Category Archives: Faith principles
How to identify and overcome the law of fear
God’s Word assures us: “The fear of the wicked will come upon him” (Prov. 10:24). Job testified: “That what I feared came to pass.” This is a spiritual law that reigns over the behavior of fear. Through fear we create areas of spiritual, moral and sentimental vulnerability. The tendency is to lower our guard and give up. The enemy will attack us in whatever areas we fear. Areas in our lives where there is fear establish the targets of the enemy’s attack. That is the way that it works.
Only the fear of God can overcome fear. Godly fear opens the doors to revelation for us to know God thus conquering all other fears. Consequently, fear, when overcome, gives place to prayer and boldness.
Strongholds of fear: where believers try to hide
Fear is easily able to build strongholds in the human heart. It slowly infiltrates and establishes thoughts and sophisms that paralyze us. This can be diagnosed when we retreat to certain hiding places.
“Now the prophet Gad said to David, “Do not stay in the stronghold; depart, and go to the land of Judah. So David departed and went into the forest of Hereth.” (1 Samuel 22:5).
God commanded David to leave his hiding place and go to the land of Judah in search of King Saul, his persistent persecutor. The cave was a physically safe place, but spiritually harmful. David had to face and overcome the fear that he had nourished within of King Saul. The biggest enemy of the moment was not King Saul, but the oppressive fear that was little by little destroying David’s confidence in God. The place where we face fear is the territory of dependence on God. Or in other words, boldness is the territory of miracles. God wanted David in this place.
One of the most common places to hide from God is in the church: behind a religious label, behind the fame of the denomination, behind the ministry, behind a title, job or position. However, God will certainly bring changes to flush us out of these hiding places that undermine our dependence on the Holy Spirit. He is always trying to push us to courageous action, albeit in harmony with His Word, or in other words, with boldness, but not presumption.
Many Christians in the church are just like Adam in the Garden of Eden, hiding from God, intimidated, inhibited, dodging God and His will. One of God’s greatest challenges is dislodging believers from their hiding places. Jesus denounced some of these hiding places in which we excuse ourselves from the divine calling:
Now when one of those who sat at the table with Him heard these things, he said to Him, “Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!” Then He said to him, “A certain man gave a great supper and invited many, and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, ‘Come, for all things are now ready.’ But they all with one accord began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it. I ask you to have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them. I ask you to have me excused.’ Still another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ So that servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind. (Luke 14:15-21)
We have here three structures that are commonly used to justify our fear and lack of disposition with respect to the call of God: business, work and family. The worst part is that we begin to use inexcusable excuses with respect to these things: who would buy a parcel of land before seeing it? Who would buy a yoke of oxen or a car without taking it for a test-drive? It is very strategic when we use the health of our marriage, family or children to support our excuses for lack of involvement in God’s work. However, the backdrop of these excuses and strategies is fear and inertia.
Fear can easily lead a person to care much more about these things to the point of sacrificing God’s invitation. This is the terrible power that insecurity has of compromising even our eternal destiny.
Just as Jesus mentioned in this parable, it is not surprising that today the people with the greatest logical, financial and social potential are not lined up with the will of God, while unbelievably the people who God uses most in His kingdom are the poor, lame, blind and handicapped, people who are humanly incapable, yet available. The worthy become unworthy and the unworthy become worthy. God’s principal requirement to use a person is his availability and devotion. The manner that we deal with our fears will define whether we genuinely finish our race or not. If we listen to our fears, the race will be lost, but if we listen to God’s direction and persevere in obedience to his voice, then we will finish the race and receive the crown.
There are three things that affect our perseverance that define true success, guarantee lasting prosperity and sharpen our prayer life: our values, our fears and our convictions. These are the determining aspects of our walk with God.
Respectively, this presents three matters that we must answer personally to God: who do we really love? Who do we really fear? In whom do we really believe? Certainly, the answer to these questions, explains a lot about the level of effectiveness of our prayer life.
“I fought the good fight” – changing our values
The first aspect of perseverance is our values: What do we love? Where is our heart?
“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and Mammon.” (Matthew 6:24)
If there is a “good” fight, there must also be a “bad” fight. This conflict between the good and the bad fight is the collateral effect of our values. Perseverance loses its meaning when our values have been corrupted.
Who do we truly love, God or Mammon? Where is our treasure? We are servants of the one that we love! This is a law. Our intimate values are related to what we love. The efficiency of our prayers is deeply tied to our values. A spiritual distortion of our set of values concerning the character of God compromises our intimacy with Him and undermines the effectiveness of our prayer life.
That which we love compromises us deeply: (Hosea 9:10b). We mold ourselves to the values that we have chosen for our lives. We take the form and the manner of that which we love. Our set of values determines our character, and as a result determines our destiny. All transformation is preceded by a change of values. You cannot change a person without changing his values.
The Word of God clearly determines that there will be things that we love and things that we do not love. We must love what God loves and hate that which He hates. We can intelligently choose what we must love, resisting the flood of worldly sophisms by being a voice that cries in the desert where the convenience of sin prevails:
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” (1 John 2:15-17)
Mind and heart
There is a much greater distance than 18 inches between the head and the heart. I would like to evaluate this distance. Honestly, what are our values? Are we fighting the good fight of life? How can we generally determine our true values? It’s simple, by paying attention to the things in which we invest the greatest part of our time, money, life, effort, etc. In this way, we can easily detect our set of values and evaluate their relative nobility.
It is also fundamentally important that we confront: how we relate to the values transmitted by the gospel? Where do we hold these values, in the mind or in the heart? This question establishes the difference between the superficial and the profound, between theory and practice. There is often a great disconnect between intellectual and practical values that exposes our spiritual inconsistency.
It is common to see people with an enormous head disproportional to their own body and their stunted and sick heart. People full of rules and poverty of life, saturated with theories yet empty in practice, full of snobbish theology but devoid of experience, just as Paul said, “They have a form of piety but deny the power of God.” (Titus 1:16)
To better illustrate the situation, allow me to test you with two questions. We can form the first question in the following way: “Do you think it’s important to pray?” When we ask an individual or a church group this question everyone answers in the affirmative. Since it is a theoretical question, it is also a very easy question to answer or “irresponsibly answer”. This question will certainly reveal our intellectual values, our “religiosity”.
However, a second question touches our lifestyle, which is what defines the essence of our values. “Do you have a prayer life?” While this question is similar it is completely different while touching on the same subject, it demands a separate response. Because it is a practical question, it could be very difficult to answer because it requires us to pay a price. A lot of hypocrisy can be revealed through questions like this one.
When answers to these two questions don’t coincide, it indicates that we are facing a crisis of integrity with respect to the content of the question, whatever it may be. The first question isolates us from the commitment of character, while the second question confronts it directly. If we ask the wrong question, we will have the wrong answer. When we ask the right question, we perceive that we cannot assimilate the gospel merely in theory.
It is not enough to answer certain questions from God’s heart with the correct biblical theology. If we ask for example, what is the value of a life? What is the value of a human soul? Would it be enough to cite a verse of the gospel just like a child answering a multiplication question: “A soul is worth the whole world”? I don’t think so.
This may be the theologically correct answer, but perhaps the most inconsistent one that we can offer. We can only express the value of a soul by the price of the life that we are paying for the salvation of souls. This is certainly the answer that God wants to hear from us independent of our theology and accumulated degrees. This requires an effective prayer life.
I have learned that the best place to be is in the center of the God’s will. My set of values still needs to be transformed. The things that we love will determine if we are fighting the “good” or “bad” fight of life and if are perseverance is worthwhile or not.
“I finished the race” – conquering our fears
The second aspect of perseverance deals with the ability to face fear and laziness. Who do we fear?
And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28)
The greatest obstacles in the course of a life are internal. It was not the fortified cities or the military acumen of the inhabitants of the Promised Land that defeated the people of Israel when they spied out the land, but fear and unbelief. In other words, the greatest challenges are not our external difficulties, but fear and internal insecurity.
Family breakup, violence, abuses, daily stress and so many other harmful situations have imposed a chaotic backdrop of insecurity, fear, and even panic. Many people have already gotten used to living under social and spiritual intimidation. They are addicted to fear and various aspects of their lives have been blocked. Traumas and complexes destroy our initiative and dull our capacity to take risks in favor of fulfilling the will of God. Besides castrating our development and preventing advances in life, all paralyzing fear destroys the spirit of prayer. In order to persevere we must be bold and overcome the oppression imposed by fear.
There is a type of fear that works as a safety valve and alerts us to dangerous situations. This is a protective fear, but it must be limited in a healthy manner. Its message must be correctly received and followed. However there is another type of fear that is spiritual and is based on intimidation. It is not wrong to feel fear, it is wrong to be manipulated by fear. When fear overcomes our convictions we begin to frustrate the plans of God.
In these last decades the world has grown to understand the power of terrorism as a strategy of war. What is terrorism? It is when someone through an act of atrocity makes a threat greater than what they represent. Terrorism is an optical illusion. It is when you believe an enemy even more than he believes in himself.
Who is the greatest terrorist? Satan. He has no power yet causes us to believe that he does. The truth is that all the disadvantages are on his side. This makes terrorism and intimidation his principal weapon to combat people’s peace and faith. He seeks to establish a general climate of violence and insecurity through which he remotely controls society.
Satan spreads fear, acting, controlling and manipulating through intimidation. This can deter us from completing missions and tasks that were entrusted to us resulting in personal discredit and dismay with our relationship with God.
Spiritual fear can be defined as faith in the enemy and in his life. Fear is not spiritually neutral, in reality it is a negative faith. There are people who have is surprisingly “great” faith, however it is a negative faith. They strongly and intensely believe that nothing will work out, that they can do nothing, that they will never succeed and that the worst is coming, etc. They have been totally undermined by intimidation. They are easily conformed to this present age allowing the visible contrary circumstances to mold them. They live an existence of confessing defeat.
Fear is nothing more than faith in misfortune. Through fear, we set up our own defeats and edify the will of the kingdom of darkness to the detriment of our advances in God.
“I kept the faith” – keeping our convictions
The third aspect of perseverance is maintaining a positive balance of faith. Whom do we believe in?
For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith (1 John 5:4)
You have to believe first in order to overcome afterward. Faith is already the victory in itself that overcomes the world whose prince is Satan. What we believe determines our character of perseverance as an intercessor.
The ability to maintain our convictions, assimilate the truth and fight expectantly in prayer is fundamental in the knowledge of God’s character and in the cross of Christ. It is common to see people who have gone through many things to lose their faith, give up on people, break promises and abort the divine plan. Disappointments along the way have an incredible potential of destroying our confidence, producing amnesia with respect to God’s promises leading us to neglect principles.
The matter here is not merely ceasing to believe in the truth of God. When this happens, we simultaneously begin to believe in many satanic lies. That is the way we become spiritually insane. For each truth of God, Satan has a very convincing argument. There is no middle ground or “no man’s land” between the truth and a lie. Whether we like it or not our faith will be the direct result of this conflict.
The transformational dynamic: believe and be
Those who make them are like them; So is everyone who trusts in them. (Psalm 115:8)
This verse expresses an important spiritual principle: “We are what we believe.” It is impossible to lift up an idol and not trust in it. The definition of an idol is anything that occupies the place of God. Idolatry destroys dependence on God. When we trust in an idol, we assimilate ourselves spiritually in its essence. We impose upon ourselves the spiritual process of similarity with respect to that which we idolize. Therefore, our spiritual identity is intimately tied to that which we believe.
The Bible talks about Esau selling his birthright for a bowl of lentils, a tasty red soup. He put food above his birthright, despising his divine purpose. He earned the name of Edom, which means “red”. He became red just like that bowl of soup. Edom passed on this identity to his descendants forever.
Someone once said, “Don’t tell God how big your problem is tell your problem how big your God is! Many people have a tendency of believing in their problems more than in God. It is very common to see people who because of idolizing their problems are afflicted with a deep distortion of spiritual identity, or in other words, more than having a problem, they become a problem. They take the form of the problem. They live in accordance with the problem. They constantly confess defeat. The problem has become the center of their spiritual life, taking the place of God. They go to church but instead of worshiping God, they worship the problem. They still pray, but their faith still rests on the problem.
The religious hypochondria that stems from unbelief explains why so many people are spiritually bound slaves of long prayer lines for healing. Our positive process of transformation depends upon what we believe. We are spiritually conformed to the image of what we believe. Spirituality is the result of a continuous conflict between the truth and a lie, a visible and invisible reality, adverse tests and the faithful promises of God.
We must ask ourselves what we really believe in most, the truth of God or the lies of the devil, the flaming arrows of resentment or forgiveness, God’s solutions or the adversity of the adversary, God’s promises or the spirit of condemnation. The level of our spirituality depends on the result of this conflict, which will be either a collection of defeats, emotional breakdowns, complexes and chronic problems or a life of victory that emerges and fulfills the will of God.
Our attitude and response to each difficulty, test or conflict we face must result in the divine witness of approval that brings effectiveness to our prayer life.
Setting the Spiritual Clock by Praying the right prayer at the right moment
It is all too common for people to try to rush God’s plans while others slow them down or even frustrate them. For those who are in a hurry it seems as though God wisely slows down the pace of His operation, while for those who seem to always slow down the work of God He attempts to push them forward in many ways. This is where the need for the prophetic ministry comes in. Not that anything is too difficult for God but I believe one of His greatest challenges is to set the clock in the lives of His people.
Discernment or lack of it in this area produces behavior that affects the speed in which the fulfillment of God’s will is accomplished. Some slow His work down and others try to hurry it up. Due to the rebellion of Miriam the people of Israel were delayed in the desert for a whole week waiting for the time necessary for her purification. On one hand, because of one person a whole nation lost a week’s time and the work of God was delayed.
So Miriam was shut out of the camp seven days, and the people did not journey till Miriam was brought in again. And afterward the people moved from Hazeroth and camped in the Wilderness of Paran. (Numbers 12:15)
On the other hand, because of Moses’s intercession the work of God was moved ahead of schedule. God proposed to destroy the people in the desert and begin a new nation beginning with Moses. “Now therefore, let Me alone, that My wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them. And I will make of you a great nation.” (Exodus 32:10). How long would that have taken? Perhaps another 500 years! However Moses did not permit the people to be destroyed. “Yet now, if You will forgive their sin—but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written.” (Exodus 32:32).
It’s amazing how God receives certain types of intercession. In this case it almost seems that God humbles himself and proceeds in compliance with the request of Moses. It appears as though God asked Moses for permission to destroy the people, but Moses did not allow it and God accepted his position. This demonstrates the power of an intelligent prayer that boldly cooperates with God’s purposes while at the same time seeming presumptuously stubborn and resolute.
We must be ready for each specific step, time or task that God has for us, being sensible to what this time will demand of us. The right prayer, at the right moment offered by the right person that calculates the right price required by the moment, will have a surprising effect! The apostle John taught “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.” Confidence in prayer depends upon discerning the will of God. When we pray the will of God our prayers will always produce the effect that we ask for.
The prayer of faith and the principle of authority
Jesus taught that the most important principle of faith isn’t how much of it we have, but whether we practice it or not. He taught that even a miniscule amount of faith is sufficient to move a mountain. With faith, size really doesn’t matter but readiness to exercise it in an act of obedience is what makes for effective prayer.
What most Christians today don’t understand is that it is of utmost importance to recognize that faith is tied to the principle of authority.
Before Jesus spoke of the prayer of a righteous man, he spoke of the prayer of faith. There are three things that are extremely necessary to unlock the power of the prayer of faith: the mission of leadership, the anointing of leadership and the forgiveness of leadership. I hope to show you that these are the principle parts of the prayer of faith. Trustworthiness can be gained or lost in virtue of these factors.
Many afflictions and sicknesses can be tied to the dysfunction of the principle of authority. Yet on the other hand, much restoration and healing can be received from the correct application of these aspects.
The prayer of faith and submission to leaders
“Let him call for the elders of the Church“. The mission of spiritual leadership provides spiritual direction orientation and protection. The central aspect of submission in this context is transparency. All spiritual authority should be met with humility and transparency. We need adequate leaders with whom we can be open. Spiritual protection is for those who expose themselves to and walk in the light. This can be extremely uncomfortable, but it is a powerful principle of faith and one of the principle paths to the miraculous.
In Matthew 8:4 Jesus honored the principle of submission, instructing the leper to present himself to his spiritual leadership. Humility births confidence and reinforces the truth. Spiritual protection also called “spiritual covering” then springs into action.
The prayer of faith communicates mission and protection. When an appropriate leadership is met with humility and transparency within a group, then the spiritual dimension of life gains perspective. A renewed sense of mission arises and this revives hope. Hope is a fundamental condition of faith and births vitality and sharpens the sense of destiny. Hope is the best anti-depressant in existence. To be under the proper leadership and ministry is fundamental for this process.
The starting point of a victorious spiritual experience and effective prayer life comes from a joining together of our own mission and the divine commission, authorized by the authority and prayer of our spiritual leaders. Obedience to the great commission in this manner always leaves a trail of miracles and a supernatural provision of grace.
Not only the lack of submission of a follower blocks his mission, but also the spirit of control and manipulation on the part of the leadership can impede and even destroy it. In these two cases the principle of the prayer of faith is broken.
The prayer of faith and the anointing of leaders
“And let them pray for him, anointing him with oil” The anointing is a transferable supernatural enabling that God grants to his children for the execution of a calling or task. The prayer of faith imparts this enabling.
Troublesome burdens are broken and spiritual gifts and ministries can be imparted and confirmed by the laying on of hands and prayer of faith by leaders. The anointing breaks the yoke, eases the work and manifests the supernatural favor of God over the development of ministry.
There is an anointing that is acquired personally and another that is received through the principle of authority as a spiritual inheritance. Anointing accompanies mission and follows through submission. To fulfill the divine commission, it is necessary to pay the price required by the maturing process of God, but we also need to be anointed by someone. God has the right people who at the right time will lay their hands on us to unlock heavenly callings, revitalize our gifts and release ministerial empowerment over our lives.
There is always the danger however of receiving the laying on of impure hands. The principle of impartation through the laying on of hands results not only in the same anointing but in the same spirit of the person who is performing the laying on of hands. (Example of Moses Num11:17)
If the spirit of the person is contaminated or infirm, this will also be transmitted to those who receive prayer. Adulterous leaders and those with a possessive and manipulative spirit will produce the same conditions of the people they lead.
The prayer of faith and the forgiveness of leadership
“And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, the Lord will lift him up; and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven.”
Without exception, we all need much healing and forgiveness. The prayer of faith brings healing and restoration. When we expose our sins and are forgiven we can forgive ourselves. The soul receives healing, and the conscience is purified. The result is rest. Rest together with hope, are fundamental elements that lead to the faith that restores the heart.
These dynamics speak of the power that the forgiveness of the leaders has to edify and restore a person and also how resentment and harsh unloving words spoken by leaders can harm the functioning of the body of Christ. For this reason the principle characteristic of the priestly ministry is a forgiving and reconciling heart. (Hebrews 5:1-3)
When leaders forgive their followers the power of guilt is overcome, the conscience is purified from dead works, strongholds of the mind and chains of sinful thoughts are broken, the soul is renewed and the body healed though the prayer of faith. In this way the truth is re-established and the heart and relationship are reconciled. Compassion births healing and performs miracles.
“Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.” (James 5:19, 20)
When leaders forgive not only does it close the back door of the church but it also rescues the “100th sheep” that had gotten lost. The bruised reed is not broken nor is the smoking flax quenched. The compassion and wisdom of leaders through the prayer of faith saves the lives of those who have fallen away from the truth.