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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Dr. Charles Stanley » Charles Stanley - Conquering Faith

Charles Stanley - Conquering Faith

Charles Stanley - Conquering Faith

If someone should say to you, "How much faith do you have"? how would you answer that? Well, the Bible talks about little faith, great faith, and perfect faith. Little faith is: "I know He can but I'm not sure He will". Great faith says, "I know He will". Perfect faith says, "It's as good as done". Now, all of us would like to start off in every challenge and every battle in life with perfect faith, but it's just not that way because we are progressive in our faith, even in different situations. But there is a faith that conquers over and over and over again. And what I want to talk about in this message is "Conquering Faith". And what I would like to do is to take the incident of one of God's choicest servants in the Old Testament and illustrate the seven basic principles of conquering faith.

So, I want to encourage you to get a pencil, a piece of paper, and write them down. So, I want you to turn, if you will, to I Samuel. And I want us to take the seventeenth chapter, and since we're going to take the whole chapter, we won't read it. I'll just give you, first a little brief survey of what's happening here, and then each of these seven principles I would like to illustrate in the life of David. You'll recall that David was the younger son of Jesse. And that he was a shepherd boy. He's the one man about whom God said, "He's a man after My own heart".

And here is a shepherd boy, and probably scolded and ridiculed by his brothers. And on this particular occasion, the Bible says that the Philistine army of an ungodly, heathen group, and the armies of Israel were arrayed against each other across this valley. And for forty days now, one of those Philistines had come upon the scene with all of his armor, a hundred and twenty-five pounds of armor, javelin, sword, spear, and an armor bearer. That is, one who carried his shield. And they were taunting the armies of God, and everybody was afraid, and Saul was afraid, and all of the soldiers were afraid. And every time he'd come out, they'd all run. So this is what was going on. Well, on this particular day, Jesse said to David, he said, "David, I want you to carry some food to your brothers, cheese and so forth and bread, and see how the battle is going".

So, he comes upon the scene, and when he gets there, he leaves his baggage, the Bible says, and he goes up to the front lines. And while he's there talking and finding out what's happening, old Goliath comes on the scene and gives one of his big taunts. And so, David hears this, and some conversation goes on among him and the soldiers, and finally, David gets a little tired of all this, and he hears what's offered, for example, to the man who kills Goliath. And he comes before King Saul, and Saul says, "Well, you can't do anything about this. You're just a young shepherd boy". And so, they get in a conversation. And in the process of that conversation, David says, "Well, let me tell you what's happened to me before". He tells him, and then he goes out to face this Goliath. And, of course, every child who knows the scriptures at all knows about the story of David and Goliath. The tragedy is that too many children know it and not enough adults know it.

Now, we sort of know what happened, but somehow, we read the words and miss the principles. And what I want you to see in this passage, I want you to see seven absolutely essential, basic principles to make our faith work when we go through difficulties and situations and battles and challenges in life. And so, what I'd like to do is to interpret this in the light of that, and to see how we apply it to our own life. Now, for your benefit and mine, why don't we look at it this way, and that is: whatever you happen to be facing in your life today, whatever challenge it may be, let's just identify that as Goliath, whatever it might be. And how do you respond and how do you face those challenges?

Well, the first principle I want you to jot down is this, and we'll take each one and illustrate them. The first one is this: that conquering faith, conquering faith recalls past victories. Conquering faith always recalls past victories. Now, it is in the recalling of those past victories that our strength, or that our faith is strengthened at that very moment. And what happens is, we become aware of the presence and the power of God when you and I look back to say, "What did God do in the past"? Look, if you will, in verse 32 of this seventeenth chapter. "And David said to Saul, 'Let no man's heart fail on account of him.'" That is, on account of Goliath, "'your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.' Then Saul said to David, 'You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are but a youth while he has been a warrior from his youth.'"

Now, here is, listen to this. This is one of the basic principles of faith, recalling past victories. Listen to what he says. Verse 34: "But David said to Saul, 'Your servant was tending his father's sheep. When a lion or a bear,'" both of them, "'came and took a lamb from the flock, I went out after him and attacked him and rescued it from his mouth; and when he rose up against me, I seized him by his beard and struck him and killed him. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine,'" which is his way of saying, "That heathen," "'this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, since he has taunted the armies of the living God.'"

Now, David's confidence level was based not on what was happening right then, his faith level was based on what God had done in him, through him, and for him in the past. You think about the times and the ways and the situations and circumstances that you've been through in the past and how God has delivered you in times when you thought, "God, I don't know what to do at this point, which way to turn or how to respond". And God has worked in your life in His miraculous ways over and over and over again. That's why I say to you: keep a diary. Write down what God is doing in your life because what happens is you have a running account of God's faithfulness in your life, things He's brought you through, challenges you've faced, battles you've fought. And your own personal diary is a recall of what God has done for you in the past.

Conquering faith is continually recalling God's past victories. Number two: conquering faith reexamines and reaffirms, listen, reexamines and reaffirms the proper motivation for going into battle. That is, it reaffirms and examines carefully, "What is the proper motivation for this battle"? Now, the Bible says in verse 20 that David rose early and headed out to carry the supplies to his brothers. And when he gets there, in verse 21, he says, the armies are arrayed against each other, ready to go to battle.

Verse 22, "Then David left his baggage in the care of the baggage keeper and ran to the battle lines and entered in order to greet his brothers. And as he was talking with them, behold, the champion, the Philistine from Gath named Goliath, was coming up from the army of the Philistines, and he spoke these words; and David heard them". That he's really challenging them and defying the God of Israel. So, verse 24, "When all the men of Israel saw the man, they fled from him and were greatly afraid". And you can imagine what David was thinking. You know, "Where is everybody"? "And the men of Israel said," to David, "'Have you see this man who is coming up? Surely, he is coming up to defy Israel. And it will be that the king will enrich the man who kills him with great riches and will give him his daughter and make his father's house free in Israel.'"

Listen, if you will notice, in verse 26, he says, "Then David spoke to the men who were standing by and saying, 'What will be done? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should taunt the armies of the living God?'" What motivated him was that the name of God was being disgraced! And so, his motivation was not riches, wife, and a free family. His motivation was to defend the name of God, to defend the nation of God, to defend the people of God. And so he says, "You uncircumcised Philistine," which was a very scathing way to identify him. He said, "You come out here and taunt the armies of the living God". And what he was really saying is he says, "Look, the nation of Israel may be afraid, but I cannot tolerate this," why? Because of his love and devotion to Almighty God he could not. So his motive was pure.

Number three: conquering faith, listen, conquering faith rejects the discouraging words of others. Conquering faith rejects the discouraging words of others. Now, people can really discourage us if we let them. And I want you to look at two incidences here, what happened. If you'll go down to verse 28, David's been talking to the soldiers, and now he says in verse 28, "Now Eliab his oldest brother heard when he spoke to the men; and Eliab's anger burned against David and he said, 'Why have you come down? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your insolence and the wickedness of your heart; you've come down in order to see the battle.' But David said, 'What have I done now? Was it not just a question?'"

Now, suppose David had listened to that? He'd have just turned and gone home. After all, this was his eldest brother. Well, that was bad enough. Then they took him to King Saul, and listen to what Saul said to him. Now, here's the king looking. And remember this now, that Saul was head and shoulders above everybody else in Israel, so he had to be a pretty good-sized fellow. Listen to this. When he spoke to Saul, he said to him, "Let no man's heart fail on account of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine".

Now, here's courageous, bold, confident David speaking to the king. Listen to what the king said to him, speaking with all of his authority now. He said, "You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are but a youth while he has been a warrior from his youth". So, if David had listened to the comments and the words and very, listen, the authority of the king and the criticism of his brother, both of which was very negative, one said, "You have no business even being here," and the other one said, "You can't do it". "You don't have any business even being here. You can't do it". If he'd have listened to either one of those, he would never have fought Goliath and won the victory for the nation of Israel.

Now, listen to me carefully. You have to be very, very careful who you listen to in any challenge in life. If you listen to the negative stuff of people who have no faith and who're just sort of wobbling around in the Christian life, and their faith is just wandering here and there and blowing like the waves of the sea, as James says, you won't ever get anything done. You can't face life that way. You can't listen to that kind of negative stuff. This is why I've said to you over and over and over again, the most important thing in your life and mine is our intimate, personal relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ.

Listen to this carefully. When you and I learn to walk with God and walk in His Spirit and live in intimate relationship with Him, there is no voice in this world as loud as God's voice. And He never even has to make a sound. It is the voice of Jehovah God. It is the voice of Yahweh. He doesn't speak in audible sounds. He speaks from Spirit to spirit, and from Spirit to spirit, it is much louder to us than the voice of people who are negative.

Principle number four: conquering faith recognizes the true nature of the battle. I want to say again, you and I are in a spiritual battle. And most of the things you and I face in life, that's what they are, they're spiritual battles. Listen, how can it be anything else? We talk about secular and spiritual, listen, once you've been born again by the Spirit of God, you have become a child of God, every single incident and every single area of your life, everything becomes a spiritual matter. How can you separate anything in your life from being spiritual, whether it's in the family or finances or relationships? It doesn't make any difference what it is, it is a spiritual issue because God is involved in every single thing that involves you and me. Everything that touches us has to come through Him first. Everything is a spiritual matter.

And if you'll notice, if you will, look, if you will, in verse 42. When Goliath comes on the scene, he makes his little boastful speech, which is just light and airy and empty, and listen to what he says, "When the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him". That is, he looked upon him with contempt and scorn, "for he was but a youth, and ruddy, with a handsome appearance". Probably slightly, a little red in his hair. "And the Philistine said to David, 'Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?' The Philistine cursed David by his gods". And here is ten-foot-tall Goliath, a hundred and twenty five pounds of armor, shield, sword, javelin, and besides that, he had his helper along with him, the fellow who carried his shield. And then here's what? David, no armor, no shield, no sword, no javelin, nothing but a little old sling shot and a few stones and a stick. Didn't seem to be a very good battle. Didn't seem to be very well divided out. But you see, the difference is this: that David understood what the nature of the battle was.

Now listen, oftentimes people battle each other, and they don't even realize that the battle is spiritual battle. It is Satan. It is evil. And oftentimes this happens in business, it happens in homes, it happens in churches, and people see each other as the enemy. We should never see each other as the enemy. The enemy is Satan. And when we go into challenges and battles in our life, we have to be sure we understand the nature of this battle. And I think if we do, there'll be more love and understanding and unity of spirit among people.

Number five, principle number five: conquering faith responds to the challenge with a positive confession. This is very important. Conquering faith responds to the challenge with a positive confession. Now, here's the principle. The principle is this in this section: that when you and I face a challenge, listen, we are to listen to the taunts of the enemy, always, against the background of the promises of God. We're to listen to the negative and the taunts of the enemy and the criticisms and the accusations, we're to listen to all of that against the background of the promises of God. I love this because I want you... let's get the context here, if you will.

And if you'll notice, verse 42, "When the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him; for he was but a youth, and ruddy, with a handsome appearance". And the Philistine made his speech. "He said to David, 'Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?' And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. The Philistine also said to David, 'Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the sky and the beasts of the field.'" Well, that sounded real fearsome. "I'm going to just eat you alive, going to tear you up, going to feed you like food to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field".

Now, listen to what David said in return to that. You talking about a positive confession, listen to this, "Then David said to the Philistine, 'You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD,'" L-O-R-D, all capitals, Jehovah, "'of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have taunted. This day the Lord will deliver you up into my hands, and I will strike you down and remove your head from you. And I will give the dead bodies of the armies of the Philistines this day to the birds of the sky, the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.'"

Now, friend, is that positive or is it not? There's not one iota of anything that says, "Well, might possibly, sort of, if it's the will of God," none of that. How in the world could he say it? Here's the reason he could, because here was the key in David's mind. Look in verse 47, last part of verse 46, "That all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel". He said, "You want to know why I'm out here, Goliath? I'm out here because I believe in the one, true God, and I want all the earth to know that the God of Israel is God. And secondly," he said, "I want you to know," verse 47, "I want all this assembly to know that the LORD does not deliver by sword, by spear; for the battle is the LORD's and He is going to give you into my hands".

Now, you understand why David couldn't have used a spear, a javelin, and a sword, because the issue here was: it had to be done in a way that God received all the glory and David received none of it. He's responding to this challenge with a positive confession. "Because You are God, this is what I know, God, You can do and You will do because I am walking in Your Spirit". Now, here's what I want to say. You and I, whenever we face any challenges in life, need to affirm and speak this positive confession, "I thank You, God, for who You are in me. I thank You, dear God, for who I am in You. I thank You, dear God, for what I have in You".

That is, you and I are the sons of God, daughters of God. We have been saved by the grace of God. We have been born again. We've become the children of God. He says we have become joint heirs with Jesus Christ. We are eternally secure in Him. We have been sealed until the day of redemption by His Holy Spirit. We are the followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, and we have all the power that we need in walking in obedience to God. There is no place for negative confessions in the midst of the battle because all that does is drain our faith when positive confessions energize us both emotionally, spiritually, and physically to do whatever God calls us to do. It doesn't make any difference what it is. Because, when you get in the midst of battle, there is energy that is drained. And so, you need spiritual, emotional, physical energy. And what that did, it just thrust David into this battle. And so, when we come to understand what he means by a positive confession, that's what he means.

Now, number six. That is, when you and I are facing these situations, conquering faith relies upon the power of God for victory. Conquering faith relies upon the power of God only for victory. Look at this. Love this passage. After these two speeches, verse 48 says, "Then it happened". I love that phrase because it really did happen. "Then it happened when the Philistine rose and came and drew near to meet David, that David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine. David put his hand into his bag," dropped his stick, "put his hand in his bag, took from it a stone and slung it and struck the Philistine on his forehead. And the stone sank into his forehead, so that he fell on his face to the ground," dead.

Now, that was a quick battle. The reason it was so quick is that God is the one who guided the stone. Listen, when you and I face any battle, remember who's doing the battling. David used everything that God had given him, all of his experiences, and everything else, but he didn't rely on that. He says, "God will give you into my hand". And can you imagine the shock in old Goliath's mind? And it was probably so quick there wasn't much time for shock. Here he comes like this monstrous piece of metal walking out there, and just one little old, simple stone picked up out of the creek, probably, one smooth stone that God had been preparing for years and years and years to make it smooth, just like a bullet, killed him.

And somebody might have asked, "Well, how could he have hit him"? And David was probably thinking, "How could I miss that big head? That uncircumcised Philistine, how could I miss"? And all of a sudden, everybody starts running. Now, he did it in the power of God which is evident all through this passage in what he's saying. He never takes any credit for it. The last principle I want to give you has seven parts to it. Now, just relax, it won't take me but a moment to get through them. But it's the heart of everything I want to say. Everything else has sort of been background to this point because I want to give you David's strategy.

But what I want you to notice here is, here's the seventh point, and that is, listen: conquering faith reckons the victory, reckons the victory before the battle begins. Conquering faith reckons the victory. That is, the victory is decided in your mind. It is a settled issue with you. It's as good as done in your thinking before the battle ever begins. You see, when David heard Goliath out there shouting around, saying what he was going to do and so forth, when David looked at him, he saw him as a dead man. Because you see, David understood what it meant to meditate upon the Lord, to walk in oneness with Him, sweet, intimate fellowship with Him, and therefore, no matter how big the giant in his life: bears, lions, or Goliaths, all of them are on the same level. When you're fighting in the power of God, it doesn't make any difference what the force against you may be. It is God who gives the victory and never man. Now, what I want you to see in this passage, I want to give you the strategy that David used, because I think this is a strategy you and I must apply in our own lives. If we're going to be able to view it as done and the victory won, here are the seven steps.

Number one, and this is the most important part of these seven, you fight the battle before the battle. You fight the battle before the battle. You say, "How can you fight the battle before the battle"? Because what you do is you fight it in your heart, fight it in your spirit, and fight it in your mind. I think about how many times I've faced difficult situations and circumstances and get in the prayer room, sometimes it may be one day or it may go on for weeks or months, but what I find myself doing is fighting that battle on my face before God. And I do believe that is the key. You fight the battle before the battle. You fight the battle in your heart with God until you know that you know the will of God. That's why fighting the battle before the battle is the only thing that gives you assurance in the battle. Fighting the battle before the battle gives you assurance in the battle because, listen, God knows that you and I will face some things that are frightening, but if we have fought the battle before the battle, then we'll have confidence and faith in the battle and we will not turn and run when the heat gets on.

Number two, you reaffirm in your heart, "This battle is the Lord's. It is not my battle. It is God's battle". You reaffirm that. You confess that. "This is the Lord's battle, not mine".

Number three: you declare the victory. "Thank You, dear Father, for the victory". That's exactly what David did. You see, when David saw Goliath, immediately he began to think about how God had blessed him and worked in his life, and he began to look to God and began to visualize and see what was happening in his own mind and heart. And then he declared the victory, "I'm going to cut off your head. I'm going to deliver you to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field and the whole Philistine army with you". Declare the victory.

Number four, very important part, wait for God's timing. Don't go rushing into something until you've got God's timing. Now, he picked up those stones and put them in his pouch and he carried them around with him for a little while. Not very long. But he wasn't ready until God was ready. The timing is right, has to be right. Now, what constituted the right timing here? Here's what constituted it: when Goliath came out and he made his little speech.

Well, David could have just started running toward him right then and slung that stone, but that wasn't the right timing. God's timing was this: God's timing was, "Following your confession, David, that I am the issue here. When you have made that declaration, then it will be time to go to battle". And what happens is: when he made that speech, David suddenly was faced with an angry foe. Listen to me, you don't go into battle angry. You will make a mistake. You don't fight battles angry. You fight them in the fear of God, in the reverence for God. And what happens is, when he got him angry enough with that speech, telling him he was going to cut off his head and feed him, here comes Goliath. And when he came, David started running toward him. And at that split second, at the right moment, he let it fly, and Goliath was a dead man before he ever put the stone in his sling. God's timing.

Number five, number five is doing it God's way. No sword, no shield, no javelin, no spear. What was God's way? God's way is usually this: the most insignificant way, the way that only He could be glorified. What is it? Five smooth stones, really, the truth is: one smooth stone and one sling shot. You have to do it God's way. You can't do it your way. We are prone to rely upon the world's ways when we get into battles. We have to trust God. And usually, He's going to tell us to do something that doesn't make sense.

Then, number six: you fight with confidence. Now, listen, I want to go back again. That confidence is built upon what God has done in your life in the past as you have built an intimate relationship with Him. You fight with confidence.

And number seven: you trust Him for victory. You trust Him for victory. You're going and you say, "Well, is confidence and trust the same thing"? Yes; but you fight with confidence and you're trusting Him for victory. Now, David's fight with Goliath is one of the most perfect examples in all the Bible of facing those circumstances and challenges and battles in life. There it is. And you see, isn't it wonderful that God put that in an illustration that every child who reads that story, what? Says, "Come on, David! Three cheers for David". But beneath that incident are these wonderful principles that work in your everyday life and my everyday life. And I want to say to you, my friend, if you've never trusted the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, then you can't know God. Because He says, "No man comes to the Father but by Me".

And I want to challenge you to trust Him as your Savior. And you do that by asking Him to forgive you of your sins and acknowledging and confessing that when Jesus Christ died at Calvary, He paid your sin debt in full. And if you're willing to receive, by faith, Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, you can be saved and become a child of the living God, then all the power of God, through His Holy Spirit, begins to rest in you. And you can face any and every circumstance of life, knowing that it is not your strength, it is not your wisdom, it is not your energy, it is not your power, but it the living God living within you and living through you, His life. Only a foolish person would turn down living in relationship to holy God.

Father, we love You and praise You for the simple story so full and so rich of so much truth. And I pray that every person whose faith is wavering today, every person whose faith is just wobbling in the midst of turmoil and stress and trials and tribulations and burdens and heartaches and persecutions, whatever it may be, I pray this message will sink deep into their heart. Lock it in, dear God, is my prayer, that they may respond to life's challenges simply by faith, seeing You as the source of everything, the ready, willing, loving Jehovah God, ready and willing to release all the power necessary in whatever we face for Your glory and Your honor. In Jesus's name. Amen.

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