In the words of ‘agent Smith’ off the Matrix: “I’d like to share with you a revelation that I’ve had.”
So we’re moving into the time of Lent, Easter is coming up very soon and in one sense this is the time of the year when it’s a bit like the spiritual version of ‘new year’s eve’. Many Christians all over the world will be taking time to take stock of where they are at spiritually. Maybe considering a few things to fast from, if not a food fast. Perhaps recommitting themselves to prayer or to extend their time of meditation. Still others may bringing before the Lord any relationships that need healing or forgiveness that needs to be given/received.
I’m not talking about religious window dressing here, I am talking about the response to the genuine impulse to ‘get back to basics’ with God and the steps of obedience that many well meaning Christians will be taking because they really do love Jesus, and want to sow according to the Spirit.
Our choices matter. Our choices to sow according to the Spirit are never just our choices but in and of themselves only possible due to the prior leading of the Spirit within us. Nonetheless our choices matter to God….
……and to Satan. For of course the very opposite reason.
The last thing Satan wants at Easter time, (or anytime) is God’s people on their knees devoting themselves to God and the Gospel again in practical. So he attacks. Yes of course some might be a genuine direct spiritual attack, but many times; indirectly through’the kingdom of the air’ (Eph 2:2) which can pour just that little bit extra bit of petrol on the fire of the lie we’re struggling with.
We live in an age where the only thing worse than….I don’t know, insert whatever here:_______….is to be seen, or counted as religious. It’s about the only thing that is as equally frowned upon in the Church as it is in Society.
The Aussie society hates anything that looks religious because, well, it’s becoming more and more hard-line secular. Meanwhile, modern Christianity hates anything that looks religious because all it wants to be is ‘seeker sensitive’.
So I guess in this atmosphere, I shouldn’t be surprised about the following.
I don’t know about you, but the lie I have struggled with for many years whenever going through a time of deliberate re-commitment to God sound something like this:
“You’re just faking it. You’re just trying to do a whole bunch of external stuff to convince others and yourself that you are the real deal. But you’re just being a pharisee.”
To be honest, this really started to get to me.
Often when we decide to make good choices and sow according to the Spirit, there right around the corner, are doubts over our motivations. and then one day, I read this:
Job 1:10-11 Have you not put a fence around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11 But stretch out your hand now, and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.”
This, is Satan speaking to God concerning Job right after God tells Satan how cool he thinks Job is.
Let me paraphrase what Satan’s saying; “Are you kidding me? He’s not the real deal at all, all this so-called righteousness is a pretense, he only worships you because it goes well for him but if you took away all the advantages he gets from knowing you, he’d throw in the towel.”
Satan attacks Job’s character and his pursuit of God and his righteousness by calling into question his motivations.
This staggered me.
I realized that whatever (or whoever) that voice was questioning my motivations to get near to God in practical ways, it wasn’t from God.
2 Cor 11:14 says; Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Perhaps one of the ways he does this is by becoming such an ‘angel of light’ that his expectations of us outweigh God’s. But God knows that this side of eternity, no one’s motivations are ever 100% pure. No one’s.
That’s the giveaway.
Nowhere does Jesus require us to be utterly perfect before we approach him. He merely asks that we approach him honestly. Satan on the other hand would love millions of people to miss out on knowing God in a deeper way because they were too scared of approaching him in practical ways for fear of being too ‘religious’.
So now, here’s how I fight the voice and you can too;
Dear Lord; I want to get closer. I think that committing to __________ is one practical way that I can make space for you in my life. But I’m not even 100% sure if that’s right, and I know my motivations will never be 100% pure. Only you are. But I trust that you are so enormously rich in Grace and mercy that even the desire to get closer to you brings you a smile, that you love me enough to redeem my feeble efforts and that even if I am totally wrong about all of this, you are so merciful that you’ll put me on the right track in due course. Amen.