I Timothy 6:12 – Fight the good fight of the faith.
I am definitely not a righteous man, well at least not by my own works. I have sinned horribly. I have betrayed my God hundreds of times. God has broken me in so many ways… I mean He has crushed me and torn me to shreds. God has revealed my dark heart and shown me my wicked ways. There is salvation in God and Jesus’ blood can cover all my sins, but there is a cost of discipleship. One day in heaven there will be complete peace, but right now here on earth there will be suffering and hurting. The health and wealth gospel is a sham. Jesus did not present to us an awesome life on earth as one of His disciples. He told His disciples the world would hate them, that they would be persecuted, He told them to take up their cross and follow Him. I believe these things that the Bible teaches about the present suffering of the Christian, but really I still want that health and wealth. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe that a Christian has to suffer, but a Christian shouldn’t expect satin sheets and leather seats. I also don’t believe a Christian has to run towards the lions. But when the lions attack and they begin ripping your skin and gnawing on your body don’t turn to Rome for relief. I started this blog with Paul’s teaching on fighting the good fight and here’s where all this ties in. I’ve noticed way too many “Christian” friends throughout my life who just can’t handle even the roaring of the lions in their cages. They are tired of putting up with the constant fear of being eaten. They don’t want to fight anymore. Life is supposed to be easy and happy and if you don’t fight you don’t hurt. Yet remember what Peter has said (I Peter 5:6-11):
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Things aren’t so great in this life. Temptations are hard to resist. Some temptations gnaw on you like a lion and after a while you just don’t want to hurt any more so you cry out and say “I GIVE UP! I want peace NOW not LATER.” Satan offers all the pain to end if you just give up on God. Paul asked God to take the thorn in the flesh away from him and yet God replied no and said that His grace was sufficient for him. But who was the bringer of this thorn? Paul says it was a messenger of Satan. I bet if Paul just turned his life over to Satan the pain would have gone away. I mean, not turning his life over to Satan and becoming a devil worshiper but giving up on this painful mission God had called him to.
Following God is rough. It ain’t smooth sailings. You tell this to people and I’m sure you’ll get a whole bunch of converts… yeah right! But maybe if we did tell people the truth and the cost of being a disciple of Christ we would generate genuine converts. When the rich ruler asked Jesus how to inherit eternal life Jesus tells him to sell all of his possessions. Wow! Jesus didn’t say just come and follow me, no he told the man to sell all of his possessions. Following Jesus requires sacrifice. It means you don’t have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness… at least not in this life. Of course these things aren’t wrong to desire, but they just aren’t a guarantee.
Can we abuse “God is Love” any more? I mean, the God of the New Testament is the same God of the Old Testament. People used to shake in their boots when He was around. All of the sudden Jesus comes along and God become one big teddy bear. Let me make this clear before I go on, yes, I do believe Jesus is our advocate and that He shields us from the Father’s wrath… that is if He really is your shield. But God is still a holy and righteous God and should still be respected and feared. He should be worshipped in reverence and awe. God still frowns upon sin, but Jesus ended up taking the penalty for those sins rather than His children. Obedience is still a requirement not just a suggestion when living in covenant with God. Man’s chief end is not to be saved, but man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever (WSC Q.1). This means that the ultimate goal of man is not just to pray the sinner’s prayer but to have a relationship with God. Salvation is the only means of achieving this goal, but it isn’t the chief end.
Romans 6:1-4 – What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
Don’t give up my brothers and sisters. We are pilgrims in this land. We are going to face many hardships and Satan is going to try his best to trip us up. Just remember fear no evil when you walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death for Christ is with you even if you can’t see Him.
Proverbs 3:5-8 – Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.