In Matthew 7:26 we find Jesus speaking the conclusion of His infamous Sermon on the Mount : “But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.”
I stumbled across this verse the other day, and Jesus’ words hit me anew. How many of us are on sinking sand? Are we building castles in the sand? How many of us, who say we believe Jesus is the Son of God, are putting our faith into action? Are we following a religion or are we pursing a deeply personal relationship with the person of Jesus Christ? Just “believing” is not enough. Even the demons believe who Jesus is and they will never be saved (James 2:14-20). Sitting in a church pew, attending mass, hearing the words of Christ, reading the Bible, and a courteous tipping our hat to Jesus does not make us faithful. It is the putting into practice of His words that proves us faithful. It is the placing of Him as Lord on the throne of our hearts. It is the seeking of His face and the doing of His will that makes us faithful.
James 2:14-26 has a lot to say about faith:
•What good is there if we claim to have faith but we have no deeds to accompany our faith
•Faith and action work together
•Faith is made complete by what we do
•We are considered righteous by what we do and not by our faith alone
•Faith without deeds in dead
This faith that we have (Ephesians 2: 8-9) is not of our own doing; it is the gift of God. Faith does not come as a result of works (so that no one may boast), but mobilized faith will produce a harvest of good deeds that in turn will complete our faith and keep it alive. We have been enabled by God (John 6:65) to come to Christ because our hearts were revealed (Luke 2:33-35) to love His truth (2 Thessalonians 2:13). We chose Jesus, but first He chose us (John 15:16). Now we have to do something about it. We didn’t work for our salvation, but now we have work to do. We have to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12-13 and Isaiah 66:2), in humble reverence to Jesus for paying our ransom for our sins, a debt we could never pay. What we will be in the age to come, what we will be intrusted with, and the rewards we will receive will be determined by what we do with our faith now (1 Corinthians 3:13-15, 2 John 1:7-11, Colossians 2:18). There are rewards and crowns to be gained or lost (James 1:12, 1 Peter 5:4, 2 Timothy 4:8, 1 Corinthians 9:24-25, 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20, Revelation 3:11).
We know that everyone who calls on the name of the Jesus Christ will be saved (Romans 10:13 and Acts 2:21), so I am not talking on the matter of eternal salvation here, but on being found faithful when we do stand at the Judgement Seat of Christ (1 Corinthians 3:10-17). Christ today, is calling us to put into practice what we have heard from Him. Did we spend our life doing works in the flesh (building castles in the sand) or did we spend our life doing his will in the Spirit (building our spiritual house on the rock who is Christ)?
For all of us who want our faith to be built on a solid foundation of rock, rather than of sand, we must put aside all complacency, and become lovers and doers of His Word. Jesus said in John 14:15-17 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” We show Jesus we love Him by obeying Him.
When Moses came down from the mountain to deliver the old covenant, he commanded the Israelites to obey the 10 Commandments. When Jesus went up the mountain to deliver the new covenant during the Sermon on the Mount, He commanded us to obey not only the 10 Commandments (Matthew 5:17-19) but He removed the legalistic interpretations and revealed the true intent of the Old Testament law by saying “You have heard it said…..But I tell you…” So much of what Jesus taught on that mountain (Matthew 5:1-7:29) expanded on the letter of the law to reveal the inner motives of our hearts and show us what sin is: Anger in hatred is equal to murder, lust is equal to adultery, and the desire for our works to be seen by people rather than God. Jesus is the revealer of our hearts (Luke 2:35) and He would have us, by the power and authority of His Holy Spirit, take every thought captive to make it obedient to Him ( 2 Corinthians 10:5).
So today, let’s choose to be faithful, let’s choose to take captive all thoughts that are rebellious towards what Jesus commands us. Let’s choose to be obedient and put down the rebellion of our heart. We will move in the direction of our strongest thought, and if obedience in love to what Christ has said is on our mind, we will be moving in the right direction in all things. We will see our healing come quickly, we will see answered prayer, we will see restored relationships, we will experience His peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7), and our joy will be full and it will be our strength (Nehemiah 8:10). We will walk in authority, because we let Him in; into the thrown room of our hearts. Our hearts are His temple (1 Corinthians 6:19), the place we carry the King of all kings. We will be a people walking under uncountable blessings from God for all the world to see, and it will give God glory and make His name great among the nations.
I am reminded today that we can choose to build our FAITH on a STRONG FOUNDATION when we choose to PUT INTO PRACTICE and OBEY all the PERFECT words Jesus has said.
I pray that we would be encouraged by the words of the Apostle Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17 “But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as firstfruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter. May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.”
And, it is my prayer that each of us will take a hard and long look at what were building: is it built on sand or on the Rock of Christ? I pray that a steadfast-resolve to listen to Jesus would supernaturally set in our hearts as we stand firmly on his Holy Word.