In this World, Not of it

I once was lost, but now I am found. I once was dead, but now I’m alive. I’m neither Jew (bound by religion) nor gentile (secular & an illegitimate child of God), but now, I’m a new creation; grafted into the family of God. I’m a demon slayer. I’m a world-changer. I’m a peacemaker. I once was lost, but now I’m found.
So why can it be so tempting to wander off again? What about the darkness is so alluring? Why is fire so tempting to play with? I’ve been there. I’ve done that. I have chased all types of temporary happiness. And I have tapped into true, everlasting joy. So why do I even look at the things this world has to offer and wish I could go there again? Just typing these words out reveals to me how psychotic and demonic envy of the world is. Especially when you are envying the lifestyle that God just set you free from. 

“Don’t worry about the wicked or envy those who do wrong.”- (‭‭Psalms‬ ‭37:1‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

As of last week, I am now 23 years OLD. No one  threw me a birthday party, even after my not-so-subtle hints. My reasoning was simply that I deserved it. HAH! How 22 years young does that sound? I was intensely loved on by my loved ones, but I didn’t get that party. 

Now, I’ll get back to that. 

Dedicating my life to following Jesus was never hard. It still isn’t. No matter what, God is the center of my life. What’s hard is looking away from God. It’s hard to tell myself that I’m not doing anything wrong when my spirit within is screaming for me to stop. It was hard to slowly destroy my own life, bad decision after bad decision. 

People say that it’s easy to spiral out of control. But it’s not. That’s a lie. Bad decisions are hard to make because they hurt you and you know they do even while you’re making them. You can ignore God’s voice and pretend like that’s easy-but it’s not, because your spirit is drawn to Him.. so it hurts. Of course after a time of having a calloused heart towards God, it can feel like it’s easy to reject what you know is right. But at that point, how can you trust your feelings when you know those same feelings are what drive you to make the decisions that are slowly killing you? No. It’s hard for me to reject God. But it is so easy to stop what I’m doing, look up, and lock eyes with my patient, steadfast Messiah. Then, everything, all that baggage, all the pain, all the darkness, just dissolves in His merciful, cleansing, healing light. I once was lost, but now I’m found; was blind, but now I see.

 There is stinky, old sin baggage that I have tried picking back up since I became sober and started walking with Jesus. And every time it has felt wrong.  Every time it has felt hard. I knew deep down that if I was doing those things, then I wasn’t looking at God. Instead, I was looking at the world and trying to make myself fit into that cookie-cutter image. Which by the way, I have completely outgrown. So it’s pretty hard and painful to make myself fit in to the world at this point. But time and time again I have found myself allowing the author of confusion (Satan) to slowly trick me into getting back on those dark pathways.  And the first attack seems to be my thought life which will slowly become twisted in these sin areas. This is what happens when I don’t hold every thought captive.

“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,”-(‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭10:4-5‬ ‭NKJV‬‬)

It takes some time to actually act on the sinful thoughts that go rebelliously unchecked in our minds. Some of these sin issues are even socially acceptable which creates room for us to justify acting on them. Harmless! But it isn’t always. As Jesus showed us, the law goes further now. It’s not just a circumcise of the flesh but of the heart. We may not be physically acting out sins, but mentally we can be idolizing and coveting a sinful life that we are not created to live. 

“You say, “I am allowed to do anything” —but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is beneficial.”- ‭(‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭10:23‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

Think of something that might seem okay for you do to outwardly (in the world’s eyes or in your flesh’s eyes), but it just doesn’t quite line up with the Holy Spirit inside you.  So you’re allowed to ______________. But is it good for you? So it’s acceptable to _______________. But does it really benefit you? I know what you’re thinking. You have reasons for wanting to do those things. Whether it be for fun or because it’s something you’ve always done, because someone else whom you look up to does it, or maybe because being with that person feels safe, and so on. Locate those reasons and bring them to the center of your mind. Now force them to bow to the Holy Spirit with in you. Do they provide your life and your mind with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, or self-control (Galatians 5:22-23)? If they are not coming directly from the Holy Spirit then they are just man-made attempts at obtaining something that only God can offer. Which is why you’ll need more and more of whatever it is to make those feelings last. These are sin issues that the world, Satan, and our flesh tell us are okay. These are things/relationships/activities/jobs that we desperately gather reasons to keep on doing though we hear God saying, “no” and that rebellion allows them to become idols attempting to exalt themselves over the name of Jesus Christ.

 Are you trying to hold on to something and it just keeps slipping like sand through the wisdom & descernment God has provided you with for decision making? Are you trying to make something happen that just isn’t meant to? Many permissible things can become idolatry or other sin issues once they are no longer beneficial for us. 

Make your intentions face the Holy Spirit and bow down before Christ. 

My birthday rolled around and I realized why I really wanted my friends and family to throw me that party-to save me from myself. Somewhere inside I knew that if the birthday planning was in my hands, I would test the protective boundaries that I have in God. I didn’t get drunk, I didn’t get “lit”. But I did find myself in a place that was all too familiar, surrounded by people enslaved by the things I was once bound to-and in all of that, I was appearing to be no different from the crowd. I wasn’t shining the light of Christ. If anything, I was trying to put a damper on it. To be “normal” for a moment. We all do this anytime we try to justify doing something that the Holy Spirit tells us not to.  It seems harmless, but by whose definition? 

“But I am not surprised! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.”-(‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭11:14‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

See, a PG birthday party wasn’t going to save me. My friends and family can’t save me. My husband can’t save me. To even expect them to is placing them as false gods or saviors over my life. And they will fail me every time because only Jesus can save me. Only Jesus can be exalted in my life and succeed at overcoming my fleshly thoughts and sinful actions. I can pretend like I’m a good person, but I only truly am when it’s Jesus living life through me. So it’s not me; it’s Jesus in me. I have to surrender myself (body, mind, heart, and soul) to Christ. Every day. Every moment. Every intention. 

There is no lukewarm walking with Jesus. I’m all in or I’m not at all.

 So I repented the next morning. Not at first. But after my morning routine with the kiddos, I put on some worship music and quickly felt like I got punched in the gut. I knew why. Because when I was doing something that was seemingly ‘allowed’ but not necessarily beneficial for spreading the kingdom of God or beneficial for my personal growth with God, I stepped out of God’s presence. He was always present-but mentally/physically/spiritually, I had detached myself from Him, for a moment. And as that first worship song started playing, I sang with my toddler and I started to weep. Not because of the huge sins I committed but because I had just re-entered the Lord’s presence. There’s no greater/more humbling/more incredible feeling than being in the Father’s arms. Here I am. Safe and warm. Now it’s time to make my battle plan, because I really don’t want to leave this refuge again. I’m not normal and I don’t want to pretend to be. Even for just a moment. I obviously am still a work in progress, but I know where I need to progress and I am giving it to God. Work on me, Lord! 

Now make your battle plan. Can you think of people and situations that you may need to avoid right now because they allow you to entertain sins that take root in your mind? 

““Your eye is like a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is filled with light. But when your eye is unhealthy, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!”-(‭‭Matthew‬ ‭6:22-23‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

Now, I pray none of this feels like judgement for anyone reading. Don’t let the devil make you feel condemned by any part of my story. Remember a few absolute truths: 

“So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.” ‭‭-(Romans‬ ‭8:1-2‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

You are set free. Remind yourself of that, every second of every day. Just keep your eyes fixed on Jesus!

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” ‭‭-(Romans‬ ‭12:2‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

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