Ordinarily my blog entries tend to take the form of devotionals – a little scripture, a little reflection, a little admonition. They aren’t normally quite as personal as this one will be, but I wanted to share something that God has been showing me recently that is really changing the way I approach my daily walk. Simply put, He’s shown me this:
The devil doesn’t have to get us to believe a lie, he just has to find a way to distract us with it for long enough that we lose our focus.
I don’t know how your personal walk of faith works on a daily basis, but I know what mine is like. And personally, I know I’ve spent a lot of time in my life informing the devil that I wasn’t going to believe his lies, and that he didn’t have any power over me, and that I was a child of God and he’d better stop trying to convince me otherwise because I wasn’t going to believe him no matter what. Did you see what I said there? I’ve spent a lot of time…
I’ve heard pastors, Bible study leaders and friends encouraging one another not to believe the lies of the devil – and that’s absolutely right. We shouldn’t believe the lies the devil throws at us. However, neither should we be spend so much time being reactive in our faith that we forget to be proactive.
Actively pursuing God in the context of this life that He has given us is a completely different thing from just living life based on what we already know about Him. I believe that the spiritual powers of darkness that the Bible refers to are aware of this – that it’s not even necessary to get us to believe a lie if we allow ourselves to be pushed down the road of distraction. And I know that I’ve allowed myself to be pushed that way far too many times.
The interesting thing about this is that I’ve been a Christian long enough now that I absolutely know what the truth is. If you asked me if I believe that I am a child of God and that I am fully and wholly loved, I would answer, “Yes!” 100% of the time. And I don’t believe that anything the devil throws at me is really convincing me to the contrary. So why, then, have I spent so many hours of my life informing the devil of things he already knows, and I technically already believe?
I really think it’s for this reason: If the devil can get us to spend a lot of time informing him of what we both already know to be true, he can keep us from deepening our understanding of God in new ways. He can keep us from experiencing the infinity of God.
I believe that God loves me. But do I understand every facet of what that means? Absolutely not. I believe that I am a child of God. But do I understand every aspect of that relationship? Absolutely not. I believe that I can find complete wholeness in God. But do I understand every detail of what true wholeness is? Absolutely not.
What I am realizing (and hopefully you can see too) is that what I should be focusing the majority of my time on as a believer is not what I already know about God but is what I do not yet know about God.
How often, when we are battling temptation or difficulties, or even just living our daily walk of faith, do we actually take time to contemplate the infinity of our God?
Ephesians 6:11-17 is the passage we usually run to when we talk about battling the devil. We love these verses, with their incredible imagery of the Christian in full armor, fending off the darts thrown by an evil archenemy. Verse 16 of that passage reads, “In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” We usually think of this shield as faith in the sense of what we already know – the Bible verses or truths we quote when we’re tempted or when we face grief or pain or struggle.
But what if this faith that is our shield isn’t supposed to only consist of what we already know? What if we intentionally set out to make this shield of faith a living thing in our lives that grows daily? And what if we looked at every attack as a new opportunity to discover how infinite that shield can really be?
If God is infinite, then our relationship with Him also exist in an infinity of possibility. If we ignore God’s infinity, we lose something vital to the growth of our faith. We might not be able to fully grasp the infinity of God, but we do need to recognize it and embrace it. For me, the practical application of what I’ve been discussing above is this:
I will no longer be content that what I know of God is enough, and react to attacks by asking, “What do I already know about God that can help me survive this situation?” Rather, I will proactively and intentionally seek a fuller understanding of who God is on a daily basis, and when I do encounter attacks I will ask God, “What new aspects of Yourself are you going to show me through this?”
I believe that this can be a revolutionary way of thinking in our Christian walk, because it means that in every single circumstance, the focus remains on who God is. If even the temptations and struggles of life are seen as opportunities to experience the infinity of our God, then the devil literally no longer has any power at all. Even his attempted distractions won’t have the intended affect because they will propel us even further into relationship with the Lord.
This is not a way of living life that we can achieve overnight. It will require sacrifice, and discipline, and time – but there is nothing more worthy of our focus. Nothing, and no one, more worthy than our infinite God.
Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about cleansing rites, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting, we will do so.
1 Corinthians 2:9-10
“What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”— the things God has prepared for those who love him— these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.