Don’t Shrink Back One Inch

January 2, 2013

There were two suicides in 2012 that affected me. One was the 35 (or so) year old daughter of a missionary couple our family is quite well aquatinted with, and she took her life back in the summer by an overdose of prescription drugs. The other was the 65 year old wife of a pastor we are also acquainted with. Last Saturday afternoon she purchased a gun, went back out to her car, and shot herself. We found out Sunday morning. Very tragic and very distressing. Especially every time I think of the family members left behind. If the rest of us wonder if there was anything we could have done to prevent the hopelessness, one would believe the family members must be agonizing over similar thoughts.

When news like this hits us, it quite rattles our sense of security, our trust that all will be as it should be, especially within our own families. Life looks different, feels different. It appears frightening… evil… fragile… We are always well aware that harm can come our way, come to those we love, but hearing the worst of the worst –suicide– somehow makes evil’s potential in the world seem so much stronger, prevalent, unbeatable.

But, this is only what the evil realm wants us to think. I say “only”, for what it wants is not what needs to be the case. Evil can be thwarted, hindered, and even completely blocked. It can be sent reeling. It can be extinguished. It can be resisted and made to flee. (Luke 10:17-21 // James 4:7 // 1 Peter 5:9,10 // Rev. 12:10,11)

Yes, we war against a foe that is set on destroying God’s creation and creatures, especially humans, and especially those who serve Christ, follow Him, proclaim Him, worship Him, and love Him. Such Christians are top targets on the enemy’s “want list”. Why wouldn’t they be? For Satan hates those who honor Christ. He hates to see God’s purposes spread throughout the earth, and he hates to hear God praised. He hates it so much that he does all he can to stop it, and preferably to stop it before it begins. Because once we begin to glorify God, whether through our thoughts, deeds, or words, evil has already begun to be pushed back. So, of course, the strategy the demons use, is to shoot at our thoughts. For where our thoughts go, there go we. And Satan knows this.

But since we know this as well, we must act accordingly, and act before one inch is given up to the evil side. Since we do acknowledge that our thoughts are powerful and can lead us along an evil path, what should be our preventative actions? What we do is, we guard our thoughts. We do not watch violent, scary, or sad movies (or news), and we don’t allow others to unnecessarily talk to us of such things either. God did not create our minds to have to handle all the world’s problems, so we need to guard what we let come into our minds, and proactively put in positive information.

What are some positives? The Word of God certainly is. And so are thoughts of gratefulness, of all that the Lord has done for us, and of the many reasons we love Him and others, and particular others. We need to think on these things and even say them aloud so that these good, Christ-honoring thoughts are not fleeting, but solidified.

The Scripture I memorized today is Ps. 91:9,10 and saying it aloud is excellent for building up our faith, for demolishing fear, doubt, and worry, and for crumbling the enemy’s lies and attacks. It says, “If you make the Most High your dwelling –even the LORD, who is my refuge– then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent.” What a beautiful promise from the Word of the Lord! This, and especially alongside other Scriptures, God’s Word here is huge rest for the true Christ-follower.

But why does harm then sometimes come to Christians? Well, God does bring punishment, He does bring discipline, training, and tests to stretch our faith and grow us. He does allow evil to prevail at times (like when the evil side nailed Christ to the cross) so that He can work a greater good through it.

But then why should we trust God’s Word in Ps. 91:9,10? We trust it because “IF” we make Him our dwelling –IF we truly live in Him (and He in us)– then we certainly can know that the evil one cannot touch us (1 John 5:18) apart from God’s will. If death comes to us or anyone else who dwells in God, then it’s God’s time for us to leave this earth. If pain or sorrow come, then we can know that God is accomplishing from it some very worthy goal. However, for those who do not make God their dwelling, disaster can come upon them because of God’s punishment, or due to their own foolishness or distrust in God.

How does a person, even a believer in Christ, step away from God, our Refuge, our Dwelling? We do it through sin. God won’t dwell with sin, so if we’ve sinned and we remain in it, then we are no longer “in step with the Spirit.” (Gal. 5:25) Hopefully, we will quickly repent and get back in step, but if we rebel, we have shrunk back from our position of “abiding in Christ” (see John 15:1-8) and His love (v. 9), because remaining there comes only through obedience (v. 10) — “the obedience which comes from faith.” (Rom. 1:5 & see also v. 17 with Heb. 10:35-39)

Christians can “shrink back” through different types of sin, and those sins which are tolerated are the most deceptive. For example, the sin of worry, “a small sin” though it may seem, can spiral a person down into other sins such as fear, depression, failure to speak up for Truth, and failure to go where God directs. Worry is actually distrust of God and His Word, and distrust is monumental. So are the sins of slander, anger, and arrogance which show contempt toward God, as does the sin of grumbling. In fact, God withdrew the promised land from a whole generation because they showed their lack of gratefulness and trust in Him by their complaints and protests. (1 Cor. 10:1-13 // Heb. 3:6-4:11) We who have the indwelling Spirit to help us are no less responsible to not sin! (same verses) But, as 2 Chron. 20:20 promises, “Have faith in the LORD your God and you will be upheld.” True faith –faith in God’s might and goodness, and faith that is made whole by obedience (James 2:14-26)– is the means of remaining in the sphere of victory. (1 John 5:3-5)

Evil usually begins very small. But it can grow very quickly too. This is why we need to be extremely careful that we keep it from advancing one single inch into our minds. Because if we do, it can advance wherever it wants in our lives and to those around us. We need to slay it the minute it arrives, using the Word of God and praise. (Matt. 4:1-11, Ps. 50:14,15,23) For the enemy that prowls around really is seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8), and what he wants is to steal from, deceive, ruin, and murder –everyone, but especially those who have been furthering the Kingdom of God.

Let us, therefore, be always alert, on guard, and found standing strong in the Lord and in His mighty power, clad with the full armor of God (Eph. 6:10-17), and praying in the Spirit (v. 18) as we offer up continual exaltations of trust and thanksgiving to God.

with love,

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