Since the enemy has no real power or authority, his primary weapon is fear.
It's a device that paralyzes its adversaries and brings them into subjugation or hesitation. Fear attacks the mind and seeks to insert doubt into the heart. If possible, it would destroy faith. Fear attempts to infiltrate the mind though the imagination. It is a door with easy access in many cases, because it's an open door. In fact, it is as if the door has been taken off its hinges, and a welcome sign hung above the doorway. Some actually invite fear, which makes it easy for the enemy to manipulate them into doing his bidding.
When fear runs rampant in the mind, imaginations can appear more real than actual reality.
Perception is hampered when thoughts are filtered through fear. What a person perceives to be true is true in his or her mind. That means the enemy has all power and authority in the life of the individual who believes it's true, even if the enemy has none of the above. It's like a robber who is armed with a squirt gun, who makes his victim believe it's a real gun with real bullets. As far as he is concerned, “it's my money or my life.” Even if the victim is larger and could easily overpower the perpetrator, the water pistol makes him feel small and incapable of winning he fight. This illustrates that most battles are won or lost in the mind. If you take fear out of the hands of the enemy, he has nothing left to hold you captive.
“What if” seems like a harmless question, but in the hands of the enemy, it can be devastating.
It's one of his favorite tactics used to manipulate people and make them subject to fear. “What if I lose my job?” “What if I get into an accident?” “What if _____?” It's easy to fill in the blanks with fearful thoughts, whatever they may be. Obviously, “what if” can be used in the positive, especially as it relates to creativity. Oh sure, one could combat the above mentioned with opposing questions: “What if God would supply all my needs according to His riches in glory?” “What if God will enable me to keep my job?” Those are still questions about God that could lead to questioning Him. It would be better to say, “There are no what ifs” in this context. The Bible clearly says, God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory (see Philippians 4:19). No question about it! If you want to eliminate fear along with harmful imaginations, see what the Word of God says and believe that.
This leads to another consideration: what is your source of information? Propaganda works, that's why it's used during war time. Did you know we are at war? Our warfare has more to do with walking in the Spirit, and staying spiritual in all circumstances. The battles are primarily fought in the mind. That's why 2 Corinthians 10:5 talks about casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. What you input into the mind affects the results. If you constantly feed on fear, it will dominate your thoughts. It sounds cliché, but if you perpetually watch and listen to the news, you are planting negativity which produces a negative thought life. Couple that with “what if” questions, and you've got fear busting down the door to your imagination.
Much of the news is propaganda, because there is an agenda, or at least a certain perspective attached to it.
The media plays a big role in shaping the minds of many. The devil knows this well, and uses it to his advantage. God's grace empowers us to decide what source of information we use. The media does use factual statements to promote its agenda, but factual statements do not necessarily equate to truth. Without God's perspective, one will not have accurate information. In essence, the enemy uses the media as his propaganda machine. What you meditate on the most will rule your thoughts. What the news does not tell you is what God is doing behind the scenes, so ask Him for His perspective. What looks terrible, God may be using for the good. In fact, for those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose, He is indeed (see Romans 8:28). God knew about what we face today long before we were even born. Guess what. He is sovereign, and He made provision for it.
As long as people believe mankind's report over God's, they will never see the victory they were meant to have. If you continue to place a person's opinion above God's truth, you are serving another god. Don't be surprised if you struggle to walk by faith. Remember, fear loves to use smoke and mirrors to generate illusions. Light will always vacate works of darkness, which means if you walk in the Light, darkness will have no place in your life.
Be careful to not let your theology limit God. Do not be so entrenched in it that it voids the pure truth of God in your life. If you become unteachable, you will never go to the heights He wants to take you, because you will not have the needed depth of His Word in your heart. Be careful of embracing “I think” as an absolute. That's not to say there are no absolutes, because indeed there are. At the same time, those things that the Holy Spirit has not made clear should not be considered ultimate reality. Our absolutes can limit God, especially if they turn into strongholds and traditions. Holding fast to what we think we know can lead to foolishness (see Matthew 13:18-23; Romans 1:19-22).
There are many teachings that have gone out over the years. While there is new revelation of God's Word, care must be taken to ensure the revelation is actually from God. Things can sound “right” at first, until they are compared to Scripture. They may have elements of truth, but they are not truth as a whole. Those who teach such things are not necessarily heretics attempting to lead people into error; even though, there are those who do. In some cases, they teach partial revelations before gaining the full counsel of God. That is why it is important to be slow to speak and quick to listen before teaching anything new. When we use the term “revelation,” we are referring to an already existing truth that is new to us. Be careful when someone says, “I have a revelation from God that is too deep for the body of Christ.” More than likely, it's not from God. If it's too deep for the Body, then it's too deep for him or her. That is rather arrogant. Keep in mind that God verifies His Word, using at least two or three witnesses. If a one person gets a revelation, there will be others who receive it as well. It may not be evident at first, but those who receive new revelation will discover others have received the same thing. At times, there will be the trying of faith at those times, but God is faithful.
If people want to know God, they have to desire Him and know Him as He is. They cannot create Him in their own image, nor form Him into their imagination. To know God is to love Him, and remove anything that limits the revelation of Who He is. Therefore, if you want to know God, love Him and let Him reveal Himself to you His way. You may need to forget about what you think you know. You cannot hope to know Him if you filter the revelation of God through misconceptions. Be willing to change what you think you know.
If you study the Bible with the wrong thought process, you will not see His Word properly. You will miss the exactness of His meaning behind what it written. Each time you read it, read it as if it's your first time. Though you may know much, you may not know as much as you think. You have to approach it as if you know nothing. Approach the Word of God like a small child who is learning for the first time. Be inquisitive. Don't stop asking questions. Those questions lead to what He wants you to know. Interaction plays a major role in knowing about God as well as knowing His heart.
If you want to see people the way the Father sees them, you need to know His heart. If you know His heart, you will begin to understand how He wants you to interact with them. The more you know the Father's heart, the better you will love people. You'll grasp what the Father wants to do in their life and the kind of life He wants them to have. When you know the Father's heart, you'll better understand the way He sees you, and what He wants for you as well.
Whether you are sanctified unto God or a sinner lost in sin, you will always have the power to choose. A disciple of Jesus Christ will always have a will. It was not taken away at conversion. Even though believers have a new nature in Christ Jesus, they can still choose to walk in obedience or outright sin. Those without Christ have no power over sin, therefore, they have no ability to overcome it. Nonetheless, God still presents them the choice to repent and take on the new nature, and thereby be empowered by grace to say no to sin. Please understand that a victorious life means saying yes to God. It could be said that your no to one thing, is a yes to something else. More powerfully, if you start with a yes to God, the no to sin has more meaning.
To bring more clarity to Romans 7:7-25 for those who may struggle to see whether Paul was talking about a current struggle as a believer or referring to something else.
Context plays a major role in unlocking the scriptures.
As a suggestion, read the entirety of the book of Romans. Don't merely read chapter seven. At a minimum, you should read chapters five, six and eight. If you can read all 16 chapters in one setting that would be awesome. Whatever you do, don't be in a hurry to draw any conclusions by reading chapter seven apart from the rest. Take your time. In short, Romans centers around living by grace and the futility of following the law through the flesh.
Romans 8:1-2There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 2. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. As addressed before, God dealt with the sin issue. Those in Christ Jesus do not have a sin nature to contend with. When God justified us, He took us out of the realm of sin and gave us the gift of righteousness found in Christ Jesus (see Romans 5:17; 2Corinthians 5:21). However, we still have the decision to follow the law of the Spirit of life or follow the flesh.
By using the personal pronouns in Romans seven, Paul actually reveals the experience of trying to follow the law by the flesh, or in one's own strength apart from the Spirit.
Anytime you attempt to walk righteously separate from grace, at best you will walk in self-righteousness. You will still wind up doing those things you know aren't right, and fail to do the right things. You cannot start in the Spirit and hope to finish well by walking in the flesh. This is one of the reasons Paul said he served God with his spirit (see Romans 1:9).
If the sin issue has been dealt with, why do people still struggle with it?
Much has to do with carnal thinking. Why do you suppose there's an emphasis on the renewing of the mind? The carnal mind is attached to the flesh. Part of that pertains to our physical brain. Like a computer, there's a lot of data that has been stored up over the years. There are parts that contain bad information that needs to be changed or removed. Bad thoughts need to be replaced by righteous ones. Of course at conversion major changes do take place immediately; nonetheless, there are other changes that take place through process. Until the thought life is sanctified, some struggles will remain. Science has revealed that the Word of God literally rewires the physical brain. Something the Bible eluded to long before such technology became available. When we meditate on the things of God, changes take place. Hebrews 5:14But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. Please take heart. We are fighting a battle that's already been won for us. We start from the standpoint of victory; we are not trying to gain the victory. Jesus already overcame the world.
When we received Jesus Christ, it did not mean the end of temptation.
Think about this: we know Jesus was tempted in all areas of life, yet without sin (see Hebrews 4:15). Just because He was tempted, it does not mean He had a sin nature. At the same time, as a man (Son of man), He relied on the Holy Spirit. He did not rely on His own strength, giving us the perfect example to follow.
In heaven, one third of the angels rebelled against God. We are talking in His presence before the throne, yet they decided to follow Satan. Did those angels start with a sin nature? No. Adam and Eve did not have a sin nature prior to the fall. They were counted by God as very good (see Genesis 1:31). They had a free will, and wound up ushering mankind into sin. Jesus, the second or last Adam, ushered those who chose to receive Him out of sin (see Romans 5:12-21; 1 Corinthians 15:45-49). Everyone still has a choice as to whom or what they will follow.
We were not designed to follow the law through the flesh. Some need to stop trying to overcome sin by balancing the scales, and simply surrender to the Lord. Submit to the Holy Spirit and you will not fulfill the lust of the flesh (see Galatians 5:16). Serve God as the result of your new design (see Ephesians 2:10). You cannot earn righteousness. Instead, put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness (see Ephesians 4:24).
Consider this in relation to temptation. While God will never tempts us with evil (James 1:13), He will use temptation to expose what's in our heart. He will reveal the way we actually think. God even allows it to reveal lusts that may be lurking. He uncovers hurts that need healing and unforgiveness issues. He will bring to the surface anything contrary to His nature. When He does, we have some decisions: repent or continue as before; forsake the lust or embrace it; receive the healing, or keep the hurts as pets; forgive or walk in bitterness. Decide whether you will embrace His holy nature or the carnal mindset. Grace empowers us to make the proper decisions. Following the law by the flesh disempowers us. Choose wisely!
It is written that “God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward His Name” (Hebrews 6:10); yet, we also read that He forgets our sins and iniquities.Psalm 103:12As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us.Hebrews 8:12For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. Consider Hebrews 11 which recounts the lives of people who walked by faith. Interestingly, it never mentions their struggles and failures.
Even though we can read about their wrestling with doubt and their shortcomings as a result, chapter 11 reads like the Dean's list.
For example, when we study the life of Abraham and Sarah in Genesis, we find Abraham had times of apparent staggering. Nonetheless, Romans 4:21-22 says, “He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; 21. And being fully persuaded that, what He had promised, He was able also to perform. 22. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.” Sarah laughed when she heard that she would bare a son (see Genesis 18:9-15); yet we read, “Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged Him faithful Who had promised.” As a matter fact, Abraham laughed when he first heard it as well (see Genesis 17:1-17). Yet, they were both counted as those who walked by faith. God did not mention their shortcomings. He honored them, and spoke of what He saw in them. Since He is a respecter of none, the same thing applies to you!
The Father is not interested in His children's apparent shortcomings. That's not to say He does not correct us when needed; however, He sees the real you. He knows your heart and speaks to the glory He placed in you through Jesus Christ. For many of you; in fact, probably all of us, it's time for a paradigm shift. Lets bring our thought life into focus. Do you tend to quickly forget your victories and labor of love the moment you experience failure? Did you consider yourself a loser when it happened? It is good to have a proper perspective about ourselves, so we may properly honor God. Why are so many people quick to remember the bad and forget the good? The minute they do something wrong, they're branded by the deed, and all the good gets flushed down the toilet. Did you notice that thought process is the polar opposite of God's?
If we are to honor our Father, we need to give honor to others. 1 Peter 2:17Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king. We belong to Him. We were bought with a price, and we are not our own. As a matter of fact, all humanity belongs to Him. As it is written, “The earth is the LORD’S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein” (Psalm 24:1). It is important that we treat others and ourselves in the way He treats us. If you believe in God, do you believe what He says? If you do, then it is time to believe what you say you believe.
God calls those things that are not as if they were (see Romans 4:17). This is where it gets tricky. Ask God to show you how He sees you and others. It will help you to receive the actual truth about yourself, and speak words of life to others. If we receive and speak the opposite of what God says, we are not in agreement with Him. In essence, we are not promoting life; we are embracing death to our destiny God has for us. We may actually de-edify the Body of Christ, and hinder others from the kingdom of God. If I have the final word, because God's Word doesn't make sense to me, I have made myself a god, and/or made God in my image. No wonder Romans 3:3-4 says, “For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? 4. God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That Thou mightest be justified in Thy sayings, and mightest overcome when Thou art judged” (by sinful humanity [author's note]).
Ephesians 2:10For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. One of the reasons God remembers our good works is that He created us for them. Of course, He remembers the good because He is good. And He is good all the time! Godly accountability holds others to whom they're called to be; it does not call them to the carpet when they blow it. Likewise, focus on whom God called you to be. Remember the victories should you face failure. Remember what the Lord says about you. You will recover much quicker, and be able to help others through their times of crises.
We cannot afford to take the scale approach to life. That is to say, we cannot try to outweigh the bad by doing good. That leads to rationalization and denial. If we try to diminish failure by comparing it to our “good deeds”, we will fail to repent. We will depart from grace and enter into dead works. We have to face things head on. We do need to repent and ask for forgiveness when necessary, and yes, receive discipline. However, in order to move forward, we need to put failure behind us. Sir up the gift of God in you by way of remembrance. Restore others in a spirit of meekness. Help them remember as well.
Just remember what you're supposed to remember, and forget what you're supposed to forget!
The Believer's Book of Blogs Volume 1 is comprised of 52 blogs that are from The Perfectfaith Blog series. They are timeless lessons that will enrich the reader's life. While the book may be used as a personal devotional, it would also be perfect for weekly group Bible Studies.
James 1:17Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with Whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
Everything we have was given to us. Our abilities and possessions did not come from us; they came from Him. Even the “self-made man” could never have made his place in life without the abilities God gave him. Sadly, “the self-made” lack the humility to acknowledge where their abilities came from. As believers, we must remember where our abilities come from. This is a call to humility. Without humility, you will never achieve your full potential. Humility recognizes its source.
The reason some greatly struggle to achieve their destiny is they are striving to achieve it.
There are reasons Jesus said we need to receive the Kingdom as a little child. One is a child recognizes his or her dependence on another. While we are called to maturity, we still need to maintain that childlike approach in relation to the things of God. We need a firm grasp on the knowledge that we are dependent on the Father for everything. Not only that, we must recognize the abilities, knowledge, wisdom and understanding are all things we receive. One might say, “I've studied the Bible a lot, and gained all this knowledge as a result.” Question: who gave you the desire to study in the first place? The scriptures are spiritually discerned (see 1 Corinthians 2:7-16), so how actually did you gain that knowledge? If you learned, then you learned from the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, God has a purpose for your learning, which leads to another question: what are you doing with your knowledge? Knowledge in itself can lead to pride (see 1 Corinthians 8:1-2). Did you obtain wisdom and understanding as well?
Keep in mind the moment we think we know a lot, pride is ready to make us ignorant.
We can easily move into being unteachable. How many “know-it-alls” have you been able to teach? Most new born believers are glad to receive instruction from more mature ones. It's a wonderful experience to have mentors in our lives. The idea is to get new borns to rely on Jesus, and feed themselves. However, that doesn't mean they stop learning from others as they become more mature. The Apostle Paul experienced difficulties with the church at Corinth. The people had become prideful, and that pride led to unrighteous behavior that needed correction. They actually disrespected the one whom the Lord used as their father in the faith (see 1 Corinthians 4:1-21). This same attitude has caused difficulties in churches where the people disrespected leadership. In some cases, churches have split as a result of people usurping authority out of pride. God does not wink at that. When people become un-submissive to God given authority, they are being un-submissive to God, Himself. If we have gained knowledge, it was intended to make us a blessing; not a thorn in someone's side.
Most Christians start out well in terms of receiving the righteousness of Jesus. Where some struggle to achieve their destiny is they exchanged receiving by grace through faith for striving and works. Somehow, they shifted into a mindset that says they must earn their destiny. They have to be good, and do good. A lot of good! It's the same struggle the Galatians had as the result of Judaizers seeking to place them back into bondage. Diligence is one thing; striving is quite another. Diligence points to stewarding the gifts God gave us; whereas, striving tries to earn those gifts. Humility empowers; pride disempowers. Humility recognizes God is our Source for all things, and glorifies Him as a result. Pride attempts to build its own kingdom and says, “look what I did.” Unless God builds a ministry, it's built in vain. As it is written, “Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain” (Psalm 127:1).
Ironically, pride holds people back in that it says, “you're never going to be good enough.” If you think it is possible to be good enough, you will be stuck the rest of your life trying to do just that.
The crazy thing is pride can actually make you look down on yourself. For those who don't want to be diligent, it gives them an out: “I'll never be good enough.” If you beat yourself up for not being “good as you should be,” or for not doing enough, you moved away from grace. Jesus is your righteousness (see 2 Corinthians 5:21). That means you're more than good enough. God will get you to your destiny. You simply need to cooperate with Him. Receive what He gives you. Do what He asks of you (obedience), and you'll get there. Just leave the method and timing to Him. You can stop beating yourself up now!