That’s why I’m dedicating this month’s blogscape to spiritual encouragement. It has come to my attention that more Christians than I realized suffer from spiritual depression. No doubt, this world has become an oppressive, evil place. But the carnal desires of humankind have always been evil. Rebellion against God’s laws is nothing new. The difference is, with the advent of the technological revolution, we are now connected to more input data that we were simply ignorant of before.
Through technology, we are now aware of the effects of evil actions all the way to the global level. We can see the coverage of wars, calamities, deaths, sufferings, etc. in our own homes on our TVs and read about them in our magazines, newspapers and on the net. We witness the desecration of our Lord and His holy name in every way imaginable through these mediums. If we are sensitive enough, we can see the hand of Satan working on this earth in every way imaginable.
One of the most potent effects on our spiritual lives as all of this happens is our loss of zeal to witness. Worldly affairs get us down and depress us to the point where we simply find ourselves asking the question, “What’s the use in talking to people about the Lord? Look at all the people going to hell on a rocket sled!” Of course, when we feel so defeated, how can God’s Holy Spirit use us as effectively as He wants? I learned early on in psychology class that depression is defined as repressed anger. Yes, we are actually angry that more people cannot see the truth as we do. But to maintain the Christian demeanor we are taught, we stuff those feelings inside. That leads to the nasty and unfruitful habit of also keeping God’s love to ourselves and not sharing it with others. What’s worse is, many times, we actually realize the need to witness, but we cleverly make up excuses for not doing so.
We may be afraid of what someone may think of us if we segue a casual conversation with a stranger into a remark about God. It’s just one of those “off limits” subjects like politics, etc. that is now considered socially awkward and unacceptable. Dare is say, it’s P.C. and has been for a while now. We may have a spirit of timidity. The Bible clearly teaches we can pray for a spirit of boldness. Think about it. What’s the worst that can happen? As long as you present yourself appropriately and calmly, who cares if someone thinks you’re crazy? I have the following philosophy:
Christ gave us believers the Great Commission to make disciples of all nations. The first step we must take is to live as proper and consistently holy lifestyle as we can. This consists of leading as obedient and faithful life for Christ as we can.
Of course, we will fall, but we will also confess and repent of our sins. Christ’s Holy Spirit manifests Himself best in such a person. God will then provide us with many opportunities to witness to whomever He desires. It is a terrible thing to feel the unction to witness, but refuse it. And how often we do that! Both we and the person we are meant to witness to will miss out on a great blessing, perhaps that person’s salvation or a delay in their salvation. How do you think God feels when He sends someone our way to testify to and we don’t do it?
But I want to get to the core problem of this dilemma. I call it the “Moses Complex”. I believe that after we give in to the devil’s tactic of beating us down spiritually, he knows our level of faith will also fail us. We lose sight of God’s power to work through us. Those times we do feel a desire to witness, Satan wants us to think that we must use our own wisdom to lead the lost to the truth. He’ll keep our minds busy trying to come up with clever comebacks in a religious debate. We somehow suddenly forget what Jesus said to His disciples (and us) in John 14:26, “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” Now, we are taught by the Word of God. But there is an extra promise by Christ Himself that the Holy Spirit will put into our minds and out of our mouths the exact words the person we are witnessing to needs to hear to convict them that God is real. That is only if we have the faith that He will do so.
In fact, we have no power to change anyone’s hearts toward God. It is the power of the Holy Spirit that accomplishes everything good and to the glory of God through us. That power within us is in direct ratio to our faith and obedience in and to God. Two people can pray the exact same prayer and get entirely different results. One may be supercharged in faith, and the other lacking. Our sinning is an act of rebellion against God, and blocks the Holy Spirit from being able to work as mightily as He wants in our lives. But when we do try and life consistent, holy, faith-filled lives...WATCH OUT! God will use us in ways we cannot imagine.
Living an obedient life absolutely requires a lot of prayer. Too few Christians pray as much and as passionately as they should. Too many Christians have been caught in the web of the world. How do I know this? Because if they did, the world would not be in as bad a shape as it is. Second Chronicles 7:14 reads, “ if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and forgive their sin and will heal their land.” That was God talking to His people Israel. But His m.o. has never changed. First John 3:21, written in the age of grace, “Beloved, if our hearts (consciences) do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from Him anything we ask, because we obey His commands and do what pleases Him.” Notice, God has not changed the way he deals with humankind in this matter. When we try and live as obedient and faithful life as we can, then God will hear our prayers, and His blessings will open up to us at the time He chooses to give them to us.
Remember John 14:26, “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you”? Everything Christ has said to us is in His Word. In order for His Spirit to “remind” us of what He has said to us, we must first read what He has said to us. Although we don’t have to be Bible scholars or have memorized the entire book, we do need to have become familiar with doctrine that is critical to salvation. And it doesn’t hurt to observe the kinds of questions unsaved people tend to ask, so we can study and have a solid scripture-based answer for them.
But in the end, perhaps the greatest witness we can give to a lost person is what Christ has done in our own lives. I am personally really against “beating people over the head” with the Bible. We will most likely not get anywhere with militant debating with someone who doesn’t agree with us. Nor are we to use our own wisdom to try and come up with some snappy answers that we think will confound our foe. Jesus told His disciples, “You can do nothing without me.” At the time He said that, He was also speaking of His Spirit He would send to us. What He was saying is there is nothing we can think, say or do that will matter in the end if it is by our own knowledge, wisdom and discernment. None of it will be considered as an offering to the glory of God.
We have been given a precious promise by Christ Himself that His Spirit will guide us, teach us, grow and mature us, embolden us, bless us and do all things that work to the good for our lives and those lives we touch by sharing the Good News. So what reason do we have to feel spiritually defeated?
* Second Corinthians 5:7, “We live by faith, not by sight.” NIV
* Isaiah 42:16, “I (God) will lead the blind by a way they do not know, in paths they do not know I will guide them. I will make darkness into light before them, and rugged places into plains These are the things I will do, and I will not leave them undone.” NASB
* Psalm 34:17,18, “ When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their distress and troubles. The Lord is close to those who are of a broken heart and saves such as are crushed with sorrow for sin and are humbly and thoroughly penitent.” AMP
How powerful can witnessing be? Jesus sent out seventy-two disciples in Luke 10 to witness that the Kingdom of God had arrived and heal those who were receptive to their message. “The seventy-two returned with joy and said, ‘Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.’ He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” Satan lost so much of his power, his privilege to traverse heaven was taken away! And it was all due to the authority and power Jesus had given His disciples to spread the gospel and perform signs and wonders. And this was before the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit actually began to dwell within man!
It is clear that under the covenant of grace, we have much to be joyful about. If we do not share that joy with others, who will be left to do so? We should all feel a burden for the unsaved. Why? Because God feels a burden. “The Lord does not delay and is not tardy or slow about what He promises, according to some people’s conception of slowness, but He is long-suffering (extraordinarily patient) toward you, not desiring that any should perish, but that all should turn to repentance.” Second Peter 3:9 In His infinite logic, God has determined that we Christians are His vessels to carry the gospel to others. And another thing the Bible is very clear about is how we go about doing it...
With LOVE. We must treat everyone with a common, decent respect for their viewpoints, while gently, but firmly holding our own ground. Rather than trying to spew a whole bunch of doctrine out of our mouths to dispel anything we think they may say against our beliefs, we must first listen to them. Every single person we meet is coming from a different place in their lives. Let’s not put the cart before the horse. Then, we should get into the habit of thinking a silent prayer that the Spirit of God will give us the wisdom and words the person needs to hear to touch their mind and move their heart. We are only messengers. God really does all the rest of the work. When I write my blogs, I pray the Spirit will show me what to write. There may only be one person out there that my words will reach, but one is enough. As controversial as I may get sometimes...as direct as I may be in my writings, I always write them in love. If you deal with people with love, then you have a clear conscience with yourself and God. If the other person rejects you, they are not rejecting you. They are rejecting Christ. Remember that! Even in the face of rejection, thank God for giving you the privilege to be a chosen ambassador for His sake.
Leave your depression, anxieties, timidity, and lack of faith in the Spirit’s power behind! We serve a mighty God who will always give us what we need to do His earthly work. Even the most handicapped of people – those with all sorts of physical limitations, those in wheelchairs, those with no arms. no legs...even the deaf, dumb and blind can witness by simply living a holy life. So for the healthy ones of us, what is our excuse? Open yourself to God’s joy, for Christ claimed victory over death when He was resurrected. We have a God that willingly forgives us of our sins when we confess and repent of them. We have a God who heals broken hearts and bodies. We have a God who deeply loved us while we were still lost in sin. Rejoice! Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep my commandments.” Love God with your all. But love people as you love yourself. And why should you love yourself? Because God loves you! So let’s go out and love the lost as God loved us before we even knew Him. Amen.