Today I am continuing our study of the life of Abraham with my teachers. I am excited to teach this lesson because we continue to look at Abraham’s faith and how his faith changed him and directly impacted every aspect of his life.
We have already seen
- how the Gospel was preached to Abraham
- the purpose of the Law
- Abraham, the father of our faith
- Genuine faith positively impacts relationships
- Genuine faith fights against immorality
Today’s topic is a continuation of faith in action. Faith is an integral part of Abraham’s life. He does everything based on faith. That does not make him perfect though. Even though his character has been changed by God through the giving of the Holy Spirit, Abraham still has a sin nature. Let’s see how his faith helps him overcome his sin nature in the midst of life’s circumstances. Our lesson today comes from Genesis 20 and Genesis 21.
I. Abraham’s example
Abraham continues his journey with God. He still has not received the promised son. He still has not received the Promised Land. All he has is God. Another difficult situation appears and Abraham has to make a decision, to walk by faith or to listen to his sin nature. His sin nature is inclined to be fearful. Abraham listens to his sin nature and tries to deceive king Abimalech. He tells the king that Sarah is his sister. The king takes her as his wife but does not have relations with her. God reveals in a dream to the king that he is about to commit a terrible sin by taking another man’s wife. As a result, God closed all the wombs of the women in the king’s land as punishment. King Abimalech realized what had happened and he went to Abraham to confront him. Once confronted, Abraham admits that he only told a half truth. Sarah is his sister and he told the king that. He left out the fact that she was also his wife. At first, Abraham listened to his sin nature. Then, when confronted by the Lord through the king, he admitted his mistake and listened to God. In other words, he acted in faith. After this happens, God finally fulfills His promise of a son through Abraham’s wife, Sarah. Abraham worships the Lord and names his son exactly what God had told him. We see Abraham continuing to walk by faith, even after he makes mistakes. He immediately passes his faith on to his son. He had already invested in Lot, in his own wife, in Hagar, in Ishmael, in his servants etc. Now he is passing that faith on once again. Abraham’s faith was strong when the circumstances of life were telling him that his faith is in vain because what was promised to him is impossible to fulfill. Paul tells us in Romans 4:13-25 that Abraham believed when it was impossible. He did not focus on the obstacles. He held on to the promises of God. He lived by those promises day by day. Abraham also passed that faith on to Sarah and she believed as he did. In Hebrews 11:11-12 we learn that Sarah believed when the obstacles were impossible to overcome.
Immediately after this great celebration for Isaac, there appears another conflict where Abraham has to walk by faith or by his sin nature. He does not know what to do. In Genesis 16, he listened to his wife instead of listening to the Word of God. Now he is gun shy and afraid to do it again. He now has to make a choice. Abraham does not want to listen to his wife. He loves Ishmael and he is not sure what to do. God reminds Abraham that Sarah is telling him to do what God has already said to do. Abraham’s faith is seen in his obedience to God in this situation. Genuine faith impacts our daily lives and relationships. It is seen in the way Abraham relates to God, to his wife, to his children, to his employees, in his business deals etc. What is God’s part in all of this?
II. God in action
In Genesis 20, Abraham makes another mistake. He chooses to listen to his sin nature instead of standing on his faith in God. Abraham deceives Abimalech and gets himself and Ambimalech in trouble. God intervenes and reveals to Abimalech what Abraham has done. Abimalech, a man who does not have faith, demonstrates faith here. How do we see this? God confronts him with what is right and wrong and tells him what he needs to do. Abimalech listens to God and puts faith into action. This is how God intervenes in the lives of believers and nonbelievers. According to II Timothy 3:16, the Word of God
- Teaches us – showing us what is right and wrong
- Reproves us – showing us just how wrong we are
- Corrects us – getting us back on the right path
- trains us in righteousness – keeping us on the right path
Abimalech went through this process. He made the right choice. He went and confronted Abraham. Now Abraham has to go through this process as well. At first, Abraham tried to shift the blame. He tried to blame Abimalech. Then, he admits what he did and applied his faith, reconciling with Abimalech.
Next, in Genesis 21, we see God intervening in the lives of Sarah and Abraham. He kept His promises and Sarah conceived and bore a baby boy to Abraham. Abraham puts his faith into action and names his son Isaac, just as God had told him to do. Abraham passes this faith on to his son Isaac. All of this happens because of God’s intervention.
Once again, Sarah and Abraham have a conflict and God intervenes because Abraham does not know what to do. Because of God’s intervention, they make the right decision and there is reconciliation and restored relationship. God’s intervention makes faith possible. In the midst of our walk with God, via faith, we need His help because of our sin nature. We make mistakes and need His help. This is exactly what Romans 8:28 teaches us. God causes all things to work for our good, even the bad decisions that we make. The condition is, we must love Him, and do as He says as He intervenes. God does His part. I do my part. We work together to live out our faith daily.
III. Faith in action
Continuing on in Genesis 21, we see Abraham’s faith put into action once again. This time, faith carries over into Abraham’s business deal with Abimalech. Abraham and Abimalech find themselves in conflict once again, this time, over “stuff”. They have to make a business deal. Abraham uses this opportunity to teach Abimalech about covenant. This is Abraham’s faith in action. In Abraham’s first encounter with Abimalech, he gave in to his sin nature and acted out of fear instead of out of faith. Abimalech actually was a better example of faith than Abraham. This time around, Abraham demonstrates genuine faith by living it out in the midst of this business deal. Abraham was able to share his faith with Abimalech.
As you can see, my dear friend, genuine faith is seen in action. We demonstrate it in our relationships, with God, with spouses, with children, in business deals etc. Sometimes we will make mistakes and listen to our sin nature instead of listening to God. When this happens, God intervenes for us. When He does, we must do what He says so that He can rescue us and set us back on the right path. I want to ask you a few questions. How are you doing with your daily battle against your sin nature? When is the last time God intervened in your life? How do you respond when God confronts you? How does your faith positively impact your marriage? How are you actively passing on your faith to your children? How does your faith impact your relationships with others? May the Lord continue to teach us what genuine faith is and motivate us to walk in it daily.