I wrote this letter for a friend going through a time of struggle and restoration with the Lord, but with so much being written these days about the experiential, emotionally driven church, I wanted to share it with more people. The church today has been deceived by the feel-good Gospel and with a simple glance at the world around us, we can see that getting people to feel good about themselves is not improving the state of the world around us. Please read this letter prayerfully, and feel free to copy it and pass it along.
I am so excited to hear that the Lord has provided a time of solitude for you this weekend. Often times when we have been faced with a crisis of sin in our lives we want to fill our time up with people and noise and work and chaos, with the thinking that being busy will keep us out of trouble. We don’t trust ourselves; and rightly so. Jeremiah 17:5-18 talks about our wicked, untrustworthy hearts and how they can get us into trouble so many times. But in verse 14, Jeremiah remembers who should be trusted—not us, but the Lord: “Heal me, O Lord, and I will be healed; Save me and I will be saved, for you are my praise.”
The amazing thing for believers is that He has already healed and saved us! Romans 6 is an amazing testimony to us about our relationship with both Christ and with sin. Paul tells us that we are already dead to sin! There is no battle to fight because Christ has already won the battle. Before we are believers, we have no choice but sin; we think we are free to do what we want, but we really have no choice but to sin. But once we are filled with the Spirit of God, the victory over sin has been won and we now have the choice to live in freedom!
I know from personal experience that we do not always make the right choice. But simply knowing in those deepest, darkest times of temptation that I do not have to give in because Christ has already won the battle for me is enough sometimes to see me through. Peter talks about this when he tells us in 1 Peter that we have everything we need for life and godliness. Paul backs that up in 1 Corinthians when he told the church at Corinth—a group of people familiar with their own sinfulness—that God will never tempt us beyond what we can bear. That is a promise you can take to the bank! Our hearts and our flesh may scream that we must give in to temptation, and that we have no choice, but God has promised that through the Spirit and the Word we have everything we need to resist, even when we feel like we can’t.
When I went through my time of brokenness and restoration with the Lord, I read Mere Christianity by CS Lewis, and in that book there is a paragraph that has become dear to me and I return to it often:
“On the whole, God’s love for us is a much safer topic than our love for Him. Nobody can always have devout feelings: and even if we could, feelings are not what God principally cares about. Christian Love, either towards God or towards man, is an affair of the will. If we are trying to do His will we are obeying the commandment, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God.” … But the great thing to remember is that, though our feelings come and go, His love for us does not. It is not wearied by our sins, or our indifference; and, therefore, it is quite relentless in it determination that we shall be cured of those sins, at whatever cost to us, at whatever cost to Him.”
What an amazing God we serve! And the even more amazing thing is that we already know the cost of that love—for us, we must die to self, no matter how painful the process may be. And for God, the cost was His very Son. He died for us; the very least we can do is die for Him.
But how do we do that? Dig into the Word! The Spirit can only work with the tools we give Him. The Sword of the Spirit is the Word of God, so you must arm Him in order for Him to be able to protect you. God told the Israelites through Hosea, “My people die for lack of knowledge.” We stay in a defeated state when we do not arm ourselves with the Scripture. Too often we trust our own love, our own warm fuzzy feelings about God to keep us safe, but that is such a dangerously prideful place to be because it gives us too much credit and doesn’t give our enemy enough credit. If we are in battle against a roaring lion who is seeking whom he may devour, I’m not going to approach him thinking I’m untouchable—I’m going to want a weapon! The Scripture is our weapon—begin this weekend arming yourself with the Word and never let up. The more you know, the more you want to know.
I will be praying for you this weekend as you begin this journey with the Lord. Do not be afraid of the process of brokenness and solitude with the Father. It is gut wrenching, painful, and agonizing at times to really see your sin and deal with it. But the freedom found on the other side is worth it every time. Pray for the Lord to show you the weightiness of your sin and how it impacts your relationship with Him and with those around you. It’s an honest prayer. It’s a painfully humbling prayer. It’s a prayer He will answer every time. And it’s a prayer you will never regret once you reap the fruit of your obedience to Him.
When God allows us to go through times in which we must face our own sinfulness head-on, it’s usually because He has great things in store for us to do for His kingdom. Much like Jesus allowed Peter to be sifted like wheat by Satan, he allows us to be sifted so that the sins we cling to so desperately can be removed from our lives for His glory. Do not be afraid of the sifting process—being a useful weapon for the Father is a blessing I will never understand. That He chooses weak, sinful people like us to do His work will always amaze me.
For His Glory,
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~~ 1 Cor. 10:31 …whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. ~~