We already have had many indications that faith is the key ingredient in this process of salvation and that they chief enemy within is our bias toward ourselves to meet our own needs at the expense of others. Although the statement from which this series of books has been titled is repeated word for word four times throughout the Bible, I will quote it here from Hebrews:
Heb 10:38 Now the just shall live by faith: but if [any man] draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. 39 But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.
These verses make several things clear. Somehow, faith is the basis of being just or righteous, and it is possible to draw back from faith, which results in hell (perdition). Furthermore, faith, or believing, is the basis of the healing or salvation of the soul. We must understand what it means to be just (or righteous as this word is translated in the New International Bible). Our English dictionary states that to be just means “to be fair, evenhanded, and impartial in acting or judging.” (Standard College Dictionary, 1963) In order to do this, we must not have any vested interests or biases, as explained in the book of John:
Jo 5:30. I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.
Let me make this clear by using an analogy:
Let us suppose that you have a grievance against the company for which you work and that you take them to court. When you come before the judge, you find that he is part owner of that company. Do you expect that you will receive a just hearing? You would probably say that you doubt that you will, and the law would require that the judge disqualify himself for that case. If he did not disqualify himself, the judge would clearly be influenced by outside forces. Either he would be tempted by his interest in the company to insure that they did not lose the case and be fined, or he would be biased in your favor, so that no one would think that he had favored the company that he partly owned. In fact, it would be impossible to determine how his case might be influenced due to his bias. Clearly, a person with a vested interest can never assure anyone that he can be just. When that vested interest is to meet our own needs, it is called selfishness, because we are attempting to meet the needs of our “self.”
Since in this life we can never be absolutely safe, have all we want, or be all we want; it is clear that all of our needs cannot and will never be met in the flesh. As long as we believe that our needs will not be met and we attempt to meet them, we will have a vested interest in what we do to meet these needs and we will be selfish in some way in our actions. In fact, the more desperate we are to meet these needs, the more biased or selfish we will usually be. Most of the time we might not even recognize that we are being selfish, because the whole world is motivated by these same needs and our attempts to meet our most basic psychological needs are almost automatic, and thus sometimes very hard to detect. The truth is that everyone is motivated primarily by his own personal needs. Almost everything we do in this life is motivated by the effect it will eventually have on us. We will be nice to others so that they will be nice to us. We will try to please others so that they will like us, and we can feel good about ourselves. We will perform well at work so we can feel we did something important, earn money to meet our needs, and feel significant. This problem of selfishness is such a strong trait in all people that the Bible says in Isaiah 64:6 that "all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags." This is because even the "good" things we do are all tainted by our selfish motives. When we try to meet our own needs with this faulty, biased motivation, we inevitably sin by not being fair and evenhanded in our dealings with others. Let me use another example:
If I am $10,000 in debt and I am selling you my car, how concerned do you think I will be that you get a good deal? I will probably be more concerned that I get the very highest price possible, even if my car is not worth that much. If I have a good job and plenty of money, there is a better chance that I will not be so concerned about getting more for my car than it is worth from you. The difference is based on how needy I am, and, therefore, how much of a vested interest I have. This vested interest results in missing the mark of what I should be and what I should do as a human being. Therefore, this is what the Bible calls sin.
God's goal for us is real righteousness or wholeness in our actions, which reflect our mind, emotions, will and spirit. This requires overcoming this world system that is based on selfishness. The Bible tells us that the issues of life come out of the heart. (Proverbs 4:23) How then, are we to achieve this wholeness? The point is that we cannot do it. The more we try to meet our needs—including the need for wholeness—the more biased and selfish we become. In fact, the harder we try to be unselfish, so that we can be righteous, the more selfish we have become. This is because, in trying to be unselfish, we are still trying to meet our own need of the self to be worthwhile. Only through the process of salvation by faith can we overcome selfishness and achieve complete wholeness!
1 Jo 5:4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, [even] our faith. 5 Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?
If it is true that as long as we are selfish, we can never be just, righteous or whole, then only the power of God can deliver us from our selfishness. This happens through the process of salvation that works by faith. This is explained again in Romans:
Ro 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. 17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
The New International Version translates "faith to faith" as "faith from first to last" which makes the point even clearer. The way to become righteous is through, and only through, faith. This is because the only way to be delivered from our selfish interests is to believe that all our needs are or will be met. The only way this can happen—past, present and future—is by faith in Jesus Christ. Since we do not know the future, we can never guarantee that we will be absolutely secure, worthwhile, significant and loved, unless we know and trust the One Who controls the future.
In order to be delivered from our selfishness, we must experientially believe what the Bible says, that God has and will always meet all our basic needs for security, significance, love and worth, and whatever else we may need in the future:
1. He has and will supply all our needs.
Philippians 4:19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
2. He has and will protect us.
Isa 41:13 For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.
3. He has already met all our needs for significance since we are a son or daughter of the ruler of the universe and a joint heir with Jesus Christ.
Ro 8:16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17. And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with [him], that we may be also glorified together.
4. God’s love is so great that nothing can separate us from His love.
Ro 8:38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
5. He has made us in the image of God and has valued us enough to send His Son to die for us. Consequently, we are worthwhile, in spite of our mistakes.
Ge 1:27 So God created man in his [own] image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
To the extent that we actually believe and act like all our needs are and will be met, to that extent, we will be less biased and selfish in all we do. God's goal is for us to treat others fairly and to be set free to have His kind of unbiased love toward everyone. This is only possible when we are set free from the bondage of our needs.
The Bible is so strong in declaring salvation by faith that it unequivocally states that everything that is not motivated by faith inevitably results in sin. As we have already seen, this is true because everything we do in a biased or selfish way will be unjust in some way.
Ro 14:23 And he that doubted is damned if he eat, because [he eateth] not of faith: For whatsoever [is] not of faith is sin.
In this particular instance, if a person believed that eating something sacrificed to an idol was wrong, and he did it, he would be doing it to meet his own needs and would violate his conscience. The saints of old pleased God and received a good report because what they did was based on their faith that God would meet their needs. Therefore, these actions were unselfish.
He 11:1. Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 2 For by it the elders obtained a good report.
They believed that God was going to take care of them, so they were released to judge and act for the benefit of everyone. In order to please God, we must believe that He exists and that He will also meet our needs.
Heb 11:6 But without faith [it is] impossible to please [him]: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and [that] he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
In fact, God already counts us as righteous, even before we have overcome our selfishness. The way He does this is through our identification with Christ and through what He accomplished on the cross—the forgiveness of our sins. The Bible says that Abraham believed God and it was counted unto him as righteousness (Rom 4:3). In Abraham’s case, God did this by looking forward to what Christ would do on the cross. This is like going to the bank and after all the paperwork is done for a home loan, the banker throws the loan application in the trash, hands you the money, and says your older brother already paid for the loan. This is what is called imputed righteousness. It is given to us through faith without works.
Ro 3:28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified (in right standing with God) by faith without the deeds of the law.
The Bible tells us that we were crucified and we have risen with Christ. We are saved by grace or God’s unmerited favor. Through what Jesus did, God has forgiven all of our sins, has declared us in right standing with Him and has placed the Spirit of Christ within us. Because of what Christ did, God sees us as already righteous, without regard to our good or evil actions. Because of our position as adopted children, He promises always to meet all of our needs. The revelation in our hearts of His unmerited favor and our position in Him provide the basis to believe that He has, is currently, and will forever love us unconditionally and provide for us.
As we start really believing that He will meet all of our needs, we will rely less and less on our own efforts. We will trust more and more in the power of the Spirit within us, focus more on spiritual answers and direction, tap into the power of the life of God within us, and as Romans suggests, walk in accordance with the Spirit.
As faith grows, we will begin to be able to delay our need for immediate gratification. This is what the Bible calls "dying to self" or "crucifying the flesh." Dying to self is also based on faith. We will never be disposed to want to put off our immediate gratification or do His will, if we are not influenced by His Spirit. We must believe He loves us, and know that He will meet our needs. As our love for God grows, we more and more appreciate what he has done for us, and we are led more by the Spirit. Our desire for furthering His kingdom will make our needs of less importance as we set our focus on His call and His kingdom. As we do this, we will be motivated by love to love others unconditionally as He has loved us.
Finally, we begin to "reap what we have sown." As we unconditionally and unselfishly love others, they begin to respond in love. When our needs begin to be met by others, our faith in God grows and we begin to feel better and more confident about who we are in Christ. Consequently, an ever-increasing cycle of blessings comes into play causing more healing from our selfishness, which, in turn, results in more faith, and causes us to have an increased revelation of God’s unconditional love. The final result is a mature Christian life, motivated by and filled with the love of God.