Are you a believer in Jesus Christ? Are you experiencing an internal battle that you seem to be losing? Are you struggling with circumstances as you try and walk right with God? This is a good sign your are on the right track. Life can be a series of battles and struggles, but God has the answer for them all.
If you are a struggling follower of Jesus Christ, and believe that the Holy Bible is the Word of God, you will find hope and encouragement reading this post.
If you call yourself a Christian but believe the Holy Bible is corrupt or are following “Another Gospel”, my prayer is that the truth in this post will lead you to the one in the book of John chapter 1 verse 1. A verse that is the same in every single ancient manuscript historians have in their possession, in every language, including ancient Greek.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God
Sources of Struggle
Christians can find themselves under siege from a number of sources, and a number of reasons. It could be testing or training, discipline or punishment, or it can be from an adversary, or can even be an internal struggle.
Prosperity and the Easy Christian Life
Don’t be taken in by the prosperity gospel being preached by ultra wealthy evangelists. They are making a living off of peoples desire for a richer life. They are only enriching themselves while their followers are paying the bill.
These false teachers have mega churches that are very popular with the masses, preaching to itching ears. They are delivering a message that does not offend, but it does not challenge sin and does not save either.
2 Timothy 4:3-5
For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.
The Christian is not exempt from the trials and struggles others go through. If fact, the Christian can expect his or her share and more. All through the New Testament, disciples and followers have been paying a price for following Jesus Christ. The disciples counted it joy when they suffered for the name of Jesus.
We are all in a war for our souls though some are not aware, don’t believe or just don’t care. The principles of war in the Old Testament can help us today in our spiritual warfare.
Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground,
The good news is that God gives the believer the ability to overcome spiritual opposition and what life throws at us. With God comes hope, peace and a future in this life and the next, something that those who reject God’s word do not have.
“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” [Jesus]
For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
Satan is limited in what he can do. He does not have free reign but is constrained by God and needs permission before acting against a believer. The devil is bound by and subject to the Lord of Lords and the King of Kings, who created him
So the Lord said to Satan, “All right, he is in your power; only preserve his life.”
“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat. (Jesus)
Although he can influence a believer, he cannot possess one. A believer is the temple of the Holy Spirit and that is where the Spirit of God resides. The devil can however influence your thoughts [Ephesians 6], and manipulate circumstances. He wants to destroy your testimony, making you ineffective for God. The Devil cannot steel your faith or take salvation from you. God holds you firmly
Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Why is Life a Struggle?
God’s perspective goes far beyond this life, it is eternal. Where as our perspective is the here and now. That is why we often cannot understand events in our lives. Think of it in a modern analogy, say our life is an Ultra High Definition (4k) movie running at 30 frames per second of action. Each frame is made up of something called pixels (dots). Each dot interacts with the one next to it making up the entire picture. Each frame of our movie has over 33 million pixels, multiply that by 30 frames and we are seeing almost a billion pixels a second, each second the movie is running. For the average 2.5 hr movie, or lifespan if you will, God is seeing the entire movie (9 trillion pixels) beginning from end, all at once, and we barely see a single pixel each day. How can we judge or even comment on how things play out?
Add to that the wisdom of the creation of the universe, (visible and the invisible) and we just start to envision the ignorance in which we are operating.
Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him. He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together.
We do know that this is a fallen world with disease and decay causing suffering and loss of mortal life. In many instances, life can seem cruel and unfair. I have been there in my own life and do not have all the answers, but I do have hope that one day, God will make everything right, even if it is not in this life.
There is comfort for the believer in the knowledge that we are not alone in our struggle. God is not so far removed from us that he doesn’t understand. Jesus walked in human shoes experiencing all of life’s trials. He also endured the horrors of man’s inhumanity to man when he was falsely accused, tortured and sentenced to a slow agonizing death. He is God’s “only begotten” Son, so we know that God is intimate with suffering and injustice. We can trust that Jesus understands our pain and our struggle.
We can also take comfort in the knowledge that God is sovereign over everything he surveys, the creator of all that is, so nothing that happens is outside his knowledge and power. This can also be disturbing to some, but remember, we don’t see the whole movie and we don’t see the ramifications of eternity, or the justice and recompense that is coming in eternity
Arenʼt two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Fatherʼs will.
Not to be interpreted that God actually kills the sparrow, it means that through his sovereignty and wisdom, he allows events to occur. There is a difference between actively killing the bird, and allowing occurrences such as predators, sickness or drought to take their course. What we can take from this and other scripture is that everything is subject to God’s will.
Testing Our Faith
Battles and circumstances in our lives can reveal our faith or lack of it, and God uses them to test us.
Judges 2:20, 22
The Lord said… “This nation has violated the terms of the agreement I made with their ancestors by disobeying me…
Joshua left those nations to test Israel. I wanted to see whether or not the people would carefully walk in the path marked out by the Lord, as their ancestors were careful to do.”
Are we going to trust God or our own wisdom? When life doesn’t go our way, are we going to turn our backs on God and accuse him or even judge his fairness or character?
All right, you may test him,” the LORD said to Satan. “Do whatever you want with everything he possesses, but don’t harm him physically.” So Satan left the LORD’s presence.
Job was a righteous man but still Satan was permitted to take his possession and even take the lives of his children. This is hard to reconcile, but presumably Job’s children were all righteous too, meaning that though they were killed, ultimately they went into God’s presence. This would make the hardship Job’s and not the children’s from God’s perspective. I don’t know but we have to remember there is so much we don’t see, don’t know or understand about this and the next life.
If we deny God and turn to our own wisdom and devices, the battles will be lost and often, the same people who deny God to begin with also blame him when their plans don’t succeed.
2 Chronicles 16:7
At that time Hanani the prophet visited King Asa of Judah and said to him: “Because you relied on the king of Syria and did not rely on the Lord your God, the army of the king of Syria has escaped from your hand.
2 Chronicles 16:8-9
Did not the Cushites and Libyans have a huge army with chariots and a very large number of horsemen? But when you relied on the Lord, he handed them over to you! Certainly the Lord watches the whole earth carefully and is ready to strengthen those who are devoted to him. You have acted foolishly in this matter…
Those who go down to Egypt for help are as good as dead, those who rely on war horses, and trust in Egyptʼs many chariots and in their many, many horsemen. But they do not rely on the Holy One of Israel and do not seek help from the Lord.
Experiencing how tactics work in real life scenarios is what builds confidence, faith, trust and a strong bond. we see this principal in team sports and in military combat. It is deep in the battle when God reveals himself if we trust him and put into practice what he teaches us. Those who practice Faith, discipline and obedience will see the deliverance of the Lord.
Faith comes by hearing [reading, studying] the word. Discipline yourself to spend time with God in prayer and in his word and apply what he says to your life. It really is that simple, the problem is, many of us don’t do it, then blame God when again, things don’t work out.
Consequently faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the preached word of Christ.
If we are to gain courage and faith, we need to see God at work by applying his truth against the strategies of our spiritual enemy.
These are the nations that the LORD left in the land to test those Israelites who had not experienced the wars of Canaan. He did this to teach warfare to generations of Israelites who had no experience in battle.
King David is a good example of someone who was tested in battle and received the confidence of the Lords faithfulness because he made the Lord is life.
Even when an army is deployed against me,
I do not fear. Even when war is imminent,
I remain confident. I have asked the Lord for one thing – this is what I desire!
I want to live in the Lordʼs house all the days of my life, so I can gaze at the splendor of the Lord and contemplate in his temple.
Psalms 144:1-2 [King David]
The Lord, my protector, deserves praise – the one who trains my hands for battle, and my fingers for war, who loves me and is my stronghold, my refuge and my deliverer, my shield and the one in whom I take shelter, who makes nations submit to me.
David did not get to this point by reading about God, he experienced his power and faithfulness in battle and in need. Today we are no different.
We may not be in physical combat as David was but we are in a spiritual battle with our own sinful flesh and with Satan and his kingdom. The battleground is our mind, our thoughts and our desires.
I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me.
2 Corinthians 10:3-5
For though we live as human beings, we do not wage war according to human standards, for the weapons of our warfare are not human weapons, but are made powerful by God for tearing down strongholds. We tear down arguments and every arrogant obstacle that is raised up against the knowledge of God, …
Where do the conflicts and where do the quarrels among you come from? Is it not from this, from your passions that battle inside you?
1 Peter 2:11
Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls.
The Christian has an internal battle raging. Maybe you wonder why you don’t do what you want to do, but end up doing exactly what you don’t want to do? The apostle Paul had the same complaint.
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. … For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.
He said, “who will save me from this body of death”. Romans 8 gives us the answer and that is the Holy Spirit through the gift of grace in Jesus Christ.
Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.
You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.
It is the Holy Spirit who contends with our sinful nature, the part of us we cannot bring into obedience to God. What we cannot do, Jesus accomplished with his death and resurrection and by sending us the Holy Spirit.
For the flesh has desires that are opposed to the Spirit, and the Spirit has desires that are opposed to the flesh, for these are in opposition to each other, so that you cannot do what you want.
The same word used here for opposed is translated in 1 Tim 5:14, Luke, Phil, 1 Cor, and 2 Thessalonians as adversary and opponent. The Spirit of God is our spiritual advocate and the adversary of our flesh, who is going to win that battle?
Through the Spirits power, we have been given everything we need to live godly lives. We need only to believe, continue in faith and obedience, applying God’s word to our lives.
2 Peter 1:3
By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life…
1 Corinthians 11:29-30
For if you eat the bread or drink the cup without honoring the body of Christ, you are eating and drinking God’s judgment upon yourself. That is why many of you are weak and sick and some have even died.
Then Peter said, “Ananias, why have you let Satan fill your heart? You lied to the Holy Spirit, … How could you do a thing like this? You weren’t lying to us but to God!” As soon as Ananias heard these words, he fell to the floor and died
…dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live.
Scripture teaches that God deserves reverence. God’s heart is always for repentance and reconciliation. He loves each of us and he wants all people to be saved. Punishment seems to be for the unrepentant who continually reject God’s discipline, and urging. No one knows just how suffering God is and only he knows where the line is as he does give people over to their sins if they insist on rejecting him.
As surely as I live, says the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of wicked people. I only want them to turn from their wicked ways so they can live.
1 Timothy 2:3-4
This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.
As for the struggling believer, who hates his behavior and sincerely wants to change but hasn’t doesn’t know how, there is always hope and a chance for forgiveness.
2 Timothy 2:13
If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful,
But he knows our motives and our hearts, God will not be fooled or played.
Is There a Benefit to Obedience?
“ʻIf you walk in my statutes and are sure to obey my commandments, I will give you your rains in their time so that the land will give its yield and the trees of the field will produce their fruit. Threshing season will extend for you until the season for harvesting grapes, and the season for harvesting grapes will extend until sowing season, so you will eat your bread until you are satisfied, and you will live securely in your land. I will grant peace in the land so that you will lie down to sleep without anyone terrifying you. I will remove harmful animals from the land, and no sword of war will pass through your land. … Five of you will pursue a hundred, and a hundred of you will pursue ten thousand, and your enemies will fall before you… I will … maintain my covenant with you. You will still be eating stored produce from the previous year and will have to clean out what is stored from the previous year to make room for new.
“ʻ… I will walk among you, and I will be your God and you will be my people.
And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as his children? He said, “My child, don’t make light of the LORD’s discipline, and don’t give up when he corrects you. For the LORD disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.”
As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father? If God doesn’t discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children at all.
All through the bible, discipline is motivated by love for the good and the ultimate protection of the believer.
Hardship and trials are going to happen. We must remember, the ultimate goal is eternal life with God, not a long and prosperous life on earth. God sees death far differently than we do. We tend to see it as a bad thing as we look through our temporal glasses.
I have lost a son and a daughter after only a very short time with them. The fall of man and the subsequent decay and disease that resulted from that could very well have been the demise of my children, I do not blame God as I remember that they did not cease to exist as they took their last breaths in the arms of my wife and I.
Gods ways are not our ways and we cannot see the whole movie as God does. We must have faith and trust that God is who he says he is, and will do what he says he will.
Battles, trials and opposition reveal God’s faithfulness, his goodness, his glory and his power if we let him. They also reveal our weaknesses and our faith. Without struggle, we cannot grow in intimacy and relationship with our heavenly Father, we can only gain knowledge about a distant deity.