All posts by John

Christian saved by grace through faith.

Heaviness of Soul

I was flipping through a collection of readings by John Wesley early this morning, and came across a message that fits in perfectly with the post I made yesterday.  His sermon is based on I Peter 1, in which Peter discusses various trials and temptations that befall us.

I Peter 1:3-9 3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade-kept in heaven for you, 5who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7These have come so that your faith-of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire-may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Here is the message from Wesley on that passage:

There is a near relationship between the darkness of mind in the wilderness state and heaviness of soul, which is more common among believers.  The resemblance is so great that they are frequently confounded together.  But they are not equivalent terms; far, far, from it.  The difference is so wide and essential, as all the children of God need to understand, to prevent them sliding out of heaviness into darkness.

The manner of persons to whom the apostle Peter wrote the above words were believers at that time.  He expressly says (I Peter 1:5) you are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.  Again (I Peter 1:7), he mentions the trial of their faith; and yet again (I Peter 1:9), he speaks of their receiving the end of their faith, the salvation of their souls.  So, though they were in heaviness, they were possessed of living faith.  The apostle prays (I Peter 1:2) not that grace and peace may be given them, but that it may be multiplied. 

They were also full of a living hope.  For he speaks (I Peter 1:3) of their living hope of their inheritance that fadeth not away. In spite of their heaviness, they still retained a hope full of immortality.  And they still rejoiced (I Peter 1:8) with joy unspeakable and full of glory.  Their heaviness, then, was also consistent both with living hope and inexpressible joy!

Our God is good.  It’s through this message by Peter that God tells us we are kept by His power through our faith unto salvation.  No matter the burden, trials, temptations, or sins, Christ died for us once, for all. I Peter 3:18 Satan wants the burden of our sin to cast doubt with our faith to lead us into darkness, but we are given the living hope through Jesus and as such we should be rejoiceful, not disheartened.

Facing our Battles

Why is it that we Christians often undergo what seems to be a barrage of spiritual attacks when we’re at seemingly our closest point to God?  This is a question that’s often been discussed in my Bible study, as we each seem to go through periods of a strong, personal connection to God for several weeks, or even months, but then suddenly, out of nowhere, comes the attack.  But why?  After being under the weather for a few days and having experienced these same types of battles myself, I really wanted to examine this.  Paul tells us of this very battle in Ephesians 6:12, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”  The simple answer to the why would be that we all sin, we were born into a sinful nature and there’s really no escaping it.  I mean after all, Romans 6:23 tells us that, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  We know it’s inherent in our nature, but that doesn’t mean we have to accept it, in fact, quite the opposite.  Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:48, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”  The significance of this verse is that it should be what we strive for, perfection, to follow the example of Christ.  I Corinthians 11:1

When we strive to live this type of example and are living in accordance with God’s Word, I really believe this is when we can expect the spiritual attacks to begin.  I would equate it to riding your bike down the road of being “Christ-like”, then out of nowhere someone hits you with a football in the side of the head and knocks you off your bike.  You can’t see who threw it or where it came from.  Depending on how fast you were traveling, your injuries might be minimal, being able to get right back on your way, or you might experience significant injuries from your fall.  Think about that; the greater progress we’re making down this road, the greater risk of potential “injury” we face, if that is, we’re not prepared…. 

The answer to the original question of, why we undergo these attacks, is because there is a daily battle of good vs. evil in this world, competing over each of us.  If we think just because we are feeling close to God that we’ll be immune to the attacks, we couldn’t be further from the truth.  After all, if we weren’t even traveling down the road to Christ, would there even be an attack?  Probably not, or at least we might not easily recognize it.  If we were living lukewarm, just standing in the road, would there even be a battle for us?  Revelation 3:16 The truth of the matter is that these attacks are inevitable, eventually they will occur.

Our preparation for this is critical and admittedly, I’ve not been prepared for this in the past (we all have much to learn, especially me!). Normally, we can see the battle lines for these attacks forming.  Generally they start small; much like distant arrows shot by the archers in Braveheart.  Then the next wave follows, and the next and so on.  For our preparation, we should already have on the full armor of God.  Ephesians 6:10-18  When we are girded with the armor of God the “injuries” will be minimized.  But we simply can’t stand there and take the full assault.  No, our best defense is an offense.  We’re given spiritual weapons consisting of 1) immersing in the Word (Sword of the Spirit) 2) prayer without ceasing (include Scriptures in the prayer) and 3) fasting (perhaps no other weapon is as effective when used properly).  Each of these is essential to winning the battle, but start utilizing them when the first wave of attack is forming, don’t wait until it intensifies. 

I think Christians are in a constant state of learning, like the old song says, He’s still working on me, to make me what I ought to be and this includes learning how to face these types of battles to overcome them and not fall.  The Apostle Paul summarizes this learning process in Romans 5:3-5, “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”

Have a Blessed Day!

John 3:16 sign taken at NCAA tourney

Watch the video below and you’ll see the security guard taking the sign.   NCAA guidelines ban signs at the game because they block people’s view, but come on.  How many times have you seen signs.  And this person’s sign is obviously not blocking anyone’s view.  Perhaps a simple “Put the sign away” would have been sufficient.

 

 

John 3:16 KJV “For God so loved the world, that he gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”