There is visible evidence when a person is ‘in faith’. Here’s we will look at how to recognise when faith is present.
With all the emphasis on the subject of faith in recent years in the church, there has also arisen a lot of confusion about it. Many Christians have learnt enough to know that they need to be ‘in faith’ when they pray in order to receive from God.
Many are convinced they ARE ‘in faith’ yet at the same time are not receiving! As a result they are questioning ‘why’ and ‘what is going on’
I have had people say things like, ‘I am in faith, but why isn’t God doing anything…?’
This question may seem reasonable to ask, but in truth this statement shows some fundamental misunderstandings about faith and what ‘being in faith’ means! The very question itself shows that the person asking it does not yet fully understand some important things about the subject of faith
Knowing a bit about a subject can sometimes be just as dangerous as knowing nothing about it! When people have a partial understanding of faith, yet think they have a good grasp of the whole subject, they sometimes close off to learning more things that they NEED to know, and still don’t know.
There is a lot to the subject of faith that people have not yet seen, and those ‘gaps’ in their understanding are causing a lot of the misunderstandings and confusion.
We need a lot more instruction on this issue, more than can be covered in this article, however we are going to look at one aspect of it that will help people.
Our goal is to help people, not to leave them frustrated or condemned. As you read this article, hopefully you will find that the truths in here help you and set you free in areas that have been frustrating you with the faith life.
Is faith really ‘that hard’ or difficult to get working?
I am convinced faith is not a hard subject to grasp. In reality it is simple, but we have complicated it. We have made faith into such a mysterious and hard to grasp concept, that many sincere Christians are confused, and some are even getting so frustrated with faith that they are giving up!
We need to fix this confusion, do something about it. What we need to do is go back and teach it simple. Teach it in a way that shows it’s simplicity, in a way that brings understanding to people.
Faith is not some abstract, vague, mysterious and intangible thing. We have made it out to be this weird, vague and unidentifiable ‘stuff’ that you can never quite put your finger on! No matter how much you try, it seems to keep avoiding you.
People think that faith is ‘elusive’, like it keeps avoiding them no matter how much they try to find it. They think it is almost impossible to pinpoint.
:16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.
Here in Ephesians you are told to ‘take’ the shield of faith. That is a purposeful act on your behalf. This does not say that the faith shield will somehow find it’s own way into your hand, and you’ll look down, get a surprise and say, ‘hey there’s a faith shield in my hand, how did that get there?’
No, Ephesians 6:16 tell YOU to TAKE it. That is a doing word. YOU DO something to ensure it is in your hand.
The reason the faith shield is in a person’s hand is because they took it. This also carried the implication that if it is NOT in your hand, you never took it.
Since we are told to ‘take’ the shield of faith then we need to be able to recognise it. You need to know what it is in order to take it.
Well if faith is some kind of intangible, unidentifiable, mysterious, weird stuff that no one can ever really identify, then how could we ever obey God’s instruction to ‘take it’?
To take it you have to be able to recognise it, identify it and pick it up.
Faith is something exact, it is not vague, abstract or mysterious.
2 Corinthians 13:5
:5 Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? –unless indeed you are disqualified.
Here in Corinthians we are told to examine ourselves, specifically in the area of faith.
We are being told here that we ought to be able to look at ourselves, examine our lives, words, actions, thoughts etc and be able to conclude for sure whether we are ‘in faith’ or not.
The principles of faith can be so well understood, that you ought to be able to look at your own life and know exactly when you are in faith and when you are not!
It is possible to KNOW for sure when you are in faith and when you are in doubt. You should be able to tell, to recognise them.
Both faith and doubt are ‘recognisable’
When you see someone on the street that you know, you might say that you recognise them. In other words, you are familiar enough with their features to the point that you can tell who they are.
When you see someone you don’t know, then there is no ‘recognition’. In other words, they are just another face on the street, you can’t tell who they are.
Faith and unbelief can both be recognised, but in order for you to do so, you need to become familiar enough with them to be familiar with their characteristics.
Once you are familiar enough with them, you will be able to recognise them and know whether they are present or not.
If you don’t know faith well enough to recognise it, then you won’t be able to tell when it is there and when it is not.
Being able to ‘examine yourself’ in the area of faith means that you need to be able to recognise faith.
You can SEE faith
This statement may cause some to stop and question whether it is correct, because some people will disagree. They think you CANNOT see faith.
I am convinced you can, which is why I said you can ‘see’ faith.
I said it first, before explaining it in order to get you to think.
The title of this article is ‘Having Visible Evidence of Your Faith’. If a person is ‘in faith’, it should be visible, you could say, ‘Show me your faith’
In order to be able to ‘show it’ there must be a way you can ‘see it’! That phrase ‘show me your faith’ is taken from a scripture. It is a direct quote, so you will soon see where I am getting this from!
Now let me explain what I mean:
:20 When He saw their faith, He said to him, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.”
This scripture is referring to Jesus. It says, ‘He SAW their faith’
That is interesting, and it may seem to contradict some other things the Bible says about faith, but really it doesn’t. The whole Bible fits and works together in harmony, and when a person thinks it is contradicting, then they are misunderstanding something!
:10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
Here we are told that, ‘with the heart one believes…’.
Believing and faith are used interchangeably in scripture. So it is saying, faith is of the heart. You believe with your heart.
Well, I don’t know about you, but I cannot see into people’s heart, can you?
So if faith is in the heart and Jesus SAW their faith, does that mean He had a revelation of what was in their heart. Did He have a vision and ‘see into’ their heart, seeing the faith that was present there?
I do not believe so, and if you keep reading you will see why.
Have you ever SEEN the wind?
Take the wind as an example. When the wind is blowing we might say to someone, ‘Look at the wind today!’
That statement implies SEEING, but how can you see the wind because it is invisible. Wind is the movement of invisible air particles, so you cannot really see it.
In reality you cannot see the wind, what you are seeing is the effects the wind has on things. When the wind blows, it moves the trees and other things. You might SEE a piece of paper blowing around in the wind.
What you are seeing is not the wind itself, but the effect it is having on it’s environment.
The wind can be seen through outward things that it is affecting
Faith is like that. Faith itself is not visible, it is in the heart and cannot be seen.
You cannot actually see faith in a person, but what you can see is the effect that the faith in their heart has on their actions, words, attitude and behaviour.
Faith can be seen in the outward behaviour that it causes in a person. It affects people’s words, attitude, actions etc, so when it is present and functioning, it becomes visible, by showing itself in these things in a person.
Unbelief is the same, it also shows up in people’s actions, attitude and words.
Often people are displaying the outward characteristics of unbelief, yet claiming they are in faith.
‘Show me your faith…’
Some may say about Jesus seeing their faith, ‘Yes but that was Jesus, He could see people’s faith, but we cannot.’ I disagree, and I believe that Bible itself also disagrees
This ability to SEE faith is not unique to Jesus, since James brings up the issue again.
:17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
:18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.
Here James addresses people who ‘say’ they have faith.
He declares, ‘OK, you say you are in faith, then lets SEE it. Show it to me. Let’s see faith in your attitude, show me your faith in your words, let’s see your faith through your actions and behaviour’
He says, ‘Show me your faith WITHOUT your works’ and the implication is, you cannot!
The challenge is laid down. You show me your faith WITHOUT your works, and I will show you my faith BY my works.
In other words James say, my faith will show up in my actions. He is telling is that if faith is present, you should be able to show it through works (actions).
Anyone can SAY they are ‘in faith’, but James makes it pretty plain: IF a person IS truly ‘in faith’ then it should be visible in someway. It WILL show up
Faith is identifiable, you CAN identify it
To ‘identify something means, ‘to recognise something, to be able to say what it is and be able to tell when it is there’
Faith is like that. You can tell when it is there and when it is not. There are visible characteristics like words, behaviour, attitudes that show faith is present.
Unbelief is the same, there are visible attributes that show it is present!
When you see the visible characteristics of faith or unbelief, then you know faith or unbelief is present.
THAT is how you SEE faith
Faith is not, as some have thought, some kind of ‘weird, mysterious’ stuff that somehow operates in a person’s life in a completely abstract realm! Instead it is a very real force that, when it is present, shows up and affects the way a person thinks, talks and act. Faith affects the outward behaviour of a person.
So now, when people say, ‘I am in faith’ I immediately want to say, ‘Ok, then SHOW it to me!’
Jesus was skilful at identifying faith. He could recognise how faith showed up in people and was an expert at identifying faith.
He recognised it in people through what they said and did. He could also see characteristics of unbelief that showed up, so when things happened or didn’t happen, He was able to look at people and boldly say, ‘That’s faith’, ‘That’s great faith’, ‘That’s little faith’ or ‘That’s doubt and unbelief’ (Matthew 8:10)
He saw faith and unbelief through the outward characteristics that showed up in a person. Their faith was displayed through their behaviour, attitude, mentality, words etc.
Looking at places Jesus identified faith or unbelief is a very worthwhile study, as you can ask the question:
‘What did Jesus see in the person / situation that caused Him to conclude faith or unbelief was present?
When Jesus drew the conclusion that there was faith or unbelief present, and pointed it out, we can look at what it was that led Jesus to draw that conclusion.
This will help you see the characteristics that He saw, so you can identify them in yourself.
:26 But He said to them, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.
:40 But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?”
Jesus knew that the presence of fear meant no or little faith! He understood that faith and fear do not go together, so when fear is present, faith is displaced.
When Jesus SAW fear, He knew either little faith or no faith was present.
:36 As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, He said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not be afraid; only believe.”
Here Jesus warns Jairus, ‘Do not let fear in’. Why? Because it will push faith out!’
When fear is present, that shows a diminished faith level, because faith and fear do not go together. If you can see fear in yourself over a particular issue, then know that in that area faith is small, and needs strengthening.
That is one good way to examine yourself and honestly tell where your faith level is at on the issue.
Another brief example can be seen in Luke 5:17-20. Here we see that these men would not be stopped / deterred. They wouldn’t quit, and Jesus saw that that attitude reflected faith.
You can learn to see faith too
I am convinced that we should all be able to recognise faith. We should be experts at telling when it is there and when it is not. Also when it is great and when it is small. We should be able to see it in ourselves, and see when we have slipped back into unbelief.
Learn to identify faith. When you know the visible characteristics of faith, you will be able to locate and identify it in your self.
Faith shows up in the way people talk, the way they act, the way they respond to situations etc
Faith is visible in your countenance and attitude, your mentality toward life and your circumstances, the way you VIEW your circumstances.
So what is SHOWING up in your behaviour, words and attitude?
We need to be honest enough with ourselves to admit when we see unbelief coming out, then that is what is inside. Don’t deceive yourself, by trying to pretend or convince yourself that you really are ‘in faith’ when your attitude, words and actions show unbelief!
Being able to identify which you are in will HELP you, not hinder you. Being able to see unbelief in yourself is a good thing!
It’s not good that the unbelief is there, but when it is there, being able to see it IS good!
If unbelief is present in you, and you can SEE it, then you can do something about it and get it out.
However if unbelief is present in you and you CANNOT see it, then it will remain and linger and continue to stand in your way as you try to move forward in areas, and you will remain confused about ‘why’, as you convince yourself that you really are ‘in faith’, when the reality is that unbelief IS present!
This will also be the case when unbelief is present and you DON’T WANT to see it! In other words, you close yourself off to hearing that there is unbelief there, because it is not what you want to hear!
Some people want to believe they are doing it all right, and don’t want to hear where they need to change what they are doing.
If we want to grow in God, and move forward, we need to WANT to hear the truth, even it it shines up things in us that need work. That takes humility.
The same old unbelief…
What people have not understood is that often the biggest thing that is hindering people’s faith lives is:
Plain old unbelief!
We don’t want to face the fact, but unbelief is far more prevalent in the church today than we’d like to admit!
Many who are saying they ‘are in faith’ are actually in unbelief, and cannot recognise it. A lot of what people are calling believing God is not what the Bible calls believing God.
(This subject needs further study and will be the subject of other articles and books)
Now don’t get confused or offended at that comment, rather use it to help you!
Use it to face the facts and honestly examine yourself in the light of the Word to be able to tell what faith is and when it is present in yourself.
Learn how to identify unbelief in yourself. Don’t get proud or hard headed and try to deny to yourself and others that it is there. Instead learn to ‘zero in’ on it and root it out! See it for what it is and get rid of it. This will help and strengthen your faith life.
Just because you see unbelief in yourself does not mean it has to stay there. All it means is you now know what is in your way so you can fix it.
Here is a brief list of some more of the visible characteristic of faith and unbelief to help you: (not an exhaustive list)
:13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Right here we see some very important characteristics of faith. Notice that ‘in believing’ you will:
- have JOY
- have PEACE
- abound in HOPE
This is the opposite to fear, depressed and worried and thinking there is no hope!
Faith is Positive (2 Corinthians 4:8-9) it talks like it will win and come out on top
Faith obeys God, obedience to God is a characteristic of faith:
Romans 16:26, Hebrews 11:8
What about unbelief?
The children of Israel in the wilderness is an outstanding study of the characteristics of unbelief! God himself said they were operated in unbelief (Hebrews 3:7-19)
Here is a list of some characteristics of unbelief for you to study:
- Negative – Exodus 14:11
- Fear – Exodus 14:10
- Is governed by what it SEES – Matthew 14:20
- Looks to and pressures man to be the answer – Exodus 15:24; 16:1; 17:2
- Complains about challenges
- Looks back at the ‘good old days’ – looks longingly at the past as if it is the best – Exodus 16:3
- Is disobedient, stubborn – Exodus 16:4-5, 16-20
- Impatient and restless – Exodus 32:1 – Quick to turn from God to other options
- Cries and is in self pity – Numbers 11:10
Faith itself is not visible, but it can be seen through its actions. It shows up and displays itself through certain characteristics which come out when it is present and can be recognised by these characteristics.
Faith acts and talks in a particular way, so does unbelief
Doubt and unbelief show up in certain characteristics. You cannot be displaying the characteristics of doubt and unbelief but actually be in faith!
If you display the characteristics of unbelief, you are not in faith!
Don’t get offended by that, have the humility to recognise the truth, then DO SOMETHING about it.
What is showing up IS what you are ‘in’ The outward evidence shows up what is inside, so learn to recognise both faith and unbelief. Learn to tell what they look like so you can see them in yourself.
This article, along with others by the same author can be found at www.exceedingfaith.com
Unless otherwise stated, all scriptures used are quoted from the New King James Version of the Bible.
(C) 2008 Exceeding Faith Ministries International & O. Walton.
This article is written by Owen Walton and is made available for free distribution under the following terms:
You may distribute this article FOR FREE and you may link to this page from your own website for free distribution only. HOWEVER… You MAY NOT alter the contents in any way and you may not sell it or charge for people to read it.
You may not remove this copyright, or the acknowledgement of who the author is as well as the link to the author?s website ( www.exceedingfaith.com ).
If you alter the contents of this article in any way, you are in violation of international copyright laws.