…"But the Word of God is not chained or imprisoned!" 2Tim. 2:9
Lots of people wish life had an easy button… like the commercial for the office supply store Staples, where you just push the big red button with the word “easy” on it and everything you want just magically happens. But the reality is, there are no easy buttons in life, and that is especially true in Christianity—even though people often think and act like God is the easy button for us.
Frequently, believers will treat God like the magic genie or giant vending machine in the sky. We ask Him to do things just so we don’t have to do it ourselves; then we don’t have to put any work or effort into a situation. Husbands and wives will pray for God to make their marriage better, yet they will continue to invest no time and attention into the relationship. People may be diagnosed with some illness or condition and beg God to heal them and take it away, but they won’t do anything to change their diet, exercise or lifestyle that would improve their health. Students will blow off studying for an exam, yet earnestly pray for God to help them do well on the test. There are people who pray and ask God to bring them a job or a spouse, but never go out and look for one! I hate to be the one to break the news to you, but that’s not the way it works.
God will help us. We can ask Him to give us the strength and courage to persevere and do the right things—like dealing with disease, a difficult relationship, or temptation—but He doesn’t just magically fix it or take it all away to make it easy. This is especially true when it comes to dealing with and controlling feelings. Here is one common example that I’ve heard numerous times from men: I’m so tempted to look at other women and pornography and I’ve prayed and prayed for God to take those feelings away. I’ve also heard people say that they are experiencing great temptation with attraction to another person other than their spouse and want God to just “take those feelings away”. Mind you, they don’t want to flee the temptation or stay away from this person or situation. They don’t want to learn to control their feelings—they want the easy button instead. And quite simply, there isn’t one.
Part of being a Christ follower is learning not to be led by feelings. We must learn that feelings don’t determine our behavior or else we will be doomed. Most people think that if they feel it, they just have to do it and that’s why they pray those prayers asking God to “take them away”. They reason that surely humans can’t help what they feel! Sadly, too many people end up being slaves to their feelings and think they cannot possibly manage, control or resist their urges, temptations and emotions. Therefore they believe that the only reasonable and certain solution is for God to just zap them away. Nonsense!
The bible is very clear that we are to fight temptation and that God will help us so we don’t have to succumb. I Corinthians 10:13 says: No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. (NIV) That means you don’t have to give in, nothing is too much for you to take—despite what your feelings tell you. In the book of James scripture tells us to resist the devil and he will flee from you (4:7). But we don’t want to resist the devil; we want to pray and ask God to make him to go away. These are wrong thoughts and wrong prayers. God won’t do it. He won’t sprinkle you with pixie dust and make it all vanish. We are expected to live by His word and that means we have to do our part in this—never giving up and never giving in. James goes on to say we are blessed when we persevere (1:12 and 5:11)
Every human being is tempted—whether that means you are tempted by visual lusts, feelings of attraction or dissatisfaction, the tendency to be mean and nasty to people, complacency in your faith, food, alcohol, drugs, and the list goes on and on—but that doesn’t mean we are to be condemned for feeling certain things. We are to resist, not in our own will power, because as believers we have the Holy Spirit and the power of the risen Christ at work in us to enable us to stand up to any and every temptation or feeling. The problem is often people equate the want to with the have to, but just because you feel it, doesn’t mean that you listen to those wants or feelings or that you act upon them. And sometimes those “want tos” can be really strong, but they are never greater than the strength we have as Christians. Don’t tell me that your desire to look at porn is more powerful than Jesus!
It’s at times of temptation and struggle that we must rely on the power available to us. That is when it is vitally important to have the word of God in you so are able to quote the truths of scripture that will enable you to combat and fight those urges.** Only then will we be able to break free from being a slave to feelings and not allow emotions to dictate our choices. We must stop thinking we have to be “true and honest to our feelings”. They are the most unreliable and dishonest thing a person could possibly follow. As Christians we must learn to control our feelings and not allow them to control us.
Stop asking and expecting God to do all the heavy lifting, just so you can have it easy and not do the work that it requires.
Remember, Jesus said “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Any anxious Christian would love to have this prayer offered on his behalf: “May the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance. . . . The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.”
Those powerful, encouraging words come from the apostle Paul at the end of his second letter to the Thessalonian church (2 Thessalonians 3:16, 18). They serve as a potent reminder of where we can and should turn when anxiety threatens—to “the Lord of peace Himself.”
Peace is commonly defined as the sense of calm, tranquility, quietness, bliss, contentment, and well-being that we feel when everything is going the way we’d like it to go. That definition, however, is incomplete because those feelings can also be produced by a pill—or by alcohol, biofeedback, a nap, a generous inheritance, or even deliberate deception. The reassurance of a friend or someone you love can also produce that kind of temporary peace.
That’s not the kind of peace Paul had in mind. Godly peace has nothing to do with human beings or human circumstances. In fact, it cannot be produced on a human level at all. Any manufactured or manipulated peace is very fragile. It can be destroyed instantly by failure, doubt, fear, difficulty, guilt, shame, distress, regret, sorrow, the anxiety of making a wrong choice, the anticipation of being mistreated or victimized by someone, the uncertainty of the future, and any challenge to our position or possessions. And we experience those things daily.
The peace that God gives is not subject to fluctuations and uncertainties of life. It is spiritual peace; it’s an attitude of the heart and mind when we believe and therefore know deep down that all is well between ourselves and God. Along with it is the assurance that He is lovingly in control of everything. We as Christians should know for certain that our sins are forgiven, that God is concerned with our well-being, and that heaven is our destiny. God’s peace is our possession and privilege by divine right.
Paul defines this peace for us in several ways in 2 Thessalonians 3:16. To begin with, it is divine: “May the Lord of peace Himself . . . grant you peace” (emphasis added). The Lord of peace is the One who gives it. The pronoun Himself is emphatic in the Greek text and underscores God’s personal involvement. Christian peace, the peace unique to believers, comes personally from Him. It is the very essence of His nature.
To put it simply, peace is an attribute of God. If I asked you to list the attributes of God, these are ones that would probably come most readily to mind: His love, grace, mercy, justice, holiness, wisdom, truth, omnipotence, omniscience, immutability, and immortality. But do you ever think of God as being characterized by peace?
In fact, He is peace. Whatever it is that He gives us, He has and He is. There is no lack of perfect peace in His being. God is never stressed. He is never anxious. He never worries. He never doubts. He never fears. God is never at cross purposes with Himself. He never has problems making up His mind.
God lives in perfect calm and contentment. Why? Because He’s in charge of everything and can operate everything perfectly according to His own will. Since He is omniscient, He is never surprised. There are not threats to His omnipotence. There is no possible sin that can stain His holiness. Even His wrath is clear, controlled, and confident. There is no regret in His mind for He has never done, said, or thought anything that He would change in any way.
God enjoys perfect harmony within Himself. Our Bibles call Him “the Lord of peace,” but in the Greek text a definite article appears before the word translated “peace,” meaning He literally is “the Lord of the peace.” This is real peace—the divine kind, not the kind the world has. Paul’s prayer is that we might experience that kind of peace. Its source is God and God alone.
Coming soon, Part2