Isaiah 38:16-17 (NLT)
Lord, your discipline is good,
for it leads to life and health.
You restore my health
and allow me to live!
17 Yes, this anguish was good for me,
for you have rescued me from death
and forgiven all my sins.
My own heart has ached over the depth of my past sins. Satan loves to take righteous suffering and attempt to convert it to unholy condemnation.
For the Christian who is born again battling lingering strongholds, we must hold on to the truths of who we are in Christ which can be found in God’s word.
2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
I’m finding in my own walk there are times when I have great moments of living in God’s vision of me, confident, bold, aware, empowered, grace-filled. In those moments or days I can witness the Holy Spirit fervently at work, using others and me to accomplish great things, things as small as planting a seed of hope and encouragement to witnessing a prodigal soul crossing over the line to a new relationship with Christ.
And then there are those times when the worries of life resurrects the fears that I’m still who I was, and in that moment the doubts overwhelm, the shame returns, the boldness dissipates and my value in Christ fades into the background of awareness.
It is then when I’m most vulnerable
John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
I believe God has been showing me the intensity of spiritual warfare at work beyond normal sight. Dreams of Satan blending into the crowd at a nightclub, laughing as he parties with the people inside, personal attacks that invade my conscious thoughts after a long day of service for God that lead to a fall in the flesh which tries to destroy the value I had that day.
God knows the struggles we face in this world, and He knows our adversary and how easily we can fall prey to his lies. That is why He gave us the bible, the inerrant truth that warns us of the futility of living life without Christ, and in incredible joy, peace and freedom that comes in living in Him.
Ephesians 6:10-18 (ESV)
The Whole Armor of God
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the
authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evilin the heavenly places.
13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore,having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit,with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints
2 Corinthians 10:5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ
I believe what God is pressing on my heart this morning is that as authentic Christ followers, hungering for righteousness, seeking His living waters, seeking His purposes for our lives… we can take heart that our purposeful and intentional conscious battle with sin in our own lives are evidence that we are in Christ, and that a single poor choice in a brief moment of time is not proof that we are still who we once were.
Satan lies, God loves.
If you ever have doubts like me that somehow we missed the mark and want to know if we truly are in Christ and He is in us, we are not to examine our lives in comparison to others around us or those who have gone before us, but instead we look to the differences from the old person we once were.
Is my life different than it used to be?
Does my life bear fruit today unlike the selfish pursuits of the past?
Am I a part of a Christ-loving community instead of isolating or surrounding myself with other prodigals?
Are my desires truly growing toward the welfare of others unlike the indifference of old?
Am I convicted today by the sin that I used to pursue and so easily embrace in the past?
Are my relationships healthier, truly sharing the joy and sorrows of those near me?
Do I have accountability in my life where before there was only secrecy and shame?
Do I have a prayer life, one in which I seek growth and healing in Christ for myself and others and not just a new car, better girlfriend, higher paying job or nicer house?
If you can answer in the affirmative to some these things, and are working to improve in these areas, then trust that God is with you, in you.
There is great hope and joy to be had in that emerging new life, for the suffering of an authentic Christ follower is only for a season of growth made possible by a loving and gracious Savior who has great designs for our benefit and His glory.
Gratitude is the Attitude
Lord God I thank you for this new day, with your blessings and grace that is anew this morning. Today I pray for the strength to live a disciplined life, not because I have to, but because I willingly choose to. Your promises are great, help me to feel deeply your mercies and forgiveness and enjoy my freedom. Help me never doubt again that You are in me, and I in You, for my life doesn’t even remotely resemble the me of old. Let me sing your praise as I patiently work cooperative with You in putting completely to death the old fears and insecurities that threaten to rob my joy. You are my joy Lord, and today and the week to come while on vacation with my family, I will choose to sing Your praise. Thank you Jesus for my life, all of it.
Obedience to God’s will is the secret of spiritual knowledge and insight.
Eric Liddell – The Disciplines of the Christian Life