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Our Westernized meanings of faith (beliefs, believing, conviction) were not what Paul had in mind when quoting the Hebrew Old Testament from Habakkuk 2:4 in Romans 1:17 and Galatians 3:11! Read the first two articles because we cannot repeat all we studied previously.

The word emunah, erroneously translated “faith” in Habakkuk 2:4 in most translations, does not refer to what you believe or your beliefs alone. According to the Brown, Driver Briggs Hebrew-English Lexicon of the Old Testament (BDB), emunah means firmness, fidelity, steadfastness, faithfulness, trust, and steadiness. When speaking of our faith in God and Jesus, the most accurate definition of faith portrays how you live your daily life in the Lord. Real Bible faith describes our character and our relationship with Jesus. Faithfulness describes firmness in relationship-fellowship with the Lord that is unmovable from the Covenant in His blood, steadfastness that will not quit on Him, and a steady lifestyle of trust and obedience to Him demonstrated in our words and by our actions.

What about injecting those powerful definitions into every mention of faith in the New Testament? If you separate any of these from faith in the New Testament, you are subscribing to either an erroneous idea of faith, or at best, an incomplete definition.

The subject of faith is not a side issue, when you consider that it is mentioned hundreds of times in Scripture. Not only does that make the subject a central teaching of the Bible, faith in God is also a foundational teaching of Christ (Hebrew 6:1, 2; Mark 11:22).

So that we get a revelation of what emunah means in Hebrew, and therefore what Paul had in mind by quoting Habakkuk 2:4, look at a powerful word picture in Exodus.

Moses commanded Joshua to gather Israel’s warriors and go defeat Amalek. Moses sat on a hill overlooking the battle, and as long as he kept the rod of God in his hand held high, Israel won, but when he dropped his hands with the rod because of weariness, Israel lost. So, what did they do?

But Moses’ hands became heavy; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it. And Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun (Exodus 17:12 NKJV).

Aaron and Hur were helpers to Moses and made sure that his hands were steady until Israel won!!

Do you see the word “steady”? It is the same Hebrew word (emunah) wrongly translated “faith” in Habakkuk 2:4! Remember that one of the definitions of emunah is steadiness. Moses’ hands stayed firmly (emunah) in the air until the victory was won.

Here is another translation of emunah:

Wisdom and knowledge will be the stability of your times, And the strength of salvation; The fear of the Lord is His treasure (Isaiah 33:6 NKJV).

Emunah is stability in that verse.

Emunah is often translated in the Psalms as faithfulness (33:4, 36:5, 37:3, 40:10, 88:11, etc.). Faithfulness is stability or staying power. It doesn’t change.

God is our supernatural ROCK, and therefore He is faithful (emunah) in Deuteronomy 32:4 because He doesn’t change (Malachi 3:6, 2 Timothy 2:13). In the same way, Jesus is stable and faithful because He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

Faithfulness is abiding power. In John 15:4-10, Jesus taught us to abide in Him. To abide refers to staying, enduring, continuing and remaining in His sphere of influence through obedience and yielding to His commandments, Word, and Spirit (John 8:31, 32, 14:15-17, 21-23, 15:7, 10; 1 John 2:3-6, 17, 3:6, 9, 24 NET).  

Are you ready for this? 

Stay calm. Kick over those sacred cows of traditional interpretations. Let them crack, break apart, be ground to powder, and may the wind of the Spirit of God blow it away forever. Let that traditional nonsense be like Humpty Dumpty. Let it fall from the wall, crack, and don’t put it back together again!

Let these truths bring God's light to you! Allow the Holy Spirit to minister this to you. Don't resist the truth. Renew your mind to God's Word (Romans 12:1, 2).

Take as an example one of the words BDB used to translate emunah. Let's look closely at the word fidelity.

Synonyms for fidelity are: adhesion, allegiance, attachment, commitment, constancy, dedication, devotedness, devotion, faith, faithfulness, fastness, fealty, loyalty, piety, steadfastness, and troth.[1]

Note that faith is stuck in the middle of the synonyms given by this dictionary, but it is surrounded by words that describe something different than believing or the general idea of faith.

Here is Merriam-Webster's rich synonym discussion on fidelity found under this word, and note that faith and believing are nowhere to be found:

Allegiance, fealty, loyalty, devotion, piety means faithfulness to something to which one is bound by pledge or duty. Fidelity implies strict and continuing faithfulness to an obligation, trust, or duty. Allegiance suggests an adherence like that of citizens to their country. Fealty implies a fidelity acknowledged by the individual and as compelling as a sworn vow. Loyalty implies a faithfulness that is steadfast in the face of any temptation to renounce, desert, or betray. Devotion stresses zeal and service amounting to self-dedication. Piety stresses fidelity to obligations regarded as natural and fundamental.

That is what emunah is all about: allegiance, fealty, loyalty, devotion, piety, faithfulness, obligation, duty, trust, zeal, service, dedication, and steadfastness! Wow! The synonym discussion, without trying to, has given us a powerful description of emunah in Hebrew.

Did you notice the word allegiance? Citizens of our country pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America. It is a pledge of loyalty and respect for our country and flag. We pledge allegiance, standing up at attention, and certainly NOT as some kneeling fools are doing today! I despise and reject disrespect and dishonor for our country and flag. I reject all disrespect for our military and police officers. You may hear me say it strongly, without compromise, and no apology: “If you don’t like our country, LEAVE IT!” I mean that with all the sincerity I can muster. I don’t agree in the least with everything happening at the hands of some ungodly people in our country, but I love our country. I pray for our leaders and the USA (1 Timothy 2:1-4).

Though I honor and pray for the President and the First Lady, my first allegiance is to the Lord Jesus, His Father, and to the Word of God! It’s similar to what President Trump said, “In America, we don’t worship government; we worship God!” Our first allegiance must be to the One that created the heavens and the earth, that is, IF we call ourselves Christians!

Now proceed to apply these truths about the word fidelity to your Christian life and your relationship-fellowship with the Lord Jesus. Does the above synonym discussion describe you in the Lord? If not, maybe it is time to repent and grow up in Jesus. Don’t look at someone else. Look at and examine your faith (just like I do mine), but now, you (and me) are armed with the proper understanding and definition.

Put yourselves to the test to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize regarding yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you - unless, indeed, you fail the test! (2 Corinthians 13:5)

Here are some questions to stir you up based on the synonym discussion of fidelity above:

  • Is my allegiance firstly to the Lord Jesus? Is my life pledged to Him?
  • Am I loyal to His cause, kingdom, and gospel message? Am I loyal to His orders and commands? Am I devoted to prayer, holiness, and the love of God and love towards others?
  • Is my faithfulness to the Lord and His Word so firm that I am duty bound to obedience?
  • Do I consider myself under obligation to be faithful and to trust Him, or is my Christianity the kind that requires nothing of me?
  • Does my allegiance to the kingdom of God suggest adherence to the rules of the kingdom like that of the citizens of a country?
  • Does my fealty to God, Jesus, and His Word compel me as much as to a sworn vow?
  • Is my loyalty so firm that it is steadfast in the face of any temptation to renounce, desert, or betray the Lord or His Word?
  • Does my devotion stress zeal and service amounting to self-dedication?
  • Does the piety (godliness) in my life stress fidelity to the Lord Jesus and God’s Word? Do I see fidelity as stressing obligations regarded as natural and fundamental as a member of the Body of Christ, the kingdom of God?

Now you are equipped with a fuller definition of faith, as Paul understood it. Plug these definitions into every mention of faith in the New Testament, but especially in Paul's writings.

How do these definitions change our outlook, our responsibilities before the Lord, and what we are accountable for in Christ? 

It is time to take inventory!

NOTES: 

[1] See Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online, 2017, s.v. “fidelity,” http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fidelity .

 

Following is message #30, "Do not Worry or be Anxious about Tomorrow" from the audio series: Removing Doubt from the Heart.

Be blessed!

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