20 Years a Christian: Spiritual Warfare

Previously, in my last article, I walked into a church not knowing who I was, where I was going, and oh so tired. I walked out a brand new person, created in Christ Jesus with a renewed purpose. I was renewed, remade, restored, and reborn. For the first time I understood my sin and the consequences of it. Now, I wanted to share that gift with everyone I knew. But like the Bible says, I had zeal without knowledge. I just didn’t know how.

But that was the least of my problems at the moment. Now, I had to tell the one person whom I loved the most, and would not be happy with my new found faith — my wife. Just after receiving the grace given to me, I asked Wayne, “So, what about my wife?”

“What about her? She can get saved too.”

“You don’t know my wife; there’s no way she’s going to go for this.”

“Well, you have to make a choice and count the cost. You’re marriage could be better. Maybe not now, but later. You need to figure out what is important to you, and stick with it.”

Arriving Home

I took a long ride home that Sunday morning and really didn’t want to go back home right away. I took a drive and got lost in my thoughts. I really didn’t want to say anything about what had happened, but I couldn’t. How could I keep this to myself, let alone my wife? It would be impossible. The more I thought about it, the dumber it sounded. What do I have to worry about? I’m better than I was. I have a new purpose. Honestly, I have more love for my wife now than I ever did. This is silly, and onward home I went.

I arrived home came through the door and Lisa was standing in the kitchen. She turned around and immediately her countenance changed like a switch. It went dark, fast.

“What’s this? What’s wrong with you?” Eyeing me up and down like I there was something seriously wrong with me.

“I’m born-again.” So much for subtleties. There really wasn’t anything I can think of at the moment. I mean, I always thought Lisa could read minds, but now, she proved it. Many “f” words and anger came out of her, saying I was nuts if I thought she was going follow me to church. They were the longest two years of my life. Very painful, not just to me, but especially to her. She wasn’t the one that changed — I was. What she was feeling was rejection, and that I didn’t love her anymore. I could take yelling and screaming all day long, but looking at the hurt I caused her was unbearable.

Not Just Home

But it wasn’t just home I was struggling. Work became weird too. People coming up to me asking what was wrong, that I didn’t seem myself. Pretty soon I was telling others what had happened and how amazing it was. But I quickly found out that not everyone shared my joy. I couldn’t understand why. People asked what I did last weekend and I told them. Turns out bosses don’t like that, and all of a sudden I was in the crosshairs at work. Was brought in to the conference room and told why all of a sudden I can’t share what I did over the weekend. I remember saying to my boss, “So what, I’m not allowed to talk at work now?” To which he replied, “You’re just not allowed to talk about Jesus.”

My family and friendships also suffered when it came to my new faith in Christ. I could imagine them talking amongst themselves, like when I saw my sister, Jenni, for the first time after her gastric bypass surgery and 250lbs later. ‘It looks like Frank, sounds like Frank, but…that’s…not…Frank.’ Probably after several phone calls from my wife, some came out to visit. The questions rolled in as to why I didn’t drink, smoke, or want to go places I used to. I remember us all having to compromise a little to have fun and entertain my guests. One night we went to a comedy club and it was great. I didn’t drink, so I gave away my “two-drink-minimum” to my friends. It was fun until the comic decided to rail on Christians. So much for that.

When visiting my hometown I visited my best friend. He and his wife sat me down and tried to have what only could look like an intervention. It got ugly. I tried to explain the best I could, which made things worse; not understanding each other. To him, I was saying we couldn’t be friends. I heard the same also. But after trying to explain myself the best I could and it wasn’t the case, I wanted to go to the car and get my Bible. He didn’t allow it.

“But how can I explain to you what’s going on with me?” I arguably asked.

Exactly!” He replied with rage in his eyes.

He was right. I couldn’t explain it. I was only a few months in I didn’t know enough at the time, but I couldn’t explain my feelings or thoughts either. The past several months have been a rollercoaster that I had no control over. Though my friendships at church were growing, and walls were coming down; walls were going up between me and those I loved and knew me my whole life. That was hard. No one tells you about that when you get saved. It’s not that any of us wanted that to happen, it just does.

Did I Ever Want to Quit?

Yes, several times. I would be a liar if I said I didn’t. But, even though I couldn’t hack it, I couldn’t leave either. So why did I stay? For the same reasons I came to Christ in the first place. I wanted to know God, have a relationship with Him, and my sins forgiven. That never changed. The Bible is right when it comes to your old life and the new one. It cannot occupy the same space.

I remember when I was struggling with everything in my life that someone from church shared with me something basic. John 3:16-20.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

John 3:16 NKJV

Just think, the Creator of the universe and of all things, the Perfect One, the original source of love, loved the whole world enough to sacrifice His one and only Son, so that we could have the promise of everlasting life. I cannot comprehend that infinite measure of God’s love — a priceless sacrifice — to an unworthy object as a wretch like me. So that we can be with Him for all eternity.

“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

John 3:17 NKJV

God, love’s original source, did not send His Son into the world to condemn it; but so that it would be saved. The condemnation will take place when He returns in glory; but for now He came to save it. It was beyond repair so much the only sacrifice that was acceptable, would be a perfect, spotless, human being. Since none could be found, the only option was to send His Own.

“He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

John 3:18 NKJV

He who does not believe is condemned already. Already. As you stand now, without belief in Jesus Christ as your sacrificial lamb of sacrifice, you are condemned already. This is humanity’s default state. Nothing in this world could help that. Nothing. By default, being who we are apart from Christ, we are destined for hell. But what does it take to escape this default we are born with? — Belief.

But what is belief? Belief, throughout the gospel of John is not mere credence, but reliance upon. It’s putting your full trust and faith into Him so that you are placing yourself into His care. To be persuaded enough to place your total trust, confidence, and faith in as you would in a parachute as the plane you were in was going to crash. But, in order to make that parachute work – you have to put it on. “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ…” (Romans 13:14). You can’t loosely hold onto the parachute as you jump out. It must be secure, tight, and firm. You don’t hold on to it – IT HOLDS ON TO YOU!!! Christ is the parachute, the air resistance under it is the Holy Spirit, and all you do is glide down to the ground in safety. Like the control lines on a parachute, there is very little you can control, but the wind for the most part takes you where it wants to. There is nothing you can do but trust. That is belief.

Spiritual Warfare Is Good

This might shock most of you reading this, but spiritual warfare is good — for the most part. I would not be the person I am today without it. It gets right down to the basics of why we came to Christ in the first place, and time and time again when we want to quit, we gear up even more and allow it to strengthen us instead of discouraging. Spiritual warfare asks each and every individual three questions: How badly do you want it? How far are you willing to go? How strong are you?

How badly do you want this?

What are you willing do to to get to where you want to be? How badly do you want to know God? We’ve all heard this, and it is nothing new when it comes to exercise, getting stronger and leaner. This is not so much the training, goal setting, and motivation to lose weight and gain muscle, but the persistence to the resistance in our lives that try to keep us from achieving our goals.

When it comes to spiritual warfare are you resistant to it? The Bible says, “submit to God, resist the devil and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7)

When all the forces of hell were came against me, it just made me cling tighter to my Lord. Yes it hurt. Yes it sucked. Yes it was so very difficult. But I had to keep telling myself, Why did you come to Christ in the first place? It wasn’t for a better life — my life got worse. It wasn’t for money, fame or fortune — I actually got poorer and less popular. It was that I wanted to know Jesus (Philippians 3:7-11).

How far are you willing to go?

Not only how far are you willing to go to follow Christ, but are you willing to do what it takes to get there? Knowing Jesus is more than head knowledge. It is partaking in the fellowship of His sufferings and being conformed to His death (Philippians 3:10). The famous boxer, Joe Louis said, “Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die.” People want the blessings of Christianity, but no one counts the cost that may be required of them. Jesus said it may require your family (Matthew 10:34-37), your riches (Matthew 19:16-22) or even your own life (Matthew 10:38-39).

How strong are you?

Guess what? You are not strong. Not even a little. The quicker you realize that there is nothing strong about you in your flesh, the quicker you will win when it comes to spiritual battles that rage against you. This is the key to conquering the spiritual forces against us. It is not our battle, but the Lord’s. This was the key in the Old Testament and the New Testament.

Remember what David said to Goliath when he went out to war with him? He didn’t go out with Saul’s armor in the power of his own flesh. He didn’t choose the largest sword, or any sword for that matter. He chose 5 smooth stones and only used one. Then he stood before his enemies, looked Goliath right in the eyes and said:

…”You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. “This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you. And this day I will give the carcasses of the camp of the Philistines to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. “Then all this assembly shall know that the LORD does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the LORD’s, and He will give you into our hands.”

1 Samuel 17:45-47 NKJV

The Apostle Paul boasted not in his strengths, but in his weaknesses so that the power of Christ may rest upon him. He took pleasure in his infirmities, reproaches, needs, persecutions, and distresses for Christ’s sake because when we are weak, we are strong (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). God’s grace and strength is perfectly manifested in our weakness. When we completely rely upon Him, He takes the weight and makes our burdens light (Matthew 11:30). We can do all things through Christ Who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13).

I hope this encourages you to trust in Christ more today. Please consider subscribing today.

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