“For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” Psalm 51:16-17 ESV
This is a hard, but beautiful, verse. Sacrifices and offerings without the right spirit and heart are meaningless. This does not get you anywhere.
Broken: No longer in one piece or in working order
Contrite: feeling or showing sorrow and remorse for improper or objectionable behavior, actions, etc.
It’s not very hard to be broken. What’s hard is admitting you’re broken. What’s even harder is acknowledging what you’ve done wrong, feeling remorse for it, and surrendering it all up to God. Once you’ve done this, God does the rest. He receives you and heals you, NO MATTER WHAT, resulting in a transformation that is truly supernatural and beautiful. This is not something you could ever accomplish apart from your creator. He wants you to give up the fight, be broken and repentant before him and let him help you. Let him make you new.
There are often times that I don’t feel very worthy of God and his love. What changes that for me isn’t going and doing Christian activities. What changes that for me is getting before God and asking for help. Confessing those feelings to him and receiving his truth. The truth that I am worthy because he counted me worthy through the death and blood of my savior, Yeshua. Once I understand that truth and allow it to wash away those feelings of unworthiness and those lies that I can do something to feel or become worthy, I feel such strength and gratitude. Then I genuinely want to offer sacrifices and praise to my God. Because I understand that I’m not doing those things to gain anything. I’m doing those things because of what I’ve been given.
Until you’ve been broken before God you might believe that what you do counts towards your worthiness and Gods acceptance of you. This can also lead people to believe the lie that they’ve done too many things wrong to be accepted and redeemed by God. Both lies.
God loves you too much to leave you whole in yourself. He wants you broken before him so he can restore you back to wholeness in Christ. If you desire that, he will allow you to be broken. This is the hard truth we don’t always want to or like to face. God will allow fire and pain to break you in order that he may restore you. Once you’ve been broken to the point that your faith was tested to the place of losing it, but you held on and didn’t give in, then he will build you back up and restore you. Then your faith is proven. This is when you see yourself for who you truly are and you can see God for who he truly is. Then you know that your wholeness has absolutely nothing to do with you, and everything to do with Jesus. You now know it was all because of him and you will give him the glory he deserves. This is where pride dies.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 2 Corinthians 4:7-11
This is where the true beauty of life begins and you are now able to be used by God for the good works he has prepared for you through his power working through you. You can’t get to this point without brokenness. You might currently be facing a time of great breaking because you’ve been asking God to have all of your life. To use you for his glory alone. If this is what you desire God will absolutely answer in a powerful way. When you have been restored by your savior there is truly no other way you want to live.
Nothing compares to experiencing the power of Jesus transforming you. This isn’t something I can convince you of based on my own life. It is something your heart must desire on its own. All I can do is be faithful in sharing truth, hopeful that it positively impacts even just one person. I was broken to the point of wanting death, and was restored by Jesus to a place of abundant life. Now I get to experience the presence of God, his unfailing love, and see Jesus work in and through me to continually change me and other broken and hurting people. I couldn’t live any other way. This is what God has planned for you too if you would allow your heart to be broken and repentant before him. If you would allow yourself to surrender to the one who created you. He wants you more than you could ever imagine, regardless of anything you have done.
You can’t get through times of breaking without coming close to God and his truth, crying out for his help. You can’t get yourself through these times, not a chance.
Pride says hey look at me, look what I did, look how much I know while godly humility says hey, look at God, look who he is, look what he did, in spite of me.
How is it possible that the people we read about in the Bible who did outrageously amazing things (David, Daniel, Mary, Elijah, Abraham, Moses, Paul, and the list goes on) were so humble? They were broken. They had a contrite, repentant, spirit. Is this true of you? What is the state of your heart right now? The answer to this question is vitally important.
“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.” 1 Peter 1:6-7 ESV
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.” 1 Peter 4:12 ESV
Maybe you might think it’s unfair that God desires brokenness, that we have to face things that break us. This isn’t a game God plays. If we can get to a place of brokenness and humility apart from trials and pain I believe God would do that. This is a result of our own inability to overcome pride and develop dependence on God by ourselves.
God recently spoke to me and told me not to be afraid of adversity and challenge, but to expect it. He also told me to expect victory. Every single time. God always gives us victory in Christ. Challenges break us and renew us, and are worth it in the end if we surrender to God through Jesus, resulting in a heart and spirit that is acceptable and pleasing to him. This creates a life worth living, a life full of the beauty and the power of Jesus.
Maybe you’re wondering if fully surrendering and choosing to follow God is worth the effort. Why would you do something that requires breaking? When you’ve experienced brokenness and your spirit is contrite before God it is here that you fully experience his power and the depth of his unfailing love for you. Why? Because you understand in that moment that you do not deserve it, not even a little bit, yet you still have it. This will change you forever. Nobody else would or could love you like this.
Let me make something clear, when you surrender to God he will NOT leave you broken. God will restore you and heal you. Psalm 147:3 says: He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names. Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure.
In his great power God will faithfully heal your broken heart and spirit, if you cling closely to him with a repentant and correctable heart. When you are through this process you will rejoice and be grateful for all he has done and your life will never ever be the same.
I was hanging around the house yesterday getting some random things done and suddenly I started feeling very negative and unsettled. I wasn’t sure exactly what it was about but I knew I needed to take it to God. I went to my room, got on my knees, and asked God to meet me there with his presence. I asked him to help me understand why I was feeling so badly, and to reveal what was going on. Somehow I knew what was wrong had to do with me internally, rather than some external situation or another person. I had actually spent a lot of time in worship and prayer, and was confused about why I was feeling so unsettled.
God very quickly met with me and revealed some sin in me I hadn’t realized was there. I was struggling with some covetousness and jealousy and I hadn’t even noticed it. This hadn’t been there long before God lovingly brought it to light. We all have the ability to be guilty of literally every potential sin, and we have to be on guard and ready and willing to acknowledge our sin, no matter how awful we think it is. There was a time in my life that sharing this kind of struggle and being honest like this would have made me uncomfortable and embarrassed. I thank God that he has shown me that there is power in confession and honesty. That confession humbles me and encourages others that it’s okay to make mistakes, that God is always waiting to forgive. When he revealed this sinful attitude I quickly confessed and repented, then I asked him to take those things away, and to help me be content with exactly where he has me. He answered that prayer and I quickly felt relief.
Repentance is critical in the life of a Christian. If you are born again into Jesus Christ then you hopefully learned about repentance and forgiveness of sins. Something I think that is less talked about is regular repentance. This isn’t about salvation, as we are saved by grace through faith, and our salvation is sealed by the Holy Spirit. Your salvation doesn’t depend on daily repentance of sin, but your closeness with God and his anointing does. Regular repentance is so incredibly important because it cleanses us and makes us right with God, it corrects us, it enables us to bare fruit, and strengthens us against the devil. Repentance cleanses us from the negative impacts of sin. Negative emotions, thoughts, and behaviors, distance from God. Unrepentant sin has significant impacts on us. This is something God has been so faithfully helping me with and I’m overwhelmed by the fact that he loves me so much and leads me to repentance.
A few months ago I had been watching a certain show. It really wasn’t too bad, but it was effecting my mind in some negative ways. I remember during that time I wasn’t feeling as close to God and one day I asked him why that was. He immediately revealed the reason. God told me that watching that certain show wouldn’t impact my salvation, and I could watch it if I wanted too, but that it would impact my closeness to him. I immediately fell to my knees in surrender and repented of my choice. (When I say God told me, what I mean by that is he spoke the words directly and clearly to my mind, not in an audible way.) God instantly forgave me, cleansed my mind, and surrounded me with his loving presence. Maybe it seems weird that I have these experiences with God on a regular basis. This happens because my heart desires connection and closeness with God. I seek him as often as I can and make being in his presence a priority. Why? Because I can’t stand myself without him. I need him every day and I’m not ashamed of that. I know I’m weak, sinful, and that I desperately need Jesus always to have any hope. In the moment he convicted me I knew that my closeness and connection with him was much more important than the enjoyment and pleasure I got from the show. Believe me, I wanted to keep watching it, but I didn’t want to be distant from God. I wasn’t willing to sacrifice that. Listen, if I sound self-righteous I want to assure you that is not my intention. In fact, I watched an entire season of this show with little to no thought of it. It wasn’t until I noticed that I felt distant from God and asked him why that I recognized my error. To be honest, I’m not into following a bunch of rules for the sake of following rules. The bottom line, sin and a lack of repentance puts a wedge between me and my savior, and I can’t stand that. That’s why I choose to obey when he convicts, whether in his word or in the way he directly speaks to me.
Why has this been happening more recently? God has truly broken me down over the last year and a half and it has been painful. He has allowed me to face many spiritual attacks, has allowed me to suffer from grief and loss, and he has comforted me and strengthened me through it all. What this has done to me is reminded me of my fragile and weak state, and my desperate need for God every single day. Without him I will crumble under the weight of it all. This has brought freedom from many false beliefs about my own strength and ability apart from God. God has stripped away doubts about his power, fears, pride, anxiety, and many other things. It is more clear now that when God moves supernaturally through me it literally has nothing to do with me, in fact, he does so in spite of me.
God has made it a strong point lately to continually urge me to a place of repentance when need be. Why? Because I’ve been asking him to remove anything in me that might impact my ability to be his vessel or that might put distance between us. Whether it be false beliefs, sinful behaviors or attitudes, unresolved pain. Not surprisingly, he has had a lot of work to do in me, and more to do still. This is what changes me and enables me to be the vessel of the Holy Spirit I truly desire to be. Without repentance and correction I simply can’t be what I need and want to be. Do you ask God to change you? To cleanse you from whatever might be in you that is impacting your closeness with him? To show you hidden sin that needs confessing? Not doing this paves the way for shame and guilt, and those things can destroy us.
“Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. Blessed is the one who fears the Lord always, but whoever hardens his heart will fall into calamity.”
Proverbs 28:13-14 ESV
If your heart is hardened and you are full of pride it will be difficult to live in a state of repentance. If you haven’t felt the need to repent in a long time and you can’t think of anything you need to repent of I encourage you to confess your pride and hardness of heart. I love how God compares prospering to mercy in this verse. Prospering in The Lord is not necessarily what you might think. To prosper is to walk in the mercy and forgiveness of God. To be free of guilt and shame. Nothing compares to his mercy and grace, and he is always willing to offer it to the one whose heart is softened and open to his correction.
This process can be painful and difficult. But it is necessary and always worth it. A few months ago my husband was at a work conference and dinner and wasn’t going to be home until late. Normally when that happens I watch a movie like pride and prejudice or bride wars. That afternoon I felt a very strong and very strange urge in me to spend my night with God. I was so excited and couldn’t wait. I got the kids to bed and started my night with Jesus. I got my Bible and my journal and was looking forward to all that God would reveal to my heart and the awesome time we would have together. I started praising him and asking him to meet with me and reveal himself to me in whatever way he wanted to. Then my puppy started barking at me and interrupting my time with God. You wouldn’t believe how angry I got literally while worshiping God. Next thing I know, all of a sudden God started revealing sin as well as unresolved pain in me and I started feeling not so pleasant emotions. No wonder I was so quick to anger. It was a little brutal if I’m honest. He was calling me out and, thankfully, my heart was receptive. Afterward I felt so loved by God and so close to him. I felt such gratitude that in-spite of my sin and unworthiness he counted me worthy because of Christ and didn’t leave me the way I was. Read this passage of God’s Word with me,
“Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’” Revelation 3:19-22 ESV
God is telling us here that he corrects and disciplines us because he loves us. Because he wants us to conquer and have victory. Not only that, he wants to be close to us and connect with us in deeper ways. Ways that can’t happen when we are unrepentant. In all of these experiences Ive mentioned, and believe me this is a regular thing nowadays, I would definitely say I could feel God knocking on my heart, letting me know something was wrong. I needed to open my heart, get into his presence, allow him to lovingly correct my error, and zealously repent. I could feel the heavy weight of sin and repressed pain lift away, and the comfort of his forgiveness, healing, and presence take its place. I praise God for loving me enough to correct me and lead me to repentance. I encourage you to start doing the same so that you can experience the freedom and power of his presence.
I need to live in a state of repentance because I sin daily. Why? Because I still have a sinful flesh despite the fact that the spirit of God lives in me. My sin doesn’t separate me from God, but it puts a wedge between us. And that is not God’s fault, it’s my fault. Scripture says “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.”
(Galatians 5:6, 16-17). When we are unrepentant and continuing in sin we are in the flesh and not the spirit. When we are in the flesh we are choosing to be distant from God. Why? Because closeness with God comes through the Spirit. When we humble ourselves and draw near to God and enter his presence God will reveal any unrepentant sin, whether it be obvious sin or hidden sin. Remember, sin is not just behavior, it can also be attitudes, thoughts, ignoring God’s calling, or emotions. When he reveals these things we have a choice to confess and repent, allowing him to cleanse us, or ignore his correction and continue in our sin rather than walking away from it in step with the Spirit. The same chapter says “And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:24-25 ESV). How do we keep in step with the Spirit? By daily crucifying our flesh through living in humble repentance.
Don’t be afraid of God’s correction. Humble yourself, enter his presence, and allow him to draw near to you and cleanse you. You will walk away in the Spirit. And “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” 2 Corinthians 3:17.
“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.
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