It has occurred to me, while speaking with some prayer warrior friends of mine recently, that there might be a need to reiterate a key piece of information related to Christian living. Nothing particularly ground-breaking, but important nonetheless. It’s something that seems to have gotten lost somewhere along with the way, especially in the generation in which we find ourselves. It’s actually pretty simple.
Christian living is messy sometimes!
Yep, it’s true. Believe it or not, becoming a Christian isn’t exactly the bowl of cherries you might have been led to believe it was. It doesn’t make everything perfect. You’re not going to suddenly become different, or better. It’s not magic, by any means.
Becoming a Christian doesn’t mean you can call Jesus up like a genie in a bottle and ask what you will. That’s not at all how prayer works. But it’s something you learn, over time, of course. It’s an ongoing process of becoming mature in the faith. That’s something that the Apostle Paul spoke of quite a bit. And it’s something you’ll learn more about, the more you sit under good, Godly, Truthful preaching.
A Well-Kept Secret of Christianity?
So, you might be wondering if this is some kind of secret. There are plenty of feel-good preachers out there who preach a feel-good kind of faith. One that says all the easy, pleasant things about being a Christian. The problem is that they leave out all the hard, plain, non-sugar-coated parts at the same time.
It’s easy to talk about the good stuff. And don’t doubt for a minute that there’s not plenty of that for you, as a child of God, a joint-heir with Jesus Christ. The precious promises are there for the claiming. Salvation is a package deal that contains everything that Jesus made a way for when he died and was resurrected.
But that doesn’t negate the fact that, as the Bible says, the rain falls on the just as well as the unjust. Does that mean that we’ll have all these horrible things happen to us all the time? No, that’s not what I’m saying at all. But there will be tough times that come your way. There will be testings and persecutions and hardship, just because of who you are and WHOSE you are.
The good news is, that’s not the end of the story!
A Christian Will Endure…
When it comes to being a Christian, you can bet that satan is not willing to let go without a fight. You don’t have to have ever been a horrible person, and it doesn’t matter if you’ve been a model citizen your whole life. The fact is, an unsaved person is one that is not going to heaven. Salvation changes all that, and that’s when satan steps in like never before.
I’ve always said, it doesn’t matter if you sit in church every time the doors are open. It doesn’t matter if you religiously read your Bible. It doesn’t matter how many mission trips you go on, how many homeless people you feed or how many widows and orphans you care for. If you are not truly saved, having gone through the Biblical salvation experience, then you are hell-bound. Because of that, satan will not sit idly by and let his property go without fighting for it.
It’s not uncommon for a recently saved person to begin to experience monumental temptations in the flesh. Not just temptations like trying to stay away from your favorite junk food, though. Suddenly, all the “old things” you use to do will flood your mind. Maybe it was music, maybe it was a partying lifestyle, or maybe it was just hanging out with people you knew were a bad influence.
Temptations will come at you from the television, if you continue to watch it. It will come in the form of opportunities, especially ones that your other Christian friends might never know about. On the other hand, someone you think of as a Christian might actually be living a quietly sinful life and satan will use them to try to lead you away as well.
Satan Knows Which Buttons to Push
If you have a “button” – and we all do – then you can be sure satan will push it. Not just one, not just ten times, not just fifty times, but repeatedly. He will push that button so many times, you’ll wonder if there’s actually even a reason to keep praying! The fact is, satan isn’t just some bystander you happened to pass on your way to an alter of prayer.
He’s been watching you your whole life. He was there when you went through that awful thing as a kid. And he was there when you were betrayed. Don’t doubt the fact that every time he saw you crumble and fall under the pressure of life, he pulled out his little black book with your name on it and made a heavy note.
He KNOWS you. He knows what makes you tick, click, kick and then fall apart. Your strongest points? He knows ’em! Your weakest points? He knows them too!
If there’s not an inkling of a chance that you would ever put your lips to an alcoholic drink, he’s not going to bother using that as an enticement. However, if he knows he can knock you sideways by giving your children a smart lip with a dash of disrespect, he’ll set that up at fifteen minute intervals.
Fill In the Blank…Take Your OWN Notes!
As a Christian, we have to get real honest with ourselves. If you are noticing that you lose your peace on a regular basis, pay attention to the “why”. But don’t do it from a selfish platform.
For me, some of my most tearful prayers turned out to be some of the most selfish ones. It’s true! When I was bawling my eyes out saying, “God, you have to do something! I don’t know how much more I can stand! Why aren’t you changing [fill in the blank]?”, God really let me have it.
It was like I could almost audibly hear Him say, “When you can bring yourself to quit praying selfishly, then we’ll talk.”
I was stricken! “Selfish? How can that be selfish? I’ve had to endure [X, Y, & Z] more times than I can count!”
Still, He was right. When I was finally able to shake off the oppression of the enemy, I realized that a “poor, poor pitiful me” mindset will strangle out our prayer life quicker than anything else. And it’s downright sinful! Of course, we have to take care of us. There’s nothing wrong with that. But if every prayer we pray is like that, there’s a problem. If we are constantly depressed and downtrodden because we think we’ve been wronged in some way, we have to shake that off and get to the root of the problem.
Are You a Threat to the Enemy?
If you take NOTHING ELSE I’ve said from this blog post, please take this:
Once you understand your place in God’s plan, you become a major threat to the enemy!
Here are a few scenarios in which you are NO THREAT to the enemy:
- If you’re going to church, but not saved, you’re not a threat to the enemy.
- You’re no problem to satan if you read the Word, but don’t practice what you learn.
- Holiness is not an option, and if you think it is, you’re no threat.
- Living defeated, without knowing your stance in the Kingdom as a child of God, eliminates the threat you might have posed.
These are just a few of the things that limit your threat-level to the enemy. And he will do everything in his power to keep you in THAT place. Because as long as you are just skirting the edges of faith, you can’t come into the fullness of the life God has for you. All those little setbacks that make life “less than perfect” will soil you to the point that your life will be just the vapor that the Bible says it is.
So what do you do?
Code Red! Being Dangerous!
If you really want to live in the fullness of all that God has for His children, there are a few things that you simply must do.
- Find a Church that teaches the Truth found in the Holy Scriptures, and not just traditions of men.
- Be willing to allow the Holy Spirit to lead you into all Truth, even if goes against what you’ve thought to be true your whole life.
- Pray without ceasing! That doesn’t mean you have to be on your knees in your prayer closet, and you will understand this more and more as you draw closer to Christ.
- Read to understand, don’t pick and choose verses because they sound easy or “good”.
Once you start doing these things, that’s when you might notice things seem to get “harder”. But take heart! That only means you’re on the right track. My mother always said, “The devil has either got you, or he’s after you,” and that is such a true statement. When you’re making a difference, seeking the Truth, and trying to really do what’s right, satan will press in and try to flip your switch.
Don’t let him.