How does a Christian go about correcting the abuses he recognizes in his life? Assuming that all the iniquities have been broken, demons delivered, and hurts healed, how does he change a lifetime of behavior and feelings? How does a compliant individual overcome his fear of rejection and become bold and confrontational? How does a controlling person stop destructive behaviors and adopt new relational habits? Now that an individual is free, delivered, and healed, how does he change?
The answer to these questions lies in a personal and intimate relationship with God through Jesus Christ. How does one become intimate with a being that doesn’t talk? Well, God does talk. We must listen.
We understand in our earthly relationships that to be intimate with anyone involves, at the very least, two things – TIME and COMMUNICATION. Both of these requirements take EFFORT, and that effort requires SELF-DISCIPLINE. The same principles hold true in relationship with God. Intimacy entails time investment that seems fruitless and boring but that is precisely how a relationship begins. At first, it may be slow, but, over time, it deepens and develops into meaningful friendship. To enrich our relationship with God, we must spend the time it takes to know Him and recognize His voice.
“Show me Your ways, O Lord; Teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; On You I wait all the day.” Psalm 25:4-5 (NKJV)
To “wait” means “to await with the notion of holding on strongly; and during the time becoming wound together with the object of the waiting.”
True repentance is a humbling experience, and not a casual, perfunctory apology tossed up as an afterthought to God. Repentance involves godly sorrow.
“Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.” 2 Corinthians 7:9-10 (NKJV)
Repentance opens our eyes to sin and destructive behavior, it also produces humility. When we truly repent without excuses, the facade of pride that has for so long protected our ego collapses. God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Since one form of pride is unhealthy self-love or self-devotion, true love and pride cannot coexist. The Greek word used in the New Testament for God’s type of love is the word “agape.” Agape love is a loved based on decision, where sacrifice for others is honored above feelings. When an individual repents and pride is put aside, agape love can take root in his heart.
“And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is NO FEAR IN LOVE; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us.” I John 4:16-19 NKJV
As a child climbs into the lap of his daddy, we climb into the arms of our Heavenly Father. How fearful can life be when viewed from His lap? How concerned can we be about our needs for love, security, and significance when the One who made us loves us so? Intimacy with God will bring changes in our lives, while meeting our deepest and most important needs. God loves us deeply and desires a relationship with us even more than we desire one with Him.
Take whatever step is necessary right now to further your relationship with God. Make the decision to NEVER GIVE UP IN YOUR JOURNEY TO FIND GOD. He promises us in His Word that if we seek Him, we will find Him (Matthew 7:7). Not only is that promise true, it is the father-heart of God crying out to us to come home to Him. Only there can we find true and lasting freedom from our past and hope for the future.
The ministry of the Holy Spirit is fundamental to our Christian life. He is the one who creates a desire in our hearts first to be saved and then to live a life pleasing to the Lord. Let’s look more closely at His role in making us part of God’s family.
It begins with illumination. Prior to our salvation, we were all spiritually dead. (Ephesians 2:1 – 2) Dead people cannot desire spiritual things; nor do they have any deep interest in seeking God. In addition, our physical minds were blinded by Satan, leaving us unable to understand the truth of the Gospel. (2 Corinthians 4:3 – 4) For the situation to be corrected, Christ’s Spirit had to penetrate our minds and teach us spiritual truth. Apart from the Holy Spirit, there is no understanding of divine matters. (1 Corinthians 2:14)
Illumination is followed by conviction. The Holy Spirit convicts us of sin, Christ’s righteousness, and the coming judgment. As our minds absorb some basic truths about our sinful tendencies, we begin to feel dissatisfied with our behavior. Guilt occurs as we realize our own rebellion and self-centeredness. Our self-assurance over the rightness of our actions and motives disappears, and we feel sorrow instead.
The enlightening and convicting work of the Spirit is followed by the gift of faith, which leads to new life. (Ephesians 2:8) When we trust Christ as Savior, we will repent and turn away from ungodliness.
Each new life of faith is ushered into the Father’s family through the mission work of the Holy Spirit. Praise God for the gift of His Spirit!
So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time.” Revelation 12:9-12
The devil, who deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night FOREVER and EVER. Revelation 20:10