When I first heard the gospel Jesus preached, I struggled to believe it was true, to believe it was possible.
“Jesus wants me to be healed? ” I interrogated.
“Jesus wants me to be delivered? I could only hope.
“Jesus wants me to prosper? It was too much to comprehend.
But that’s how he was introduced to me; in a sermon Jesus himself said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; He sent Me to heal the broken hearted, to proclaim freedom to the captives and the recovery of sight to the blind, to set free the oppressed. To proclaim the Lord’s year of favor” (Luke 4:18,19 (NKJV)).
Every full gospel preacher I have heard has repeated this good news. Jesus came to free me from captivity, restore my health, and redeem me from poverty. My spiritual man rejoiced. I received it with joy. Who wouldn’t? It is a glorious gospel.
But I encountered a problem. There was a disconnect between my previously established internal belief system and this new (to me) presentation of the gospel.
Let me explain it this way: A preacher could show me chapter and verse of God’s promises for healing (i.e. I would concede, with my thoughts, that the Bible provides for healing. I could even repeat the scriptures by rote memory.
Mental consent does not change an ingrained belief system.
Another minister of the gospel might talk about deliverance from sin or addiction (eg, Romans 6:18-22), explaining the grace available to keep us free (eg, Romans 6:14). Again, I was reading the passage for myself and subscribing to the proclamation.
But knowing that it is God’s will that we be freed from sin and walking without sin are two different things.
Yet another preacher might speak of God’s goodness (eg Psalm 103:5) and His willingness to prosper us (eg Psalm 35:27). Typically, I would follow my Bible, check the text with my own eyes, and agree with the interpretation.
But a simple intellectual agreement does not change a financial situation.
Hence the disconnect. With my spirit, I accepted that the Word of God and the promises of God are true; however, in my life, I did not see their realization.
If it is God’s will that I be healed, why was I sick?
If grace can enable me to walk without sin, why have I constantly stumbled?
If I’m supposed to be successful, why don’t I have enough money to pay my bills?
I knew I had a disconnect between my head and my heart. And that made all the difference.
You see, Jesus said faith is what you say and believe in your heart, not what you say and think with your head.
“For surely, I say unto you, whoever says unto this mountain, ‘Be cast away and cast into the sea,’ and doubt not in his heart, but believes that what he says shall be done, he shall have all that he said” (Mark 11:23 (NKJV)).
I realized my problem wasn’t with what I thought; it was with what I believed.
I wanted to believe that I was cured, but my nose started to run, I started to sneeze, and the thoughts came saying, “Maybe healing isn’t for you.
I wanted to believe that I could walk without sin, but then I was wrong and heard, “You will never overcome, you are too weak.
I wanted to believe I was successful, but then I was laid off with no prospect of another job and suddenly I found myself struggling with, “You’ll never get out of debt.
With my head, I accepted that the promises were true, but it seemed like my heart wasn’t in it.
I couldn’t be the only one having this problem, I concluded. What had the others done?
I kept going to church hoping to find the answers. After all, faith comes by hearing and hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17). I knew I would never overcome the disconnect by skipping church. I kept thinking the answers would reveal themselves.
Eventually I got frustrated with the situation, especially the promises of healing.
One spring, while I was doing yard work, I caught poison ivy. It had become routine since I moved to Tennessee, but I had had enough.
I fussed to God, “Why do I keep getting poison ivy? I believe Your Word and Your promises of healing? What’s going on?”
He replied, not in an audible voice, but in a voice I heard inside, “When doing garden work, wear long pants and long sleeves. And when you’re done, take a shower right away. If you think you have poison ivy, put some calamine lotion on it and don’t scratch it.
It wasn’t impressive in its simplicity, but it was what I needed to hear. Keep in mind that faith comes by hearing and hearing the Word of God. I now had a Word of God. I implemented his simple instructions and have never had a problem with poison ivy since.
When it comes to deliverance, I kept confessing that I am the righteousness of God (reference 2 Corinthians 5:21). The guilt tried to hold me back and keep me in bondage, but whenever the negative thoughts came, I responded with the Word. Eventually I realized that I had sinned, not because I had to, but because I wanted to; that I controlled this body. Once I understood this, I simply chose to walk without sin.
Closing the disconnect on prosperity took effort. I was always a tithe and a giver, but the thoughts always came that what I had would never be enough.
It wasn’t until I decided to implement outrageous obedience (i.e., give first fruits) that I received a Word that settled the problem: “You will never fail money another day of your life.”
It was not an audible voice, but it was clearly a Word from my Heavenly Father. Now, whenever poverty tries to attack, I just respond with the Word of God.
Maybe you are dealing with a disconnect. You want to believe God’s promise, but everything in the natural tells you it can’t be.
Stay with me, dear reader. I will explain more about faith in the coming weeks.
Tim Hughes is a lay minister and elder at Ascension Life Church in Athens. He can be reached at [email protected]