As I was praying this morning, the Holy Spirit came upon me mightily, and I found myself reflecting over my life as a Christian, and one who has been working with God for over 45 years. Somehow, I felt a sense of remorse come over me, as I reflected on those times or seasons when my life was not as it should be, or when I let God down through my thoughts and actions. I found myself telling God that I wished I never sinned as a Christian; I wished that my life with Him was as perfect as He always desired it to be. Unfortunately, this has not always been the case. Sometimes my work with God has been like a roller-coaster, with phases of highs and lows. And I'm sure we all experience that. Even the Apostle Paul declared in Romans 7:22-23 'for I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members’ and then he cried out 'O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?’ (vs 24).
As believers, even after we are saved, there's always a battle going on in our mind, of the flesh and the spirit. And in Galatians 5:17 the Apostle urges us to 'walk in the Spirit, so we would not fulfil the desires of the flesh’. Also, in Romans 12:1-2, we are admonished to be renewed in the spirit of our mind, and to ‘prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God’.
However, from my years of experience of walking with God, I have come to realise that there are certain principles in the Word of God, which if we keep to them, there's no way we would fall into sin. It is true that there are a lot of things we did in our days of ignorance. And thank God that He has winked at our days of ignorance (Acts 17:30). There are many examples of men in the Bible who faced challenges that could have caused them to sin, but they did not. These include Joseph, Daniel, Shedrach, Meshach, Abednego, Esther, Ruth, etc. I believe the Bible put these examples for us to see that we can make better choices. We can make up our mind that we're done with sin, and all that it offers.
However, I'm sorry to say that this often carries a price tag. It doesn't come easy or cheap. When you look at these examples in the Bible, these people endured great trials and afflictions. Often, one of the reasons we fall into sin is because we are not willing to endure trials and the challenges that will come from taking a stand for the truth we believe in. Yet the Bible states clearly that 'all who will live godly in Christ Jesus, must suffer persecution'. And it also says that 'all who will live godly in Christ Jesus, must suffer persecution'.
As we all know, our Christian life is a journey, and there is A PLACE you get to, and then you know that you're done with sin and all that it offers. In fact, when you get there, your spirit is so sensitive, because of your connection with God, that it becomes grieved immediately you try to cross the line. In fact, it will tell you that you cannot think that thought, or say that word, or go that place, or do that thing. In fact, it is a place of rest in the spirit, where you know that your life is no longer yours. You cannot afford to be any body else, but who you are in Him.
One of the things that will help us get to that place is to remember that we are representing God's Kingdom here on earth. Oftentimes, Christians can get carried away and forget that 'we are strangers and pilgrims in the world'. We are in the world, but not of the world. Therefore, before we do anything, we ought to ask ourselves, 'is this permitted in God's Kingdom?' If it isn't, then I'm not allowed to do it. And this begins with the fear of (holy reverence for) God. If we remember that we are His ambassadors and are in the world to show them what heaven looks like, then it will make a difference in how we conduct ourselves. Here is what Joseph said to Potiphar's wife 'how can I do this and sin against God?' I would to God that we all stopped for a minute to reflect on the consequences of our actions before we take the plunge. The problem is often because we focus too much on ourselves and what we desire, and not on God, and what He expects from us.
We all know that children are often selfish and self-centred and always like to be the centre of attraction. But as we grow in our walk with God, we find that we have to put away childish things and go on to maturity in God. Even the Apostle Paul declared 'when I was a child, I spoke like a child, but when I became a man, I put away childish things.' There are certain things we do as babes in Christ, but as we grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, you'll find that you become selfless, always thinking about how to please God, and walk in His will. In fact, your life is focussed on things of the kingdom and not on yourself.
As I was reflecting on how to live a life that is pleasing to God, and how to experience heaven on earth, the Holy Spirit drew my attention to Psalm 1, a very popular Psalm. Also, in Joshua 1: 8, we are reminded about the importance of DOING WHAT THE WORD SAYS. Even God told the children of Israel in Deuteronomy 28:1-14 that if they obeyed His commandments everything they desire in life will be their's. Many people struggle in life unnecessarily, whereas, just turning on the Word, and using it DAILY in every area of our lives will unlock the key to all we're looking for. For example, some of us did not have the benefit of marriage counselling before we got married. So, when I read in Proverbs 14:1 that 'the wise woman builds her house, but the foolish one destroys it with her own hands', that was all I needed to know. That admonition has resonated in my life everyday, for almost 36 years that I've been married. There's enough secret in the Word of God to help us run our race as Christians successfully,
In 1Peter 2:21, we're told that Jesus left us an example to follow in His footsteps. In other words, if I do what Jesus did, I'll never go wrong. He faced temptations like us, but He used they Word. Always, you would hear Him say things like 'I'm not here to please myself, the things I see my Father, do, that is what I do.'
Beloved, I pray that the Holy Spirit will enlighten us afresh and take us back to the basics of our walk with God. There are certain principles that Jesus taught in His Sermon on the Mount (Mathew chapters 5 to 7) that if we take time to meditate on them, would help us live sin-free and in constant fellowship with God. He Himself says in Matthew 7:21-23, 'not everyone Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then Iwill declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’And He went on to say (verse 24) “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock”.
Indeed, the times we're living in now calls for a radical shake-up in the Body of Christ. It cannot be business as usual. The 'rain', 'floods' and 'wind' that Jesus talked about are manifesting themselves all around us in many ways. If we're not careful, we might find ourselves compromising here and there to please society. Daniel and his comrades did not bow to the pressure to compromise, in their era. We must learn from their example and remember that Jesus said (Matthew 7:13-14) “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it”.
It is my sincere prayer that the Lord will help us to keep our eyes on Him, and to live lives that will always bring glory and honour to His name, so that people around us will be able to declare (like King Darius in Daniel 6:25-27), “O all peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth:
Peace be multiplied to you
I make a decree that in every dominion of my kingdom men must tremble and fear before the God of Daniel.
For He is the living God,
And steadfast forever;
His kingdom is the one which shall not be destroyed,
And His dominion shall endure to the end.
He delivers and rescues,
And He works signs and wonders
In heaven and on earth,
Who has delivered Daniel from the power of the lions”.