E. J. Waggoner
John says that he that is born of God overcomes the world, through faith. Faith lays hold of the arm of God and His mighty power does the work. How the power of God can work in a man, accomplishing that which he could not possibly do for himself, no one can tell. It would be as easy to tell how God can give life to the dead. Says Jesus, “The wind bloweth where it listeth and thou hearest the sound thereof but canst not tell whence it cometh and whither it goeth; so is everyone that is born of the Spirit.” John 3:8. How the Spirit works in a man to subdue his passions and to make him victorious over pride, envy, and selfishness is known only to the Spirit. It is sufficient for us to know that it is done and will be done in everyone who wants that work wrought in him, above all things else, and who trusts God for the performance of it.
We cannot tell how Peter was enabled to walk on the water when the waves were rolling about him, but we know that at the command of the Lord he did it. So long as he kept his eye fixed on the Master, divine power enabled him to walk as easily as though it were solid rock underneath, but when he looked at the waves, possibly with a feeling of pride in what he was doing, as though he himself was doing it, fear very naturally took possession of him, and he began to sink. Faith enabled him to walk on the waves; fear made him sink beneath them.
Says the apostle, “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were compassed about seven days.” Heb. 11:30. Why was that written? For our learning, “that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” Rom. 15:4. Why, is there any prospect that we shall ever be called upon to fight armed hosts and to take fortified cities? No, “for we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Eph. 6:12. But the victories which have been gained by faith in God over visible foes in the flesh are placed on record to show us what faith will accomplish in our conflict with the rulers of the darkness of this world. The grace of God, in answer to faith, is as powerful in these battles as in those, for says the apostle:
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds; casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. 2 Cor. 10:3-5
It was not physical foes alone that faith enabled the ancient worthies to conquer. We read of them that they not only “subdued kingdoms,” but “wrought righteousness, obtained promises,” and, most wonderful and most encouraging of all, “out of weakness were made strong.” Heb. 11:33, 34. Their very weakness became strength to them through faith, because the strength of Christ is made perfect in weakness. Who, then, shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? since it is God that justifieth, and we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.” Rom. 8:35, 37.