“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord,
are being transformed into the same image from one degree
of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”
2 Corinthians 3:18
I was really jazzed last night as I was reading William Gurnall’s “The Christian In Complete Armor.” I’m really getting into pay dirt now! You know, it’s really nothing new, but it’s put together really well. So far, I’ve read about the futility of fighting sin on my own. And, it’s so nasty that I don’t want to live with it. My only hope is in my Savior. Duh.
Who doesn’t know that?
I will say that it has been a journey and one that is making me stronger in my faith. I really understand now that my sin wasn’t just alcohol but gluttony, and that isn’t limited to booze. Just as booze completely ensnared me, so did food. Now, I’ve realized this for a long time, but I never fully appreciated just how factual it is. This isn’t just theoretical, it is real life.
This isn’t the first time I’ve been on recovery’s road. I suppose one could say that I’ve been on it since my salvation. But this isn’t the first time I’ve lost weight. However, it is different. Let me share with you what Gurnall wrote:
“God can, in fact, use His saints’ failures to strengthen their faith, which, like a tree, stands stronger for the shaking. Times of testing expose the heart’s true condition. False faith, once foiled, seldom comes on again; but true faith rises and fights more valiantly, as we see in Peter. Temptation is to faith as fire is to gold (1 Pet. 1:7). The fire not only reveals which is true gold, but makes the true gold more pure. It comes out less in bulk, being separated from the dross that was mixed with it, but is greater in quality and value.” P. 120-121
That is the transformation that Paul describes in our opening verse. Even though my relapses are discouraging and beat me down, God, in his divine power and way, is making me stronger because of it. Satan thinks he has me down for the count, but he doesn’t. God uses my failure to make me even stronger. Isn’t that encouraging? Let me share Colossians with you.
Colossians 2:13-15 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.
By rulers and authorities, Paul is referring to the devil and his bunch. No matter what Satan says about me regarding condemnation, he is a liar. Jesus canceled all that and did what? Set it aside and nailed it to the cross. He put Satan to shame. That’s the reality of it all. Satan tries to shame me, but he is the one who has to hide. That’s why he flees when we resist him (James 4:7). Jesus triumphed over them all!
Yet there are times when sin beats me down, and I can’t seem to take this message to heart. That’s ok because God already knows this. What I don’t see at the time is that he is using these times of seeming defeat to make me even stronger and more fruitful for the kingdom. Every time Satan wins, he loses by even more! It ALWAYS flies back in his lying face! Hah! Do you see this?
Believe it or not, we are better for these trials. We really are!
Romans 5:1-5 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
James 1:2-4 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
1 Peter 8-10 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
1 John 5:1-5 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
Hebrews 12:11-13 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight your paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.
Paul, James, Peter, John, and whoever wrote Hebrews. All the apostles spoke of being stronger because of the trials. So, be encouraged, rather than discouraged, when your sin seems too powerful for you. God will use this trial to advance the kingdom, of that you can be sure.
“He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.”
1 Thessalonians 5:24
Now, one last comment. I do know Christians who have died because of their sin – overdoses, for example. Does that mean God failed them with regard to all I have spoken? Hardly. Yes, God allowed them to die because of their sin; and with Ananias and Sapphira, God intentionally killed them (Acts 5:1-11). Sin is no joke. There are consequences. However, in all these deaths of believers, God made his church stronger. Listen, many men became stronger in their faith because of the friends that died from overdose. That lesson will be taught and re-taught countless times by the survivors. Certainly, the church was stronger because God dealt harshly with Ananias and Sapphira. Furthermore, we see Paul commanding the church to put a believer out so that Satan may devour his flesh yet he spirit might be saved (1 Corinthians 5:5).
Make no mistake, I am not encouraging sin. “The wages of sin is death.” Even for believers. Don’t mess with it. However, know this, Jesus has forgiven your sin. You cannot lose genuine salvation. Far better to heed warnings and quickly come in line to enjoy fruitful kingdom life than to be in bondage with the devil in sin. God is faithful to forgive missteps.
So, if you are down, be encouraged. Know full-heartedly that God will make you stronger because of your trial. Therefore, lift your head up all the earlier because of it. Yes, you are down, but put your eyes on Jesus, and you will be up sooner than you think possible. The joy of the Lord is your strength!
Father, encourage people with this message of hope. Thank you. Amen.
Copyright © 2020 Scott Powers
Photo by Jens Thekkeveettil on Unsplash