Originally I was going to cover the topic of faith in two posts, however it has occurred to me that the only way to do that would be to write an extremely long second post as the second level or sense of faith is probably the most difficult subject matter I will have tackled in this series. So perhaps it would be best if I set the table first and before we attempt to digest it. Some time back in this series I touched on the matter of humility, and that the first step towards achieving it was to realize that you are proud. If that is our starting point then the next step would be to seriously attempt to practice Christine virtues. Not for a day or two, not even a week, because just about anyone can do so for a week or so, rather try two months, or even just one. Because by then you will have failed miserably at it and quite probably fallen lower then your original starting point. It is here that a person discovers some truth about themselves.
The undeniable truth is that no one knows just how bad he or she is until they have tried with all their might to be good. There seems to be a body of thought running amok in this country that god people do not know what temptation means. Try the above experiment and you will quickly realize what a lie that is.
Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is. You do not know how strong the current in a river is by swimming with it, you must swim against it to understand its power. You never know how strong a bully is until you decide to fight him. A person who gives in to temptation after 10 minutes can in no way comprehend what it would have been like an hour or two later. That is why bad people (or more politically correct, good people who do bad things) know very little about badness. They have chosen to live a sheltered life of always giving in to temptation. You will never find out the strength of the evil impulses in yourself until you try to fight them; and Christ, because He was the only man who never yielded to temptation is also the only one who knows to the full and final extent what temptation means.
The main thing that we learn from making a serious attempt to practice Christian virtues is that WE FAIL. I think everyone who has a vague belief in God, has the idea of an exam, or a bargain (God if... then I will…); however one quickly learns that he or she will always fail that exam (God does not grade on a curve). We are simply incapable of acing the test; there is simply nothing that we can do that would enable us to put God in our debt. If you still have that idea floating around in your head, I encourage you to try to practice all the Christian virtues for a month or two that should be about 4 to 8 weeks longer than needed to blow the idea into bits. Some when they realize this thinks that Christianity is a failure and give up, for some reason they seem to think that God is very simple minded. In fact one of the things Christianity is designed to do is to blow that idea up. God is waiting for the moment that you realize that there is no way you will ever earn a passing grade on this exam; there is nothing you can do that will put him into your debt.
It is only after you realize this that you make another discovery. Everything you have, every faculty you possess – your ability to think, move, feel, see, smell, taste, everything has been given to you by God. Even if you devoted every second of every day of your entire life to exclusively serve Him you could not give him anything that was not already His. As it is Christmas time, the next time you are doing something for God or giving something to God, think of it like this; Think back to when you were a small child and you wanted to get your father a present for Christmas, you approach your dad and ask “Daddy, would you give me $10 to buy you a Christmas gift with?” Of course your father does, and he is pleased with the gift that you give him. It is all very nice and touching, but only an idiot would think that your father is ahead $10 on the gift.
When you have made these two discoveries then and only then can God really get to work within you. If is after this that your real life begins. Now that you are at last fully awake, now you are ready to examine faith in the second sense.