One of my earliest memories is of going with my mother and sister to visit my mother’s friend at her house. All of us kids were relegated to playing in the basement while the two adults stayed upstairs to read tarot cards for one another. So what’s the big deal? It’s just a game, right? I also remember there being a Ouija board in the house. So what’s the big deal? It’s just a toy, right?
I won’t go into all that went on in our house as we grew up, but suffice it to say, God’s enemy did not see those things as mere toys, and because there were minds open to the spiritually dark world, there was spiritually dark activity in our house. As well as I know the peace and presence of God now, I knew the feeling of evil forces then. I have felt the overwhelming fear that comes with the presence of a demon and I know just how real it is.
I’m grateful that not everyone has had first-hand knowledge of such things, even more so those of you who have grown up in a home with parents who loved the Lord. The reality of the power of satan may be as real to you as living on the moon. But we are told throughout God’s Word that demons are as real as you and me. And not only that but we are warned in 1 Peter 5:8 to, “Be sensible and vigilant, because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking someone he may devour;”
And again, Ephesians 6:12 warns believers that “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the world's rulers, of the darkness of this age, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
This is our battle and yet do we remember that in our day to day lives? This battle exists because there are two sides - for good and for evil, that are vying for how we walk, or don’t walk, in Christ and for our witness in Him.
Jesus tells us in John 10:10 that, “The thief does not come except to steal and to kill and to destroy.” The world is the enemies’ playground. He will use anything or anyone that is appealing to us to keep luring us into the things of the world that will then prevent us from living our lives uncompromisingly for the Lord.
So what are the enemies’ ways? He is a liar and a deceiver. As he did with Eve in the garden, he will whisper in our ears that this thing isn’t that bad, is it? And the enemy has no problem mixing in a little of the truth with the lie to make it more palatable to us. He will take his time, gradually introducing temptations and half-truths. And if we aren’t carefully discerning, we’ll take those compromises one by one until our conscience is seared and one day we look up and see that we have wandered far from the truth.
Isaiah 5:20 says, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil; who put darkness for light and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!”
We may view some things that the world is offering up as no big deal, as mere entertainment, but does the enemy? Does God? With all the media outlets available to us right now, we are being absolutely bombarded with the world’s perspective and those things that God calls evil are being portrayed as good, and what God calls good is being slandered as evil. And the worst part? Even many who have called themselves Christians are living no differently than the unsaved in the world do. We have forgotten to be spiritually discerning. We have forgotten to walk in the Spirit. And because of that, many in the body of Christ are falling away – not from their salvation, but from living lives that glorify God. Many are eating, drinking and being merry, and forgetting that tomorrow they will die and stand before God.
And though we won’t be judged for our sins if we have received the forgiveness for them through the blood of Christ, we will face the bema seat of Christ – the judgment seat, for reward or loss according to what we have done in Christ. “For we must all appear before the judgment (bema) seat of Christ, so that each one may receive the things done through the body, according to that which he has done, whether good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 5:10)
Yes, God is infinitely more powerful than his adversary, but it is up to us who we give that power to in our lives. We have two choices: to continue to live and look like the world, or to live for the Lord.
“Therefore girding up the loins of your mind, being sober, perfectly hope for the grace being brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ, as obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance, but according to the Holy One who has called you, you also become holy in all conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy.’” 1 Peter 1:13-16
Jesus lived in the world but He was not of it. He didn’t allow the corruption in the world to change Him, but instead He changed the hearts and lives of those in the world. He was set apart for the work of His Father.
Now that we are in Christ, we are called to come out of the world to be a holy (set apart) people for the glory of God. Why? Because the ways of the world are not God’s ways, they are the enemies’ ways and they will hinder any spiritual growth and victory that we could experience in Jesus. James warned us, “Do you not know that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever desires to be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” (James 4:4)
“But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts. These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.” (Jude 1:17-20)
This world is full of people who mock the things of Christ and it may seem easier to blend in with the world, looking and sounding like them as Peter did while Jesus was being tried, than to be the object of their mockery.
But we are called to be a light in the darkness, illuminating Jesus Christ for the lost. Now is the time to put away the things of the world. Now is the time to redeem the days and live for Christ, doing all He has called us to do to run the race and not only to run, but to finish in victory.
Rather than living our lives as the unsaved do, without giving any thought to what we do or say or where we go, let us set aside those things that would stumble us or our brothers and sisters in Christ. Let us give sober thought to those things that we allow into our lives, to their origins, to their creator, to their consequences. Let us be spiritually discerning instead of eating up whatever the world offers us.
I’m not at all speaking of legalism, but I am speaking of returning to our first love, Jesus Christ. Christ died for us because of love; we received Him because of love; are we now living for Him because of love?
There is so much to do before the whisper of our days is gone. Each day is given to us only once. How will we spend them?
God has given each of us in Christ gifts to use to build up the body and glorify God. Are we being good stewards of those gifts, or have we set them aside, along with our treasures in heaven, for the temporary junk of this life? None of us knows if we will have tomorrow to pick up our gifts again to bring glory to our Master. Perhaps we’ve tried to mix the ungodly things of the world with the truth of God.
If you look up today and find that things of the world have littered your way, or that you’ve wandered from the Lord altogether, be of good cheer. You are only one prayer of repentance away.
Don’t forget the greatest purpose to which you were called: “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 12:30-31)