No Shame in the Struggle

I just listened to a sermon online in which the preacher stated:

“There is no shame in the struggle.”

WrestlingDo you struggle with a certain temptation? Do you wrestle a sin that seems to pierce deeply into your flesh?

Satan wants you to believe you are alone, that you struggle with something so shameful no one else will understand. Satan wants you to wonder about your very salvation.

“Am I really saved? Does God really love me since I’m still so messed up? Is the Holy Spirit really with me?”

Have you ever wondered such things? If you have,

1. It means you are a member of a special, exclusive club called “the human race.” Brother, Sister, I am right beside you in these feelings. I’ve wandered the same paths and wondered the same things.

2. It means you need to listen more to God. Satan is feeding you lies! Satan WANTS you to be unsure about your standing with God. He wants to suck away your joy, your peace, your steadfast assurance of God’s power and plan.

What has GOD said?

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8.1)

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written:

“For Your sake we are killed all day long;
We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”

37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom. 8.31-39)

Believe God. Believe what He said!

You struggle, and that is good. Many don’t struggle, you know. The majority do what they will and feel no shame. They’re not really in the fight at all because they either don’t realize they should fight or they just don’t care to engage the forces of darkness. Of course, all those without Christ cannot hope to win against sin because only Christ gives us both the will and the power to battle temptation. Your struggle against temptation and sin is actually a sign, a confirmation, of your right standing with God.

If you have stopped fighting because you feel it’s too difficult or because you think God will save you despite your despondency, that should serve as a severe spiritual warning in your life! Cry out to God to help re-sensitize you to sin, to help you struggle again.

There is no shame in the struggle, friend. Embrace it. In the struggle we learn to trust more deeply in God and not in ourselves.

Byron Gage Sermons – March 2016

We recently hosted brother Byron Gage and his wife and enjoyed several excellent sermons. Here are the recordings from our meeting:

Out of Darkness (download):

Mind Hacked (download):

Encourage One Another (download):

Bear with One Another (download):

Battling Doubt and Disbelief

HamletLife’s difficulties often lead to spiritual doubt. Like Hamlet, some endure the temptation to simply “not be” and to shuffle “off this mortal coil.” Why not just end this pain-filled, unfair life? Here was Hamlet’s struggle:

To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, ’tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there’s the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law’s delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin?

He wonders whether it wouldn’t be better “to die: to sleep…and by a sleep to say we end the heart-ache…” Is it nobler to endure the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” when one has the option of terminating his life now (“When he himself might his quietus make with a bare bodkin?” – a naked blade)?

No doubt, doubt causes us to question everything about ourselves, God, and this life.

How can we battle doubt and disbelief?

Reading Her BibleWe should hold some core beliefs based on God’s word, allowing the Holy Spirit to fill and guide us. This flighty, subjective, anchorless world constantly tells us there is no such spiritual anchor, no absolute spiritual truth. But does that not fill a person with doubts and leave her directionless? Steadfast faith in God is based first of all upon a knowledge that God IS and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Heb. 11.6). We must believe Jesus Christ is God’s Son (1 Jn. 5.5), and that His word is inspired, final, and infallible. In no other way can one be saved except through Jesus Christ (Acts 4.12; Jn. 14.6), by God’s grace, and through faith (Eph. 2.8-9). Hang on to the fact that God has promised eternal life to His faithful ones (1 Jn. 2.25), and you have already passed from death into life (1 Jn. 3.13; Jn. 5.24). These core beliefs provide anchors for the soul.

Spiritual FoodWhere do all these core beliefs derive? From Scripture! I firmly believe the least confident Christians are the least studied. Wasting our days, we often fail to spend sufficient time in God’s word, and we end up weak, wandering, and wondering how we have such little faith. Luke wrote his gospel and the book of Acts in order to inspire faith in the reader (Lk. 1.1-4). John recorded those great works and teachings of Jesus “that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believeing you may have life in His name” (Jn. 20.31). Paul wrote in Rom. 10.17, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” The spiritual formula goes as follows:

“In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.” (Eph. 1.13-14)

Did you follow the stages in that verse? It all begins with HEARING the gospel, which leads to TRUST and BELIEF in God, which is connected with the SEALING of the Holy Spirit, and it all ends up in DOXOLOGY, praising God, giving Him glory!

So if you want to battle doubt and disbelief in your life, pick up that Bible of yours and get in it, devour it, let it speak into your life and build your faith. That’s the purpose of God’s word. Saturate yourself in God’s promises and purposes, and you will find the direction you desire.