“My highest hope for all of us is to stop trying to fool others by appearing to have our act together. As people living in intimate union with God, we need to become better known for what and who we actually are. Perhaps a good place to begin would be telling the world—before the world does its own investigation—that we’re not as bad as they think. We’re worse. At least I know that I’m worse. Let’s get real. For every mean-spirited, judgmental thing some preacher has said, I’ve thought something nastier, more hateful and more cutting about one of my neighbors. For every brother or sister whose moral failure has been exposed, I’ve failed privately.”
– Fil Anderson
“The moral law, ordained by God, does not make itself weak to the weak by excusing our shortcomings. It remains absolute for all time and eternity. If we are not aware of this, it is because we are less than alive. Once we do realize this, our life immediately becomes a fatal tragedy.”
“So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.”
At times, I feel like a fraud. Mainly, because I see what’s inside of me. There is an internal civil war going on between my flesh, which, left untouched, would love to roll around in the mud of sexual sin, pride, resentment, bitterness, greed, or other sins, and, the Holy Spirit, who has made this cracked earthen vessel His temple. If I allow myself to get wrapped up around my weaknesses and failures, I’m a step away from falling into a hole of discouragement or doubt, both which are faith killers that block my vision of God and keep me from His blessings.
This isn’t to say that we ignore our heart or our sins. Far from it. We’re commanded to watch over our heart with all diligence (Proverbs 4:23), break up the fallow (hard) ground in our heart (Hosea 10:12), and examine ourselves, as 2 Corinthians 13:5 shows us:
“Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!”
I’ve talked to plenty of believers over the years who have parroted “I’m a new creation in Christ” and used it as a cover up to avoid facing their sin and the train- wreck their life had become because of it. We’re commanded to live the examined life where we’re aware of what’s going on in our hearts, including the struggles, sin, and wounds that need healing, as well as the joys and blessings God has bestowed on us.
We face our sins, confess them to God and others, leave them at the cross, and walk away from them. We don’t wrap ourselves around our failures and we surely don’t build our identity around them. Every believer’s primary identity is a blood-bought, beloved, son or daughter of the living God. We don’t assume a man-made title such as “porn addict” as our identity. We also never build our identity on the sin of another, such as “wife of a sex addict.” There’s no hope or truth in such labels.
“And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
This scene amazes me. Peter walked on water! He’s the only one of the 12 who had the faith to step out of the boat. Since we modern Christians like surveys and statistics, this means that 8% of their fellowship had the guts to put it all on the line and step out onto the water. (Would we see a similar percentage today?) When Peter’s focus was in Jesus he did the miraculous, but as soon as he looked at the storm, Peter dropped.
We fall quickly when we wrap ourselves around the failures of our flesh, a false identity, or our weaknesses. With God, and our hearts set on Him, we can do the miraculous. I’ve experienced both many times, the freefall into discouragement, and the God-breathed life that gave me the strength to do what I can’t without Him.
We must not base our walk with God on our feelings, outward circumstances (no matter how tough or intimidating), what others say, our flesh, or failures. We are given a treasure trove of spiritual blessings and have the Holy Spirit living in us. I think most believers barely realize a small fraction of what we’ve been given by God. Every believer has more spiritual weaponry and power than they realize.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ.”
Which brings us back to prayer. In prayer we hear from God, receive His conviction and healing, grab hold of the wonderful blessings He’s given us, overcome temptation, have our understanding opened, are filled with His Holy Spirit of power, love, and sound mind, and come into contact with the Living God who can do the miraculous through us. In prayer, we lock our focus on God… which is how Peter began walking on water.
In prayer, we enter the spiritual realm and become a threat to the gates of hell. We learn the art of spiritual warfare in prayer and how powerful the authority we’ve been given in Christ is when we get attacked and shut the enemy down.
The question remains, are you willing to make prayer a priority in your life? Those who dabble in prayer barely touch the abundant life Jesus offers, if at all. Without a vital prayer life, we tend to live in our flesh; choked with distractions and sin, vainly seeking fulfilment in entertainment and pleasure, angry, bitter, burnt out, or stressed out. We lose track of who we are in God’s eyes and look to the world and others to tell us who we are or what we should be doing.
Dabbling in the Christian life doesn’t work.
Go all the way in.
While every believer is a fraud—and Satan works to keep us stuck there—that’s only a part of the truth. We have the Spirit of the most powerful being in the universe living in us. Every day, by the power of prayer, we put the fraud with its sin and lies to death that we might live in the power of His resurrection. Let’s lock our eyes on Him.
“For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might.”