Charles Stanley - The Reassuring Quality of Faithfulness
Faithfulness is one of the most important qualities to be found in our life. And when you think about what that involves, sometimes we have believed in people and had faith in them and they've disappointed us. They tell us one thing and do something differently. And then there are people who go through very difficult times in life, hard times. They're betrayed oftentimes or left with big debts or whatever it might be, because of somebody's unfaithfulness, lack of faithfulness. And so, it's a very important quality and I would ask you. Would you be, would you fit the category of somebody who's faithful? When you say you'll do something, you do it? When you say who you are, that's who you really are, or do you take that lightly? God doesn't take it lightly.
So I want to title this message, The Reassuring Quality of Faithfulness. And when I think about that I think about this passage in Genesis. In the thirty-second chapter. So just listen to it a moment. In verse nine, Jacob said, "O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, O Lord, who said to me, 'Return to your country and to your relatives, and I will prosper you,' I am unworthy of all the lovingkindness and of all the faithfulness which You have shown to Your servant". And just his way of expressing his gratitude toward Almighty God. Would you say that you're a grateful person? That you look around in your life and you see how faithful God has been, and that you are grateful? And that you are grateful because of His faithfulness to you?
So, throughout Scripture there's a whole bunch of verses about His faithfulness, and I'd just like to read through a few of them just to remind you how important it is. In Deuteronomy chapter seven verse nine, listen, "Know therefore that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God". One of His attributes is if He says He'll do something, He'll do it. In Psalm thirty-three verse four, "For the word of the Lord is upright, and all His work is done in faithfulness". He does what He says He'll do. Faithful to His promises, Psalm thirty-six verse five, "Your loving kindness, O Lord, extends to the heavens, Your faithfulness reaches to the skies". Psalm one nineteen ninety, "His faithfulness continues throughout all generations". And Lamentations three, twenty-three, "Great is Your faithfulness".
Then of course, and when I think about that, I think about Second Timothy, two thirteen. Listen. "When we are unfaithful, He remains faithful". Our sin does not nullify, render void, the faithfulness of God. That is, we're not faithful sometimes, but God always is. You and I have never confessed our sin to Him genuinely, you really meant it that He didn't forgive us. You can't name a single promise that God has failed to keep. That's who He is. He's a faithful God who keeps His promise in every circumstance of life. So, we say He keeps His promise. But also, one of His other attributes says He's, that is, that God is immutable that is, He doesn't change. Everybody changes. We all change, but God never changes. When He says, "I will never leave you nor forsake you," what does He mean? God says, "I will not forsake you. I will not leave you".
Faithfulness is one of the attributes of God we rest upon. So faithfulness, that is being who we say we are, doing what we say we'll do and making it a way of life, it's what God intended for every one of us. Because to be unfaithful is to tell something that is not true or act out something that is not true. So with that in mind, the Holy Spirit, makes it part of his responsibility to guide us, lead us and to enable us to be faithful in difficult, very difficult situations. The Holy Spirit is faithful in expressing through us the qualities that are consistent with the nature of God, that's the way He always operates. He's not going to work in us something that is not true of God.
So, when He sent the Holy Spirit, He sent the Holy Spirit because God knew you and I would not be capable of living a Christian's life. We're not. Apart from the Holy Spirit, you can't. There's not a single one of us who has the strength and the energy, the fortitude and the faithfulness to live the Christian life apart from the indwelling Holy Spirit. He sent Him and that's why He said, "Sit down, in the city of Jerusalem, until you be endued with power from on high. You're not ready to do what I've called you to do, which is to evangelize the world. You're not ready until the Holy Spirit, who will live within you and enable you and equip you, comes and anoints you for the power to do that". So, you're a believer, you've trusted Christ as your Savior, you were sealed unto the day of redemption, as He says, so you have the One in you who will enable you to be faithful in every circumstance of life. When we're unfaithful, it's the same Holy Spirit who lives within us who convicts us of sin.
So faithfulness is very important to God. Faithfulness is important to each other. Faithfulness is important to ourselves, that we have the quality you can be trusted that what you say you will do. And so the Holy Spirit has equipped us. So, that's why when I think about the Holy Spirit, I think of Him as God's enabler. He has placed within us the enabling power to do what we say we'll do, and so we have a Helper. That's what Jesus called Him, the Helper, the Holy Spirit.
So let's think about that for a moment. And some very specific areas in which God has promised to be faithful to us every day. And one of them is one of the most familiar ones, and that is First John one, nine. You know it by heart. Watch this watch, what he says, "If we confess," we're in agreement with God about something. "If we confess our sins, that we've sinned against Him, He is faithful". Listen, this is God's part, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Why does He put that "just" business in there? Because if God just says, "Okay, you're forgiven. You're forgiven".
Then forgiveness wouldn't mean much, faithful and just to forgive us. That is, when Jesus went to the cross and paid our sin debt in full, it makes it possible, legally with God, that, if we confess our sins, we agree with Him we did the wrong thing, He will always forgive us because He's paid our sin debt in full, He has the right to forgive us. And God being truthful, and God being holy, if there were no pardon at the cross, then God wouldn't be keeping His Word. But he says, "Faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness". That is God's faithful promise to you. It's interesting to me that God made that verse so simple, so short, so clean, so easily understood that if I agree with Him, that I've sinned against Him, and I regret that, He listens, sees, hears. He's faithful, we can trust Him that we're forgiven of our sin. Now how many times have you confessed your sin to God and gotten up and walked away and thought, God, I hope so. Lord, I pray so. Lord, I'm not sure, In other words, He says God's faithful. Here's what that means. What He says He'll do, He will do. Now, is that true of you? Well you have to answer that between you and God.
A second thing, that is, God's faithfulness limits the power of our temptation. Now you remember in First Corinthians chapter ten verse thirteen, and, maybe we should turn to that one. It's one we, most all of us know by heart. chapter ten, verse thirteen, "No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man, God is," what? Faithful, listen, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape, so that you can endure it. That is, when we're tempted, we have the promise of Holy God, that He puts a limitation on all of our temptation.
Some people are stronger than others. Some people are just pushovers for the devil. Some people are stalwart, strong, obedient, faithful, loyal servants of God. He says that here's His promise. He will not allow the devil to tempt you more than you are able to bear as you trust Him. We're talking about believers. Now unbelievers, they don't have any help. Listen to that, "No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man". That is, there are all kind of temptations. God is trustworthy. He's faithful. He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able. So therefore, the Bible says God promises you don't have to yield to temptation because Holy God has put a limitation on every temptation you face. Now if you say, "Well, God, if You had done this, I wouldn't have done... no. God says, "I, here's a promise I've made to you that I put a, I put a stop to the temptation. It can only go so far". That's a promise of God.
You believe God keeps His promises? Yes, you do. I'm sure you do. So, ask yourself the question. When you're tempted, do you fail? Do you yield to that temptation and then say, God, You know I'm weak in that area and so why did You let this happen? That doesn't work. It may work for you but you just think it works for you. Because God says, "Now I put a limitation on it". All of us have been tempted in lots of ways. Anybody who says, "Well I've never been tempted, just lied. Or somebody who says, "Probably a lot of people would have to say, "I'm tempted daily". The best thing to do if you face the same temptation every day is don't go to the same place every day. Or, if you go to the same place every day, watch what you watch. Watch what you look at. Watch what gets your attention.
Lust is a major, major tool of the devil. And lust is simply a strong desire to do something, that is, to think about something that is an act of disobedience to God. God says, " I put a limitation on it. Then He says in Philippians four, seven , "And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. That is, here's His promise, when you and I get anxious about things. Now you say, "Well is anxiety a sin"? Well I'd put it this way. We shouldn't be anxious but there are times when something hits us and all of a sudden we may feel anxiety. Especially if it has to do with somebody we love and maybe they're in trouble, something happened to them or sickness or whatever it might be.
So all of us are going to hit those times in life when we feel anxious about things. If you went to the doctor and he told you your heart was in bad shape, you'd probably get anxious and your heart would get in worse shape because of what he told you. But there are times when we feel anxiety. And there are times we feel anxiety by watching somebody else do something that you know is going to be a disaster if they don't stop. God has made a promise to us. He stands by every promise. And that promise is that we can have the peace of God. And notice what He said, watch this, "Which surpasses all understanding". That is, God says, "I'm going to give you a peace that you can't understand. The peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension".
And Paul is saying, "You know, there are times and situations we don't understand. And we think, "God, where were You? God, here's what You said. Here's what Your Bible says. But look what You allowed to happen. God, what's going on? Where were You when this happened? Why did You allow her to do this or him to do that? Why do You allow my children to, to get into these situations"? "The peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension," thank God for that verse. There are some things we don't understand. Some situations we think, "Well God, if You loved us, You wouldn't let that happen. Lord, why did You let that happen to so and so? Why have You just stood by and, and, and watch these things develop"? "Surpasses all comprehension, all understanding, He will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus".
There are people who become alcoholics because they don't know how to deal with certain situations in their life and they go to the bottle. Or people who get into all kinds of adultery, all kind of things happen to people. That is, there are situations and circumstances, God understands how traumatic, how difficult, how painful, how sorrowful it is. Here's what He says, "And the peace of God". It's the peace of God, not somebody's explanation, not a bottle, not an affair, the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds, how? In Christ. That is, my relationship to Jesus will guard me from giving up hope. My relationship to Jesus will guard me from blaming God and accusing Him, or turning away from God, walking away from His will. "The peace of God will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus". Awesome promises of God, the faithfulness of God.
And think about this. The moment you were saved, the Holy Spirit came into your life and He's there. He's the One who convicts us of sin, gives us comfort and assurance in our life. He's also the One who limits the power of Satan in our life. Listen to Second Thessalonians three, three. "But the Lord is faithful". Watch this, the Lord is faithful". Now you can trust Him. "He will strengthen and protect you from the devil, from the evil one". That's the promise of God. And you know, when people say, "Well the devil made me do it. No, he didn't. You chose to do it. You chose not to believe God. You chose to call God a liar who says, "I will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one". And you have said, "No, God, if You were God, You... Mm-mm-mm-mm.
Here's the promise. Here are four simple promises. The first is the forgiveness of our sin, simple promise. Limits our temptation. And gives us peace amidst our anxieties. And limits the power of Satan in our life. With those four awesome promises in your life, you can face about anything. And they're all simple verses you know by heart. If you've been coming to this fellowship, or you be going to a church where the pastor's faithfully preaching the Word, you already know those verses. But you put them together and put them in a capsule of faithfulness. Because God is faithful, I'm not going to yield to that. Because God is faithful, I don't understand it but I'm going to trust Him. In other words, you can go right down the line, these four verses, forgiveness of sin, limits the power of temptation, peace amidst our anxieties, limits the power of Satan. You can walk through anything, if you believe it, if you trust Him.
Now, it's interesting when you read the Word of God and then these difficult times come, we find out whether we believe it or not. And so, watch this, we're going to be tested and tried. You can expect that. And you say, "Well why in other words, if God loves me, why does He test me and try me"? Why do you think He does? You say, "Well if He, if God's all-knowing, He doesn't have to test you to find out what you would do. He already knows what you're going to do". He doesn't try us and test us or allow it in our life to find out what we would do. He knows what we would do. He wants us to know, when we're strong, when we're weak or when some particular sin may be at your doorstep every day.
I think of how many people who wake up, they hate drinking, but they're going to drink. Wake up knowing that adultery and fornication, all kinds of attitudes about sin, and sex, know they're not right. They're going to face them again. Our God says He's faithful. He's put a limitation, watch this. He's put a personal limitation on your life of what you have to face and what you don't face and He's not going to let you be tempted above what you're able to bear is a divine promise of Holy God. So the person says, "Well, God knows I'm sort of weak in that area. And He shouldn't, He shouldn't allow that". No. He knows you're weak in that area and He wants to strengthen you so that you no longer wake up every morning or do to bed every night facing some attitude that you have or some situation you're going to have to face. God is faithful. He keeps His promise.
And then when the Bible, for example, refers to the fruit of the Spirit, which He does in Galatians five, faithfulness. He's referring to the lifestyle you and I are to live. That is, faithfulness ought to be part of our lifestyle. Somebody says, "Well, what is your lifestyle like? Well I try to look the best I can, do the best I can, be the best I can, trust God," whatever it might be. God has the best choices for us. I have to decide if I'm going to choose His way or my way. If I choose my way, I'm going to get in trouble. Choose His way, I'll walk out of the trouble. I'll walk out of the trouble victorious. Walk out of the trouble trusting God who put a limitation on whatever trial I may be facing.
So let's think about this. The Bible says that, when the Holy Spirit is living within us, we'll have a lifestyle. That is, if I'm walking in the Spirit trusting Him, I'm going to be devoted to God. That is, He's going to be the One that I follow. Are you a person who is devoted to God? People know you as a Christian, as a follower of Jesus. Is that who you are? Loyal, do they know you as a loyal person? You'll do what you say, you'll be there where you say you will, you'll give what you say you'll give, you'll help when you say you'll help. Are you loyal? Can they count on you to be on their side in a tough situation? Thirdly, unwavering. That is, you're the same every day. You're not this today and that tomorrow. Can they believe what you say? Can they trust you to tell them the truth? Steadfast. Are you steadfast? That is, you're steady, you're solid, you're not shaken by this and that? They can count on you.
Trustworthy, you're believable, you only tell the truth. To those who know you, can say, "Well, she's a very trust-worthy. If she said it you can believe it". Dependable, that is, when you say you'll be there, you'll be there. When you say, "I'll give this," that's what you'll give. When you say you will do a certain thing, you will. That is do people who know you say, "One thing about him-- he or she is dependable". Obedient, can it be said of you that you are a person who attempts to obey God? Doesn't mean you're perfect, but you certainly attempt to obey God. They know you as a person. Then fruitful, your life's counting. Your life is counting, it's making a difference, it's influencing somebody. And the truth is, you're influencing the people you work around, the people you live around in your own home. You're influencing them one way or the another. And the last one I would say is faithful.
So look at this. If we're living in obedience, devoted to God, loyal to God, unwavering before sin, steadfast, trustworthy, dependable, obedient, fruitful, faithful. You say, "Well, all of that in one person's life"? You already have Him. What you can do in your own strength? We all blow it. So, what God is after in all of us, watch this carefully, is to believe Him to the point that we trust Him for anything, everything in every circumstance of life. You say, "Well I'm not there yet". Well, most people are not there yet. You say, "Well when will we get there"? I can't answer that for you. If you ask me, "Can I trust God for every single thing"?
I have two thoughts. I think I can, but there are some things I've not faced, I don't know. I just know at this point in my life I believe I can trust Him for just about anything. But I wouldn't boast of that. Don't ever tell anybody I said I can trust any--I can just handle any and everything. I've handled a lot of things. But there are people who've been through situations and circumstances that I have not. And so we have to be patient with each other. When you see somebody stumble, don't be too quickly to judge him. You may have the same opportunity. You don't call it an opportunity, but, in other words, that's sort of what it is when it comes to learning to trust God, we have opportunities to trust Him in every circumstance of life.
And people who've been through situations and circumstances that I have known and I thought, "Oh God, I trust that I'd have the faith and the faithfulness that they've had to walk through that storm in life". Don't ever boast of how much you have. Trust God. So, does this describe you as a person? Your actions, your deeds, your thoughts, that you're a person who's devoted to God. He's first. You're loyal to Him. You don't duh, you don't deny Him. You don't, you don't deny that you're a believer. You're unwavering. You're not up today and down tomorrow. You're steady in your Christian life. You're steadfast. You're committed. You're trustworthy. Whatever you say is what you'll do. You're dependable. That is, somebody can depend upon you to do what you promised to do. You're obedient as best you know what obedience requires in your life. You're fruitful. Your life's making a difference in somebody else's life. And you're faithful, that is, you are who you say you are, you do what you say you'll do, you'll be what you say you'll be. Amen?
Father, how grateful we are that You didn't save us and just leave us here to manage, do the best we can. Because sometime, Lord, You know we don't always do the very best we can. But You know our heart's desire. And I pray for people who are struggling this morning. Maybe they live in a household where nobody else is a Christian. Or their husband or wife is not. Or their children are giving them a very difficult time, whatever it may be. We thank You that You live within us and You have made these promises to us, to enable us to be all that You want us to be. We thank You for these simple passages of Scripture that are life-transforming and real assuring. We love You and praise You and thank You that Your Word says, and we know by experience. You're a faithful God. And we love that song, "Great is Thy Faithfulness, oh Lord our God". We pray this in Jesus' name, amen.