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Bad Faith, Good Faith

Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all (as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations”) in the presence of Him whom he believed—God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did; who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, “So shall your descendants be.” And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. And therefore “it was accounted to him for righteousness.”

Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification. - Romans 4:16-25


“You gotta have faith,” people say. But what does that mean? Is any faith good faith?

“Believe in yourself and all that you are,” wrote one positive thinker a century ago. “Know that there is something inside you that is greater than any obstacle.” As nice as that may sound, it falls to pieces when it crashes into reality. We need a faith in something bigger than ourselves.

God promised Abram he would have a multitude of descendants (Gen. 15:4–5), so he faced a huge obstacle—he was old and childless. When he and Sarah got tired of waiting for God to make good on His promise, they tried to overcome that obstacle on their own. As a result, they fractured their family and created a lot of unnecessary dissension (see Gen. 16 and 21:8–21).

Nothing Abraham did in his own strength worked. But ultimately he became known as a man of tremendous faith. Paul wrote of him, “Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be’” (Rom. 4:18). This faith, said Paul, “was credited to him as righteousness” (v. 22).

The central theme of Romans is that humanity cannot save itself and that God justifies the sinner by grace through faith in Jesus alone (Rom. 1:16–17). Paul reveals that all people—Jews and Gentiles—are sinners. All have sinned. All stand condemned before our holy God (3:23). Sinners are saved, not by obeying the law, but by God’s actions of justifying the sinner through faith in Jesus (3:22–26). We are justified (declared righteous and made right with God) by grace alone, through faith alone and in Christ alone.

Abraham’s faith was in something far bigger than himself—the one and only God. It’s the object of our faith that makes all the difference.

Our faith is good if it’s in the right Person.


The devotional message, “Bad Faith, Good Faith”, was written by Pastor Tim Gustafson, and appeared in “Our Daily Bread”, www.odb.org, September 30, 2016. Used here with permission from the website.