Am I in the Fight?

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I read this CS Lewis quote recently and it both excited and challenged me. It made me wonder, is Satan threatened by my faith? As a follower of Jesus I am not only a child of God, I am a solider fighting in a spiritual battle against darkness. The battle has already been won, but the fight isn’t over, and it won’t be until Jesus returns. In 2 Timothy 2:4 Paul is talking to Timothy and says “You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier” ‭‭(2 Timothy‬ ‭2:3-4‬).

A good Christian soldier focuses on pleasing God. In Colossians 1:10 we learn that through knowledge of God’s will, wisdom, and spiritual understanding, we can walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work. We know that without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6), and that faith without works is dead (James 2:17). Pleasing God requires faith that leads to good works. In fact, Ephesians tells us God created us in Christ Jesus for good works!

If my goal isn’t to please God it means I am caught up with the affairs of this life. This is one of Satan’s battle plans. Distract God’s people in whatever way he can to keep us from the fight. If he can keep us distracted and focused on ourselves and our worries he can keep us from fulfilling God’s plan for us. And what is His plan? Ephesians 2:10 says “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” God has good works planned for us, good works that we won’t walk in if we are distracted by things that don’t matter. The Bible tells us to “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter‬ ‭5:8). Does Satan see me and my family as a threat to his plan to destroy and devour? To answer this I have to ask myself a few questions.

What is it that distracts me from the fight? The answer to this question could be anything. It could be career advancement, relationships, possessions, selfish ambitions, fear and insecurity, the need to please people, an incorrect view of God, fill in the blank. Ask God to search your heart and show you what it is that’s distracting you from your faith and the good works He has planned for you. This is something I have to do regularly to stay focused. Satan won’t let up, in fact, once you become a threat he will target your faith all the more. Don’t be afraid of him, as you resist him he will flee from you (James 4:7), rather be on guard, submit to God, and keep focused on truth.

What are the good works that God has planned for me? The answer to this question is vast. I think we can get wrapped up in the idea that until we receive some special revelation from God on what He wants us to do we shouldn’t do anything. The truth is, God’s Word provides countless examples of the good works we are to walk in as followers of Jesus. God definitely gives specific callings to believers but waiting for this is no excuse. James 1:27 tells us to visit widows and orphans and to be separate from the world. Hebrews 13:16 tells us not to neglect doing good and to share what we have, as this pleases God. 1 John 3:17 tells us that if we see someone in need and neglect them how can God’s love be in us? Galatians 6:2 tells us to bear each other’s burdens. Acts 20:35 tells us it is more blessed to give than to receive. In Mark 16:15 Jesus tells us to go into all the world and preach the gospel. Paul echoes this in 2 Timothy 4:5 when he tells us to do the work of an evangelist. 1 Thessalonians 5:14 tells us to warn, comfort, and uphold one another in patience. There are so many more works Jesus Christ calls us to I could never list them all here. As Christians our goal cannot be to simply refrain from sin. In fact James 4:17 says “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin” (James‬ ‭4:17‬). The Bible tells us we were created in Christ Jesus for good works, if we choose to ignore this we are sinning.

The final question to ask is am I walking in the good works Jesus has for me? This is a simple question to answer. Take the verses mentioned previously, and any others you can find regarding the good that Jesus asks us to do, and ask yourself if you are obeying. Am I sharing what I have? Am I reaching out to the unfortunate? Am I comforting and upholding others? Am I doing the work of an evangelist? Am I giving to those in need? Am I bearing the burdens of others? I sometimes have the tendency to focus on the things I am most comfortable with, neglecting the things that are more of a challenge for me. This isn’t a pick and choose situation. Jesus said if you love me you will obey me (John 14:23). One way I show Jesus my love for him is through obeying his commands, even the ones that are difficult for me. Thankfully his strength is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9), so we don’t have to rely on our own strength to obey.

Which of Jesus commands are the most difficult for you to obey? This might bring light to sin or insecurity in your heart, as this has been the case for me many times before. Take action and start walking in the good works He has planned for you and your faith will quickly become a major threat to the enemy’s plans. Not only that, but you will truly discover that life is about pleasing God.

A good soldier not only engages in warfare, as Paul mentioned, but also carefully watches out for danger. If our focus is in the right place, on pleasing God, we will be successful in our fight against Satan. He will certainly feel threatened by our faith and we will walk in the good works God has planned for us. My pastor recently said “a life spent doing nothing for Jesus is a life wasted.” Let’s not waste our lives, let’s make it our goal to walk in good works for Jesus.

Some Christians think that focusing on good works means we are trying to earn our salvation. This isn’t true at all! Our only way to salvation is through faith in Jesus Christ. Our good works are meant for pleasing God, not for saving us. This is a direct command from Jesus Christ himself and cannot be ignored. Do we really believe we can live in victory apart from obeying our God and savior? True freedom and victory comes when we start living as God created us to. We need to be on the offense and walk in the good works God created in advance for us. In my next blog I’ll focus on how to defend against Satan’s attacks, as they are sure to come once you start walking in good works.

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Not Guilty: Why you Should Change your Mind about Jesus

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Our society is set up in a way that people cannot do whatever they would like and they are willing to accept these parameters. If you don’t pay your taxes, you commit burglary, or assault someone and get caught you will be held accountable for it. Most people would agree consequences should be faced in these kinds of situations. Somehow we are willing to accept this, yet unwilling to accept the parameters placed on us by our own creator. Why is this? Many believe that a good God would never send someone to hell, and because of this reject Him altogether. This is by far one of the most difficult arguments for a Christian to face when talking with someone who doesn’t follow Jesus Christ. Let’s consider this argument in the form of an illustration.

Consider you and a friend have committed murder and are on trial with a likely outcome of a death sentence. One day the judge tells you that another man has come forward and has offered to take on your death sentence. All you have to do to go free is admit your fault, accept his sacrifice, and choose to follow a new way after you get released. The judge tells you that regardless of your decision this man is going to take that death sentence on your behalf. You ask why would he do such a thing for us? Doesn’t he know what We’ve done? The thought of admitting your guilt and accepting this man’s sacrifice, and not only that, but surrendering to a new way of living, is too much for your pride to allow. You reject the offer. Your friend on the other hand, astounded by such a loving and undeserved sacrifice, is willing to do whatever she has to do to accept this gift. Including admitting her guilt and making the decision to live a different way from that point on. She knows it will be tough, but that accepting this man’s sacrifice will change her forever. The Judge declares her not guilty and she walks undeservedly free, while you receive your earned death sentence.

This is what God offers everyone through Jesus Christ’s death on the cross. A not guilty verdict. Freedom from our earned sentence. If a person ends up in hell its not because God sent him there. It is because he rejected the free gift of justification and salvation. Christ suffered death so we don’t have to suffer eternal punishment in hell for our wrongs. He took all of our sins on himself. 1 John 2:2 tells us “and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” He wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us and nailed it to the cross! (Colossians 2:14) Do you understand how amazing this is? Maybe you would say, well I’m not a murderer, I’m a pretty good person. The truth is, nobody is good (Mark 10:18), we are all evil inside and need to be transformed from the inside out (Romans 12:2). Deep down you know you are guilty and you’ve been living with guilt for a long time. But you don’t have to! Accept the gift Jesus offers you and walk free from your sentence.

Another of Satan’s greatest deceptions is that following Jesus is bondage and not following Jesus is freedom. The opposite is actually true. Because I follow Jesus I am no longer a slave to the sin and darkness in this world and the Holy Spirit of God himself lives in me, providing all that I need (Galatians 4:6-7). I get to experience peace during turmoil (Isaiah 26:3), comfort in pain (2 Corinthians 1:4), strength in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9), wisdom in decision making (James 1:5), forgiveness from my wrongs (1 John 1:9), calmness in fear (Romans 8:15), and the list goes on. I don’t just say this because it’s what the Bible says. I literally experience these things daily in my life. Do you experience the same through rejecting him? When you reject Jesus you are accepting the fact that you are a slave to someone or something else. You can call it what you want but deep down you know you are not free.

Jesus offers the same freedom to every single person. All you have to do is believe and receive Him (John 1:12). You will no longer suffer the punishment you deserve for your sin because he already paid that price for you when he surrendered to death and punishment on the cross. He loves you that much! Reject the lies of Satan and choose to believe and receive Christ so you can walk free in all that God created you for. My prayer is that this post changes even just one person’s mind about Jesus, because when even one turns from sin the angels in heaven rejoice (Luke 15:10). That’s how much you matter to God, your creator. I hope and pray that those angels are rejoicing even now because of your changed heart.