Sometimes it may seem hard or even undesirable to be a hardcore, obedient Christian, mostly because we are sinners living in ‘enemy territory’ and that enemy tries to deceive us constantly into wanting other things more or finding more pleasure in the things this world has to offer than in God and His Son, Jesus Christ.
It’s times like those when we should turn to the Word and take a hold of the great and exceeding promises God makes to those who love Him, righteousness and truth; those who, by laying all their trust and faith and hope in Him, can endure trials with patience.
He wants us trust in Him and His Word wherein those promises lie, He wants us to find great joy in those promises, to think deeply on them, and to hang on to them because no matter what the world can give, it will never give you what Jesus Christ has obtained for you.
I have been reading a book this month called When I Don’t Desire God by one of my favourite pastors, John Piper, about the fight for joy in God. One of the points he makes which really stood out to me was about ‘deceitful desires’ so-called because “they lie about the superiority of their outcomes” and “trick us into feeling that sinful thoughts and acts will be more satisfying than seeing God.” Ephesians 4:22 says that we are to put off the old self which is corrupt through/because of deceitful desires. Therefore, in putting on Christ, we are to fight against these deceitful desires, examples of which could be: longing to be rich above all things in the belief that that is what will bring the most satisfaction in life; strong, uncontrolled sexual desire because of the belief that sex is the greatest pleasure a person can experience; longing to be beautiful above all things and devoting most of your time and effort towards that end in the hopes that it will bring you the greatest happiness or acceptance in life; or even striving to be perceived as highly intelligent above all things in the view that it will bring you the most acceptance in life- in short it is the desire for anything in life that you think will give you more pleasure, self-worth, acceptance, joy, or satisfaction than God through Jesus Christ will. We are to fight tooth-and-nail against these desires- as John Piper says “Christianity is not a settle-in-and-live-in-peace-with-this-world-the-way-it-is kind of religion. Christianity is war. It is a declaration of all-out combat against our own sinful impulses.” Apostle Peter himself said, “Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh which wage war against your soul.”
The power that sin holds over us is its promise of pleasure and that power can only be defeated by the promise of far superior pleasure in God given to us by Jesus through His death for us on the cross. This is why simple religion (ceremonies and traditions etc, even a bland sort of thing calling itself Christianity which is completely listless, without passion, zeal or love for God and Jesus which is what I had up until last year) cannot defeat sin in us, it only offers some kind of benefit by living a certain way, but people are not after just a benefit first-and-foremost, people want pleasure in life: which is why religion will always lose to sin. Christianity fights with sin’s own weapon, pleasure, and not only that, but a far greater and everlasting pleasure in God through Jesus Christ. But where can we go to find pleasure in God? Where do we find joy-bringing, desire-generating truth in a world as deceitful as this one, which constantly tries to paint God in the most undesirable light possible?
In war, people don armour to protect themselves and as Christians, we too have a whole set of spiritual armour that we should be putting on daily, the full armour of God, which is the strength of God. This can all be found in Ephesians 6:10-17; but I want to hone in on the only offensive weapon given to us: “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” The most effective way to wield this powerful weapon is to have it with you at all times, ready to brandish it as soon as you need to; therefore we should be living immersed in the Word, pouring over it to find the truth, which will set you free. Believing the Word of God and that it is truth and spirit and life shatters all the power of deceitful desire by showing it to be exactly that: deceitful, not to be trusted. We have been “granted precious and exceedingly great promises so that through those promises we may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire” (2 Peter 1:4). The way I understand it, taking hold of the Word, the sword of the Spirit, and thereby taking hold of the great promises we can find in the Bible if we but look, is the way which we “by the Spirit put to death the deeds of the body”- which if we do, we will live (Romans 8:13).
Therefore let us write His Word on the tables of our hearts: let us say with the psalmist “I have stored up your word in my heart that I may not sin against you.” (Psalms 119:11), so that in times of plenty, joy, fellowship, ease and abundance we can hold fast to words of thankfulness and praise; and that in times of distress or trouble or hardship or trial or persecution we can hold fast to those precious and exceedingly great promises, believing that He is faithful who Has said it and that He is mighty to deliver.
Some Words of Promise, Some Words to Believe in
“We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28
“Blessed [happy] are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Matthew 5:8
“You give them drink from the river of your delights.” Psalms 36:8
“The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on His throne.” Revelation 3:21
“In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalms 16:11
“Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, great is your reward in heaven.” Luke 6:23
“The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs- heirs of God, and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him.” Romans 8:16-17
“For God gives to a man that is good in His sight wisdom, knowledge and joy…” Ecclesiastes 2:26
“But the meek shall inherit the earth and delight themselves in the abundance of peace.” Psalms 37:11
“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away!” And He who was sitting on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new”… And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be His God and he will be my son.” Revelation 21:3-7
“Because of the steadfast love of the LORD we are not consumed, his compassions fail not; they are new every morning: great is your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in Him”. The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him.” Lamentations 3:22-25
“He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also, along with His Son, graciously give us all things?” Romans 8:32 “For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Peter or the world, or life or death or the present or the future- all are yours, and you are Christ’s and Christ is God’s.” 1 Corinthians 3:21-23
Let us say with the psalmist: “Remember your word to your servant, in which you have made me hope. This is my comfort in my affliction: that your promise gives me life.” Psalms 119:50
“Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what is promised.” Hebrews 10:35-36
I pray that His Word will be a lamp unto your feet and light unto your path and that you will always, in times of despair and in times of joy, follow Jesus, the Light of Life.