.” No Christian can keep all the mandates of God, nor does He expect us to. This is why He sent His Son to fulfill the law in and through us.

Once we accept Christ into our lives, we are given a new nature – the nature of Christ Himself. This is accomplished by God sending the Holy Spirit to live within our mortal bodies. The doctrines of perfection come into play when the Spirit purifies our spiritual nature, which is what becomes perfect in Christ. The mind and body remain vulnerable to our “old nature” because sin continues to reside in our bodies and it continues to have an affect on our minds. We are given the power to resist indwelling sin and choose life coming through our new spiritual nature. This is why we are called to “put off the old self and put on the new” (Eph. 4:22). When sin, flesh, decides to raise its ugly head through the body (Rom. 7:23) by way of the mind, we are to “consider ourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 6:11). The question is that of “who is the master?”

When we were unsaved, the sin nature was controlled and mastered by Satan himself. Once we became saved, we were given a new Master – Christ, through the power of the indwelling Spirit. Knowing this, we are given the mandate to choose to submit to our new Master. Consider this illustration; our lives being like a computer and the master controller, programmer, was Satan. Once Christ came and removed the old programmer and placed Himself at the keyboard, the data the enemy placed on our hard drives (mind & body) remains and is in need of being renewed (2 Cor. 4:16). This is the process that the Bible calls “working out your Salvation.” It is a daily, moment by moment, process that brings us freedom from the enslaving issues left behind by the old programmer.

Now addressing the issue of Christians living in “false faith”, when children of God choose to sin, willful or not, communion with God is interrupted and the fruit of the Spirit ceases to flow. After this occurs, the Christian has the prerogative of “faking it until he makes it” or repenting and re-establishing the overflow from the indwelling Spirit. If the believer chooses not to repent, the sin(s) become habitual and the believer typically begins to use their faith to produce plastic fruit – fruit unto death (Rom. 7:5). This is what develops the independence in the believer. He chooses to allow the flesh to have temporary mastery, which God has judged and set aside forever – many believers are simply ignorant of this truth.

The unsaved man sins out of his sinful nature, whereas when a Christian chooses to sin, he sins directly against God. Since God has given His children the power not to sin, it becomes grievous to God when one of His children chooses to sin anyway. But, when non-Christians sins, it is the enemy that sins directly against God, the unsaved man has no choice but to sin, it is who he is! The unbeliever is judged by the law because they are under the law. The Christian is judged by grace because they are under the law of the Spirit of life (Rom. 8:2).

When a believer sins, he places himself under the correction and governmental dealings of God. When their sin is confessed, the believer is responding to earthly, self, judgment. Once confessed up, the believer is then able to appropriate their forgiveness offered through the life of Christ. Communion is restored. Although, a leading factor needs to be considered, God often times allows the temporal consequences of his wrong doing through earthly bodily suffering, circumstances or life-style changes. If the Christian continues in willful sin, darkness, which is characteristic of unbelief, controls the heart. Fake faith becomes inevitable and the believer most assuredly will come under the corrective hand of God (Acts 5:1-16; 1Cor. 11:28-32).

The third, and most challenging, is the so called “believer” who say they have had a salvation experience but reverts back to the world, and by all obvious signs, stays there. This is the group of people “who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have not firm root; they believe for a while, and in time of temptation fall away.” The word “believe” is not to be associated with true faith in Jesus, which transforms the person from the inside out. But rather this type of belief is that of an intellectual accent. This person does not display the type of repentance that leads to Godliness but only to regret (2 Cor. 7:10). These “believers” do not hate sin but rather promote it. They return to their sin like a dog to their vomit (2 Peter 2:19-22). It must be said that this is the most difficult type of “believer” to deal with. They make a firm stand on their “faith” in Christ but do not profess Him with their works. Like the washing of a pig externally, this person may appear to change, but that change then disappears, evidence that there has been no change of nature or disposition – their still lacking in true Salvation.

The fourth and final type is the unbeliever, the one who knows and chooses a life of unbelief. This person is willfully choosing not to believe in the message of Truth. They are dead to Christ, alive to the enemy and will suffer the same consequences God has reserved for Satan himself.

As for those Christians who speak and act, as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty, we still have a judgment to face. James tells us that the believer is going to be judged by the liberality and generosity of Christ Himself. Our judgment will be proportionate to amount of mercy we have shown here on earth. For those who showed no mercy, that person will receive no mercy. The entrance into heaven is a result of the work of Christ, but the enjoyment of heaven and its rewards will be proportionate to what the believer did for Christ in his life of faith on earth, a reality that Christians rarely talk about (James 2:12-13).

In conclusion, a man is justified (just as if he did not sin) by applying the works of Christ in them, and not by faith alone. Just like the body without the spirit is dead, so also is faith without its best friend, faith (James 2:24, 26). Jesus said that the world would know us by our fruit and fruit comes as a result of works being blended with faith. Faith starts by believing God without having to have all the answers first. Works should be a spontaneous act that results from believing in the substance of things hoped for.

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