My husband and I spent this weekend free of distractions and instead spent time studying God‘s truth with other believers. We finished off our weekend feeling encouraged, strong and more ready for battle. But it sure doesn’t take long to find ourselves feeling weak.
Over the weekend we spent a lot of time talking about the world. The way in which the world influences the way we think, believe and even behave. As believers our battle is ongoing. We are constantly at war with an enemy who seeks out to divide, destroy, deceive, and distract. To cause devastation, disappointment, disagreements, disbelief, and discontentment. One who discourages, promotes discrimination, dishonesty, disillusionment, and creates disorder. He brings destruction because his mission is simply to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10). And every day we see him at work in the world around us.
So how does this affect relationships around us? How does the work created by the enemy impact you in a personal way as a follower of Jesus?
Following Jesus does not come without sacrifice. In the book of Luke, Jesus is speaking to a crowd and He tells them, “if you want to be my disciple, you must, by comparison, hate everyone else-your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters- yes even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26).
That is such a powerful statement. Jesus is not in fact saying that we are to hate people because that goes against his command to love everyone (Matthew 22:39). Instead, the point He is making is that no one else in the world should come before Him. There is no other relationship on this earth more important than a relationship with Him. That our love, devotion, and commitment for Him should surpass every other relationship on this earth. Jesus said, “Do you think I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I have come to divide people against each other! From now on families will be split apart, three in favor of me, and two against- or two in favor and three against. Father will be divided against son and son against father; mother against daughter and daughter against mother; and mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law” (Luke 12:51-53).
The message Jesus brought was not one of just love and hope. He brought a message that speaks to holiness. He brought a message that points people to His Father. He brought a message that speaks of sin and forgiveness. He brought a message that is full of redemption and grace but it is a message that is not always easy. As we learned this weekend, it is a message that is rejected because of pride and selfishness. And it is a message that can cause division.
Following Jesus comes with a cost. It means we don’t get to live the way that we want to live. We don’t get to do the things that we want to do. We have been placed on this planet with a purpose and a mission. Yes we are commanded to love but we are also commanded to hate sin. To turn from those things which God despises (Proverbs 6:16-19, Proverbs 8:13). We are to point people to the cross. To reflect God’s love so that those around us would come to know Him and be saved.
“Take note, there are six things the Eternal hates; no, make it seven He abhors: Eyes that look down on others, A tongue that can’t be trusted, hands that shed innocent blood, I heart that conceives evil plans, feet that sprint toward evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and anyone who stirs up trouble amoung the faithful” (Proverbs 6:16-19, The Voice).
“There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community” (Proverbs 6:16-19, NIV).
“All who fear the Lord will hate evil. Therefore, I hate pride and arrogance, corruption and perverse speech” (Proverbs 8:13, The Voice).
“If you respect the Eternal, you will grow to despise evil. I despise wretched, vile talk and ways of pride and arrogance” (Proverbs 8:13, NLT).
We are living in troubling times. A day and age clearly described in the Bible. All you have to do is scroll through social media to see the hatred and division, the abuse and pride. To see the enemy at work to distract and divide from what’s really important.
In 2 Timothy we are told,
“You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be pumped up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that can make them godly. Stay away from people like that!” (2 Timothy 3:1-5, NLT)
“And know this: in the last days, times will be hard. You see, the world will be filled with narcissistic, money grubbing, pretentious, arrogant, and abusive people. They will rebel against their parents and will be ungrateful, unholy, uncaring, cold hearted, accusing, without restraint, savage, and haters of anything good. Expect them to be treacherous, reckless, swollen with self importance, and giving to loving pleasure more than they love God. Even though they may look it or act like godly people, they’re no. They deny His power. I tell you: stay away from the likes of these.” (2 Timothy 3:1-5, The Voice)
At the end of the day we have been given a mission. We are to go and make disciples. We are to introduce those around us to Jesus. We are to care more about the many who will spend an eternity in hell then we do about our next episode of our favorite show or the next big football game. But oh how distracted we have become. The enemy is more powerful than we give him credit and he has meticulously worked to keep us focused on our own desires. And we all fall into this category. Not one believer is immune to the attacks of the enemy.
So how do we avoid being sucked into the game that he plays? That’s such a huge question. The only solution is that we remain focused on Jesus. That every part of every day is spent with eyes solely focused on Him. It is only when He is in front of us that we can love as we are called to love, that we can serve as we are called to serve, that we can testify to who He is and what He has done. In our own power, we are weak. In our own power what we accomplish will surely fail if He is not at the center.
For every believer the same power that raised Jesus from the dead lives in every one of us. But that power can only be utilized when we are focused on the right source. And that source is Jesus alone. Many will claim His name and profess that they follow Him, but very few will actually live out that life and follow the way in which He has commanded. Very few will utilize the source of power that resides within every believer.
“The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, He will give life to your mortal bodies by this same spirit living within you” (Romans 8:11).
To point us in the right direction we need to start in Romans and learn how to rewire our thinking, change our focus and listen for God’s voice.
“Do not allow this world to mold you in it’s own image. Instead be transformed from the inside out by renewing your mind. As a result, you will be able to discern what God wills and whatever God finds good, pleasing, and complete” (Romans 12:2, The Voice).