And The Truth Will Set You Free!
I wish I could open up my heart and let you see what is going on inside me. I wish the whole world could know the truths I have discovered, the freedoms I have found. I am sure some of you are already well aware of the blessings and the rewards associated with serving our Lord. But some of you reading this do not understand, and surely most of the world cannot comprehend this message. (1 Cor 2:6ff)
This lack of understanding, or awareness of other people's faith, is not surprising when I consider the world in which we live. I remember one of my favorite songs as a youth. "This world is not my home, I'm just a passin' through. My treasures are laid up, somewhere beyond the blue. The angels beckon me from Heaven's open doors, and I can't feel at home in this world anymore." (Mt 6:19-24)
Sometimes, when I look at the world around us, I wonder if we would be better off just building a cocoon around ourselves, while waiting to be carried off to Heaven. I am sometimes frustrated by our inability to communicate to others how Christ has touched, healed, and renewed our lives.
I have a vision for what I think the Church of Christ should be. But, if I shared my vision, or hopes, for our church with others, would they stare at me like I came from another world? That would be a predictable reaction since, in fact, I feel like I do belong in another world. (Phil 3:20-21) I long for the new world that will be created upon Christ's return. (1 Cor 15:35ff,58) So I look at this world from a different perspective. I look at how things should be done in a perfect fellowship with Christ, not in the muddled, messed-up affair we refer to as religion. (Col 3:1-4)
If this world is not my home, as in the song, should I blame it on Adam and Eve? After all, they are the ones who got mankind thrown out of the Garden of Eden. But I can't be too quick to judge them. I doubt that I would have fared any better against the cunning lies of Satan. I guess Satan would be a good place to point the finger of blame. He is the father of lies. There is no truth in him. (John 8:44) So, should I try to just "think positive", and make the best of a bad situation? Well, who am I to categorize this life as a bad situation? And who am I to criticize God (for making this world), and Satan and Adam and Eve (for ruining it for the rest of us)? Perhaps this world does not meet our expectations. But the Bible says that all things work for the good of those who love the Lord. (Rom 8:28)
One of the most important things I have learned in my Christian walk is that I cannot judge situations by their appearance. I cannot judge events, this world, and certainly not the hearts of other people. (1 Cor 4:1-5) I must have a deep, abiding faith in Christ. For whatever reasons this world was formed, and for whatever reasons I was formed, some good must come out of these creations. God has plans for us. We are to worship, serve, and love God through our lives. And through our service to the Lord, we will grow into stronger, more fulfilled creatures. (Eph 1:1-14)
We can think about things. But we cannot constantly question everything because we have to take some things on faith. Or do we? I suppose if Jesus were our only teacher, we could simply believe everything we hear, taking everything at face value. But this is not the case. (2 Peter 2:1,17-19)
We are constantly bombarded by Satan's lies. His lies affect how we relate to other Christians and how we reach out to the unsaved. Satan is very busy deceiving us. But, as in the case of Adam and Eve, maybe we are too willing to believe Satan's lies. Maybe we are too willing to be deceived because his lies make our lives and this world seem more attractive. (Gen 3:1-13) And certainly, believing Satan's lies is much easier than making the effort to study the Bible and to pray to discern the truth.
We need to know the truths found in the Bible, for the truth will set us free. (John 8:31-32ff) And we need the Holy Spirit to be our Counselor, since He is the Spirit of truth. (John 15:26) What truths can we learn? Jesus is the source of truth. He frees us from deception and sin. Remember that Jesus holds the keys to Hell. (Rev 1:17-18)
This remainder of this article will point the finger of blame directly at Satan for telling us those wicked, perverted lies he weaves so well. But be forewarned: the finger of blame must also come back to us, when we are unwilling or too lazy to speak plainly to Satan, by saying, "Satan, get thee behind me!" (Mark 8:33)
I will address four areas: Is Your World Coming Unraveled?, Do You Think No One Cares?, Too Hot To Handle, and I Did Not Ask To Be Born.
Is Your World Coming Unraveled? It is tragic how one sin, one mistake or omission, can sometimes unravel our lives, just as pulling on one string of yarn can sometimes start an entire ball of yarn unraveling. This unraveling can affect our own lives, our marriages and families, and even the entire congregation. But we should be thankful that the same can be true for positive efforts. (Rom 5:12ff) When we make a conscious effort to do God's will, that act of obedience can sometimes have a ripple effect. Our enthusiasm and growth in that one area may carry over into other areas.
When an area of our church declines or fails to grow, how do we account for that lack of growth? Do we look within the walls of our church and say that we are doing something wrong? Or do we look outside the walls of our church and say, "Well, no wonder we aren't doing any better than we are. Just look at the world around us. It is so wicked and perverse. This world has come too far unraveled to be rolled back up into a nice, neat package. There are too many ungodly people to even bother trying."
Could that attitude be another one of Satan's deceptions? Couldn't we look at the world from a different perspective? We can also say, "There are so many souls in need of salvation. The fields are ripe for harvest! (Mt 9:36-38) We should try all the harder to show Christ's love to a dying world." We are to be ambassadors for Christ! (2 Cor 5:20)
The newspapers are full of stories of rape, murder, drugs, and the atrocities committed against our youth. Maybe we can't all convince a serial killer to turn his life over to Christ. But maybe some of us can befriend a troubled youth, a lonely neighbor child, or a person at work who, without our influence, may someday become a headline. Maybe our influence can help deter them from some destructive path.
Are the wicked ways of the world affecting our church, or are we having a positive effect on that wicked world? Do you find the same godless behavior in our congregation as in the world? Or are we Christ-like examples, so the world can see a glimpse of God's love shown through our lives?
Do You Think No One Cares? I have mentioned how Satan deceives us with his lies. And, sadly enough, we are often all too willing to believe. Why is this? Let us look at people's relationships with each other.
We may get discouraged over almost anything. It could be something really important. Or it could be something very small and inconsequential. We start to worry about this or that. And before you know it, we have torn ourselves apart.
Often times, we think there is a problem where none exists. Instead of talking it over with someone, we just let it fester and eat away at us. If we would just get it out in the open, we would discover that we are making a mountain out of a mole hill. We would find relief. (Psalm 37)
Sometimes we do have a very real problem. Then we need to seek counsel on how to deal with it. But we often fail to seek the aid of the person who can help the most: God. We think we have to do everything the hard way, by ourselves. (Isaiah 30:1-2)
When we cut ourselves off from other Christians, from God, or the Bible or prayer, we are setting a trap for ourselves. When we are lonely, we are most vulnerable to Satan's attacks. We need contact with God and other Christians to "keep our heads on straight", for guidance and direction. If we don't let Christ fill our hearts with God's love, then Satan will fill our heads with his lies. (Hebrews 3:13)
Satan will say things like this to us. "Why bother going to church when nobody cares if you are there or not. You do not belong there." And we believe him. We need other people to show us that God loves us, so that we can learn to love ourselves. We need to be encouraged and strengthened by fellowship with other Christians. We need to know that people care. (1 Thes 5:11)
We complain about being prisoners of this world. We complain about being prisoners of Satan's lies. But are we not sometimes guilty of building our own prison cells?
When the last song at church is sung and the last prayer is said, do you put on your track shoes and make a mad dash for the door? I must admit that sometimes I am tired (or hungry!) and do not feel like talking to people. Sometimes I have more conversations in the hallway than I do when I go to Coffee Hour. It does not matter where or when you talk to people. But don't avoid people. They are there to help you. Let them.
Do you keep your eyes down, or at a distance, or try to look busy? You know people are less likely to start a conversation if they cannot make eye contact first, to verify that they have your attention. Look people straight in the eyes and SMILE! In short, be approachable. No one wants to walk up to a Gloomy Gus. (Although, as Christians, we have a responsibility to, even if we would rather talk to the life of the party.)
And my personal favorite is playing the role of the invisible man. If you don't make any noise and move slowly, people are less likely to notice that you are there. Don't camouflage yourself like an animal in the woods escaping a hunter! Let yourself be found. Let yourself get "caught" every now and then. Your head won't end up as a trophy in someone's den. Speak up and be noticed!
If an attempt to communicate fails, don't try to place any blame. Don't say it was your fault because you didn't wait long enough. Don't say it was the other person's fault because he didn't try hard enough. Be patient with others; they may be trying to help, but just don't know how. Don't find fault, find a friend!
I am sure you can see what I am trying to say. Be sociable. Get involved. Go to activities. Even if you don't feel like it. People cannot minister to your needs if you don't give them the opportunity to discover your needs. The responsibility for this must be shared by everyone. Some people may need to be more approachable. And some people may need to be more willing to approach others.
Don't imagine ahead of time what you expect to go wrong. Expect good things to happen. Give people the benefit of the doubt and let them be a friend. And don't sabotage your relationships with others by believing Satan's lies. You may end up destroying your relationship with God, as well.
Too Hot To Handle Satan would like us to believe that salvation is easy, so we will be discouraged when we face trials. Then we will give up when things go wrong. (Mt 13:1-23) But salvation isn't easy. If it were, everyone would be saved. (Mt 7:13-14)
It seems that God sometimes has to back us into a corner to get our attention. He really has to hit us over the head. It seems we must have a broken heart to be able to realize our sin and unworthiness, and our need for God. Or perhaps it is our realization of our sin that breaks our heart.
When all is going well, we think we can easily afford to live a "double life". We have enough resources to do the things that please God and still do the things that please ourselves. But when hard times come and we pass through the fire, worldly pleasures become very hot to the touch. They become too hot to handle. We are melted down and refined, separating the pure gold from the dross, or impurities.
Our resources change. And how we use our resources changes. We can no longer rely on ourselves; we have to rely on God. We can no longer do everything; we have to make choices. (Luke 16:13) Instead of relying on our own resources to do the things that please ourselves, we have to rely on God's resources to do the things that please Him.
Sometimes you have been in a store that is too cold due to the air conditioning. Then you get into your hot car. The heat in the car feels good because you were too cold. Likewise, when our hearts get too cold by pleasing ourselves, the heat of the fire can actually be attractive and feel good because we know it is provided out of love and concern. We learn not to fear the fire. Fear is replaced by trust in the Lord. As the wise grandma admonishes her grandchild, "Take your medicine, dearie. It is good for what ails you."
Many things in our lives are important to us. Sometimes even worldly things to which we should not cling. When we are being "fried" in the fire, those worldly things that we hold on to can seem to dissolve away in the heat of the moment. A person of the world runs from the fire to protect himself and the things he loves. But a Christian faces the fire like a child of God. We must turn everything over to God and place our lives in His hands. (Mt 16:24ff)
I Did Not Ask To Be Born By now, you have read a few examples of Satan's lies. Maybe you are not convinced that you should listen to what I am saying. Or maybe you have tried what I suggest, but you are disappointed with the results. Maybe you think the odds are stacked against you so that you just don't stand a chance. You adopt the only philosophy you can. You blame it on someone else by saying, "I never asked to be born."
When you say that you did not ask to be born, you have given up on life before you have even tried. It is high time you took control of your life! What I am trying to say is this: you must wrestle Satan for control of your life. And once you gain control of your life, you must turn that control over to Christ. Do you say that would be too hard to do, even impossible? You are right. You can't do it alone.
That is why you must go to God in prayer and ask for Jesus' blood to cleanse you from your sins. You must be sorry for your sins. You must want to change and follow God's ways, not your own. The Holy Spirit will help you, and Christ will battle Satan for you. You can learn to recognize the difference between the truth and a lie. (1 John 4:4-6)
I agree with you, and even sympathize with you, when you say that you did not ask to be born. But that excuse is acceptable only when referring to your physical birth. You do not have to accept responsibility for your physical birth. However, you must accept responsibility for your spiritual birth. Stop saying "I did not ask to be born" and start asking of God, "I DO want to be born again!" You must be born again, not of the flesh, but of the Spirit. (John 3) You must become a new creation, letting go of the old, and welcoming the new. (2 Cor 5:17)
Sometimes when I am studying the Bible, I exclaim, "That's me!" You, too, can identify things that you have in common with people in the Bible, such as personality traits and life events. And you can discover God's will. The Holy Spirit will make that knowledge of Scriptures "come alive" in your life. If you want to see how you look as a new creation, just read the Bible. Find yourself in God's Word and you will experience a spiritual rebirth!
Return to list of articles.