Striving for victory

Matthew 10:16–31

I applied the first law of spiritual success and began to worship, and it was wonderful. I applied the second law of spiritual success and was grateful all the time, and it was fantastic. And then I stepped off a platform onto rough ground and twisted my ankle, and it was horrible.
For several days I was in pain and it was hard to walk. How do we explain this? Was this cause and effect, a warning from God, bad luck or something else? I suggest to you that it was a basic fact of human existence. Life is hard, and life is difficult! Don’t believe the adverts, which have always peddled lies.
You’ve all seen advertising slogans like this, and so have your great grandparents. Lemony fresh ‘Easy Clean 305’ with new improved ingredients. A spray and a wipe and the grime is gone. It’s lemony and its fresh so it must be good, and best of all it’s easy. And so we have millions of people who think life should be easy. We have millions of people who have become Christians thinking it will make their life easy.
As long as people think life is about them having a good time, they will be unhappy. As long as people think life should be easy, they will be disappointed. Life is not just to be enjoyed but it is a task you have been assigned, and your job is to live it. Life is difficult, whether you are putting the seven laws into practise or not.
So I didn’t give up and I didn’t complain when I sprained my ankle. I accepted the truth that life is hard and I have to get on with it. Why do some people persevere and remain steadfast in their faith when bad things happen? Why do others give up, or start blaming God for their troubles?
There could be any reasons, but perhaps you will recognise these as possibly the four most common reasons for people falling by the wayside.

  1. Trials and troubles in life discourage them.
  2. They start to have doubts about their faith and cannot deal with them.
  3. Persecution from others presses down on them and they are overcome.
  4. They sink into sin and don’t know how to rise back out of it.

As we have mentioned, life is difficult. Not getting discouraged by the troubles of life starts with accepting this as a fact. Perseverance is essential to life and unlocks the door to hope.
Jesus knew this and told people life was hard, but there is hope.
“Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. “이 세상에서는 너희가 고난을 당하기 마련이다.
“But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” “그러나 용기를 내어라. 내가 세상을 이겼다.” (John 16:33)
God does not spare us troubles or hide us from them. Instead God holds out his hand for us to grasp so we can cling to him as he helps us through the troubles. We have to hold on and keep holding on, never letting go of the father’s strong hand.
Wouldn’t it be a ridiculous world if people of faith never fell down and twisted their ankles while everyone else did. It’s as if we expect the laws to be suspended for us because we have professed to serve Jesus, while everyone else has to obey them. We would surely have the churches full of people whose only motivation was to avoid the consequences of their sin. It make becoming a Christian into the same thing as taking out insurance.
Jesus was not spared on the cross, even though he was the son of God. Jesus overcame the trial. We just read his words. “Take heart,” Jesus said. “I have overcome the world.” This victory is alive in us, and the Holy Spirit can give us the strength to persevere and endure.
When you have doubts, don’t worry about it. Doubt is not only normal and healthy, it is very different to unbelief. To doubt means to have two minds about something, and to see both sides. In a way it’s to have faith that is divided. Unbelief on the other hand is to be certain.
When we allow doubts to grow because we are afraid or unwilling to face them, the doubts grow and harden into unbelief. Doubts will come as surely as the sun rises. As people of sin, we cannot but have doubts. Satan makes sure we have plenty of doubts, and if we start to run short he feeds us more. Then he tries to use these doubts in conjunction with his lies to lead us away into unbelief.
The answer to doubt is to persevere in faith and continue to pray. Don’t give up because you have doubts, but be patient. It takes time to overcome doubts and so you must continue to keep on going. Satan is an imposter, so try the advice of James to resist Satan, and you will see that the devil runs away. (James 4:7) “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
Doubts dealt with honestly will make you stronger and deepen your faith, because you will repeatedly experience Jesus defeating the enemy. The broken places will heal as they are knitted together, and become stronger than they ever were when you never questioned.
People who are overcome by doubt are people who have spent time feeding their doubts. Do you feed your doubts by spending a lot of time thinking about them, or do you go to Scripture and feed yourself on the word of God? If you just persevere, the doubts will eventually die.
Many of you face persecution for being a Christian, and even in UK it can cost you your job. People will laugh at you, mock you, and think you mentally challenged. Television programmes will depict you falsely and slander your faith.
When they wanted to kill Jesus, they took him outside the city to pin him to a Roman cross.
Our master was despised, cast out and rejected by society.
The letter to the Hebrews was written to men and women who were being persecuted because they were faithful disciples of this crucified Messiah. The message to them was to never, never, never give in, and always meet together and encourage each other.
The whole of the letter is filled with advice for you on how to persevere in faith. It ends with this advice:
“So let us go out to him, outside the camp, and bear the disgrace he bore.”
“그러므로 우리도 성문 밖에 계신 예수님에게 나아가서 그분이 겪은 수치를 함께 당합시다.” (Hebrews 13:13)
We are called to leave the world and its ways, volunteering to go outside the city to be with our loving master. This is not easy, but life isn’t easy for me or you or for anyone.
Why are you a follower of Jesus? Why are you willing to be looked down upon and mocked by others, and live outside the walls of society? What is the motivation for you to persevere in this hardship? Is it fear of hell, or perhaps a sense of duty. Jesus said it was the purpose of his life to obey and persevere on the road to crucifixion. Jesus said, “I have come to do your will, O God.”
The secret here is love. Jesus was filled with love for his father and it was no burden for him to persevere in obedience under persecution. When you learn to delight in God’s will, you will find that for you too it is a delight to persevere.
And finally, what will you do when you fall into one of Satan’s traps? You trip and you find yourself full of guilt over something wrong you did. Do you quit because you’ve failed? Don’t try to pretend it was nothing, that it wasn’t really a bad sin. If it was murder, call it murder. If it was greed, call it greed. Honestly face your own sin, and don’t pretend ‘it’s just what everyone does’. You don’t follow everyone, do you? We are Christians, and we follow Jesus.
There is no justification, though many people have elaborate excuses for their actions. The real problem was not the temptation, but that you gave in and didn’t persevere.
Tell God you are sorry and ask his forgiveness. Then forget it and move on. Don’t look back.
You are in a race. It’s a race with many obstacles and difficulties. In 1 Corinthians 9 Paul calls on us to run the race to the end so we can claim the prize. Unlike worldly races, there is a prize for everyone who makes it across the finish line. So you have to keep on going to the end. Life is very difficult, but never never give up.
And so dear brothers and sisters, this is the third law of spiritual success.

The third law of spiritual success is to keep on keeping on. It is to persevere.
영적인 성취의 제3 법칙은 지속을 계속 이어가는 것입니다. 인내하는 일이죠.

Amen 아멘

About Pastor Simon

Pastor at Jinju International Christian Fellowship. Formerly of Eastbourne, East Sussex, UK. I am Simon Warner of Jinju Church. We speak English at Jinju Church, South Korea.
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