Troubles – part five

Last week’s prayer letter dealt with troubles we experience as a result of our enemy Satan’s lies. He is the accuser of believers (Rev. 12:10). He brings up our past sins to discourage us. Scripture says that every born again believer has victory over Satan through his/her union with Christ (Rev. 12:11; 1 John 5:1-5). Every true believer is a new creature in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17). Every true believer has been washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of Christ and by the Spirit of God (1 Cor. 6:11).

Another trouble we experience results from a slightly different attack of Satan. He seeks to get us to focus on ourselves – our weaknesses and strengths. It is usually very subtle. When we begin to focus on our lack of skill and proficiency in areas of life, we become very discouraged. We don’t even realize how self-absorbed we become in moments such as these. These spiritual attacks are experienced by every true believer, but the areas which the enemy attacks are unique for each of us. For some of us the attacks relate to our limitations in speaking, reading, learning, knowledge, etc… As a result, we feel very self-conscious and Satan attacks those weaknesses with statements like, “You can’t do that! You aren’t good enough!” Now, let me say that the proper response to such attacks is not self-help pep talks. If that is our response, we are still looking to ourselves for help rather than Almighty God.

A biblical example of such a situation is found in the life of Moses (Ex. 3-4). The Lord called Moses to lead His people out of Egypt and to be His spokesman before Pharaoh. Moses’ response was, “But Moses replied to the Lord, ‘Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent—either in the past or recently or since You have been speaking to Your servant —because I am slow and hesitant in speech’” (Ex. 4:10).1 God promptly reminded Moses who made his mouth (4:11). He declared that He would help Moses speak and teach him what to say (4:12). Moses replied, “Please, Lord, send someone else(Ex. 4:13). What did Moses just do? He looked at his own limitations and believed God could not overcome those things. Satan attacks our weaknesses and limitations. He points out our lack of Bible knowledge. He points out our lack of eloquence. He points out how slowly we read. He points out how difficult it is for us to understand God’s Word. And the list goes on and on because our inadequacies loom large over our heads. Satan attacks our limitations.

It is reality that we have limitations because we are not God. Only the one true God, the God of the Bible, has no limitations. We have inadequacies because we are sinners who fail to see God’s ability to do whatever He pleases through His people, no matter what limitations we have. The Lord did not call us to salvation in Christ because He saw talents, abilities, or skills in us that He needed (1 Cor. 1:26-31). God chose to save people (all of us are totally undeserving of salvation) for His own glory, in accordance with His favor and will (Eph. 1:3-6). So, when Satan attacks our limitations and weaknesses, where do we look? We look to Christ! When our minds and hearts are filled with the knowledge of the greatness of the incomparable Christ, we become unconcerned with our personal limitations. We become self-forgetful, rather than self-absorbed. We become so amazed by the unparalleled wisdom, knowledge, and power of the Lord God that we no longer worry about what we can or can’t do! Frequently, God calls His people to serve Him through areas of weakness so that the resulting glory will be clearly and exceedingly His. God accomplishes things through His people that only He could accomplish.

Paul addresses our limitations in light of the greatness of God’s power. He mentions how God has saved all true believers and then says, “Now we have this treasure in clay jars, so that this extraordinary power may be from God and not from us” (2 Cor. 4:7). God saving us and using us to glorify Himself is designed to make Him look great! We as sinful creatures are inherently limited and God is not. Furthermore, He is not even limited by our limitations! God can do whatever He pleases (Matt. 19:23-26). Think with me for a moment: what makes you valuable? Your first instinct may be to list your abilities, talents, skills, and accomplishments. But, none of these things are what make you valuable. You are valuable because God created you and He created you in His own image (Gen. 1:26-27; 5:1-2). You are valuable because the eternal, sinless Son of God Jesus Christ died for your sins on the cross, so that you may be reconciled to God and avoid His judgment (John 3:16-17). These realities mean that you are valuable and none of it has anything to do with what you have done, nor with what you ever will do. God desires us to have a proper, biblical view of Him and of ourselves. A.W. Tozer once said, “I believe there is scarcely an error in doctrine or a failure in applying Christian ethics that cannot be traced finally to imperfect and ignoble thoughts about God” (p. 11).2 Next week I will address what Scripture says about troubles that result from the sin of pride.

May the glory of the Lord endure forever; may the Lord rejoice in His works. He looks at the earth, and it trembles; He touches the mountains, and they pour out smoke. I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God while I live. May my meditation be pleasing to Him; I will rejoice in the Lord. May sinners vanish from the earth and wicked people be no more. My soul, praise Yahweh! Hallelujah!” (Ps. 104:31–35).

1Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, HCSB®, and Holman CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers. The Holy Bible: Holman Christian Standard Version. (Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 2009).

2Tozer, A.W. The Knowledge of the Holy. HarperCollins, 1978.

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