Sometimes I wish I would get to the point where I have it all together - haha! That isn't going to happen anytime soon! At least I wish I could get a firm grip on grace and not sometimes slip back into that awful performance thinking - aargh! I really have needed a big dose of grace and love and acceptance in my life lately, as I have been down and feeling condemned about a certain aspect of my life. In my case, it's my lack of ability to be consistent in intercessory prayer like I "want" to be. But really, any work or struggle will suffice to be used by Satan to accuse us when we fall short..
Does anybody else identify with this scenario: You see another Christian who is so vibrant and alive and thriving in a certain aspect of their Christian life (for me, enter the intercessory prayer warrior). A tiny, little, seemingly harmless thought pops in the mind - "I really should do that too" - for me, it was about praying for other people more. So you start to "try" to add in that Christian virtue (notice the focus on self-effort, oh-so-subtle! It's like we're putting ourselves back under law without even realizing it - ugh!) Then the inevitable failure. (I forget to pray for people that I said I would pray for! I go for days without interceding for anyone, even myself! I feel like a rotten excuse for a prayer warrior! I try to think, well, maybe this just isn't "my" kind of ministry - but it's too late, I've already agreed to help lead the intercessory prayer chain group at church! ARGH! Sadly, this is all a true story..)
Next comes the inevitable attack..the enemy with his lies..."See, you are a rotten Christian. A hypocrite, too! You failure! Surely God's displeased with you, disappointed. Can't you do any better than that? You are hopeless as a Christian, just what was suspected all along. Don't go crawling to God now, why would He want you around? You've fallen from your strong walk in God and would have to work too hard to get back to that position of growth and closeness with God. So why try? Give up. Run the other way. Drown your sad and sorry feelings in meaningless hobbies. Withdraw from other Christians because they are better than you anyways and will probably judge you if you admit your struggles. You are such a loser, just like you always feared.."
It hurts even to write that because so many of those lies have been thrown at me at times. And they are ALL lies! God told me recently a very simple thing: "Stand on the Word." What the devil says and what feelings say and what other people say isn't the Word. The Word is what GOD says, and that's the final authority, the truth, and the last word on the matter! God is teaching me all over again, as He washes over me in grace and acceptance, what His Word really says:
The Word says: "You are accepted in the Beloved." (Eph. 1:6)
The Word says: "You are called a son/daughter of God - that is what you are!" (1 John 3:1)
The Word says: "Noone can snatch you out of My hand." (John 10:28)
The Word says: "God is not counting your sins against you!" (2 Co. 5:19)
The Word says: "You are not under law but under grace!" (Rom. 6:14)
The Word says: "There is NO condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus!" (Rom. 8:1)
The Word says: "The law of the Spirit has set you free from the law of sin and death! (Rom. 8:2)
The Word says: "He that the Son sets free is free indeed!" (John 8:36)
The Word says: "I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy. (Lk. 10:19)
The Word says: "You are more than conquerors through Him who loved you! (Rom. 8:37)
The Word says: "NOTHING shall separate you from His love! (Rom. 8:38-9)
The Word says: "You have been set right with God as a free gift through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ! (Rom. 3:24)
The Word says: "You are the righteousness OF GOD in Christ!" (2 Corin. 5:21)
The Word says: "You are a new creation. Old things have passed away, and ALL things have become NEW!" (2 Corin. 5:17)
The Word says: "I will NEVER leave you or forsake you!" (Heb. 13:5)
Wow, I love it! So God is reminding me that when the enemy tries to pull the old "you're under a set of performance rules, and if you fail you're condemned," that I can remember the truth that hasn't changed, no matter how my feelings waver: I am still as accepted and loved and cherished as ever. I am NOT under a set of performance rules. God isn't looking down at me to see how I'm measuring up or not. He is looking at me with intense love for His little child. He is holding me in His arms and won't let go. Nothing can stop His love from coming to me, not even my sin - my sin has been removed and is gone, never to be held against me again! I'm not under law (earn acceptance or else be punished), no! I am under grace (He accepts me already without any having to earn it, so receive acceptance for free!)
And in my case, even if I never become a prayer warrior like my friend, I am still 100% fine and accepted and SUCCESSFUL as a Christian right now, because I've been accepted through the work of the Son! I've been born again by grace through simple faith, just believing the gospel of grace (the good news that God has reconciled me to Him in Christ). I'm a new creation in Him. I don't have to do anything to earn an acceptance that is already mine by BIRTHRIGHT! Always His child! Always innocent in His sight! Always pure and holy and clean! Always cherished and beautiful in His eyes! Always a DELIGHT to Him! Always, forever, once-for-all, for sure, perfectly and completely taken in, included and ACCEPTED! Belonging with Him for always! THAT'S living by faith, walking by the Spirit, being built up in Him..
Thank You, Lord, for defeating the lies that attack my mind! Thank You for showing me the condemnation I sometimes FEEL isn't even REAL! Lift off every lie that may be clouding our vision and perception right now. Let us clearly see You in all Your glorious grace and love for us! Let us see how perfect that love really is, how wonderful and freely ours, how eternally and permanently ours! Thank You so much for who You are - the Purest, Truest, Best, most Amazing LOVE in this universe, a Love that is Pure Grace from start to finish! We love You, O Lord!