This is for the born again child of God. The one who has trusted their life to Christ.
This goes out to you. Because we all struggle with these same things.
Because there is not a Christian who is never under attack.
Child of God, don’t surrender this weary battle.
Brother or sister, please don’t give in.
The enemy wants that.
But press on.
Sometimes there are those days when everything goes wrong. Maybe not on the outside, but on the inside. When the mountains look so big, and your faith seems so small. When the battle seems so long, and you let your sword fall to the earth. When you don’t do the things you wish to do, and what you don’t wish to do is what you do. When it seems like God is farther away than yesterday. When the regrets flood in and the shame is overwhelming. When your prayers don’t seem to go farther than the ceiling; when the burden of sins and shortcomings just won’t go away; when you feel like you’re a failure. When you’re under attack.
Sin can impair our fellowship with God. The same way that best friends can be at odds because of an insult or a hasty word, so our relationship with God can be at odds as a result of our sin. But don’t forget that you are forgiven. From the moment that you trusted Christ as your Savior, you were no longer condemned. Your sin has been completely and entirely paid for by the priceless blood of the Son of God. Absolutely nothing in this world – or out of it – can change that. Sin cannot condemn you to the lake of fire. It can mar your fellowship with your Father, and that is why we must confess our sin – to restore close communion with God. But nothing, no one can ever snatch you out of God’s hands. Never forget that.
“Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.”
Your conscience convicts you of sin, and it is important. When it pricks us, we must listen. A dead conscience is a terrible thing, and by listening to your conscience you retain its sensitivity. And after you respond to your conscience and confess your sin, it’s forgiven. “If we confess our sin He is faithful and just to forgive us.” But sometimes we still hear the voice of accusation. That murmur of shame that bogs you down and tells you that you aren’t forgiven, that there is no way that your confession was heartfelt or sincere, that your prayers still aren’t heard, that your communion with God is still at odds. But that whisper of accusation is not the still small voice of the Savior. Go and read John 8:1-11. See what Jesus says to the woman. “Where are these accusers of yours?” Jesus did not come to accuse her. He did not come to condemn. He came to forgive. The enemy loves to accuse. He is called the accuser of the brethren and accuses us before God day and night. He was present when Joshua the high priest stood before the Lord in his filthy garments like a brand plucked from the fire. And the Lord rebuked the accuser, removed the iniquity of the high priest, and clothed him with rich robes. He did not come to condemn. He came to forgive.
“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world,
but that the world through Him might be saved.”
Godly sorrow leads to repentance. It’s a good thing. It’s profitable. In 2 Corinthians 7:11, there is a whole list of things that godly sorrow produces: diligence, clearing of oneself, righteous anger, fear, vehement desire, zeal, vindication. These are all so important! Diligence to purge out sin, clearing the conscience, indignation over sin, reverence toward God, desire to see a change in lifestyle, passion for God, justification. Don’t we all want each and every one of those things? But don’t be swallowed up by sorrow. Sometimes too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. Five chapters before, Paul instructs the Corinthians to minister to a specific man who had caused grief to the other believers and deserved punishment. He needed that repentance that is not to be regretted, and the reproofs he received were enough to bring him to that state of godly sorrow. So, Paul now urged them to reaffirm their love to him, and forgive and comfort him, lest he be swallowed up with too much sorrow. Be repentant, allow the godly sorrow that God gives to work in your life, let it produce its fruit. But don’t be swallowed up by it.
“To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven …
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.”
Faith without works is dead. And by our fruits, the world will be able to tell that we are Christ’s followers. And Jesus did not call us to be minimum Christians, mere admirers, who hop on the boat for the view. We aren’t passengers; this is a battle ship. But without God, we can do nothing. Our sacrifices and burnt offerings mean nothing if we are trying to do them in our own strength. Paul says, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.” Jesus said, “Without Me, you can do nothing.” Remember the rich young ruler who tried to follow the law on his own? He was trying to be perfect. But he lacked the desire to follow Jesus. His works were useless if he was not willing to surrender all to Jesus. Sometimes when we are under attack, we try so hard to “do better” or to “do extra” for our Lord. But on our own, we can’t do any of that. It has to be done through Jesus.
“For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart –
these, O God, You will not despise.”
You know, fighting this battle is not easy. Physical war is hard, but the spiritual war is harder. Look at 2 Corinthians 10:4-6, and see what is required in this war: “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.” Consider just one for now: “bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” It’s hard to bring any thought into captivity, much less every thought! Our minds never stop thinking, and we think so much faster than we speak. It’s hard, this war! And bringing our thoughts into captivity is just one part of the war. It’s tiring. And sometimes you want to take off your armor. But don’t. You’re fighting on the winning side. You only have one lifetime to fight in this war. Just one. Your part will be over someday, and you have the privilege of knowing that someday it will be won by our leader, the victorious Christ, who will once and for all conquer the enemy and cast him and his followers into the lake of fire. This battle is not in vain. This battle matters for eternity. This battle is already won. Jesus said, “In this world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” Do not give in when the seemingly endless fighting becomes weary! You’re fighting on the winning side.
“These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those with Him are called, chosen, and faithful.”
Every follower of Christ will encounter trials or hardships of some sort. It’s part of “taking up our cross daily.” And it’s easy to become worried or anxious about these things. It’s a natural tendency of our flesh to stress over things, many of which are out of our control. Sometimes that very stress is the form in which those “fiery darts of the wicked one” come. He wants us to complain and worry and be anxious over things because it can distract us from Jesus. And these burdens of anxiety can often be so heavy. But those burdens aren’t meant for you to carry. Jesus says, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” And Isaiah says, “Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.” He lets us encounter the trials to allow us to unburden ourselves before Him. Because He is a loving Father, and He doesn’t give us more than we can handle. Don’t hold on to those burdens. Give them to Jesus.
“Casting all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you.”
One way that the enemy tries to discourage is by telling you that everyone else is on par with their spiritual walk and that you are worse than everyone else because of this lapse. Everyone else is quite in tune with the Father, and you’re the only one who is going through this. Because you are the chief of sinners, and there is no way that anybody else could possibly have dropped their armor in the battle today. But let me tell you something: you are not alone. You’ve heard of Peter. One of the twelve apostles, who worked miracles in the name of Jesus and was even inspired by God to pen part of the New Testament. And he had a bad day, too. When Jesus was washing the feet of His disciples, Peter’s pride got in the way and insisted that he would never let Jesus wash his feet. It takes humility to allow someone to get down and wash your dirty feet, and it took a struggle for Peter to finally let Jesus perform the service of a servant. Later that night, after supper, Jesus told His disciples that He would be going where they could not follow Him. Peter vowed that he would lay down his life for Jesus, and then in front of everyone else, Jesus told him that on that night he would deny Jesus three times. Think of his surprise and sorrow. After Jesus talked to them a bit more, He took Peter, James, and John to the garden to pray. And what did Peter do? He slept. While his Master was in anguish, he slept. I wonder how many times Peter wished that he had stayed awake during those few hours. Finally, the betrayer came, and Peter saw his beloved Leader taken away by an angry mob who wanted Jesus’ life. So what did Peter do? He swung a sword and cut off the right ear of the servant of the high priest. Surely Jesus would be grateful for the defense. But He rebuked Peter. In front of the mob. In front of the ear-less man. And then Jesus healed the servant’s ear. Think of the shame. Peter followed Jesus at a distance; and then comes the familiar story of the betrayal. Three times, Peter was asked if he was one of Jesus’ followers. Three times he lied and denied it. The rooster crowed, and he remembered what Jesus said. But worse, Jesus turned and looked at him. I wonder how Peter felt, looking into the eyes of his Savior, knowing that he had openly denied knowing Jesus. Think of the remorse. And then everyone, including Peter, forsook Jesus and fled. What an awful day; and then, for three days Peter lived with the thought that this was how he had behaved on Jesus’s last night. And a few days later, Peter went back to his fishing. You see, even the greatest men of God are prey to the attacks of the devil. Whenever you are tempted to think that you are alone, don’t. You’re not alone.
“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to men.”
And sometimes, in the thick of the fight, we can forget about our hope. Our hope is in God! And it does not disappoint, “because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” God’s love has been poured out on us! Not just sprinkled or drizzled, but poured out! And He demonstrated that love “in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” You are loved by God. The God of the universe loves you, and in a much greater way than any other being could ever imagine! When your fellowship with God is marred, remember that God loves you. When the enemy throws his accusing lies in your face, remember that God loves you. When grief over sin settles in and overwhelms you, remember that God loves you. When you try to do extra works for the Lord and they seem like they are fruitless, remember that God loves you. When the battle is wearisome to your soul, remember that God loves you. When anxiety and burdens oppress, remember that God loves you. And when you feel alone, remember that He loves you.
“We love Him because He first loved us.”
the arrows of the
accuser beat you down when
the arms of the Mediator are always
wide open for you to run into. Resist the devil
and he will flee far away from you. Draw near to God
and He’ll draw near to you. Don’t give in when you’re attacked.
Don’t surrender this battle. Lift your head, weary Christian, and press on.