This topic of genuine faith is desperately needed, especially since cultural trends are influencing the church—from what we watch and listen to, to how we spend our time and our money—the influence of the culture on the church is very obvious. As a result, many Christians do not exhibit the fruit of genuine faith but of worldly influence.
It is clear that the god who many serve is not the true God: “For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites” (Romans 16:18). With many gods beckoning us today, it is crucial that those claiming to be “Christians” question which God, or gods, they truly serve. The following briefly describes attributes of genuine faith:
1. There is a hunger for God and His Word and His Son. “My soul thirsts for God, for the living God” (Psalm 42:2). Someone who has genuine saving faith longs for God. They desire to truly know and seek Him. They don’t simply go through the motions. They say, “One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life...” (Psalm 27:4). Many profess a love for God, but be careful here...it may be their “perception” of God that they love.
In the “man on the street” interviews, many define God as either a cosmic ball of love, a force within, or a doting grandfather. This false belief desperately needs to be challenged, especially in the church. People love their perception of God because their god doesn’t challenge, convict, or disturb them. They can keep their god safely defined within their limits.
Genuine faith also has a love for Christ. John 15:23 says, “He who hates me hates my Father as well.” John 17:3 adds, “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” Does your soul truly thirst for the one true and living God and His Son?
Additionally, a passion for God’s word is also a characteristic of genuine faith. Matthew 5:6 says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” Sadly, many suffer from “spiritual malnutrition.” For many years, when a book or resource was recommended to me, especially the Bible, I said, "No thanks, I’m not a reader, and I’m too busy." But when I truly trusted in Jesus Christ and prayed for a strong desire to serve Him, something changed...beginning with all of my excuses. I couldn’t get enough of God...worship was now my primary focus.
Looking back, I avoided reading the Bible because my spiritual life was unhealthy. Hunger is often a sign of health. When we are sick hunger diminishes. In the same way, our spiritual hunger is related to our spiritual health. God’s Word is to our spirit what food is to our body. If there is a lack of hunger for God’s Word and spiritual growth, our spiritual health is weak and unhealthy. Jesus said, “Man does not live on bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). Hunger for God’s Word is always a characteristic of genuine faith. Where there is food there is life.
2. A life of continual prayer. “When faith ceases to pray, it ceases to live” (E.M. Bounds). The depth of your relationship with God is in direct proportion to the depth of your prayer life. E. M. Bounds wrote, "What the Church needs today is not more or better machinery, not new organizations or more and novel methods, but men whom the Holy Ghost can use...men of prayer, men mighty in prayer.” Genuine, heartfelt prayer is always a sign of genuine faith.
3. Humility. Another characteristic is humility. The term, “a prideful Christian,” should be an oxymoron, yet all of us struggle with pride. C. J. Mahaney, in his book, Humility: True Greatness, writes, “If I met someone presuming to have something to say about humility, automatically I'd think him unqualified to speak on the subject." Mahaney continues, “I'm a proud man pursuing humility by the grace of God. I don't write as an authority on humility; I write as a fellow pilgrim walking with you on the path set for us by our humble Savior."
Humility is a slippery slope because it must be sought, yet, at the same time, it can never truly be caught. As the old adage goes, “If you think that you’re humble, you’re probably not.”
Why does God require humility and hate pride? Pride opposes God. Pride refuses dependence upon God. Pride is the deadliest of all sin because it is the root of all sin. Consider these verses: Proverbs 18:12, “Before his downfall a man's heart is proud, but humility comes before honor.” Proverbs 25:9, “He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.” Proverbs 26:12, “Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool.”
We all sin and fall short...no one is innocent. Humility recognizes that we are fallible human beings who have sinned against God. Humility is the by-product of a transformed life. Genuine faith also believes in the ongoing grace of God to forgive and restore. Take this opportunity to turn from the deception of cultural trends and worthless gods, and turn to the one true and living God.
Visit www.wcfav.org and "Take the test. Are you saved?"