Now that Paul has shown us through the example of Abraham that there is nothing you need to do to become righteous but simply believe, he decides that it is important to keep emphasizing that it is important to realize that Abraham was made righteous by his faith:
14For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect:
Do you realize that if you are trying to impress God by obeying the law you are making God out to be a liar? You are saying that his promise to justify you by faith alone is worthless and that you need to do something to impress God.
15Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression.
All the law does is work wrath. This means that the law only makes you deserving of punishment. Every time you try and please God by your works and your righteousness, you fail and you put yourself again in a position where you know you deserve punishment.
16Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all,
So we can only obtain righteousness by faith – because that way God gives it to us as a free gift, make available through Jesus completely taking our punishment on the cross. And this promise is available to all who believe.
17(As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.
This is such a powerful revelation of God. God calls those things which be not as though they were: you might never have done anything righteous, but because God still calls you righteous. Abraham had no children, but God still called him father of many nations. You might not feel healed, but God says that by the stripes of Jesus, you are healed. You might not feel right with God, but God declares you are righteous.
18Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be.
19And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah’s womb:
20He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;
21And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.
Paul is taking the opportunity of discussing the fact that Abraham was declared righteous by faith to explain exactly how faith works.
Paul shows us that Biblical faith works with four simple steps:
1. Against hope believe in hope (v.18)
Hope is your vision and imagination for the future. When we hope for negative and evil things to happen in our life, it is called worry. Worry is simply imagining all the bad things that could happen to you. Hope is simply imagining all the good things that could happen to you. Abraham started to develop his faith by refusing to imagine bad things in his future and deliberately imagining bad things.
Stop imagining your own funeral. Imagine yourself standing in the front of your church testifying to your healing. Stop imagining your children on drugs, rebellious, promiscuous. Imagine them witnessing, laying hands on the sick, worshipping the Lord.
The first step to strong faith is to change what you are imagining.
2. According to what was spoken (v.18)
The next step to strong faith is to focus on what has been spoken. Get yourself into the Word of God. Don’t believe that you are going to stay sick – believe by His stripes you are healed. Don’t believe you are going to go bankrupt, believe that God will supply all your needs. Get yourself into the Word.
3. Considered not his own body(v.19)
Abraham refused to consider his own body. He absolutely refused to think about the evidence of his senses that his body could not have a child. He accepted the Word of God and rejected the testimony of his own senses.
If you are sick, and your body is yelling at you that it is sick: don’t consider it. If you are in debt and your body is yelling at you to worry: don’t consider it.
Refuse to consider any testimony that contradicts the Word of God – even if it is your own body.
4. Gave Glory to God (v. 20)
One of the best ways to develop strong faith is to give glory to God. Praise God. Worship God. Exalt His name. If you are sick, don’t beg God to heal you. Thank Him that you are healed. Praise Him for being the healer. You cannot stay in doubt while glorifying God.
Abraham was praising God for his children before he saw them. Praise God for your healing before you see it. Praise God for your husband coming to the Lord before you see it. That is strong faith. That is how faith works.
22And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.
Faith like that is what makes you righteous. If you feel unrighteous, if you realize that you have sinned and your actions are not good, then you need to realize as well that you can be right with God by faith.
Start to imagine the Lord accepting you and welcoming you into heaven. Start to meditate on Scriptures that say you are righteous (2 Cor. 5.21 is a great place to start). Don’t consider the sins you have committed – don’t even think about them. And thank and praise God that you are righteous.
23Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him;
24But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;
25Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.
And you, as well as Abraham, can be right with God, can be righteous with the righteousness of God, just by believing that God raised Jesus from the dead. This is glorious news. This is the gospel.
Praise His name forevermore!