Whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God– John 3:21 NIV
I have come to the conclusion that no one just decides to let their perfectly good life spiral into a dark and ugly disaster. It’s just not done. This is even more true of Christians. No true follower of Jesus has ever made the willful decision to just let their life devolve into a sad, chaotic tragedy.
The hope we receive at salvation simply doesn’t allow for that kind of willful foolishness (Romans 5:5).
That being said.
There are plenty of Christians whose lives do spiral out of control and sometimes there is no returning from the dark places they go. Unfortunately, it’s a trend that seems to be growing. More and more Christians are beginning their spiritual lives well and ending them by rejecting Jesus altogether or telling the world they are “reimagining” or “deconstructing” their faith (Galatians 5:7). When we choose the things of this world over the full life Jesus offers we end up turning away from God.
Turning from God never ends well (Hebrews 6:4-6, Matthew 24:10-11).
That sad end can be avoided by asking God daily to empower us to seek, understand and walk in truth (John 8:32, 2nd Corinthians 3:12 Galatians 5:5). Living out the truth that prevents us from becoming the worst version of ourselves is about more than simply memorizing some instructive Bible verses. In order for truth to become a protective force in our lives we have to seek it purposely in specific areas of our lives (Ephesian 6:14, Ephesians 6:17). We seek truth by asking God to help us walk in the following four truths:
The truth about who we are-
It is critical we know who we are in Christ and what that means for us on both a practical and a spiritual level (Ephesians 3:16-20, Colossians 1:13, Galatians 4:6). Knowing we are dearly loved by God gives us incentive to grow and protects us from discouragement. We have to know that even when we fail or miss the mark God is one-hundred-percent for us. He never stops rooting for us to become the best possible version of ourselves. However, it is also critical we understand no one becomes the best version of themselves without some effort. We must make a practice of asking God to show us truth about the parts of ourselves that still need redemption. We will never see the areas of our life that are tripping us up without God’s help. We are simply too easily misled by our own desires.
The truth about the motives of our heart-
The human heart is the most insanely devious thing in all of creation (Jeremiah 17:9). We are able to trick ourselves into believing our motives are pure and we are good when we are anything but good and pure. It’s possible to do this without even realizing we are doing it. We can easily fool ourselves into thinking we are simply being friendly to a member of the opposite sex when in reality we are testing the waters to see if that person might be open to an inappropriate relationship. We tell ourselves it’s the churches fault we aren’t growing when in reality we aren’t making any attempt to feed ourselves outside of the weekly church service. We fool ourselves into thinking we’ve forgiven someone when in reality we are holding onto a grudge the size of Texas. Only God can show us what’s really going on in our hearts but that only happens when we ask Him to do it.
The truth about who God is –
People—even redeemed people tend to make God into something much smaller and less powerful than He really is. We are simply more comfortable with a God who is like us. So, usually without realizing it we cast God into the image of a human who isn’t all that different from us. In the process we talk ourselves out of taking God seriously. When we stop taking God seriously we all almost always stop obeying Him in any area of our lives that feels hard. The way to end this cycle is to ask God daily to remind us who He is and how worthy He is of our full attention and obedience.
The truth about other people-
It is all-too easy for us to view other people as our enemies, rather than as people who are made in the image of God and deeply valued by Him. When we devalue people, we tend to overestimate the harm they do us and underestimate their ability to be transformed. When we do this we inevitably end up doing the one thing God never does: give up on people. Asking God to help us see people the way He sees them keeps us from giving up on people when they disappoint us. As people inevitably do.
No Christian chooses consciously to fail in the things that matter most.
The key to success in the Christian life is knowing the truth of God and then walking in it hour-by-hour. But in a world fraught with lies and deception truth is something we have to want badly enough to go after it with our whole hearts (Jeremiah 29:13)