“Search me, O God, and know my heart! try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24).
When is the last time you asked God to show you hidden sin in your life so that you can repent? I think its normal to assume that if we are sinning we will recognize it easily and change it. The problem with this mindset is that, although sometimes true, we often are either unable or unwilling to see our sin. It takes intentionality and a strong desire for change to willfully ask God to make known to us the error in our ways so that we can repent and move forward with freedom. This is not a one time deal either. I want to share of a recent experience where things got bad enough for me that I finally decided to ask God to show me what I, let me say that again, what I was doing to contribute to my problem. You see, I was struggling and I was looking outside of myself to find the cause and fix it. sometimes our spiritual struggles are related to things outside of our control, but often they are a result of something wrong or sinful within ourselves. If we arent willing to look there we can end up stuck and, eventually, in despair. Often things wrong within ourselves are not easily seen, are covert, overlooked, and give the devil place and permission to further harass us without our knowing.
Let me first explain what had been going on for me. I started to notice that I wasn’t feeling as gentle and kind as I normally would have been. There didn’t seem to be a lot of warmth in my marriage, which was really out of the ordinary, and I was getting angry more easily. As a trauma therapist it was normal for me to wonder if I was being triggered by something, or if maybe I was just in some kind of spiritual trial I would eventually fight my way out of. Of course I approached things clinically, but my difficulties remained. I also approached things spiritually, putting on my armor every day, fighting my enemy the way I always had. Things would let up, but the difficulties would return soon after. Things in my home just didn’t quite feel right, nor did things feel right for me internally. I lacked peace. I started to wonder if maybe there was something wrong in me that was allowing these frequent spiritual attacks and also seriously wrecking my joy and peace. I was working really hard and getting really tired of it. I decided to get on my knees before God and I asked him to show me if there was something in me that wasn’t right.
The day I really prayed and asked God to show me what I was doing to contribute to these struggles I started thinking about the fruits of the spirit. Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, faithfulness, goodness, Gentleness, self-control. I realized one of the big things I was lacking was gentleness. After that thought came to my mind I grabbed my Bible and opened it up to Ephesians chapter 4 and started to read. I read verses 26 and 27 and immediately knew what was wrong. “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.” I continued reading through the chapter. Verses 31-32 sealed the deal for me. “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
here’s the thing, I’ve read this chapter many times, in fact, I have most of it memorized. Sometimes it takes being in a state of humility and repentance for God’s Word to really speak to us in a real and powerful way. I needed to see those words in front of me in order to clearly hear God speak and tell me exactly what I needed and desperately wanted to know.
I knew I was holding onto anger and bitterness, giving the devil opportunity, but I wasn’t even totally sure who my anger and bitterness was directed at. I knew for sure it wasn’t my husband, despite the fact that he was the one I had taken some of it out on. (This is what often happens). I went back to my room, got on my knees, and asked God to show me. It was almost immediate that God brought the exact people and situation to my mind. Here’s the thing though, as soon as he did I felt that anger and bitterness in a strong way. The thing I had been holding onto to anger over was something very wrong, something my anger was justified over. The problem with anger isn’t anger itself, it’s what we choose to do with it. Anger that isn’t resolved leads to bitterness and sin, and gives opportunity to the devil in a big way. I had unintentionally given my enemy permission to bother me because I was choosing to hold onto my anger and bitterness, rather than deal with it and choose to forgive.
Dealing with anger does not mean we simply let it go and pretend that what happened didn’t happen. I had already talked through the situation and processed my anger and other feelings about it, I just hadn’t been able to forgive and had allowed bitterness to take root. To be honest, I knew that forgiveness in this situation would be a challenge. I decided to once again ask God to help me do something I couldn’t do on my own. I told him about my anger and bitterness, asked him to forgive me for holding onto it and for my lack of forgiveness. I asked him to help me forgive and let go. Afterward I prayed for the people who I had been angry and bitter toward, asking God to help them as well, and I told Satan he no longer had a place and to get out of my house in the name of Jesus Christ. The relief and freedom I felt was incredible. Not only that, I could feel the change, not only in myself, but also in my home. I am so thankful that God doesn’t leave me the way I am and that he always helps me when I choose to humble myself, go to him for help, and admit when I’m wrong.
Galatians 5:1 reminds us of the sobering fact that as believers we can momentarily lose our freedom if we allow it. “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” When we give into our flesh and weakness our lives are impacted. The same chapter tells us, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do” (5:16-17).
How do we know if we are walking by the Spirit? For me, I noticed that I was lacking gentleness, it was becoming a pattern and I did not like it at all. I wanted to be gentle, but for some reason I wasn’t quite able to be. Why? I wasn’t in the spirit because of the bitterness in me. Read Galatians 5:19-24 below and ask yourself these questions. 1)Am I practicing any of the sins mentioned, or any other behaviors and attitudes we are warned against in God’s Word? And 2)Am I struggling to see any of the fruits of the spirit active in my life? If so, identify which it is, get in God’s presence in prayer, and ask him to reveal whats going on.
“Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”
Not all of our spiritual struggles are because of our weakness or sin. Sometimes the struggles we are facing are sufferings and trials outside of our control allowed by God to test us. We have to remember though, that even in those times our enemy is seeking to devour us and looking for an open door and a place in our lives. I believe bitterness during these times is an easy way for him to gain access. I encourage you to ask God to search your heart and show you if there is anything in your heart or behaviors that are giving the devil opportunities to attack you. I thank God for this reminder and my need to make this a regular practice so I can remain in the Spirit and not in my flesh, and so that I can remain victorious over my very real enemy.
As followers of Jesus Christ we are on Satan’s radar. I believe he is always plotting against us and looking for an opportunity to attack. What we need to realize is that through faith in Jesus Christ we have authority and power to fight back and win. Spiritual warfare is very real and is not something to be ignored. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ you are a direct threat to the devil and he has plans to utterly destroy you. In this post I will introduce this topic as simply as I can with the hope that it leads those reading to learn to understand, recognize, and resist these attacks of the devil and gain victory. Read the following passage out loud and let this truth sink in for a minute.
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
1 Peter 5:8-11
This was written to Christians, confirming the truth that we have an enemy who wants to devour us. He is looking for ways to do so, and as he puts those plans into action we need to actively resist him, firm in our faith. Demonic spiritual attacks are forms of suffering for Christ, and they do not last forever. How long they last and how it goes is partly up to how well you resist. I say partly because there are times when these attacks are allowed for our own testing and strengthening, and last as long as they need to.
Don’t believe the lie that demonic attacks of the devil only come against you if you are engaging in dark practices or living in unrepentant sin. Of course, those things can invite evil into your life, creating strongholds, giving the enemy power over you and making it harder to resist him, but the devil seeks to devour every single one of us. He wants us to be fruitless and in despair, and will use his evil forces to make it happen, regardless of whether you invite him in. This passage shows us that its not just about what we do, but also about who we are as children of God and warriors for the kingdom of heaven.
We are told to be watchful and alert because these attacks are coming and we must be able to recognize them and ready to fight back. Merriam Webster defines resist as to withstand the force or effect of and to exert oneself so as to counteract or defeat. The spiritual battle is very real and takes hard work. It’s not just something we say that doesn’t actually happen.
The devil will attack you with lies and feelings. His goal is to produce doubt, to lead you to sin, and to ultimately get you to reject God. He wants to devour and destroy your life. He attacks through temptation, using lies and your own weaknesses against you. He will tell you that you’re too weak to resist the urges within you. He will play off of your emotions and fears. If you are worried, he will speak lies to feed your fear and intensify the anxiety within you. He will tell you the worst is going to happen, and when it does it will be too much for you to handle.
Let me be very clear here. When a believer is being attacked spiritually there are evil spirits speaking into their minds. For me, and most people I talk to who are able to discern spiritual attacks, this voice is heard and recognized as a voice in the mind that is not your own. I do not recommend attempting to converse with evil spirits, but to command them to leave, out loud, with authority in Jesus Christ. Many times I have seen evil spirits flee, some quickly, and some after a long fight. this might sound scary, but it is the reality of the spiritual battle for a christian and cannot be avoided. I have personally seen individuals who had been unknowingly tormented by evil spirits in the form of anxiety, depression, and intrusive thoughts, get free after submitting to God and fighting the enemy. When a believer truly surrenders and submits to God with all their heart the evil oppressing him often makes itself known. Is this happening to you? If you are a follower of Jesus Christ this has happened to you and will happen again. Remember the truth of God’s word that says ”submit to God, resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7).
The devil will also use your past pain and sin against you if he can. He will try to convince you that you are too broken and too condemned to be loved by God and to hold any value. He will seek to depress and discourage you in order to keep you from living out your faith. He will use his demons to plant all kinds of imaginations in your mind in order to distract and devour you. If the devil can’t get to you directly he will try to get to you through others. This includes your partner, your friends, your co workers, your children, your enemies. He will use any and all means necessary to shoot flaming arrows at you in order to leave you beat down, in despair, and ineffective for the kingdom.
Look at what we are told in scripture regarding the war we are facing as Christians.
For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete. 2 Corinthians 10:3-6
Take every thought captive. We have the divine power to destroy the lies that the devil speaks to our minds. The devil and his evil forces literally speak into your mind with voices that are not your own. Have you ever stopped to consider whether the lies and distorted thoughts in your mind are even your own or not? Once you take time to think about this you will begin to recognize the voice of your enemy. This is an incredible truth and one Christians MUST know and believe. Once you recognize this and learn how to fight back everything changes.
In order to resist the devil and win we have to be prepared for battle. We have to be wearing the armor of God. Ephesians 6:10-18 says,
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 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 evil in the heavenly places. 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. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 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”
Belt of truth: Do you know and believe the truth of who God is? Of who you are as God’s child? Do you know the truth of scripture? Knowing truth holds all of our armor together. What are you believing about God right now? About yourself? Check those beliefs with the truth of God’s Word, identify the lies, and reject them. Without truth we can’t resist the devil. As Christians we also have to make studying and knowing scripture a number one priority. God said we don’t live on bread alone, but also on the Words of God. we will starve spiritually without God’s Word and we will be incapable of defending ourselves. So study the Bible as if your life depends on it.
Knowing the truth requires that you truly value what is true over what you have been taught. If you don’t challenge every single belief you hold about God and Christianity, and ensure it lines up with scripture, you will be highly vulnerable to the Devil. Sadly, many people have a hard time letting go of lies in favor of the truth. If you want to win the spiritual battles you are sure to face you cannot let this be you.
Breastplate of righteousness: “for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” Ephesians 5:8-11 ESV
We are children of light, not darkness. We are called to live a life of righteousness that is pleasing to the Lord. If we are choosing to continue in darkness we are not wearing the breastplate of righteousness and we are vulnerable to the devil. This does not mean we don’t sin. This means we actively pursue living in the light, we seek to change patterns of sin and behavior that are displeasing to God, and we repent when we do sin.
2 Corinthians 5:21 tells us the truth that ‘For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” The Devil, and even other Christians, wants you to believe that you can’t have freedom from sin and live in righteousness. The truth is you can only do this by the blood and power of Jesus Christ. When we make our goal to live each day according to the spirit and not our flesh we have victory, not only over our sin, but also over the devil. The Christian life is a life of grace and forgiveness, but it also a life of daily sacrifice and dying to yourself. If you aren’t interested in making this your desire and goal I’m afraid the Devil is already winning his battle against you. Make this change now. Choose to stand in the righteousness of Christ and stop allowing the devil to have victory over you. You CAN make the decision to wear the breastplate of righteousness and live victoriously over sin and the Devil.
The shoes of the gospel of peace: We are called to live at peace as best as we can with others (Romans 12:18) and to seek and pursue peace daily. One way we do this is by bringing the gospel of peace and salvation to the world. 1 Peter 3:11-12 says “let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” Notice how this verse tells us to turn away from evil and to seek peace. Turning and seeking requires movement with our feet. And bringing the gospel to the world requires the same. True peace comes only through the blood and redemption of Jesus Christ. Peace is the opposite of evil. The opposite of bitterness. The opposite of internal chaos. When we are at peace we are ready for the fight. How do you know you are putting on the shoes of the gospel of peace? Are you seeking to do good and to proclaim the gospel, even to those who you disagree with? Are you seeking to forgive and have compassion for your enemies? Are you allowing worry and fear to control you, or are you being controlled by the supernatural peace of God?
Every piece of armor we miss gives Satan an opening to attack us. We don’t need to make his job any easier. He will use your bitterness, evil intentions, and fear to destroy you if you let him. When you are living outside of God’s peace it’s hard to even want to bring the gospel to others. Remember Jonah? He ran from God because he did not want to see the people of Nineveh repent and receive redemption. He hated them with a deep bitter hatred. Repent and surrender those things to God and ask him for his peace. This will close the door that was open to your enemy and enable you to be ready to stand firm.
Shield of Faith: This piece of armor literally enables us to extinguish the flaming darts of the evil one and we are told to take it up in every circumstance. What does this mean for us? If our faith is not secure we will have nothing to block the attack of the devil. Every lie of Satan seeks to produce doubt within us. Doubts about who God is, what He said, His promises, who we are as God’s children, our ability to overcome, and what our futures hold. If our faith is weak we don’t stand a chance. This is why knowing truth is critical to wining spiritual battles. How can you have faith in something you don’t really know? Something you’ve not experienced as truth? If you don’t learn the truth, believe the truth, and live based on that truth, you will not experience the truth of God in your life. Your faith will not grow and develop. It will be built on sand and will crumble from the first flaming dart.
How do we grow our faith and ensure that we are carrying the shield in every circumstance? Make drawing near to God and seeking His face your daily goal. Hebrews 11:6 tells us “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” If you believe in God you will draw near to Him and he will make himself known to you. The more you do this the more you will know and trust Him. Faith in God is not blind. It is not something you hope is true. It is something you KNOW is true because your life with God is real and powerful. This is how we walk in faith that moves mountains and extinguishes the weapons of the devil.
You can’t do this with blind hope and weak faith. Why do you think Jesus performed miracles and signs and wonders? He did this to confirm the truth of who he was. He will do the same right now in your life if you choose by faith to take up your cross daily and follow him. James 4:8 says “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” I am telling you right now that when I draw near to God and seek His face it is miraculous. When you have experienced the truth of God your faith cannot be shaken. Remember also that trials strengthen our faith. Why? It’s not simply because you’ve gone through something difficult. It’s Relying on God’s power and strength during those trials that does it. God’s faithfulness is seen and experienced in powerful ways and your faith is proven. When you through faith follow him daily and rely on him in trials you will experience God in real and powerful ways and your faith will increase.
Helmet of salvation: Without salvation in Christ Jesus we have no ability at all to defend against Satan. This piece of armor is critical. This piece of armor lets our enemy know that when he attacks us he is attacking a child of the living God, it lets him know his attacks are pointless. He knows that, but if we forget that truth we become weakened and won’t fight back from our place as children of God. When we forget our salvation we forget our authority. When we forget our authority we will not use it and we will be temporarily defeated by our enemy. The only reason I have any authority over darkness at all and any ability to fight is because of my salvation in Christ Jesus. When I stand firm on this I fight hard without fear because I know without a doubt that I will win. Don’t forget your source of strength when the heat is on, stand firm in it and fight hard.
Sword of the spirit: the Word of God: Knowing the truth is where we begin the fight. Using the truth is where the fight ends. When we speak the truth of God’s holy word to the devil he HAS to obey. His evil demons cannot stand against the word of God when spoken to them with the truth and authority of a servant of the living God. When Satan tempted Jesus in the desert he used scripture taken out of context to do so. Jesus knew the truth and could not be deceived. Do you?
“Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Matthew 4:5-7
Clearly the devil knows scripture and he also knows how to use it against us. If we do not know the truth and how to use it we will not have a weapon to use against our enemy. Satan spoke a lie to Jesus using scripture, Jesus was able to discern that what was spoken was a lie, and then he spoke the truth of scripture back to the devil, striking with a supernatural blow of his sword. Look at what happened next,
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’”Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him. Matthew 4:8-11
Jesus directly told Satan to leave, using the words of God, and he left.
Another incredible truth brought to life in this passage is that angels literally minister to and serve the children of God. You might not see them, but they are there. Hebrews 1:14 says regarding angels, “Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?” Just as angels went to Jesus and ministered to him they will do the same for you. What’s interesting is that Satan tried to pervert this truth, as he still does today. Many people either worship angels or pretend that they are not active in the lives of Christians. Neither is Biblical, and both give our enemy an advantage.
This is what God says about those who make the Lord God their dwelling place, “For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.” While your enemy is coming against you, God is sending hosts of heavenly angels to serve you and minister to you. There are several accounts in scripture in which God speaks to his children through his angels. I believe this is something that God leads, and not something we should seek out. God sends, we receive. I do not pray to angels, as I don’t see this demonstrated in scripture, but I certainly pray and ask God to send his angels to fight for me, to support me in battle, and to guard me and my family. Many times doing so has brought strength and victory.
Constant prayer: This passage concludes by reminding us to pray at all times in the spirit, not only for ourselves, but for all of the saints. Our prayers are powerful out effective and enable us to not only battle the devil when he comes after us, but to also intercede on behalf of others in the spiritual realm. I have experienced this many times. When you are under attack, tell someone else you trust and ask that person to pray for you as well. Prayer is real and powerful.
A few months ago my daughter was acting up and hit her sister. I sent her to her room to take a break and think about what had happened. I went about my business when I suddenly felt in my spirit that the devil was attacking her that very moment with lies. I stopped what I was doing and prayed, asking the Holy Spirit to guard her mind and speak truth to her, I commanded the devil to leave her alone, and I prayed that she would be convicted and go to God herself for help (something she had never really done on her own before). A few minutes later she came back outside and told me that she talked to God and told him she was sorry for everything she did and said. I asked her what she said and she told she was yelling out that her whole family hated her. She then told me that she told God that she was sorry for what she said and that she wanted to live for him. What a moment of incredible victory! I was blown away! I regularly experience things like this in my life with God.
The topic of spiritual warfare is one that needs to be handled with great care and truth. One that, if twisted or manipulated in any way, can do harm. I choose to approach this based on the simple truths taught to me in scripture. I have fought spiritually using these simple truths for all my life and I have always had victory. Never have I been unable to resist, sometimes it takes longer, and sometimes the attacks persist on and off for many days and I need to ask others for help, but I have always been able to resist and the devil and his evil has always fled.
I have never engaged in any ritualistic behaviors, I have never sought to discover my families history in order to break any curses, I have never engaged in any conversations with demonic beings who have been attacking me. some people engage in conversing in order to figure out why the evil is there and how it got there in an attempt to get rid of it. I don’t believe we are ever told that this is necessary. Not only that, the devil is a liar, he will lie to you in order to distract you from the true means of getting rid of him. I personally believe we should not attempt to communicate with the devil or his demons, other than speaking truth to them concerning their lies and commanding them to leave by the blood and authority of Jesus Christ. You are new in Christ, what your grandmother did no longer applies to you unless you yourself are engaging in the same practices. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”2 Corinthians 5:17
If you have a lot of past trauma that is not resolved and healed, hidden sin you have not repented of, weaknesses you have accepted and chosen not to work through, this can give the enemy power over you and he will use these things against you. The more healing you get, the more you learn and apply God’s Word, the more your mind is renewed, strengthened and restored, the less the enemy has to use against you. This is why Jesus said “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
He wants us to let go of our heavy burdens, to learn a new way and have our minds transformed. Stop avoiding your pain, your sin, your struggles. What is left in the dark can be used by your enemy to keep you in bondage to the dark. When you bring those things to the light and get help, healing happens. Satan’s power over you is diminished. What pain, sin, and weaknesses have you been avoiding and keeping hidden? Bring them to the light and get victory over those things.
I believe the devil often attacks subtly and discreetly when we aren’t doing much for the kingdom, trying to slowly drive us to a fruitless life far from God. He wants us to believe what’s going on in our minds is actually due to ourselves. Our own fears, failures, and weaknesses. The truth? It seems that way because he strategically attacks us using the specific details and struggles of our personal lives. If it looks like it’s just me then why would I fight back spiritually? I believe we all need to prioritize the truth on this topic, not to distract or scare us, but to prepare us for the fight. When we are working hard for the kingdom of God all bets are off. Subtlety often goes out the window and Satan comes after us hard. He does this in order to get us to quit rather than resist him, fight, and continue in our calling. Yes, it’s easy to recognize, but it still takes diligent effort to fight back. It is exhausting, and without the power of the Spirit and Biblical truth we will buckle under the weight of the attack.
When we are being attacked by Satan and his evil we are partaking in the sufferings of Christ. I used to think I wasn’t suffering for Christ because I don’t live in a country where Christians are severely persecuted and I have a safe and comfortable life with an amazing family. The truth is, when we are faithfully following Jesus and doing what he asks of us and Satan seeks to devour us and attacks us, we are partaking in the suffering of Jesus Christ. This suffering strengthens us and tries our faith like gold in fire. This is truly something to rejoice in. The demonic attacks I have faced in the last year or so have been persistent, overwhelming, intense, and painful. It has taken great effort to resist and stand firm. It has truly been a time of suffering and it is happening because God is allowing it. I will tell you that my faith is stronger than it was before every time I get through one of these attacks.
1 Peter 4:12-13 says “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.” In my experience, these types of fiery trials bring me to my knees and remind me of my weak state and desperate need for Christ. I end up broken before the throne of God, which leads to me experiencing his love and presence in the most incredible ways. It’s like I’m in this shadowy valley of suffering, yet surrounded on every side with overwhelming love and grace. It’s amazing and brings me to a place of gratitude and rejoicing. If I need a fiery trial to bring me back to this place I welcome it. I recently laughed so hard at the devil after he attacked me hard because it brought me to a place of such amazing surrender to God and I felt more loved than ever before. His weapons do not prosper, and when we resist him, firm in our faith, God truly does himself restore, strengthen, confirm, and establish us.
Let me be clear on something, often, intrusive lies are a result from our own unhealed hurts and traumas. I am not saying the only way to overcome lies and negative feelings, thoughts, and behaviors is to fight spiritually. I am saying that sometimes these things are a result of the Devil and his attacks and these attacks specifically can only be fought spiritually. My personal rule is if I am doing everything I can clinically to address my problem and it is persisting and not improving, it is likely spiritual. The more we heal, the less the devil has to use against us. Just a few days ago this happened to me and I was convinced my struggles were from past trauma. I didn’t realize until later that it was spiritual.
We must face our difficulties both spiritually and clinically, as spiritual warfare ALWAYS appears to be a clinical problem. However, clinical problems are definitely not always spiritual. I hope that clarifies some things before I continue. I will be posting another article soon on how to heal trauma and intrusive negative thoughts/emotions from a clinical standpoint. For now, this post addresses the spiritual aspect of our struggles as Christians only.
So how do I stand firm in the power of God and resist the devil during these attacks? Regardless of how I feel, I choose to speak truth to the lies, I pray continually, I worship God, I directly rebuke the devil and his evil spirits, I speak the truth of scripture over the enemy in the authority I’ve been given as a child of God. When under attack it is common for me to not feel like doing these things, but I choose to do it anyway. I tell the devil “no weapon you form against me will prosper because I am a servant of the living God and my righteousness comes from him, you must leave me in the name of Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 54:17).” I command the devil to leave in the name of Jesus and remind him that he cannot have my life and that I will never stop following Jesus. I remind my enemy the truth that his attack will not prevail and that God will deliver me, as I am told in Psalm 91 “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name. When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him.” Psalm 91:14-15
A few weeks ago I was having an argument with my husband and I was feeling really irritated with him and not very loving toward him. I got up and walked away. I started realizing I was being attacked spiritually and began to pray and rebuke the evil coming against me. As I prayed I suddenly heard laughing and taunting in my mind. It is hard to share something so personal, but I hope this helps someone reading. I immediately recognized the voice for what it was, and commanded my enemy to leave me alone in the name of Jesus, reminding him that his weapons against me will never prosper. As soon as I prayed this out loud a verse that I hadn’t read in a long time came into my mind replacing the laughter of my enemy. Psalm 34:7. “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him and delivers them.” I spoke that truth out loud, and everything changed. Instantly I felt love and kindness toward my husband and the rest of our night was great. I share this very real example in hopes that my vulnerability helps even just one person.
The morning I decided to write this post I didn’t realize the spiritual attack it would bring on. Satan and his demons came after me with full force, and not subtly either. I fought hard to combat the attack and eventually, after many days, had victory, but it was a tough and exhausting fight. It often left me feeling drained of energy, frustrated by the enemies constant plots against me, and even caused me to question whether writing this was worth the effort it would take me to stand firm against the evil hard at work against me. A week ago after helping someone handle demonic oppression and teaching that person what to do with it, I told God I knew this would result in a target on my back, but that it was worth it to help people get free. In the heat of the battle I often regret statements like that. Reminding myself I will get through and it will not last forever gives me strength to push through. Reminding myself of the privilege of suffering for Christ also gives me strength. The devil likes to lie and tell us that if we walk in God’s calling and live for him we will be worse off. Yes, the devil attacks you more, but you quickly learn that his attacks are fruitless and don’t last forever. The joy that comes makes it all worth it. There is nothing in this life that compares to living every day to love and please God and walk in his purposes.
I have heard many people talk about spiritual warfare and discuss the fact that we do not have to fear Satan because we are children of God. I have told many people the same thing. This is true of course. The truth goes deeper, however. For those Christians not seeking to live to please God, who also don’t know how to defensively fight back, satanic demonic attack is quite terrifying and can do a great deal of damage. It can leave these people enslaved to fear, evil, and bondage. No, Satan cannot steal your salvation, but he can destroy you while here on earth and render you useless to the kingdom of heaven. Trust me, I have seen this many times. I have even had periods of time in my own life where I was unprepared and weak, and highly impacted by these attacks. This is Biblical truth and needs to be openly talked about so the body of Christ can be prepared for the battle.
When a believer is not armored up and is vulnerable, Satan and his demonic forces have easy access and will strategically lie to manipulate and push the believer toward darkness and despair, further away from God and his will. They will also use their lies to influence your behavior toward others in a negative way. Not only that, demonic spirits bring with them negative and distressing feelings and imaginations as well. If there is peace and freedom in the presence of God I can assure you there is torment in the presence of Satan and his demons. To have a demon attacking you is to feel it’s presence. Maybe you have never noticed this experience, but if you are a believer you have absolutely felt it. Once you understand this and learn to recognize it, trust me, you will feel what I am talking about and you will be more able to fight.
Without acknowledging my very real enemy and preparing myself for battle I can’t resist the attack. Paul told Timothy, “Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him” (2 Timothy 2:3). I believe Christians who choose to faithfully follow Jesus and answer his call are soldiers for the kingdom of heaven. This brings suffering and intense warfare, but the rewards both in this life and for all eternity are worth it. The promises of God are real and beautiful. This spiritual suffering is not unending, but lasts for a time. When we are prepared to resist, these attacks make us stronger on the other side.
Because of the work I do and the fact that I have chosen to follow Jesus whatever the cost, I experience these things regularly. Maybe that sounds scary? You know what else I experience regularly? The overwhelming presence of God when I get on my knees before him. I regularly feel the power of his love and grace and his loving arms around me. I’m Not just saying this. It is literally what I physically and spiritually experience. I also regularly experience seeing broken hurting people healed and delivered. People with immense pain and trauma getting free from debilitating symptoms who are able to move forward and live a life worth living. I regularly experience a marriage with incredible spiritual closeness and intimacy that many people I know don’t experience. I get to see my children experience God in real and beautiful ways. I regularly get to see God respond miraculously and powerfully. I would say the attacks I face, regardless of how horrifying they can be, are well worth it. Yes, when under attack I feel incredible fear, horribly negative feelings, and exhaustion, but that’s really all Satan is able to do to me. when the attacks come in I remind myself that this is all it is and I will get through it. because I fight hard with the power of God and his strength I win. And I always do. And it is always worth it. And I love thinking about how angry that must make Satan.
I believed in Jesus when I was 7 years old and. I loved him and he was always with me. But my family was very broken and life was hard for me to say the least. My dad left us when I was 12, but he wasn’t ever actually there for me even before that. I was broken, unprotected, and very alone. I look back and see that Satan was after me hard my entire life, beating me to a pulp with pain, trauma, horrific negative beliefs and feelings. I’m amazed I survived his beating. When I was so depressed I didn’t want to live anymore, I begged God to heal me and help me and I promised him I would always do whatever he wanted and I would love him forever. A thick veil of darkness was lifted off of me and I believe many demons who had been tormenting me were forced to leave at that moment. Everything changed. Yes, I still had sadness and pain I had to get through, and it was hard work. But the depth of despair and torment was gone, I felt the presence of God in my suffering, and he brought me through with his healing grace. You want to know why I am so obsessed with loving and living for God? Now you know. I know what it’s like to live under the torment of darkness and what it’s like to get free. It’s impossible to go from there to a dimly lit place like that of the life of a lukewarm Christian. Maybe momentarily, but it is so uncomfortable you can’t stay for long.
When my daughter was 5, after she believed in Jesus and had received the Holy Spirit, one day she told me she wanted to donate one of her favorite little stuffed animals that she had slept with every night. She was insistent. I knew in my spirit this was significant and decided not to donate it. A few weeks later I snuck it back in her bed before bedtime to see what happened. When she saw it she got very upset and threw it on the floor. I asked her why she no longer wanted the toy which led her to become extremely anxious. I decided to sit with her and wait for her to tell me what was wrong. For thirty minutes she nervously fidgeted with her hands, trembling voice repeating “it’s because I, it’s because I.” She was unable to say anything else. She must have said those same words over a hundred times. Despite the fact that I was frustrated, I somehow stayed calm and reassured her she was safe and could tell me anything. My words did not help at all. She looked terrified to tell me the reason she no longer wanted the toy. After thirty minutes I decided to put her on my lap and pray over her. I started praying, asking the Holy Spirit to open her mouth and allow her to speak, I told whatever was keeping her mouth shut and keeping her in fear to leave in the name of Jesus Christ. When I finished praying she immediately told me exactly what was going on. She was SO relieved! And so was I. Praise God. The enemy wanted my child to believe the lie that she wasn’t able to tell me difficult things. There is freedom in confession and sharing, and Satan knows that. He wants us to believe we have to keep the lies, thoughts and fears in our minds a secret, which will leave us in bondage. After that day my daughter has been able to come to me about anything. This was spiritual warfare, and because I was able to recognize that and I knew what to do I had victory. This is critically important.
I want to finish this post with an example of a prayer I might pray, not just while facing spiritual attack, but also to guard against it. Remember, fight until the enemy leaves, no matter how long it takes and how tired you are. The Lord God will strengthen you.
“Holy Spirit I pray in the name of Jesus Christ that all evil and darkness would leave me right now. That any attack of Satan that is coming against me would stop in the name of Jesus. I cast away and condemn the lies that the devil has placed in my mind and I pray that you would fill my mind with truth and peace. Lord God I ask you to send your heavenly angels right now to minister to me and guard me in all my ways. I pray that you would guard and protect my family. That your holy presence would surround us and fill our home, that no evil could even attempt to come near in the name of Jesus Christ. I command any and all evil spirits of the devil to leave me now in the name of Jesus. You may not stay. Your weapons against me and my family will not prosper and must cease. As I submit and surrender to God in heaven I command the devil to flee and you must obey. In the holy name of Jesus Christ.”
The past four months have been some of the most difficult months I have faced in years. My little brother has been in a coma since the beginning of May, and although he is making some progress, there is no telling when or if he will wake up and what things will be like for him If he does. In addition to the horrible pain and agony over my brother’s suffering, this situation brought up a lot of difficult family conflicts as well as painful reminders of past family brokenness and trauma. Before I was even able to grieve what was happening to my brother I had to face the anger and intense pain I was feeling over the past. I had to grieve, not act on my anger, and forgive all over again. For months I was isolated from everyone but my husband and kids, broken, angry, unable to do any of the things I enjoyed, and angry at God. Add to all of this the ever present Covid-19 situation, fights about vaccines, political disarray and feuding, racism and hatred. Not to mention the many responsibilities of a wife, mother, and therapist specializing in trauma. Much like many Christians right now, I was overwhelmed, confused, and a prime target for Satan’s attack. Why do I share this? Because I believe it’s important right now that we not pretend that as Christians life is easy. That our faith is never shaken. That we are never overtaken by anger and emotion. That there isn’t a spiritual war raging against us. That we don’t have to fight hard. We need to be real with each other so that we can encourage and strengthen one another in love and truth.
Satan, as we know, is like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8), with the goal of bringing utter destruction to his targets and the world as a whole. Satan has a way of saying exactly what he needs to say to us to discourage us and make us believe God isn’t as good as we thought. The more we question God’s goodness the less we desire to be in his presence and to please him. Why would I want to surrender every day to please God when it seems like he is against me? Satan will tailor his lies and attacks specifically to fit the deepest sufferings, insecurities, failures, and fears of his prey. This is exactly what he was doing to me. I had some of the closest most beautiful moments with God these past 4 months and some of the most discouraging hopeless moments as well. What I’ve realized in my spirit is that Satan is fighting hard against me lately, perhaps harder than he has in many years. Maybe he is doing the same to you. Many Christians are allowing the enemy to have temporary victory, as I have on and off for the last four months, mostly unknowingly. I had been fighting and overcoming only to be met with yet another attack. I believe he is fighting hard not just against me, but against all followers of Jesus right now.
What is resulting from these immense attacks on the children of God? Satan’s goal is to get us Christians to do the opposite of what pleases God. To hate instead of love. To deceive instead of live in the truth. To allow bitterness and anger to evolve rather than overcome them with goodness and prayer to and for our enemies and those we disagree with. To give into our sinful pleasures instead of walk in the spirit in faithfulness to God. To replace the power of the Holy Spirit with a bland religiosity. The only way this will change is for the children of God to recognize these attacks and fight the enemy with continual prayer, truth, obedience, and the power of the Holy Spirit. We have to get real with ourselves and start fighting the spiritual battle we are entangled in. We will win, but this must begin on an individual level. Each one of us has to start standing up against Satan, firm in the freedom we have been given by the blood of Jesus Christ. We have to stop following the Christian masses and start following Jesus and what he said. This is truly all that matters.
Perhaps it is our familiarity with the words of Jesus that is our downfall. Have we heard them too many times and they have lost their power? We memorize, study, learn, study some more, and yet sometimes we never take the next step of actually doing the things we are studying and learning to do. One of my favorite quotes spoken by Alfred to Batman is this “what’s the point of all those push ups if you can’t even lift a bloody log?” What is the point of all of our studying and memorizing if we can’t even do what we are supposed to do? There is none. Too many times I have allowed fear, discomfort, anger and selfishness to hold me back from doing what Jesus wants me to do. If we stay on this path Satan will continue to gain a foothold.
Peter literally saw his friend and savior crucified before his very eyes. His friend was stoned to death for preaching the gospel, yet he was still called to be at peace with and love those who did not believe. The very people who killed his friends. Somehow we believe that things are different for us. That somehow a world that is lost and following satan demands we fight with aggression and anger, rather than approach that world the way we are told to by Jesus himself, with peace, love, and truth. This might seem an impossibility, but so do all things Jesus asks us to do. We cannot do this without the power of the Holy Spirit supernaturally working through us. We have ignored him for too long and the effects are evident. Your hatred and disgust toward your enemies (and those you might think are your enemies) is not of God and is putting out your light. Sadly this has happened to me, and I’m sure it will again. It is possible to love people while standing firm on truth, Jesus did it and so did the apostles, and we must do the same.
Read this passage aloud and carefully listen to these words spoken by Jesus himself
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5: 3-12
Jesus also said, “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).
Jesus spoke these words during a time when people were being persecuted, beaten, imprisoned, even murdered for going against the system. A time when women had no rights at all, and children were sent away even by his own disciples. He was speaking to us when he said those words, knowing exactly what it would be that we would be living through, and we need to start taking him seriously. If we don’t, we give Satan a stronghold in our lives and our salt loses its flavor.
I have seen myself question the love and goodness of God, I have seen children of God hate those who think and believe differently than them, cling to a person rather than to Jesus, bully and shame others over a vaccine (whether vaccinated or unvaccinated), spread lies about the power of the Holy Spirit of God, distort and pervert what the church should actually be, lie and cheat, abuse and cover up, all while acting as if we are somehow close to God and honoring him. Things have to change. Shame on all of us. We are called to be at peace with all people yet peace between Christians and other Christians, and Christians and the world, is often the last thing I see right now.
So many people speak truth to an unbelieving world with no love at all, sometimes while not even obeying that truth, causing division and destruction. So often we argue with other christians about unimportant things. We focus on a few examples where Jesus got angry, using that as our excuse, rather than focusing on everything he told us and desires for us to do. Read this next passage aloud and let these truths permeate your soul.
So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.
2 Timothy 2:22-26
Kind to everyone. Able to teach. Patiently enduring evil. Correcting with gentleness. I’m sad to think of how many times I have failed to do what pleases God, giving into my emotions and sin instead. Think of the person who makes you the most angry, who has hurt you or someone you love, who disagrees with something that you feel strongly about. Pray for that person and ask God to heal and bless him. He is not your enemy, he is either a lost soul who needs rescuing from the power of Satan, a brother or sister in Christ acting on their sin, or someone who is just doing something you disagree with. We need to have healthy boundaries and sometimes it’s best to stay away from unhealthy and unsafe people, but that doesn’t mean we cannot show love and kindness from a distance. Years ago my mentor told me that he was suddenly having bad dreams about people from his past and he was really upset by it. He asked me what I thought he should do. I don’t think the answer I gave was from me, but from the Spirit. I told him to pray for those people, that God would bless them. A few days later he told me that he did it and the dreams stopped and he had peace.
Satan wants to torment us with lies and hatred. As soon as we give in and go against what Jesus tells us to do we are giving into the enemy and allowing our spirit to weaken. Recently out of nowhere I had a sudden desire for vengeance on someone who had harmed me and others I love. Sounds bad I’m sure, but I’m being honest. I felt sick and horrible about this. I got on my knees and confessed to God what was in my heart and begged him to forgive me. Then I prayed for that person and all those feelings left. I want to encourage you, and myself, to read those passages again to see which of Jesus’ commands we are ignoring or doing the opposite of. Even if it is just one we are giving Satan an advantage over us and quenching the power of the Spirit in us. I am not talking about perfection and this is not a one time deal. Trust me, I would give anything for that. This is a daily battle against the dark powers in spiritual realms that we must fight. I personally have come against demonic spirits oppressing Christians multiple times in recent months, and with prayer, they left. This is very real. If demons can remain subtle and keep us believers from recognizing them, we won’t fight as we should. Sometimes Satan fights harder than usual and trust me, he always has a reason. We have to fight back with truth, obedience, prayer, worship, and love with the power of the Holy Spirit. If we don’t, we will find ourselves spiritually asleep, incapable of discernment and hearing God’s voice, ineffective in our ministries, and open to demonic oppression.
Jesus spoke the truth directly, yes, but he only spoke exactly what the father wanted him to. Do you? Do I? How did Jesus know? Because he had perfect fellowship with the father. We have fellowship with God almighty through the blood of Christ and the Holy Spirit living in us, and our active daily decision to enter into Gods presence, die to our flesh, be obedient, and walk in the spirit. What does this mean? As we draw closer to God and his presence and we are able to discern what it is that he, not our emotions, wants us to do and we do it. It is then that we are being like Christ.
If you are speaking harsh truths to people who do not yet know Christ out of self righteousness or anger you are not doing what the father wants you to do. If you are speaking hateful angry things to people you disagree with, regardless of your suffering, this is not what the father wants you to do. Our painful experiences do not justify hate and unkindness. This only gives Satan power over us. Trust me, I know. Hebrews 12:14-15 says “Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” Bitterness will defile you. When I allow bitterness to grow I lose my joy and my connection with the Holy Spirit is diminished. Praise God he is faithful and will reveal this sin to us so we can repent and replace our bitterness with love, forgiveness, and kindness. This is a battle we will face and one that we cannot allow Satan to win.
Yes, Jesus got angry in the temple, because that it was the father wanted him to do, and his perfect fellowship and oneness with the father allowed him to know that. His disciples recognized this as a fulfillment of Psalm 69:8-9. Scripture tells us, “Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person” Colossians 4:5. These aren’t just nice sayings. They are the very commands and desires of God for his children. When we do not obey his words there are spiritual consequences. This does not impact our eternity, but it severely impacts our time here on earth, and that does matter.
What does Jesus tell us to do? We are told to stand firm and grounded in our faith, to obey, to live holy and set apart, to speak the truth in love, to care for the broken and hurting, to love each other, to be examples to outsiders because of our love, to love and pray for our enemies. This is not what I see right now when I look at Christianity. This is not always how I respond and I’m ashamed to say that. The difficulty is that following Jesus and doing the things that please God requires supernatural strength and can’t be done in the flesh. Satan is counting on us to ignore the Holy Spirit, hate rather than love those who disagree with us and look and act differently than us, ignore the broken and hurting, and to be a church divided. We have to unite as the church of God almighty and start loving and living like Jesus.
Times today are just as evil and wicked as they were before. People are just as against Jesus Christ and against us. What we were told to do then still applies today just the same. If Satan can get us angry and hateful enough he has victory over us and will successfully keep us from obeying Jesus and shining our lights to the world around us. Let’s start obeying Jesus and stop allowing him to do so.
Last week I was so discouraged and beat down, believing God did not love me very much and did not really care. The craziest part? These lies came after reading scripture of all things. Just as Satan twisted scripture in the wilderness when he tempted Jesus, he had done the same to me. I have to tell you honestly, I have never in my life as a child of God believed these specific lies and struggled in this way until now. Yes in other ways, but not to the level of questioning God’s love and goodness, despite a horribly traumatic childhood and countless pain I have endured. Finally I recognized the discouragement and lies were an attack from Satan, I fought back in the right way, and the darkness lifted. I got angry and commanded the enemy to leave and I spoke the truth to those lies. I begged the Holy Spirit to give me strength and help me overcome. I was honest with him about where I was at and confessed the things that were in my mind. The next day I couldn’t even believe what had been going on for me and how I was unable at first to recognize it was Satan. He is cunning and deceptive, and without faith we cannot overcome.
If you are feeling anger and hatred right now take it to the Lord in prayer. No matter how justified you feel in acting on that hatred I am telling you that you are not. Do not give Satan that victory. Ask God to heal your hatred and anger and to give you a heart of love and kindness, even toward those who you are angry at. If you are feeling defeated and discouraged, believing negative and evil things, acknowledge that it could be a spiritual attack. Tell Satan and his demonic spirits to leave in the name of Jesus. If you have the Holy Spirit living in you they will. Fight back, submit to God resist the devil and he WILL flee. He is not allowed to stay when we choose to resist him with the authority given to us from God through Jesus Christ. I promise God will help you through and give you peace and victory if you do. I know what it’s like to act on my anger and hate and to allow Satan’s lies to take root in my mind and what it’s like to obey Jesus Christ, take my thoughts captive, and love and pray for my enemies. Trust me, obeying Jesus brings freedom and there is nothing like it.
It’s easy to acknowledge and expect that as a Christian, non-Christians will potentially label you as a crazy Jesus follower. But what about when other Christians do the same? Is it possibly to be “too much” when it comes to Jesus? It partly depends on your definition of “too much”. If we’re talking about being self-righteous, legalistic, and judgmental, then I can get behind that too. But what about being a Christian who is literally obsessed with loving and knowing God, and being known and loved by God? The person who, although they stumble often in sin, despises their sin and are broken over it. The person who is passionately overwhelmed with desperate need to love and please God. So much so that it’s the entire focus of their lives. This is who I am and who I always want to be. And I am not ashamed of this. Every single day of my life I want to live in a way that pleases God. There are days I fail horribly, but this desire remains.(At the end of this post I share a personal story of a recent low point in my faith and how I got through it.) I want to love and worship God with my whole heart and soul. I want to be His vessel that is filled with His Holy Spirit doing whatever He wants me to do. I want to love people the way that Jesus did, not by overlooking their sin or excusing it, but by loving them in spite of it (as I want others to do for me). Not by staying silent, but by speaking truth, even if it makes me uncomfortable or less liked by others. If this makes me weird among Christians I truly don’t care. “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10. Do I believe this is too much? I believe this is all there is.
I have suffered tremendously in my life. The trauma I have endured is immense. Jesus is the reason this pain and suffering did not destroy me, and I owe Him everything for that. I’m not sure I would be here if it were not for my choice to cling to Him through it all. It is not just a belief that I have, God is active and powerful in my life through Jesus Christ. I share all this to say that I have not had a privileged and easy life. It has been the opposite of easy and Jesus Christ is the only reason I’ve survived. (With His strength and very hard work.) Don’t believe that devotion to following Jesus is only for those who have had it easy. It is because of God that I am thriving in my life today and get to comfort and help others in their pain and trauma. During Jesus’ ministry he said “He who does not pick up his cross daily to follow me is not worthy of me.” What does it mean to pick up our cross daily and follow Jesus? Try to answer that question for yourself and see what you come up with. Once you’ve figured it out ask yourself if you are doing it. This is my challenge to myself.
The Bible paints a perfect picture of God and His beautiful plan and design (to the degree He wants us to know it). Throughout the Bible we are shown the story of Jesus Christ. Following Jesus did not start with the New Testament. Old Testament followers were looking ahead to the promised Messiah. It’s easy to think of these people as extreme examples, after all, they were those who God chose to highlight in His Word. These individuals were actually nothing special, no exceptional talents or abilities, no supernatural powers of their own, no perfect wisdom or knowledge. The thing that was unique about all of these individuals is this. They all heard God call and chose to answer. It wasn’t because they were so righteous and good that they responded, as if they had any credit to take. In fact I personally believe that it is when we see our total inability and wretchedness that we choose God. Because God has shown us His eternal power and divine nature we have no excuse to not see our own unrighteousness and absolute need for Him. Scripture says “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” Romans 1:20.
I believe that those who do not answer God when He calls have blinded themselves, not only to God’s holiness and perfection, but to their own evil and emptiness. I praise God I have been able to see mine. Our Biblical examples are those who were willing, with God’s help in showing His power and nature and through the light of Jesus Christ, to look at their absolute need and sinfulness and respond. Why do I go into so much detail about this? In my experience I have seen that some people view these crazy Jesus followers as anomalies. This is faulty thinking. These are not anomalies, in fact scripture is clear that these people are examples of children of God. We should be no different.
Every single one of us who follow Jesus Christ have become children of God. We are no longer slaves to Satan and the world of darkness. This is not just a new title to attach to our names. This is a completely new way of being and living on a daily basis. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 11:1 “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” Merriam Webster defines an imitator as a person who adopts the appearance and behavior of another especially in an obvious way. It should be obvious to the people around us that we live to imitate Christ. If we are concerned with what other people think, whether they are Christians or not, we will not be fully focused on imitating Jesus Christ and living and loving the way that He did. Why? Because Jesus was hated for his love and life. We have to be willing to do the same if we truly want to please God. Are you willing to be hated and rejected for God?
The book of Thessalonians gives an account of what happened when Paul brought the gospel of Jesus Christ to the people of Thessalonica. Let me first point out that when Paul arrived these people were not serving Jesus, they were serving idols and living against God. Despite their extreme differences, Paul went to these people in a state of love and gentleness. In fact, he described it like this, “but we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children. So affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us.” 1 Thessalonians 2:7-8. When is the last time you treated people who were so different than you like this? We are to imitate this same love to those we are serving, even while they are living against God. We need to stop being harsh and unloving to hurting people who do not yet know God, and soft and accommodating to the sin and apathy of people who claim to know God. This was Jesus’ example.
How did these people respond to the gospel?
In chapter 1 we see that they received the gospel of Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit and became followers of the Lord. To become is to grow, evolve, and change. You cannot become a follower of Jesus Christ and stay the same. How did they change? These people became examples to others. Why? Verse 8 of chapter 1 tells us “For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place. Your faith toward God has gone out, so that we do not need to say anything.” Is this not incredible? The Thessalonians heard the gospel through the power of the Holy Spirit, believed, became followers of the Lord, and became examples of true faith in action everywhere they went. Later in the book it is pointed out how deeply they loved each other, and how this love was an example to those who did not yet know Christ.
Chapter 1 verse 9 tells us that they “turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.” To serve means to perform a role or function. Every believer has a role and function in service to the Lord God. This requires change. It’s not just about doing service oriented things. It’s about turning from the idols we serve to serve the living God. You cannot keep your idols and serve God at the same time. Plenty of people begin “ministry” or “become” Christians, while continuing to serve their idols. You cannot do this and call yourself a follower of Jesus. And for the people that do this, the “good things” they are doing are not anointed of God and are not being done with the power of the Holy Spirit. Can God still use these things for good? Of course He can, He can do anything. Truly serving requires a turning from evil idols to serve the living God. Total surrender and sacrifice to Jesus Christ. Letting your old self and your old ways die. This is when you begin to follow and serve God as you should, as His vessel. This kind of true service to God comes from a heart that longs to please God, not themselves, and not other people. It doesn’t matter if you go on mission trips, give away lots of money, work at a church, sing in the worship band, if you have not turned away from your old ways to serve God with a true heart NONE of that matters. Good deeds do not overshadow the wickedness of a person’s heart. Just as was true with the Pharisees. Do not ignore and excuse wicked behavior because someone who claims to believe in Jesus does “good” stuff. No matter what their title or stature as a Christian.
Frankly I am burdened and tired of hearing people tell me that they are not Christians because the Christians they know are terrible ungodly wicked people who look nothing like Jesus. I am sickened by the constant flow of reports of sexual abuse at the hands of “pastors and leaders” and the disregard for their victims. This is NOT Jesus! If the only difference in someone is a belief, and not a complete turning of themselves and their lives to serve God, this is NOT a Christian. For those who struggle to believe because of hurts caused by people like this, please hear me when I say that this is not a true representation of God or His true followers. Please give the actual living God a chance to change your heart and life. Please believe that true followers of Jesus seek to be like Jesus was. To love, to serve, to show kindness and mercy, especially to those who are different than they are, and to not abuse others. Of course we are not perfect and we fail constantly, but the Holy Spirit within us continues to transform us and mold us into the image of Jesus Christ. I hope and pray that more followers of Jesus become what they are supposed to be so that the world can see the light of Jesus shining in the darkness.
It is normal for true followers of Jesus to fluctuate between these two places;
A desperate and daily desire to please God, to be in His presence, to study His Word, not because you have to, but because you are longing to know and understand more, to desire more than anything to be The Holy Spirit’s vessel and to see Him working incredible supernatural works through you,
Apathy, a lack of passion and desire for God and being in His presence, a feeling of disregard when it comes to pleasing Him, a selfishness over serving others, a lack of interest in the Bible and prayer.
I promise you that I have experienced the shift several times in my life with God. What I can say is this, when I am in the place of apathy and I have little desire to please God and be close to Him, it is a sign to me that something in me is not right. It is normal for this to happen, but it is not okay. Don’t let anybody tell you that it’s okay. God doesn’t tell us it’s okay and we can’t get stuck telling others it’s okay either. We need to be gentle and empathetic, but not at the cost of what is true. Although it might take time to get things back on track, it should be our desire and focus.
Prior to January of 2020 I had been struggling for about a year and a half. A few years before that time God had been showing my husband and I some things, difficult truths about our faith and God’s plan for us. These things being revealed to us meant things were going to have to change and it wasn’t going to be easy. It felt as though my faith were being beat down and built back up, and it was frustrating. This was a three year process, with the second half of that time being sad and discouraging for me. It felt as though my passion had been quieted, my fire had almost been put out. (Not only that, the Holy Spirit in me had been somewhat quenched for many years, unbeknownst to me) I wasn’t rejecting God, but I didn’t really feel like being close to Him. Of course during that time I wasn’t truly aware of it and I certainly didn’t admit it. Occasionally my husband would mention that I didn’t seem like my normal self with God, that it seemed like I didn’t care as much. Of course I defended myself and convinced myself this wasn’t true. During that time I couldn’t even write. Not because I didn’t want to or didn’t try. I would ask God to give me something to say and nothing came. I started blogs and none of them were any good so I would stop writing.
A year and a half into this dry discouraged place I finally got the courage to confess what was going on with me. I shared with a small group of people that I wasn’t in a good place spiritually. That I didn’t have a desire to read the Bible or pray very much and that I felt apathetic toward God. This was a powerful moment for me. The moment the confession left my mouth I knew I did not want to go on like that. I was devastated by the truth I had spoken. The advice I got was kind, but it wasn’t truth. I was told to just take a break from God and the Bible and that it was okay for me to do that. I knew that wasn’t the answer. Later on when we were alone my husband encouraged me to take my struggle to God, he was pretty frustrated about the advice I had been given. A few days later everything changed. I got alone, got on my knees before God in desperation. I confessed my lack of desire and frustration with Him and begged Him to help me. I have to tell you, I have been a follower of Jesus for a very long time. I have loved Him with all my heart for a very long time. I have been passionate and fired up about serving Him and living for Him for most of my life. That day was one of the most miraculous moments with my savior that I had ever experienced. I get emotional and somewhat uncomfortable sharing this because it was such an intimate and powerful experience. When I got on my knees and cried out in desperation I literally felt the presence of God around me like I had never felt before. I felt the depth and power of God’s love in a way that I cannot express with words. In Philippians 3:7-8 Paul said “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.” In that moment in God’s presence, for the first time in my life I truly could have written those very words myself and meant it with my whole heart. I was overwhelmed with God’s miraculous love and presence. The best part? After that day I was reawakened. My fire and passion returned with a vengeance, stronger than it ever was. Why do I share such a personal thing when it’s so uncomfortable for me to do so? Because I believe that it is hard to know how to put Biblical things into practice and we could all benefit from more raw authenticity. I share this with the hope that it encourages someone reading this who felt or feels like I did to get on your face before God and confess what is wrong in your heart so that He can surround you with his love and presence as He did me and bring healing. Hebrews 4:16 says “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” This is exactly what I did in that moment and It was truly a miracle. I had access to His presence and He was there. Loving me and giving me grace and mercy. This was about a year and a half ago and I have never been closer and more passionate about Jesus than now. I needed those months of discouragement and despair to remind me of who I truly am. A worrier for Jesus Christ who is not concerned with what people think, but who is concerned with pleasing my God.
Listen, if you aren’t interesting in dedicating your life to loving and pleasing God but you call yourself a Christian, something is not right. It doesn’t mean you are not normal, but it does mean something is wrong. You need to get on your face before His throne and ask Him for help. Are you willing to do that? I encourage you to get into God’s Word with an open heart to learn about what it actually means to follow Jesus and to be a Christian and start making some changes. Don’t just go to church and listen to a message. Get before God, ask Him to help You, and let Him transform you in every way. This will literally be the most miraculous and powerful experience of your life and will lead to a depth of closeness and service to God you’ve never experienced. You will truly know that everything else in this world can be counted as a loss compared to knowing, loving, and being known and loved by Jesus Christ.
About 6 months ago God led me to read the story of David and Bathsheba. He allowed me to read it as if I never had before, showing me the truth of this story in scripture. I believe the truth of this is so very important for christians today. For some reason I couldn’t finish writing this for the longest time and wasn’t sure why. A few days ago I prayed and asked God if this was something He truly wanted me to write about, and if so to help me get it done. That same night I read the article in Christianity today regarding Ravi Zacharias found here, and realized that the truth of David and Bathsheba is critically imperative for Christians in light of what has come out. I address the situation regarding Ravi Zacharias and why the truth of this story is so relevant and important near the end of this post.
When we make assumptions about scripture we miss what is actually there. God told us exactly what he wanted us to know. Nothing more and nothing less. It is not our job to try to figure out what God chose to leave out. We have to get comfortable accepting that we can’t know everything and we have to start teaching what is there instead of what we think might have been or should have been there, based on our own assumptions and personal biases. Go ahead and share assumptions and opinions at times, this is normal and healthy, but when it comes to God’s Word we can’t teach them as fact. I don’t think we do this with evil intentions (some people do intentionally twist Gods Word to fit an agenda) but normally it’s just our human nature and tendency to assume that gets us to make this crucial error. My job and your job as Christians is to follow and obey Christ Jesus, to know God’s Word, and to declare it to those around us. Sometimes I learn things in scripture and I’m either confused by it or it doesn’t quite fit my own agenda. Guess what? Tough luck. God is who He is and His Word is His Word. We cannot change God’s Word because we either don’t understand or we don’t like what He is saying.
Try to read the following story as if you are reading it for the first time. Let’s take a look at what is truly there. I will include some of the story below, but I encourage you to go read all of 2 Samuel chapters 11 and 12 right now to get the full context.
“It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful. And David sent and inquired about the woman. And one said, “Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” So David sent messengers and took her, and she came to him, and he lay with her. ( Now she had been purifying herself from her uncleanness.) Then she returned to her house. And the woman conceived, and she sent and told David, “I am pregnant.” 2 Samuel 11:1-4
When the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was dead, she lamented over her husband. And when the mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord.” 2 Samuel 11:26-27
“And the Lord sent Nathan to David. He came to him and said to him, “There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor. The rich man had very many flocks and herds, but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. And he brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children. It used to eat of his morsel and drink from his cup and lie in his arms, and it was like a daughter to him. Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was unwilling to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the guest who had come to him, but he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.” Then David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, the man who has done this deserves to die, and he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.” Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul. And I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your arms and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah. And if this were too little, I would add to you as much more. Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do what is evil in his sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and have taken his wife to be your wife and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ Thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house. And I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel and before the sun.’” David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” And Nathan said to David, “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die. Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord, the child who is born to you shall die.” 2 Samuel 12:1-14
The sermons I’ve heard on these passages of scripture, taught by different pastors at different churches, have all been taught roughly the same. The basic idea is this: David should have gone to war, Bathsheba shouldn’t have been on the roof and was acting immodestly. She knew David was watching and wanted to lure him in. They chose to commit adultery. Is this Biblical truth? Actually no. It is not. This is actually a false assumption not built on scripture and harmful to the church for many reasons.
Nowhere in the Bible is Bathsheba condemned or said to have done wrong. In fact, Nathan the prophet, when he confronts David, compares her to a sacrificed ewe lamb. If you have ever heard a message where a pastor talks about how she shouldn’t have been on the roof and she drew David in with lust, this is not scriptural truth and is not found in scripture. It is a personal assumption taught often as fact. David’s lust and evil desire is what led him to sin. Not one single time is Bathsheba condemned or is it said that she sinned. Not one single time. In fact, Nathan never even mentioned her name.
I read a commentary recently that said Bathsheba should have known David could see her and she acted immodestly. Guess what? That could be true, but this is NOT what the Bible says. And never once in the BIBLE, which is the authority for teachers of the Bible, is Bathsheba said to have done wrong in this situation. Why do teachers choose to speculate? This is so dangerous to our Christian faith because it carries over into all teaching and leads people astray. We have to stop doing this. This post isn’t about defending Bathsheba, although she likely needs defending. It is about defending the truth of the Bible and pointing out the danger of people teaching their assumptions as Biblical truth.
David was a powerful man. He saw something he wanted, he sent soldiers, and took it. This is a great danger that I believe we are facing today. Spiritual leaders, like Ravi Zacharias, using their power to indulge their evil desires, causing immense harm. (I will explain why David and Ravi are actually nothing alike later on, so don’t worry.)The church must stop Idolizing powerful spiritual men and women, turning a blind eye to their sin, and blaming their victims. Could Bathsheba have gotten into that room alone with David and mutually agreed to his sexual requests? Maybe. The truth remains that David used his place of power to get what he wanted. This is victimization no matter how you look at it, regardless of what Bathsheba might have done. The truth is, we do not know exactly what happened and how it happened apart from what we were told. This is the information God chose to give us. Anything about what happened there that we weren’t told is literally irrelevant. We have to let God’s word be enough and leave it at that. Why do pastors preach this as adultery and place partial blame on Bathsheba when this isn’t what the Bible says? David surely did not blame her or ever refer to what he had done as adultery. Neither did God. Some will say that nothing was mentioned of her reluctance, and therefore she gladly gave herself to him. Again, this is a lie. The absence of something does not prove something else that is also absent. The danger this poses to the truth is severe. We have to start being honest with ourselves and others. We have got to value truth over what we like or assume when it comes to God.
One question I would encourage anybody reading this who believes the assumptions about Bathsheba is this: Would Nathan’s confrontation looked differently if those assumptions were true? I don’t see how what God spoke to David through Nathan fits at all with the unbiblical narrative often taught. Ask yourself that question and be honest with yourself. Teachers of God’s Word have one job. To please God with what they say. Not to please themselves or people. Sure, teaching your personal assumption might make you feel good or might better appeal to those listening. But what does God think of this?
This is not the story of a godly man being lured away by an adulterous woman, as mentioned in Proverbs ch 7 (those women absolutely exist). Every single person, including godly people, have evil desires within their hearts. If left alone and acted on without repentance these evil desires grow. This is actually the story of a godly man using his place of power and authority to give into sinful urges and take what he wanted. A story of a godly man seeking to cover up his grievous sin unsuccessfully, resulting in more sin. The story of a godly man, who when confronted with his sin, took ownership and repented. A story of a man who loved God, yet severely displeased God, receiving a severe punishment. Severe. Followed by restoration. How do I know David was godly? He repented with true sorrow over what he had done and did not continue in his evil.
What separates a godly man from an ungodly man is not the absence of sin, or sinning only when lured in by others. It is the choice to take responsibility for that sin, own that sin rather than cover it up, not blame others, accept God’s discipline, repent, and choose to no longer continue in that sin. We know that after David repented of this evil he did not continue in this pattern. 1 Kings 15:5 says “because David did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and did not turn aside from anything that he commanded him all the days of his life, except in the matter of Uriah the Hittite.” 1 Kings 15:5.
David never, according to the truth of scripture, blamed Bathsheba or called his sin adultery, and neither can we. This is a fallacy that could make people believe godly men only sin if they are being lured into it by a woman, thus leading to victims being blamed for the evil sin of another. Not only that, this makes it very easy to confuse an ungodly man with a godly man. This is perhaps the reason why sexual sin is covered. If we lived as Jesus commanded this would not happen. We would hold each other accountable, judge sin, deal with it, expect true repentance, forgive, and see restoration with God.
Remember that God himself called David a man after His own heart. I think (this is my personal take away) we blame Bathsheba and call this adultery because we need to create a false assumption that godly people (especially leaders) do not sin unless somehow forced into it. Good people sin. Good people take ownership, repent, and purpose to change. Those claiming to follow Jesus should not cover their sin or blame others and get away with it. If this standard is not upheld ungodly men and women will take full advantage of it and cause serious hurt. I personally believe that had David successfully covered this sin and not been held accountable, maybe this would have happened again. And again. And again. As we see today with these same situations. Nathan did not idolize David, but cared more about pleasing God. This is why he was able to boldly confront David as God led him to do. Because David received correction and repented it was clear that he truly was a man after God’s heart. A person can claim to have a heart for God all day long. If that person is unrepentant and does not have sorrow over his or her sin I beg to differ. If sin is ignored and covered how in the world are you supposed to know if someone who acts like a Christian really is one? This is a scary thought.
How many cowardly men and women have chosen to ignore and help cover the wicked and harmful sin of their leaders to protect their reputations, all under the disguise of not wanting to “harm” the church or prevent the power of the “gospel”? This is most assuredly form Satan. Repentance is what leads people to Christ. Do you really think that uncovering sin and doing the right thing could thwart the plan of God? We must stop lying to ourselves and start obeying God. Simple as that.
What are the truths of this story?
*David used his power to get what he wanted. *David sexually victimized Bathsheba (some say rape, but the Bible does not specifically state how things happened when he took her, nothing is mentioned of her desire or willingness so I would rather not speculate. Regardless, when a man uses his place of power to have sex with a woman it is wrong.). *Bathsheba is not the focus of this story and hardly any details are given about her. *David attempted to cover up his actions and his cover up resulted in a man’s death. David’s sin greatly displeased God. *David was confronted with his sin and took responsibility and ownership. *David did NOT blame Bathsheba for what he had done. *David was severely disciplined for what he had done. *Scripture places no blame on Bathsheba for what David had done. Not once is it said that she had sinned. *Nathan the prophet compared Bathsheba to a sacrificed lamb. This significantly proves the lies of this story as such. *Scripture does not refer to David’s sin as adultery. *David repented of his sin and was restored back to God.
What are lies that have been spoken about this story? There is no Biblical backing to any of these.
*Bathsheba knew David could see her bathing and lured him in with her immodesty. *David and Bathsheba committed adultery. *Bathsheba and David were both to blame. *David only sinned because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time and Bathsheba provoked him. Truth: These evil desires were within David’s heart. I think if it were not with Bathsheba it would have likely been with someone else. David himself said “How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart? Cleanse me from these hidden faults.” Psalm 19:12. Accountability, correction, and uncovering sins we are blind to cleanses our hearts of wickedness.
Why might a church or ministry deny and cover up sexual sin? First of all, if we don’t realize that every single one of us has a sinful nature and needs to be held accountable, regardless of our spiritual stature, we might be deceived into thinking our leaders would never do something so terrible. This is a recipe for disaster. Additionally, some might believe that it’s best to cover these things up to prevent the downfall of a ministry. The idea that uncovering the truth and demanding accountability and repentance might destroy a ministry and keep people from receiving Christ is a work of Satan. The first problem with this, all God cares about is obedience. The second problem, God brings forth increase, not us. God desires obedience over sacrifice. Read my blog on that topic here. There are only two options when dealing with spiritual leaders and their sin. Option 1: Confront and bring it to light, hope for a repentant response, care for victims, protect further harm to other potential victims, and accept that the ministry will suffer consequences. Option 2: Cover things up, allow the leader to continue in his or her wickedness, harming countless individuals, (or as some do, quietly send him off to another ministry to harm other people), avoid consequences, while severely displeasing God and losing His favor. How is this even a difficult decision? Is there no fear of God? Is there no reverence to His absolute holiness and righteous majesty? For a follower of Jesus Christ nothing should be worth the cost of disobeying and displeasing God and remaining unrepentant. Maybe this sounds extreme, but this is what it truly is to be a follower of Jesus.
Ravi Zacharias did evil and unimaginable harm to many victims. My heart aches for these individuals who suffered at the hands of a man who claimed to represent Christ. I am so sorry for them and pray for their healing.
Years before the investigation into Ravi Zacharias was completed and the article I previously mentioned was written, Ravi was confronted by one of his victims. He did not repent. Rather he continued his plans to cover his wicked sin. He denied having ever harmed anybody and sued his victim. Those in ministry with him allowed his place of power to blind them and did not hold him accountable. Not only that, it seems they believed him to be above reproach. There is only one of whom this is true. Jesus Christ. These actions caused even more unimaginable pain and harm to his victims. I will never speak to the state of Ravi’s salvation, only God can do that. But his actions we know of are not indicative of a repentant or godly man. The truth is, this man used his place of power to cause horrific harm, just as David did, but he was not repentant (that we know of, this could have changed on his death bed), was not held accountable, and was not dealt with in a godly way. Not only that, unlike with David, it appears Ravi’s evil abuse was repeated over and over again for many years. Despite being confronted, his heart was not repentant.
No Christian leader, no matter how distinguished, rich, or powerful he or she happens to be, is worthy of being idolized or of not being held accountable. We are the church, the body of Christ. The way we represent Jesus Christ is so incredibly serious and needs to be of absolute utmost importance. As His body we are all given spiritual gifts, and we all work together for the purpose of glorifying God and doing His will. We have to stop believing the lie that one member of the body is of more importance. We have to stop seeking to place an individual above us as our “king and idol”. Only Jesus should take that place in our lives. If we held to this I believe spiritual leaders would not look like they do today. Famous and powerful. Nathan the prophet was obedient to God and did not allow David’s place of power to intimidate him from doing what honored God. We all must do the same. In the words of my husband “we need more foot soldiers doing the work of the kingdom and loving others, and fewer celebrity pastors and speakers”.
The biggest ministries in the world could crumble tomorrow and guess what? This would not alter any of God’s plans. Satan will manufacture any lie imaginable to keep us from repentance. We must know the truth of God’s Word, including the truth of this story, so we can defend ourselves against the lies of Satan. I hope and pray that this encourages even just one person so step back and decide to make the choice to start getting in God’s Word in search of truth, with the Holy Spirit there to guide, rather than simply taking teachers and pastors at their word. Ravi Zacharias is an example to all of us that even those who appear to be the godliest and who have all the knowledge and training can be full of wickedness and unrepentance.
Had Nathan ignored God and had not confronted David his sin would have been successfully covered! Think about that. David did not know that he was the man Nathan was referring to until Nathan told him. He was blinded to his sin. How many spiritual leaders and individuals today have harmed and abused others and gotten away with it? Or at least think they have, as God will repay in the end. Nathan obeyed God and confronted David in a very bold way. This is what we have to do for each other as the Body of Jesus Christ. Otherwise we will not see repentance. Repentance is what separates the sheep from the wolf! If this is not our standard we might just end up with some dangerous wolves taking up residence, claiming to follow Jesus (as we were warned of and as we have seen). If sin is called out rather than covered up you will see who truly has a repentant heart. Nathan was obedient to God in confronting David and holding him accountable for what he had done out of his own evil desire. David was repentant, proving he truly did have a heart for God.
I pray this post encourages godly men and women who feel they must cover their sin or blame others to do so no longer. Confess, repent, receive forgiveness, and be restored back to the father. This is what David did and this is what we all must do.
Nathan compared Bathsheba to a sacrificed lamb. A lamb. Think about that for a minute? We have turned this into a story of two people committing adultery. A godly man being seduced by a lustful immodest woman. when it is really a story of a powerful man taking a sacrificial lamb for himself, to do with her what he wished. If you have ever placed blame for sexual harm on a victim I urge you with every fiber of my being that you repent and never do this again. Ever. Stop believing the lie that “he or she would never do that!” Ravi Zacharias clearly proves that untrue. No person EVER has the right, no matter what excuse could ever be given, to sexually harm another. EVER. If we can see this story for what it is maybe as the church of God we will stop blaming victims. We will start a new movement of believing victims and helping them heal, requiring confession and repentance. We will be able to separate the sheep from the wolves. Men and women who have sinned and have truly repented will be forgiven and restored back to God. Victims will be properly loved and cared for. Men and women in power will no longer be encouraged to blame others for and cover their sin. And ungodly men and women will be seen for what they are and dealt with in the right way. To be put outside of the church, no longer able to use their power to harm a lamb again.
What are the applications to the truth of this story?
*Even people who have hearts for God and long to please Him have evil and corruption within them. Repentance, or a lack thereof, is what separates us. We need to be very aware of this and on guard. As Christians we should often ask God to reveal hidden sin in our hearts so that we can repent. And we should be looking for repentance in the hearts of those we walk with and serve with in Christ Jesus. *When we sin God will discipline and correct us as He did David. He does this because he loves us. *When we are confronted with our sin we need to take ownership with sorrow and repent. *When we repent God will forgive us and restore us back to Himself. *Ungodly people sometimes find their way into places of spiritual leadership. We must not idolize or hold anyone above reproach.
And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job 1:21
There is so much to learn from reading the book of Job. It is a book rich with beautiful truth and teaching from God our creator. I don’t know about you, but God so beautifully leads me and teaches me what I need to learn. If you haven’t sat down and read through the book of Job thoughtfully I encourage you to do so, either now or after you finish reading this. If you’ve never read it, read the first chapter now before continuing to read this post.
Lesson 1: Satan wants to destroy the servants of The Lord: We must be aware of this and prepared. What was so special about Job that Satan wanted to destroy him so badly? Job 1:7-8 says “The Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” Job was described by God as His servant, blameless, upright, a man who feared God and turned from evil. As far as Satan was concerned, the only reason this was the case was because of all the good that God had done for Job. Let’s think on this for a minute. It’s easy to appear a faithful servant when all is well and going your way. What happens when circumstances shift? Satan was convinced that in this case Job would curse God. He was trying to prove God’s Word wrong. Is this not his goal in everything? 1 Peter 5:8 says “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” Satan wanted to devour Job and he wants to do the same to me and you. If you don’t truly love God for who He is, but instead for what you think loving Him can do for you, when the attack comes there’s a good chance you will reject God. The only hope we have when difficulty comes is to fall before our God and worship. Do you do this?
Lesson number 2: God does great work in our moments of darkness and despair. Satan is always plotting and scheming against the servants of the Lord. Why? His goal is to utterly destroy us. If he can’t kill us, he wants nothing more than to bring us to a place of deep darkness and despair, with the ultimate goal of our rejection of God. What he doesn’t realize? For a faithful servant of the Lord God, places of deep despair are where God does the greatest work. This is where our faith is tried by fire, proven true. This is where our hearts and character are shaped and molded. Where we become complete, lacking nothing. “But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold. My foot has held fast to his steps; I have kept his way and have not turned aside” (Job 23:10-11). Job understood this truth about suffering. Despite his pain he knew the value and beauty of what he was enduring. It has been in my deepest places of despair that I have truly felt the depth of God’s love for me. Don’t fear those places, embrace them. If you are truly a servant of God, seeking to be blameless and upright, living in the fear of the Lord, as Job was, expect this to happen. 1 Peter 1: 6-7 says “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Our suffering proves our faith and strengthens our dependence on God our creator. Is there anything more valuable than this? This is exactly what Job’s suffering did.
God recently healed me of something I suffered from for all my life (not a physical ailment, a psychological one). I was blown away, but I also questioned Him on why He allowed me to suffer for so long. I realized that in my daily suffering I always chose to go to Him for help and comfort. He ALWAYS showed up and was there for me. Had it not been for that suffering I’m not sure what my connection with God would be like. When I realized this I felt such love from God my Faithful Father and gratitude for the suffering I had endured. I wouldn’t go back and change it for anything. The depth of closeness I have with God and the realization that in my suffering I chose to go to Him for comfort is a priceless gift. Who or what do you turn to in your suffering? Turn to the great comforter and it will transform your life.
Lesson number 3: God does not owe me anything! I am God’s created servant. A few months ago I felt very led to read Job. I stood at the counter for over and hour reading and reading, writing note after note, seeing truths I had previously overlooked. God was teaching me something very important, as He always does so faithfully. He was reminding me of the valuable truth that He does not owe me anything. The sooner I can embrace this truth the better. Job understood this, which is why the story went the way that it did. Please don’t misunderstand, God has good things for us because He wants to, not because He has to, or because we deserve it. Not only that, we are often incapable of recognizing His good over our own idea of good. To understand this truth and live in it is to live in a true place of gratitude.
After Job lost everything the first thing he did was worship. He said, shall I accept good from God and not adversity? Despite the depth of agony and despair Job felt, he refused to curse God. Why? Job knew that God did not owe him anything. He knew that God even had the right to take everything from him. Job had an accurate and truthful understanding of who God was and of his place as God’s created servant. Had his view been flawed, perhaps had he believed the lie that God owed him, he might have cursed God. Do you have an accurate understanding of God? If you believe God owes you something it might be hard to accept trials and difficulty in life and remain faithful to God. Let me be clear, as with Job, God wants to bless His children and He does in His perfect way, but He does not owe that to us, and He certainly does not prevent us from facing difficulty.
Lesson number 4: Pain and Suffering (even to the point of suicidal thinking) is not a sin! Job was in such darkness he wanted God to take his very life. Job 6:8-9 says “Oh that I might have my request, and that God would fulfill my hope, that it would please God to crush me, that he would let loose his hand and cut me off!” Job was suicidal in his despair. Did you know this? A man who God himself called upright and blameless struggled with thoughts and desires of death. If this is you, you are not alone. This is not unforgivable or something to be ashamed of. These types of thoughts and feelings reveal that you are going through pain and suffering, as Job and so many other Biblical men and women did as well. Take comfort in knowing God understands your pain and loves you. Seek out a true comforter to mourn with you and walk with you through your despair to the other side. Job was not silent in his despair, rather he honestly cried out to God. God wants us to share our deepest places of pain with Him, including thoughts as painful as wanting to die. Whoever needs to hear this right now, don’t keep this to yourself. Go to God and others you trust and receive comfort.
Lesson number 5: We are called to be good comforters. Often times when we come across someone in despair we cause them more harm than good. We are so uncomfortable with pain and suffering that we can’t just sit and mourn with others. Job’s friends made a decent effort to comfort him at first, but they quickly turned to breaking his spirit. Job called his friends miserable comforters. I believe there are some things that make for a miserable comforter. An unwillingness to address and heal from your own pain, (check out my post on healing from pain here), a lack of discernment, and self-righteous arrogance. God has called us to be comforters. Let’s start taking that calling more seriously. If you feel uncomfortable sitting with someone in their suffering it could be because you are just not used to it and you need to do it. Or maybe you are selfish and don’t want to. It’s not a pleasant or comfortable thing, and selfishly we might avoid it. I really believe this is sinful and unchristlike. How many people did Jesus seek out in their suffering? This is why He healed so many! Jesus came to heal the broken-hearted and suffering, not to hang out with those who were well and without pain. That would have been easy, and Jesus came to do the hard things. Romans tells us to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. When is the last time you wept with someone who was suffering? Maybe you are unable to comfort those who suffer because you have not faced your own suffering. When we don’t embrace our suffering and receive comfort ourselves we are not capable of comforting others. Any of these reasons could be why Job’s friends were such miserable comforters. We must learn to embrace our suffering and receive comfort so that we can become good comforters.
The following passage makes it abundantly clear that as followers of Christ we are called to suffer and receive comfort, and to offer comfort to those who suffer as well. Paul viewed his suffering and affliction as a gift to be used to benefit others. I have faced much suffering in my life and have received comfort and healing. I once told God that I needed Him to use my suffering and healing to help others or else it would have been for nothing but pain. He answered that prayer in quite a powerful way. There are days when I am sitting with someone who is suffering as I did, and it is heavy and difficult to carry, sometimes I even think of how much easier it would be not to do it. But watching someone in pain heal and receive comfort is one of the most beautiful gifts. To keep this to ourselves is to ignore the very calling of God on all believers.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort. 2 Corinthians 1:3-7
Final note: If you haven’t healed from your suffering I urge you to do so, There is ALWAYS comfort in the Lord. If you don’t have a person to comfort you know that truth. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:3). If you aren’t doing so, I urge you to seek someone out who you know is hurting and comfort them. Don’t try to fix it, don’t tell them what they are doing wrong or not doing. Sit with them, listen to them, weep with them, be what they need you to be. Allow the Spirit of God that is in you to bring supernatural comfort to those who are hurting around you. As you do this you will begin to see people as Jesus did, and you will be transformed.
My husband went to a Christian college. For one of his business class projects he created a coffee mug designed to show words when heated. When hot coffee filled the mug quotes from school professors and special speakers from chapel meetings appeared. As I started reading the quotes I was very disturbed by one I came across. It said “the question isn’t is it true, but does it work?” Why was I so disturbed by this quote? Well, it is completely backwards and the opposite of truth. Frankly all we should be concerned with is whether or not something is obedient to the truth. If something produces results, but only through disobedient means, in my opinion, and I know God agrees, it’s worthless. In fact, deception comes from Satan, not God. ALL we need to focus on is whether what we are doing is obedient or not. The results are up to God and God alone. Not only that, sometimes we don’t see the results of our obedience. Often the results are not easily recognized by us, and are simply within our own or another’s heart. Sometimes we are planting for another to water, and another to reap. Jesus said in John 14:15 “If you love me, keep my commandments.” We don’t show Jesus we love him by doing things that we think work. We show him we love him through our obedience. Later in that same chapter He said “Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.” (Vs 21) Jesus told us in His Word that if we keep His commands He will show himself to us. What an amazing truth. Is disobedience worth missing out on this? I have so much work to do in this area. I am incapable of living in perfect obedience to God, which is why Jesus paid the price for my disobedience. All I, or any of us, can do is strive to obey and please God.
We cannot focus on results while ignoring the means in which we accomplished them. The only question to answer? Did I obey God? God can bring forth results from our disobedience. Does this negate our choice to disobey? Absolutely not. We will suffer for it. Let’s look at what happened when Moses disobeyed God.
“Then Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly to the entrance of the tent of meeting and fell on their faces. And the glory of the Lord appeared to them, and the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Take the staff, and assemble the congregation, you and Aaron your brother, and tell the rock before their eyes to yield its water. So you shall bring water out of the rock for them and give drink to the congregation and their cattle.” Numbers 20:6-8
Moses was off to a great start! He got on his face before God, desperate for his help and leading. Stepnumberone: Always ask God his opinion before action. He has one, and it’s really all that counts. Do you do this about everything? God’s Word tells us to pray about all things. God responded so faithfully to Moses and He will respond faithfully to you. God told Moses exactly what He wanted him to do. So what happened next that resulted in Moses no longer being allowed to lead the people to the promised land?
Then Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock, and he said to them, “Hear now, you rebels: shall we bring water for you out of this rock?” And Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock with his staff twice, and water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their livestock. And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.” These are the waters of Meribah, where the people of Israel quarreled with the Lord, and through them he showed himself holy. Numbers 20: 10-13
God told Moses what to do. Moses disobeyed. Step number two: When God responds and tells you what He wants you to do, you do it. There were still results, water came out abundantly. So wait, Moses disobeyed God but still saw abundant results? Why then was God so displeased with Moses? God was going to give the people water whether or not Moses chose to obey Him. God wanted to use Moses as His vessel to deliver the blessing. Moses failed. He did not do what God told him to do. Simple as that. It does not matter what resulted after his disobedience.
-God doesn’t need us to accomplish His will. If we choose to disobey He will still get He job done. I heard someone describe God as the master chef and us as His little children He allows to help out in the kitchen. I could bake cookies on my own a lot more quickly than when I let my 3 and 6 year old help. I certainly don’t need them to do it with me, I want them to. This is the same with God and His children.
-“Results” (or what we believe results are) do not automatically mean we have been obedient, and a lack of “results” doesn’t mean me haven’t been.
-“Results” do not negate disobedience. Moses disobeyed, the water flowed. Moses suffered consequences.
-Obedience is all that matters. Literally this is all that matters. If we are obeying Scripture and the voice of the Holy Spirit, God is pleased. “And Samuel said, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.” 1 Samuel 15:22. Scripture makes it very clear that what God wants most from us is our obedience. As soon as we realize this we will stop focusing on results and will start focusing on loving Jesus through our obedience. We need to stop obsessing about “what works” in our own minds, and trust and obey God. God is looking for His followers to be radically obedient. You will face rejection for this, by non-Christians and Christians. We all have to choose who we want to please, people or God? “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10. Paul made it clear that if we are living to please people we are not servants of Christ.
-God will speak to those who ask him to. He will continue to speak to those who obey when he does. In my opinion, if you hear God clearly and choose to disobey He will pick someone else who will obey. Aka Joshua. God still loved Moses but He no longer used Moses to lead the people into the promised land. Moses was forced to pass the torch to Joshua because of his disobedience. God is a God of grace and if we repent of our disobedience and ask His forgiveness He gives it. In this case things could go differently than they did with Moses, but maybe not. That’s all up to God. Either way we need to repent when we disobey and seek restoration with God.
-The Holy Spirit will never contradict or add to Sctipture. You will only recognize His voice if you know sctipture. You cannot obey Him if you do not know Him. I personally believe from studying scripture that God still speaks to us today as He always has. For example, there are things God has spoken to my heart and told me to do. I know it was God speaking because I am in fellowship with Him through His Holy Spirit in me. I do not only hear Him when I read scripture, but what He says to me always lines up with the truth of scripture. How are we supposed to recognize His voice if we do not know Him? When Samuel first heard God speak to him he did not recognize His voice. Eli did, and he told Samuel it was God speaking to him. Eli recognized God’s voice because he knew scripture and He walked with God. If you aren’t doing this and you don’t know scripture it’s likely you won’t hear God or recognize His voice.
-God wants to speak to us, and wants us to listen and obey when He does. I believe that if you are in a place of ministry (actively teaching, discipling, or ministering Christ to others, something we should all be doing) you are obligated to be connected with God, seeking His will, meditating on His Word, hearing Him when He speaks, and obeying what He says. Jesus said He only did the will of the Father. If we are ministering Christ and our goal is not to only do the will of The Father in our ministry, we are way off track.
-If you had to disobey God to produce “positive” results you are dishonoring God. He is not pleased with this, he hates this. “lying lips are an abomination to The Lord, but those who act faithfully are His delight.” Proverbs 12:22. I once heard a story of a youth pastor telling students to lie to their friends from school to get them to come to youth group. He told them to tell them it was a hangout instead of church so they would show up. This pastor believed that lying was okay in this situation because it would result in kids hearing the gospel. What he asked those kids to do was literally an abomination to God, and the opposite of what Jesus Christ did and would have ever done. In fact, many times the things Jesus said drove people away. Why? Because He came to tell the truth. The truth will set people free, but it will also push away a lot of people. If we have to lie to draw a crowd, whether personally or in our churches, we are disobeying and dishonoring God. Guess what? If a kid showed up to youth group based on a lie and received salvation through Christ that’s all because of God, and does not justify this pastor’s disobedient and sinful shepherding. That youth pastor is very accountable. Just like Moses was. Satan’s lie that we have to produce results, no matter the cost, to be good enough and to please God, has brought such destruction.
A few years ago I was driving to physical therapy and was crying out to God to hear Him speak to me. I felt an intense desperation for his guiding that particular day. I wanted to have a supernatural experience with God and I begged him for it through tears. When I got to my apt. I got myself together and went inside, expecting some divine encounter. Nothing happened. I left and headed for Walgreens to pick up a prescription. While I was there I suddenly felt an indescribable supernatural urge to go outside to the bench where a homeless man was sitting and talk to him. I had actually seen this man sitting on that bench every day for a year and had never spoken to him. This feeling was so overwhelming and out of the ordinary for me. I knew the Holy Spirit was literally leading me to this man. I was terrified! I got in my car and drove over to the spot next to the bench on the very busy road. I prayed for peace and the words to say, got out of my car and approached the bench. I asked if I could sit down, introduced myself and asked for his name. Let me stop for a minute, I was expecting I would be sharing Jesus with this man and he would receive Christ and I would have an awesome divine encounter story to share! What I saw when I sat down alarmed me. This man, Bobby, was reading a bible. He then proceeded to witness to me! I was shocked. I sat talking with him for a while about Jesus, letting him know I did indeed believe. He told me God had him there for now and he wasn’t sure for how much longer. I then offered him money and guess what he said? “Oh no, I have everything I need”, as he patted his Bible. I was again in shock. This homeless man witnessed to me and turned down my money. What in the world? I practically forced him to take the money, I suppose that made me feel good. He smiled and finally agreed.
After we talked for a while I got in my car in absolute shock. Do you know what I thought? Let me confess this to you. I was somewhat disappointed. I thought the Spirit was leading me to witness to a homeless man and give him money. I was expecting results. It wasn’t until years later (just recently actually) that I realized this was a divine encounter. With the Holy Spirit and me. the miracle of this story is that I heard the Holy Spirit telling me to do something that terrified me, and I obeyed Him. God was working on my heart. This is what matters! Not whether or not I had some cool story to tell about the results. sometimes God tells us to do something just to see if we will obey Him, no matter what. In my experience, the more we obey the more God will speak to us. When we obey we start to realize He is with us and His spirit enables us to do things that terrify us. The next time He speaks it doesn’t seem quite so impossible to obey.
My goal should be to hear and obey. Simple as that. The fruit God allows me to see from my obedience is irrelevant. After all, He is the one who brings forth the increase. God can bring forth fruit even from my disobedience. This is how much he doesn’t need me. He simply wants me, and He wants you, to join Him in the amazing work of His kingdom.
Jesus had one goal. To do only what the Father told him to do. He was a display of perfect obedience and our goal must be to be like him.
The only thing we have to offer God is an empty vessel. An empty vessel that desires to be filled with the spirit of the living God in order to make the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ known to others. A surrendered vessel that allows the Spirit to do whatever He chooses. It has nothing to do with how capable or talented we are. Until we can become the empty vessel, fully surrendered, we will never experience the fullness of what It is to please God while in these earthly bodies. I have to ask myself. Who do I want to please? Will I allow the judgments and condemnations of others to keep me full? Will I allow my own strengths and accomplishments to keep me full? Will I allow my fears and doubts to keep me full? Will I allow the approval and acceptance of others to keep me full? Will I allow fleeting sin to keep me full? As long as I am focused on pleasing people I will never be the empty vessel. As long as I love my sin more than I love my God I will never be the empty vessel. A vessel that is used for honor. A vessel that is used for love. A vessel that is full of the spirit of God, being wielded by Him to do the supernatural to make the gospel known.
No part of me can do what He wants to do apart from the Holy Spirit. Not one part. Not any part of you either. I am overwhelmed with emotion thinking about how badly I want to be that empty vessel. What do I need to get rid of so that God’s Spirit has total control of this vessel? What do you need to get rid of?
“Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work. So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.” 2 Timothy 2:20-26 ESV
In order to become a vessel of honor to be used by God through His Spirit in me I have to cleanse myself from what is dishonorable. Empty myself of all the garbage and let the Spirit of God fill me with what is good. Righteousness, faith, love, peace, kindness, joy, self-control, patience, gentleness. This is the only way for me to bring the knowledge of the truth of Jesus Christ to those around me. When I get rid of the garbage my heart will begin to desire the things of God on a deeper level. Galatians 5:16-17 tells us “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.” If you truly want to be in the flesh and you don’t desire to walk in the spirit, or you don’t feel any remorse over doing what is opposed to the spirit, you probably don’t have the spirit of God in you. How can I say that? This passage tells us that our flesh keeps us doing the things we don’t want to do. Why don’t we want to do those things? Because Gods Spirit in us has transformed us so that we no longer live to please people, but to please God. When the Holy Spirit is in you, you do not want to be in the flesh. When you do fail, (which is probably daily, at least it is for me) you aren’t okay with it.
Romans 7:7-21 explains this perfectly. Paul tells us that although he desires to do what is right (in his spirit) his flesh is incapable of doing it. He continues to do the things he hates (his sin). The answer to this problem? To seek every day as best we can to live in the Spirit. How do we do that? To cleanse ourselves from unrighteousness and surrender to the will of the Holy Spirit in us. It is a battle that requires a daily surrender of our flesh and our own desires, and can only be accomplished supernaturally through the Spirit of God in us through salvation in Jesus Christ. We have to be aware of the Holy Spirit and surrender to his leading.
When I am aware of the Holy Spirit and surrender to Him I can hear and understand more clearly where he is leading me. This is when my faith is assured. Jesus said “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.” (John 16:13) This isn’t just a nice thought. It is the truth. The Holy Spirit literally speaks things to my heart and directs my life. It is supernatural and powerful. There is nothing normal about it, and nothing compares to it.
Years ago I was at work and I was headed to teach my bible study. This particular day I felt completely incapable and unqualified (to be honest, I often feel this way when doing things with God). I stopped on the way to say hi to my friend Eric, he was much wiser than me. He often sang gospel music at his church and other events. I looked nervous and he asked me what was up. I’ll never forget the wisdom he shared to encourage me. He told me that whenever he was about to sing he would pray the following prayer. “Holy Spirit, let me be invisible, that you would be seen.” I prayed this way that day and I was able to teach God’s Word confidently. That had such a lasting impact on me. I pray that prayer as often as I can and I always feel peace and confidence afterward. Holy Spirit, let me be invisible, that you would be seen. Such a beautiful prayer of surrender. I wonder if Eric even realized the wisdom he was sharing in that moment and the impact that would have on me. I believe that when we choose to become empty vessels for the Holy Spirit to fill, giving Him control, we begin to experience exponential divine encounters. When you are a vessel of honor the Holy Spirit is free to work His gifts in you at His will. The Holy Spirit spoke a word of wisdom to me through Eric, His vessel. If the thought of being that vessel for the Lord doesn’t sound like the most amazing thing to me it’s because I am full of things that are contrary to the Spirit of God. There is no room for the Spirit because my flesh is in control. I have to empty myself of everything dishonorable so that I can be used by God for His work. Jesus said that without Him we can do nothing (John 15:5). Every single day I have to empty myself of me and surrender to the Spirit of Christ in me. I have to give up what my flesh desires and let the Spirit take over, otherwise I can do nothing. At least nothing of true value.
A life as a vessel of the Holy Spirit, fully surrendered to the will of God, is truly the most fulfilling and incredible life. There is nothing boring about it. As Christians we have to empty ourselves of everything that is against Christ and become the vessel of honor to be used by God for every good work. This is the only way the World will truly see the truth of Jesus Christ and experience the supernatural power of Gods love. If the love you see seems ordinary, then you’ve never seen the love of God.
The other day my husband read some scripture to me that blew my mind. Read below:
Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb.2 And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it.3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow.4 And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. Matthew 28: 1-4
The guards at Jesus’ tomb saw the angel of the Lord come from heaven and roll back the stone. These dudes were terrified! Literally scared them to death. Okay jump forward and keep reading here:
While they were going, behold, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place.12 And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers13 and said, “Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’14 And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.”15 So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story has been spread among the Jews to this day.
don’t deceive yourselves to believe that rich powerful men and women as we speak are not using their wealth to spread lies and deceit in an attempt to squelch the truth of the gospel. It happened then and it is happening now. Satan will specifically target wealthy individuals who value power over truth, and greedy individuals who value money over truth. This was his scheme before, and it is his scheme now. This happens everywhere, including in the institutional church. We have to understand that the wars we see going on around us are not physical, they are spiritual. Satan is fighting hard but he has no chance at victory. Jesus Christ already has the victory. We need to endure and fight Satan with the power of the Holy Spirit and the love of Jesus Christ. Ask God to remove any and all hate and offense from your heart as you love him and his word, for God’s Word said “Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble.” Psalm 119:165. “For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:14. Are you loving the law of God? Are you loving your neighbor right now or are you filled with hate? As long as you are not loving your neighbor as yourself you are not fulfilling the law. You will NOT have the peace of God. Do not allow Satan and his schemes to destroy the love of Christ in you.
As for me, I pray daily for truth to be revealed to me. For any lies I might be believing to be snuffed out. That with love and empathy I will fulfill the law and rest in the peace of God, with NOTHING causing me to stumble. I hope you will do the same.
This post started going in one direction and then shifted in a new direction. I just wrote what I felt God was saying to me. Thanks for reading.
You don’t become a Christian because you start going to church and doing Christian activities. Let me warn you. Doing these things has benefits that can be dangerously confused with life transformation through salvation. What are those possible benefits? Community and relationships, positive emotional experiences, a good set of moral standards to follow, volunteer opportunities that lead to a sense of accomplishment, sometimes financial benefits. These things aren’t bad, unless you believe this is what it means to be a Christian. In this case, these things are detrimental. There is actually such thing as religious addiction. Why? Because religion can provide positive experiences and can be A good coping mechanism.
So what is a Christian really? The answer has nothing to do with a list of religious activities. John 1:12 says “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” Ephesians 1:13 tells us “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.” A Christian is a child of God, who received and believed in Jesus, who is sealed with the Holy Spirit. So what does it really look like to be a Christian and to have the Holy Spirit with you and in you? For starters it is a constant. Sometimes we choose to ignore him, but he is always there. If you forget about God when you leave your church,or you have no desire to pray and just be with God in his presence, or you don’t feel any different than you did before unless you are in a church building, or you have no intrest in being more like Jesus and understanding scripture on a deeper level, or you have never known the Holy Spirit, or you have no desire to please God and give him control, could it be that you go to church but you aren’t actually a part of God’s church?
What happens to a kid who grows up going to church and knows how to do all of the churchy things but never actually became a Christian through acceptance and belief in Christ, never receiving the Holy Spirit? Could that child grow up doing Christian things and eventually, because there is no true root and doubts about the Bible set in, walk away? This person is walking away from religion, not true Christianity. What about the boyfriend who got invited to church by his girlfriend (who said she wouldn’t marry him unless he was a Christian) and chose to adopt Christian practices because of the benefits, but never actually became a Christian? What if this man decided to go to seminary and became a pastor because he knew how to act like a Christian and enjoyed studying (not to mention, nowadays becoming a pastor can be a good career choice). You can learn biblical things and have knowledge without salvation in Christ and the Holy Spirit of God living in you. However, knowledge without the Holy Spirit does not lead to wisdom or understanding of spiritual things. (The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 1 Corinthians 2:14) There are atheists who teach Bible courses at universities. How can that be? It’s very easy for this to happen. It is very easy to go to a church building every week, to listen to sermons, to volunteer, to get a seminary degree, and not be a Christian. The bottom line is, a Christian is a member of the body of Christ every single day. When you have the Holy Spirit in you there is no way not to desire the things of God. If you do not desire to please God you do not have his spirit living in you. Does this mean we always please him? Of course not. Sometimes we choose to operate in our flesh instead of the Spirit. Christians absolutely cannot be in the flesh at all times because the Spirit is living in them. When you are at your worst, you will still know the Spirit is in you, even if for a time it is simply the conviction of sin or the urging to walk in the spirit instead of your flesh.
“Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.”
Romans 8:8-9 ESV
I’ve recently heard stories of Christians who were in popular bands or writing music for Christian bands walking away from God. This is sad but were they ever truly with God? You can think you are and not be. Judas was with Jesus all the time and was involved in ministry, but he never actually believed. He acted like a disciple, but he never was one. (“But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.)” John 6:64
Have you ever met someone who was such a “faithful Christian” never missed a church service , there every time the doors were opened, volunteering every weekend, and then Just like that, walks away from God? Why does this happen? Perhaps we have a misunderstanding of what it means to be with God? Perhaps many Christians have a very flawed idea of what a Christian even is? Of what the church is? Could it be that some of those people who walk away from Christianity are not actually walking away from God, but are actually walking away from a belief system centered on a set of religious practices? These things are empty and do not take the place of a real life with God.
Jon Steaingard of Hawk Nelson, in his post about walking away from his faith, talked about how he and his wife did not enjoy going to church or worship. He said “Now I don’t believe anything was wrong with us. We simply didn’t believe – and we were too afraid to admit that to ourselves.” Listen, you do not become a Christian and receive the Holy Spirit of God if you do not believe. Belief does not equal attending church services religiously, singing in worship bands, going on missions trips, giving money, attending church events or workshops, going to seminary, or engaging in other religious activities. When you believe, truly believe, you will be sealed with the Holy Spirit. He will be with you and in you. According to scripture, if you don’t have the Holy Spirit, and you would know if you do, you are not a Christian. How can I say this? Because it is Gods spirit entering you through belief, acceptance, and repentance through Jesus Christ and his resurrection that you are sealed by the Holy Spirit. This is what happens when you become a Christian. There is no mistaking the presence of the Holy Spirit in you and with you. Based on what this man said, he did not walk away from his faith in God, he walked away from religion. In order to even be with God you must have his spirit dwelling in you. Doubts about the Bible will not cause you to leave your faith when you literally have Gods spirit in you. Doubts about the Bible when you do not have Gods spirit in you will. My hope for this man is that now that he has removed himself from the bondage of religion, he can truly seek God and find true belief in Christ.
John 14:15-17 says “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever,even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will bein you.
Here Jesus tells us that we know the Spirit because he dwells with us and is in us. He doesn’t say we can know him, he says we do know him. If you don’t know the Holy Spirit through personal experience, he isn’t with you. You are not a Christian. Only you can know that, I will never look at someone and decide whether or not they truly are a Christian. That is between that person and God. I’m just relaying the truth of scripture. Truth that has often been lost in the chaos of activities, programs, and false beliefs about Christianity.
Acts 2:36-38: Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
This verse shows us that when we repent and receive Christ we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This is not something we have to work extra hard for. We have to be careful not to ignore the Holy Spirit or quench him through despising his power, as we are warned in Thessalonians. But, even when we do this, we will still know the Holy Spirit. We just won’t experience him as we would when we engage and fellowship with him. The way we were always meant to.
If you are going to church and practicing religion without salvation, without being sealed by the Holy Spirit through your belief in and acceptance of Jesus Christ, I urge you to stop. Acting like a Christian without belief will not transform you. It will potentially harden you toward God. Why? Because you will not understand spiritual things and you will likely be deceived. You will also deceive others. It is 100% possible to go to church multiple times a week, to passionately sing worship songs, to listen to sermons and take notes, to give, to volunteer and serve, yet not be a Christian. If you lost all of the extra benefits of going to church that I mentioned before (community, emotional experiences, financial gain, a moral standard to live up to, activities that lead to a sense of accomplishment, etc.) and all that was left was God, would you still be a Christian? If you have the Holy Spirit living in you through salvation then the answer should be yes. Just really stop and imagine that for a minute. Abraham and the early prophets didn’t have church services. They didn’t have exciting worship services with bands and lights. They didn’t have talented preachers with a mix of humor and depth. They didn’t have Sunday school. They didn’t even have the New Testament. They had Communion with God Almighty, and that was enough. The early believers didn’t have grand church buildings and Hillsong worship, or entertaining programs, or coffee shops to hit up before Sunday service. They had the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit dwelling with them and living in them. And that was enough. We have to get back to the heart of what it truly is to be a Christian. What it truly is to be the church. We have to strip it all back and ask ourselves if God is truly enough. We have to start there. If that is not the foundation everything else is worthless. We have to truly understand what is necessary and required in our Christian life and realize that if that is missing, “Christian activities” are pointless.
This post isn’t about what we do as Christians (which is highly important), it’s about who we are as Christians. You can do Christian things and not be one. You cannot be a true Christian without action. You must become a Christian before you try to act like one. Fake it til you make it doesn’t work here. Not only that, a lot of things focused on in American churches are either extrabiblical, or mentioned hardly at all in scripture, yet are the focus of “Christianity”. If you start there, rather than with God, there is a danger of getting a very flawed Christian belief system that is not based on truth. According to scripture, a believer, someone who accepts and receives Jesus and becomes a child of God, receives the Holy Spirit of God and is radically transformed. This person then needs to be discipled by another person. This is not the same thing as listening to sermons or attending church services. The Holy Spirit is now with you and will guide you as you study scripture, gather with other Christians, and get discipled. This then leads to a life in God’s presence, loving him deeply, and a life poured out in love and service to others (here is where the action comes into play). This is what Jesus taught and this is what the early church was all about, and what the church today needs to be about.
I could share many stories of my life with the Holy Spirit and how this has strengthened my faith in God and helped me through doubts. Is the Holy Spirit with you and in you? If you call yourself a Christian but you can’t answer yes to this question that’s a problem. Maybe you are ignoring him because you don’t really know that he is always with you and living in you. Or maybe you simply do Christian things but you aren’t one. Get alone with God in prayer, ask him to change your heart and to teach you through the power of the Holy Spirit and scripture what it really is to be a Christian.
The Holy Spirit confirms the gospel of Jesus Christ. Why? Well because when you believe in and receive Jesus, God puts his Spirit in you and you change. This wouldn’t happen if the gospel weren’t true. You might always struggle with doubt over the Bible, but through the Holy Spirit you can have total assurance and confidence in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Saved a powerful quote for last. Taken from an interview with Jon Steingard and Sean McDowell.
“The only good reason someone should be a Christian is if it is true. And we can know it’s true by direct testimony of the Holy Spirit and by examining the historical evidence for the resurrection.” Sean McDowell