I have asserted before, and will certainly do so again, that faith is not a question of “whether” but of “which”. It isn’t “will I have faith?”, but rather, “where will I place my faith?” In Eden, Adam & Eve were under the command of God (Gen. 2:15-17), and at least for some time functioned in obedience to Him.
Then came the serpent, deceived Eve into eating the fruit, who then gave it to Adam. At the heart of this temptation was that by eating it they would be as gods (Gen. 3:5), and thus their rebellion from God’s authority was largely a departure of faith in God to faith in self.
One of the effects of the fall most clearly delineated in Scripture is that man, in rebellion to God, insists on trusting his own good works to merit Salvation; after the fall, it didn’t take long before we were found scrounging for fig leaves to cover us. We see the story of mankind is one of continually placing his faith anywhere other than Christ in God.
The examples of this are manifold; but I want to zero in on a particular breed of unbelief in God. All other objects of faith are by definition an act of unbelief in God. As Christians, we are often tempted to trust in our track record of “good behavior” as the barometer for our spiritual health. This usually breeds a trepidation in the soul as to whether one is in “right standing” with God. We think that because we’ve gone a “while” without cussing, without lusting, without jealousy, without pride, without envy we are especially in God’s favor.
What this really is, is a faith in our performance and merit. It is a misdirected faith. Is God pleased by our good works? Or is He pleased in His Son, who is working in us to will and to do according to His good pleasure (Phi. 2:13)? Our faith must never be rested upon our good or bad behavior. Otherwise, if your doing “well” (by your standard, I’ll point out) you will soon be vain-glorious, arrogant, prideful. If–or when–you fail, you will certainly fall into doubt, insecurity, ungodly fear, and a toxic, timorous introspection.
As believers in the Lord Jesus, we must recognize that our justification is by faith alone, and so is our sanctification. In the process of sanctification, we often forget the very basic truth of our justification (by faith alone), and pin our confidence before God on our measurement of how far along we’ve been sanctified. From top to bottom, Salvation is a work of God; unbelief only gums up the work.
Fight against the pull to hope that your performance can ever win you “cred” with the Almighty; this is simply a cover for self-love, self-worship, self-glory. You don’t actually care about His glory because you’d prefer to rest your faith in the mighty fine track record you’ve got going. The saint’s faith is in Christ (yes, we need to be often reminded of this); and because of this, the result is that the saint desires the glory of God. This means that self will be humbled and abased, self-righteousness is something to be repented of and not boasted of, and the aim will be: “that God will be glorified”.
In the first instance the faith is in self’s merit, in the second case, it is in the only One worthy of faith; again it isn’t “whether” we will trust in a god, but “which” god will we trust? It’s either man-worship or the One True God-worship. One is damnation; the other, Salvation.