“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? I, the Lord, search the heart; I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings” Jeremiah 17:9-10.
Most people if asked claim to be “good” or “good Christians” because of the “good” works they believe they are doing and because of their religious affiliations. We base our belief on our view of what is “good” or “bad” and not necessarily on our understanding of God’s expectation of us. Christ dispelled this myth of “good” and said “no one is good but One, that is, God” Mathew 19:17.
For many people, being born in a family that is “Christian” and going to church every Sunday makes them Christians and for that reason “saved” and waiting to be ruptured. But does being born in a family or going to church make one a Christian? On the contrary! Christ made it clear that it is not those who call Him Lord that are His but those who do the will of the Father (Mathew 7: 21). James also asks the believer to not only hear the word “deceiving yourselves “but to do what it says (James 1:22).
Saying that one is a Christian suggests that one is a faithful follower (disciple)of Christ because they believe He is who the bible says He is ( our savior) and they are obedient to the word they have heard and are living their lives in testament of that belief. It takes conversion of the mind and heart for this to happen. James advises the believer to “lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls” James 1: 21
The “Word” is life and “the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness—“John 1:4-5. This light illuminates the darkness and reveals the truth which sets us free from the bondage of sin. But for this to happen we must abide in the word and act upon it (Mathew 8:31-32). Christ is the truth that makes us free from the darkness that holds us captive because He is the perfect standard of what is right.
He is “the way, the truth, and the life. No one goes to the Father except through (Him)” John 14:6. As the way He is our only path to the Father, as the truth He is the reality of all that God is and as the life He enjoins His divine life to ours now and eternally. In reality His perfect truth frees us to be all that God intended us to be.
For this reason whatever we claim of ourselves concerning our faith will be tested, for it is in the testing that our truth as hidden in our hearts is exposed. God is not interested in what we think of ourselves or in how others perceive us, but rather at what is hidden in our hearts. He says, “I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to His ways” Jeremiah 17: 10.
A heart that is sold out to Christ thinks and acts differently and is aimed at doing what is right before God regardless of what the world thinks. God wants us to present ourselves to Him daily, laying aside our own desires to follow Him; He wants us to put all our energy and resources at His disposal while trusting Him to guide us.
Our testing will be in certain areas that God permits which helps us understand ourselves. God wants us to die to ourselves in order to grow in Him. Christ warned His disciple that they would all “stumble” because of Him before His crucifixion (Mathew 26: 31). Peter however assumed he knew himself better than God did and said, “Even if all are made to stumble because of you, I will never be made to stumble—even if I have to die with you, I will not deny You!, “Mathew 26:33,35. But like Christ had warned him, on the same night before the rooster had crowed, Peter had denied Christ “three times” (Mathew 26:34; 26:69-75).
Peter’s words were uttered in pride based on what he thought of himself. The devil knows man’s way of thinking and he will use our place of comfort to expose us. When Satan appeared before God to ask permission to tempt Job, he suggested that the only reason Job feared God was because “ you have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land” and suggested that if God were to take all that away Job would curse God ( Job 1:8-9).
Satan accurately analyzed why many people trust God. They are only there when things are going well or for what they can get. Thank God Job’s testimony stood, for “in all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong”( Job 1:22) for when he lost everything he said “naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord”Job 1:21.
Many people would have complained while cursing God for their misfortune saying “this is not fair for I am a good person”, “why did God allow this when I have been doing good”. By so doing they suggest they are better than others and God owes them only the good in life. Adversity destroys superficial faith by exposing our truth but it also strengthens real faith by causing a believer to dig deeper into God in order to withstand the storms.
Not long ago I was watching the popular reality show by the name of “Big brother” in CBS. I watch such programs with my 19 years old son and use them as teaching tools about the challenges of life in relations to our faith. There is a young man who proclaimed his faith at the start of the program and said nothing in the show would make him compromise his faith. I liked him and thought what a good example to young Christian men about how to live righteously in the world.
Well that faith was tested and the young man failed the test badly and left me devastated. The man was caught in a situation where he needed to tell the truth after he had previously betrayed a trust. This was made easy for him because all he needed to do was affirm the truth to someone who already knew what the truth was but was testing him. Mind you, this young man had been shown praying with this person in a difficult moment in the house. The man bluntly lied and later we see him saying that the way he wanted to play the game “contradicted his religious beliefs”.
Yeah to most people, what they believe in is based on their religion which is composed of rituals and belongings but without knowledge and understanding of the true concept of their faith. The scripture teaches that “The fear of Lord is the beginning of knowledge” Proverbs 1:7. When you know who God truly is then you gain understanding of His worth. Nothing is bigger or more important than God and for this reason nothing deserves more honor or respect than Him.
Through Christ we are exposed to this truth and this truth sets us free from our fears. “God is love” and “love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world” 1 John 4:17. Your relationship with God should be the controlling principle for your understanding of the world, your attitudes, and your actions. When you act out of fear, you by your action put whatever you fear above God.
Paul writing to Timothy reminds us that “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and of sound mind” 2 Timothy 1:7. The young man by his lies communicated to those watching that he had segments of his faith that God was not a part of. He also did not believe that God was big enough to get him out of the situation he was in perhaps because he does not know God or the truth is not in him. Apostle John says, that “whatever is born of God overcomes the world, And this is the victory that has overcome the world- our faith”1 John 5: 4.
Christ is our burden bearer and when we feel the load is too heavy for us we should turn to Him for help for He is “the author and the finisher of our faith, Hebrews 12:2. To live effectively as Christians we must keep our eyes on Christ at all times to avoid being caught unawares and fall because our focus is on ourselves or the circumstances.