THE HELMET: THE HOPE OF OUR SALVATION
I know the commandment I wrote up above seems like a strange commandment, but if we are to be successful in overcoming our sins and failures, it is going to take NOT losing hope for our most miserable sinful condition we sometimes find ourselves in, even as Christians. When God begins to deal with our character as Christians and puts us through the fire, we will then start to see the dross begin to surface in our lives by God bringing our sins to the surface of our minds. The devil wants to seize this opportunity to try and fill us with despair about our present sinful conditions, but God wants us to remain HOPEFUL.
Dross is "a waste product or an impurity, especially an oxide, formed on the surface of molten (melted) metal." Christian or Christ-like character is made in the fire of God's Holy Spirit by a melting process for the purpose of casting us into the mold of the image of God. In order for the metal of our hearts to be made pure, God has to cast us into the fire so that the waste products and impurity of our beings can rise to the surface and be strained out of or taken out of our lives. This is a very painful process.
Sometimes the most painful thing a Christian has to do is endure looking at the sinfulness of their own lack of Christian character. That is why it is so hard for people to admit when they are wrong because they don't want to see or admit the real person they are inside. It is especially hard for true born-again believers who are so eagerly desiring to be like Christ to have to go through finding out how NOT like Christ they really are deep inside. But the Good News is that God is not revealing our inner condition to condemn us, but rather He puts us in this melting process for the purpose of casting us into the mold of true, genuine, and pure Christian character.
During this process of melting and going through the fire, God wants us to have on the Helmet of Hope. In other words, when we are going through the fire and our sinful condition is revealed He wants us to realize that the purpose of the fire is to bring CHANGE in our lives so that we can become more like Christ. The devil tries to use the melting process as an opportunity to take our minds captive into thinking that we are backsliding or he wants us to think that we are so much unlike Christ that there is no hope of ever coming to the end of our sinful condition. THIS IS A LIE. We must have on the Helmet of the Hope of our Salvation, knowing that going through the process is leading us to righteousness and is not making us more sinful, but rather exposing the sin in our hearts for the purpose of taking it away. God wants to deal with our character, but He does not want to cast us aside for what we lack.
This article is designed to help you put on the Helmet of Salvation and have the mind of Christ as you go through these trials. The fire is a process we can have hope in, the hope that we are being made more like Christ by admitting our faults and running to God who is the only One who can help us overcome our sins. Sometimes we despair because we realize that we cannot overcome sin on our own. That is part of the fiery process, to begin to realize that first and foremost we must confront our sins and then we must realize that we are helpless to overcome our sins and become righteous (acting out and living holy) on our own. Sometimes Christians have their sins revealed to them and they try to overcome their sin on their own by using their own "will power". Will power can never obtain the true righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. It is only in realizing our faults and realizing our own inability to become righteous through our own strength that we can truly begin to allow God to give us His strength to overcome our sins.
The big mistake that the religious experts of Jesus' time made is that they tried to rely on their own strength to fulfill the righteous commandments of God. They admitted some of their faults at times, but the fault they did not admit is that will power cannot make them whole. So they were zealously trying to be made right with God and obey His commandments on their own, without realizing their helplessness in overcoming sin on their own and they became self deceived and self righteous.
Part of the fire that God will put you through as a Christian will be to reveal your sin and then He will not immediately give you the strength to overcome your faults. What He wants us to learn during this time is that we can try as hard as we can, but the overwhelming condition of our sinfulness is entirely IMPOSSIBLE to overcome on our own. He uses this method to crucify our self will power that we try and use to be make ourselves righteous without depending on Him. God will reveal a condition in you which you are totally helpless to overcome, you will see the fault and admit the fault and you will also find out that you cannot CHANGE yourself not matter how bad you want to change and no matter how hard you try, the power to overcome sin cannot be found within your "self". For some people this can be lust, an over eating habit, etc. What God wants us to learn to do is to CRY OUT to Him.
One of the greatest lessons of faith you can learn is to cry out to God. Apostle Peter stepped out in faith and onto the water to meet Jesus, but soon he began to sink. But the good thing was that he was aware of Someone who could help him in his weakened condition. The Bible says that he saw the strong and might wind and the power of the oceans waves and he began to sink. Maybe you can see the sin in your life like a strong and mighty wind pounding against you and the powerful waves swelling up all around you? If you put your eyes on the power of sin you realize that you are beginning to sink. That is why the helmet of salvation is so important. The helmet of salvation helps us keep our minds focused on Jesus in spite of our sinful condition or the lack of righteousness we currently possess that God is working on to make a permanent change in our lives.
Peter realized that his faith was weak and he found himself helpless to overcome the present situation. The Lord commanded him to come out on the water, but the Lord also allowed him to begin to sink. Jesus already knew that Peter could not walk out of the boat and stay above the water on his own. Jesus could have empowered Peter to step out of the boat and not sink at all as Peter came toward his Master. But God didn't do that. Jesus wanted to teach Peter's pride a lesson. He wanted boasting Peter to realize that if he was going to stay on top of the situation, he would have to learn not to depend on his own strength. He had to realize his own inability to help himself. So what did he do? HE CRIED OUT TO GOD!
At times when we are unable to keep our minds completely focused on Christ and our faith is weak to overcome the situation, God wants us to put down our boasting pride of thinking we can do it ourselves and He wants us to cry out and depend on Him. To look at our own sinfulness can be terrifying at times but God wants us to use this opportunity for us to learn to cry out to Him to save us, realizing we cannot save ourselves. Worse than the sin of your condition is the pride of thinking you can overcome it on your own. So God will allow the sin you are trying to overcome to remain in your life for a short season until you repent of the pride of thinking you can overcome it on your own. God resists the proud, but He gives Grace to the humble.
Satan's number one downfall was not smoking cigarettes, swearing, overeating, drinking alcohol or some other drug addiction. Satan's biggest downfall and the beginning of his sin resulted from his pride. Satan exerted his self will to think that he could become more powerful ON HIS OWN. I am sure that God would have granted Satan more power and authority through his submission to God, but Satan wanted to gain more power and more authority than what the Lord had given him ON HIS OWN.
ENDURING THE FIERY TRIAL WITH HOPE
1 Pet 1:6-7
Enduring trials, even the ones that expose our sin and reveal our helpless condition, are considered by God to be opportunities to rejoice because at the end of the trials, your character will be as pure as the finest gold. We must realize that this fiery process is not because God wants to find us in sin and send down a bolt of lightening to destroy us. God is bringing up the impurities to remove them, but the devil wants you to think that, "God is really going to punish you now!!!" But the Word of God says, "God decided to save us through our Lord Jesus Christ, not to pour out his anger on us." 1Thes 5:8-9
The Word of God also says that, "Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be (delivered from sin and) saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved (completely delivered from sin & made whole) by His life." Rom 5:9-10
The Apostle Paul says that if God saved you when you were completely His enemy, what makes you think that now because you are His child that He is going to destroy you because of your sin? The point he is making is that if God made you His child and brought you into the Kingdom when you were a sinner who stood entirely against righteousness with the whole fiber of your being, what makes you think He is going to pour out wrath on you when He has now deposited the shed blood of Jesus and His righteousness into your account? We must remember that God sees our sin through the eyes of His ability to cleanse our sin through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. We are marked with the blood of Jesus Christ and death and destruction are commanded by God to pass over us.
The Apostle John continues this idea by saying, "if you do sin, there is someone to plead for you before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who pleases God completely. He is the sacrifice for our sins. He takes away not only our sins but the sins of all the world." I Jn 2:1-2
Other translations state that if we sin "we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." The Greek word to describe Jesus as our Advocate is "parakletos", meaning "summoned, called to one's side, especially called to one's aid; one who pleads another's cause before a judge, a pleader, a counsel for defense, a legal assistant; pleading with God the Father for the pardon of our sins; in the widest sense, a helper, a succorer, an aider, an assistant; used of the Holy Spirit destined to take the place of Christ with the apostles (after Christ's ascension to the Father), to lead them to a deeper knowledge of the gospel truth, and to give them divine strength needed to enable them to undergo trials and persecutions on behalf of the divine kingdom; comforter."
Imagine that! When we sin, the Bible says we have someone who is called to our side to defend and secure our salvation so that God does not pass the penalty of "GUILTY" on us. When we sin God is not looking to judge us, but rather when we sin the Bible says that WE HAVE A FRIEND ON OUR SIDE! The Word of God says that "God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people's sins against them." (2 Cor 5:19)
Most people think that the way to get right is for someone to get really mad at you and make you feel like such a horrible person that you will want to change, but the Word of God says that it is "the goodness of God that leads you to repentance..." (Rom 2:4) It is the fact that God DOES NOT judge us, PUT US DOWN, OR MAKE US FEEL LIKE A MISERABLE PERSON that makes us want to serve Him more faithfully. Isn't that wonderful?
It is painful enough to truly see our faults in the Light of God's Word, knowing there is something in us that is not like our Master, the One we want to be like and the One we want to please. God deals more harshly with those who do not admit their faults. But the for the one's who do admit their faults and are struggling with sin in some area of their life, God says He wants us to turn to Him in the HOPE that when we do sin, we have someone working with God on our behalf to keep God from judging us and coming along side us to help us overcome our sin. Jesus won't overcome our sins for us, but He will come along side and work with us to strengthen us and ENCOURAGE us to overcome.
People who are beat down by sin DO NOT need a swift kick in the pants to get them going. People who are beat down by sin do not need lashing after lashing to overcome their faults. People beat down by sin already realize their faults and do not need people over and over again to tell them about their faults. They are discouraged about their miserable condition and are sick in their hearts of the fact that there are areas of their life that are unpleasing to their Heavenly Father. THESE PEOPLE NEED ENCOURAGEMENT! Someone who will come along side them and tell them,
"YOU ARE A WARRIOR!"
"YOU ARE A CHAMPION!"
"YOU ARE THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD IN CHRIST JESUS AND GREATER IS HE THAT IS IN YOU THAN YOUR SIN THAT IS IN THE WORLD!"
"YOU CAN DO ALL THINGS THROUGH CHRIST WHO STRENGTHENS YOU."
Hope and encouragement are the Helmet of Salvation that Christians need in their weakness to protect their minds from the attacks of the enemy who has told them all their life, "You are no good. You will never amount to anything. You were a failure in the world and now look, you are a failure in Christ."
Satan will do anything to get us to put aside the HOPE of being made right with God. He is the accuser who wants us to believe that God is passing judgment on us because of our faults. He wants us to think that God is like Santa Clause keeping a list of our wrongs and He is either going to bless or not bless us ACCORDING TO OUR WORKS! When Christ died for our sins and was raised from the dead, didn't He reward us with His righteousness contrary to our evil works? I know that in spite of my own children's faults, I continue to bless them, provide for them, and speak life and encouragement over them NO MATTER WHAT. Doesn't Christ do the same for us? I correct my children, but I am careful not to get so angry that I over correct them to the point of despair.
Just recently I have had certain events happen with my oldest daughter and when it came time for her Birthday a short time after, we blessed her with a $150.00 electric guitar. She certainly didn't deserve it according to her recent works, but my wife and I do not bless or not bless are children based upon their works. We always give them our blessing, wish well for them, and let them know we still think the best of them, NO MATTER WHAT THEY DO. They do not have to be "good enough" to get our blessing. We are not going to starve them and send them out in the cold if they don't take out the trash like we asked them to. But some people think God is like that and they become works oriented. They think that their rewards in Christ are based on "being good enough". That is the worst form of legalism. God rewards us in spite of our good or bad behavior.
Satan so attacks the mind that he wants us to think that the handwriting of requirements that was against us that was taken away and nailed to the cross has now been taken off the cross and nailed back on us producing heavy burdens to do works of righteousness or fear the doom of failure and the wrath of God. Satan wants you to take off the Helmet of the Hope of Salvation so that he (and not God) can burden you with a large list of commandments so that you will be too overwhelmed to think you could ever live up to that list of requirements.
Once Satan begins bombarding you with these thoughts, it isn't long before those thoughts get into your spirit and you are stripping yourself of the breastplate of righteousness. Satan wants you to take off the Helmet of HOPE so that he can strip you of your breastplate of right standing with God and get into your emotions and fill your heart full of feelings of hopelessness, discouragement, and despair. He knows that once he bombards your mind and gets into your emotions stripping you of your helmet and breastplate, it won't be long before you lay down your sword. How can anyone even attempt to fight the enemy when their mind is loaded full of thoughts of failure and their hearts are full of feelings that tell them that they can never meet the righteous requirements of the Gospel and that they are nothing but a hypocrite trying to serve Christ?
Has the enemy ever said those things to you? You are nothing but a wolf, a Judas, or maybe someone has even called you Satan before? I know that probably almost every Christian has been called a hypocrite by somebody in the world who has seen a fault of ours and knowing you are a Christian, they said, "Ah Ha! I found a fault in you. HYPOCRITE!" That is one of the most often used lies and accusations of the enemy, that if a Christian sins at all ever, they are automatically to assume the label of "HYPOCRITE".
I remember when I first got saved, Satan tried to put a ridiculous fear in me that the reason why I was getting such favor in life (now that I was born-again) was because I was really suppose to rise up and be the anti-christ. He told Jesus that all He had to do was bow down and worship him and he would make Jesus the RULER OF THE WORLD. Jesus was already the RULER OF THE WORLD, and not only the world but the ruler of all creation as well. Satan wants to put ridiculous thoughts and fears in your mind that are contrary to the Word of God because he wants to rob you of your HOPE and blessing of Salvation.
SATAN WILL TELL YOU ANYTHING HE THINKS WILL GET YOU TO LEAVE GOD AND SERVE HIM!!!
That is why the Helmet of Salvation is so important. It guards our thoughts which in turn guards our emotions, and when our thoughts and emotions are in one accord and working in cooperation with who God says we are, we can then proceed to advance our attack against the enemy for the purpose of establishing the Kingdom of God in the hearts of men and women that he has taken captive to his lies.
I know this might sound funny, but Satan is a very romantic devil. He wants to woo us away from our Husband (Jesus Christ) and he will tell us anything he thinks we want to hear to get us to get in a seeming romantic relationship with him. Satan is the counterfeit of the husband that Christ is to us who believe. Satan will either flatter us to serve him or bombard us with discouragement in our relationship with God to get us to give up on our relationship with Christ as our Lover. He will either discourage you to make your love cold for God or he will try and turn you on to another trick and get you hot for something or someone else. Those are two of his key plans of attack. Discouragement or flattery. He will look for your weakness and find out if you are more easily persuaded by discouragement or if you are more of an uppity person, he will see if he can lure you with a special kind of flattery and bait he knows you like.
If you like power, he will promise you that he will make you the ruler of the world. If you like money, he will promise to make you the richest man alive (or at least a very wealthy person). If you like sex, he will promise you all the men or women you desire. If you like drugs, he will hook you up with the dope dealer who has the product with the finest high. If you are easily depressed, he will tell you what a loser you are. If you get discouraged easily, he will tell you that you will never make it to the end of your goal.
That is why it is so important to go through the fire, so that God can reveal our weaknesses. Once you know your area of weakness, you can more easily identify just where the enemy is going to attack. If your weakness is lust, you better believe that there will be someone somewhere coming to entice you to get hooked up with them. If you have a weakness for drugs, you had better believe you are going to find someone somewhere who will either ask you if you get high or they will tell you that they use a particular drug and it will probably be your drug of choice or a lesser drug to try and tell you "It's not that bad. At least you aren't doing the hard stuff any more."
If you have struggled with depression, you had better believe that Satan is coming to your door with the whole LOSER package trying to get you to buy it at any cost! He wants you to feel sorry for yourself, hate yourself in the name of hating your sin, and most importantly he wants to bind you into thinking that you have done something so horrible you cannot forgive yourself.
If your weakness is pride, boy are you going to have people tell you how beautiful you are, how smart you are, how wonderful you are, how charming you are, how funny you are, how witty you are... and the list goes on and on. It will be people telling you all about how beautiful you are and it won't be the attributes of Christ-like character they are pointing out to you. It is good to have confidence in yourself in all these areas, but it is self-worship that Satan wants from you. He wants you to adore yourself so much that you forget to adore your Savior. You should love and adore yourself (love, esteem, respect, admire), but not to the point that you love, esteem, adore, respect, and admire God less than you love and respect yourself. In the area of pride, Satan will even give you a group of followers who huddle around you in life. You are the focal point of the group. You are the coolest, the handsomest, the prettiest, or the most intelligent or witty and funny one of the group that everyone else wants to be like, so they boost your ego and they worship you too.
I could go on and on about different weakness, but I think you get the point. We need to get to know the Helmet of Salvation. The mind is the battlefield of the enemy where he tries to get access to every area of your being. Your thought life is the door to your heart and the key to your entire being. Proverbs 23:7 says, "For as he thinks within himself, so he is." Of course we must have on the entire or whole armor of God in order to defeat Satan, but if I had to pick a most important piece of the armor, I would have to choose the helmet. Really all the pieces are linked together, like the helmet and the breastplate because the mind helps protect the heart. You cannot have a protected heart without a protected mind. You can't have a sword without a the breastplate, or a protected heart that serves God. But I remember in my walk, when I first got saved, I remember Satan attacking my mind the most.
He tried to use psychology on me and inject thoughts into my mind to try and convince me that I was only manufacturing a God because of my thoughts and beliefs and that I really didn't get born-again, I just thought that this was happening. The dummy always tries to put out fire with gasoline. His attacks only provoked me to read the Word of God and learn about Salvation all the more.
When Satan attacks us and we come back at him or mostly his demons (I use the term Satan mostly to refer to him and his kingdom of demons), when we respond with the Sword of the Spirit, which is the living Word of God in us that we speak out, HE FEELS REAL PAIN! When he kept injecting thoughts into Jesus he was only hitting His helmet and Jesus always responded with the Sword of, "It is written..."
I remember a game I use to play on my computer which was much like spiritual warfare. You had to fight against monsters, and in this game they had various types of weapons. One of the weapons you could use in the game had "armor piercing" ability. God has equipped us with a sword that pierces the armor of even the toughest and most powerfully equipped demons in the kingdom of darkness. If you learn how to fight Satan effectively, you will inflict real pain on him time and time again. That is why he eventually got frustrated and left Jesus to come back later and try to attack Him at another time when he thought Jesus would be more vulnerable.
When you use the Sword of the Spirit, Satan has no real defense against our armor piercing sword. Satan feels the pain which is just as real as the pain we have when we feel depressed or if we get hurt bodily, only Satan feels worse pain than we do because we have a greater weapon to use against him and nothing can penetrate the armor of God. Satan can beat against our armor, but as long as we keep it on IT IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR HIM TO DEAL A MORTAL BLOW AND DESTROY OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD.
2 Cor 5:21
It is an AWESOME thing that God has done in His infinite wisdom concerning salvation towards us. He knew that in our fallen state, we would never be able to live up to the righteous requirements of the Law without His help. So God sent His Son Jesus, who never sinned, to be the sin offering for us. In other words, God credited our sin to Christ's account and punished His Son with the penalty we deserved. Since Christ was sinless, the grave of course could not hold a righteous man. He did this for us so that He could pay the price and redeem mankind, and purchase us out of our slavery to the Kingdom of Darkness.
He paid the price and the penalty for our faults so that we don't have to. This is one point of the Gospel Satan surely wants us to forget. But the Word of God says that if we believe in God, who brought Jesus our Lord back from the dead, if we believe that He paid the penalty for our faults and if we acknowledge that God's judgment and justice were perfectly met in the death of His Son and in His resurrection to be our legal defender in the Heavenly Courts of Justice, then righteousness will be imputed or credited to our account. This is how we can declare that we are rich in Christ!
The Devil wants us to look at our condition and forget about our position and our inheritance in the Gospel. Through Christ's death, the New Will was put in effect and we have become heirs of Salvation. We inherited the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus by admitting that we could never be righteous on our own and by admitting that He paid the price to give us the inheritance of His holiness and the richness of His relationship with God the Father. It is as if we had a rich relative who worked all His life and made millions of dollars and left our names in His will stating that after His death, all the riches He possessed NOW BELONG TO US! That is why we do not have to work to be righteous. It has already been deposited into our account. Us living righteous lives now is nothing more than us making a withdraw from our account in Heaven based upon the money (or the righteousness of God) that is NOW already in the bank.
According to the Gospel, even though we become more like Christ in our character and conduct, we will never be more holy than the first day we were born again. It was that day that God says all the righteousness that I am is now considered yours in My eyes. God does not see our condition without looking at our position. While there are still things God is changing, still sins that we must repent of, still mind sets that must be broken and stinkin' thinkin' that needs to go out, God still says that you are 100% righteous in His eyes because all that Jesus was is now credited in your life by Him, on your behalf and for His Name's sake.
The Devil works overtime to distract us from the riches of God we already possess regardless of our faults and weaknesses. God does not want the righteous, but He wants the unrighteous. He doesn't want us to puff ourselves up into thinking that because we've mastered a few sins, destroyed some stronghold thinking in our life and won a few battles against Satan that some how we have finally arrived and our now righteous because of what we've accomplished by His Grace. What His Grace has accomplished through us in enabling us to live more like Christ is wonderful, but it is God looking at us through the eyes of the shed blood of Jesus that keeps His judgment away from us still. It's not the fact that we no longer lust or no longer cuss or no longer drink beer that makes us righteous, it is still God imputing or considering and crediting to our account His righteousness that sustains us still. Without recognizing this, no matter how far along you are in your walk, no matter how well you think you know Him and no matter how mature you think you are, you must realize that it is imputed righteousness that still keeps you saved and protected from His judgment, and not what we've accomplished by His divine enablement thus far.
Even though we have accomplished things for God by His Grace we could
have never accomplished before, we must not let our Christian victories
become a manifestation of pride like the Pharisee mentioned above. We
must still, with all our maturity and all our accomplishments, with our
tithing, and fasting, and going to church every Sunday, and to prayer on
Wednesday, realize how poor and miserable we are without Him. We must
still weep and mourn for the parts of our lives that are still not like
Christ. We must still cry out to God, even though we've served Him for
many years now, "Be merciful to me, for I am a sinner." This
is how God says we are still justified before Him and His righteousness
is still credited to our account.
2 Cor 7:10
When I think of the difference between godly and ungodly sorrow, I think of the Apostle Peter and Apostle Judas. Judas, like Peter, was called, anointed, and commissioned by God to fulfill an office, just like Peter. I truly believe that even though Jesus knew Judas would fall prey of ungodly sorrow and kill himself for his sins instead of seeking forgiveness, that Jesus was still wanting Judas to turn his heart to Him. Both Judas and Peter betrayed Jesus, one by handing Him over to be sentenced to death, the other by denying Him three times. But Jesus loved both of them and died on the Cross for both of them the same, still.
When Peter denied Christ he literally disowned the Savior and declared His relationship with Jesus to be untrue. He rejected, disavowed and refused to recognize his association with Christ. In Judas' betrayal of Christ, he committed an act of treason, was false and disloyal to Christ and violated the trust that had been given to him. Both men had violated their allegiance to Christ.
One definition of betray is to "deceive or drop (a lover) suddenly or callously". Both Peter and Judas were not thinking of how their actions would make Jesus feel. They both dropped their lover callously and without consideration for Christ so that they could profit in some way for themselves. I truly believe that God chose Judas knowing that if he had repented instead of committing suicide, he could have fulfilled his call successfully. Peter chose the path of godly sorrow, the kind of sorrow mixed with hope that let's you know you can still come to God and He will forgive you and make things right. Judas had ungodly sorrow full of despair and he refused to acknowledge that he could come to God for forgiveness and be made right with Him. Jesus died on the Cross for both Judas' and Peter's sin, but Judas lost hold of hope. He let his guilt turn into condemnation that destroys the hope of being forgiven and made right with God again.
As long as a Christian holds onto God, even in the midst of his or her greatest valley of failures and sin, they hold onto the hope of righteousness. We must hold onto the hope that no matter how bad a thing I have done, God can still change everything around and make things right again.
I remember, about 5 or so years ago, I betrayed my lover. Not just Christ, but my covenant wife that God gave to me as well. It was just at a time when God was beginning to raise my wife and I up into a new level of ministry. He was trusting things to me and my wife, but I betrayed both His and my wife's trust, as well as the Pastor who was overseeing us at the time. While I did not commit the act of sexual sin with another woman, I had the intentions of doing this and did things with another woman I should not have done, ESPECIALLY AS A CHRISTIAN. To me, I committed an act worthy of death. Even though I immediately went to my Pastor (Apostle Emil) and confessed my sin and repented of it and never saw this woman again, I still could not forgive myself.
I remember that I felt like there was now a black mark on my record or a black cloud hanging over my head that could never be erased. I thought of all the damage that I had done to my wife and remember feeling that I could never take back what I had done and could never undo the effects of betraying my faithful wife and the innocent trust she had towards me. I am still suffering the affects and the emotional impact of the damage my sin had caused years ago, not only to my wife and my family, but to me also. Eventually I gave into despair and gave up on the hope of ever being made righteous with God ever again. I thought that I was now doomed and that there was no hope left for me to make my relationship right again both with God and with my faithful covenant wife. I left scars in my wife and wounds on her that I cannot heal. I am ashamed to mention these things, but I have always made it my goal to be transparent so that I can help others.
Needless to say, after that point things that were bad only got worse as I completely backslid and in my actions had totally renounced my relationship with God and gave up altogether. For not forgiving myself and not doing what was necessary to make things right with God and with my wife again, I only made things worse and suffered more severe consequences than I believe were necessary. Instead of turning to Christ and seeking forgiveness, I looked at my failure and refused to forgive myself until things got severely worse for both me and my wife. Things got so bad that I had to leave the state I lived in to get away from the things her and I had become bound by. She eventually came to here senses and now we are both living together and FOR CHRIST again, as He is restoring our relationship together and with Him step by step and piece by piece.
I said all that to say this. Things went from bad to severely worse not because I sinned, that made things bad, but things became severely worse because (like Judas) I refused to forgive myself and I became a slave again to bondages that Christ had set me free from. Many people can forgive others, but for some, the hardest thing is to forgive themselves. This is a very important lesson to learn in Christianity. Not just that we need to forgive others, but in order to maintain a right relationship with God we must have godly sorrow for our sins and in order to do this we must maintain the hope that we can be forgiven and things can be made right again, if we forgive ourselves. Ungodly sorrow can make things go from bad to worse and even worse than that can take us from being sinners saved by Grace to backslidden, which can ultimately lead to the same fate as Judas, losing our salvation altogether. Not because of our hideous sin. God chose Judas knowing the hideousness of the sin that was yet to be revealed to him, but when Judas faced the fire of confronting his own faults, he refused to have sorrow mixed with the hope of being able to still be made right with God again.
Judas' fate was not sealed by his sin, but rather by the sin of refusing to forgive himself. Jesus said on the Cross, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do." He said this regarding the sins of those who were then crucifying Him, and I believe in my heart that He also said this for those disciples who were then betraying Him in one way or another, even Judas. There is no sin God cannot forgive or a sinner that cannot receive Grace, even for people like Judas. Judas was called by God because of His love for Judas, and God appointed him and set him apart for a special office. God's gifts and callings are without repentance. Even though Jesus knew the betrayal that was ahead, Jesus still had called and anointed Judas to complete the task of his apostleship, but the severity of his unforgiveness towards himself sealed for him his own fate.
I know this is a pretty scary word to hear, that we can actually lose our salvation by refusing to forgive ourselves, but that is exactly what happened to Judas. It is very foolish for us to feel sorry for ourselves when we sin to the point that we become selfish and do not seek to make things right with God and the ones we've severely hurt and bruised by our sin. Refusing to forgive ourselves can lead us to even commit the act of suicide. What we do not realize is that if we commit the act of self murder, think of all the lives we are called and anointed to touch and effect. What will their fate be? What would my wife's fate be and my four children if they had to suffer the loss of a godly husband and father?
I grew up without a mother and a father. My mother (either accidentally or purposely) overdosed on drugs and my father did not take me to live with him until I was eleven years old. I know the pain I have suffered by not having a mother and father myself. This is a curse, I thank God for His mercy towards them, that my children have not had to face (even though I am not the natural father of all my children). Imagine the lives of those closest to you and how they will be effected if you decide to kill yourself or if you decide to backslide and not serve God. Who will tell them about the Gospel, which is the only message that can save them from eternal torment in the Lake of Fire?
Before I was born again, I was a person who was severely bound by depression. I thought of myself as nothing but a cursed loser. I thought that nobody loved me and that there was no purpose in me even being alive. I remember holding my dad's gun to my head just hoping and praying for the courage to pull the trigger. I remember times of trying to strangle myself with either a shoe lace or a bed sheet hoping to pass out and just end my life. I remember taking an overdose of sleeping pills only to find out that I only went through a couple of days of a bad trip. I remember going to the store to buy the sleeping pills. Each box had 32 pills in them. I was going to buy 3 boxes (96 pills), but something told me that 2 boxes should be enough, so I put one back. In my ignorance, God spared me. He spared me from taking 96 sleeping pills to only taking 64, which wasn't enough to kill me. He spared me by not allowing the enemy to possess me with enough strength to pull the trigger each time I held my dad's gun to my head.
I remember all the times I told myself that I was such a failure that I had even failed to kill myself. But now I thank God that instead of waking up after a bad trip that I did not wake up in a place of eternal torment. God in His mercy spared me for His Gospel's sake.
I am still alive today to tell you brothers and sisters, that no matter how bad you've blown it, not matter how big you've sinned our how many people you have hurt EVEN AS A CHRISTIAN, no matter how bad you let yourself and others down and severely wounded them, God still has a plan and a purpose for your life. I know, I am just like some of you were. I know what it is like to be a BIG FAILURE. I know what it is like to think you are the black sheep, that you don't belong, and that your life will never amount to anything. But God still has a plan and a purpose for your life.
God still had a plan and a purpose for Judas, but he refused to forgive himself. But Peter had godly sorrow and ultimately was found in the upper room praying to God, seeking His face, and he lived to fulfill his call and found out just how mightily God can use those who in the past have betrayed Him, even those who betrayed Him that have been following Him for some years now.
Jesus gave me a very important key to success in life. Now you see why it is not just a desire of God, but a commandment that we "Don't Lose HOPE!!!"
I feel really pressed in my spirit, that some of you who are reading this are going through a severe test and a severe trial in your Christianity, and what was meant as a test, Satan has come in to use this time as an opportunity to try and persuade you to give up. I really feel led by God to share with you a couple of experiences I had.
I remember, I was going through a very bad time in my walk with the Lord. The Devil was attacking me with severe FEAR. The FEAR was so great that I literally felt demons over me while I laid in bed at night. I remember one night I had a dream that I was trying to cast a devil out of this woman's daughter, then the demon possessed girl went and hid herself. Then when I turned to look at the mother, the demon had manifest in the woman and was like a vampire with fangs trying to bite my neck to literally suck the life out of my veins. I remember that I stood up in bed and the Holy Spirit prompted me, and I said, "He told me to tell you about the Blood," and immediately the demon left the room. The Devil wants to suck the life blood of the shed blood of Jesus Christ and its power and effectiveness out of our lives.
The Devil kept persisting with his attacks though, and I became so bound by fear that I literally began having panic attacks. A panic attack is when your body mimics a heart attack and you literally feel like your are going to have a heart attack and die. Your heart beats strange patterns and it begins to get hard to breath like you are going to stop breathing at any time. I remember I had to stay awake and force myself to keep breathing consciously because sometimes when I fell asleep, I would stop breathing and wake myself up. I thought that I was going to die, so I kept awake night after night to make sure I could keep breathing.
I was going through a time of severe stress because of financial difficulties and some other things that were taking place in my life. I was serving God to the best of my ability, but I really didn't know what to do with my life our which direction to go at that time.
Shortly after this time of severe testing, God gave me a dream. In this dream I literally met Jesus. I don't know how to describe it, but it was Jesus Himself in my dream. I saw Him as He came down off His throne. When I looked at Him, I looked in His eyes and the only thing I could see was the most awesome look of focus and determination I had ever seen in anyone eyes before. His eyes told me that He was fixed on a goal, and that nothing could deter Him from His path. It was just like the Scripture says, "His eyes were like a flame of fire." In His eyes you could see His godly zeal (fire) and determination. They were like a flame of focused energy determined to finish His goal.
As He kept walking, He came closer and closer to me, but He was still focusing on the objective of His goal. When He got right next to me, I thought He was going to walk right by me, but He didn't. He stopped and then turned to His right and faced me, then He looked into my eyes and held out His right hand for me to give Him a handshake. I remember, that when I put my hand into His Hand, it was a perfect fit. I don't know how else to describe it, but when we locked hands for that brief moment, I felt like I put on a glove or something because our hands had fit so well together.
After He shook my hand I still looked at Him SPEECHLESS. I had no idea what to do or what to say, I was just speechless and frozen. All of a sudden, I felt the Holy Spirit in me give me the courage and He prompted me to ask Jesus one question. Then I asked Him, "Am I going to make it?" I had not idea why I had asked Him that, but I know now that the Holy Spirit had prompted me to ask the one bit of encouragement that I needed to know, because He knew that I struggled with discouragement and wanting to just quit in life. Jesus then answered me with two words that I will never forget. He said, "Indubitable Courage."
After He spoke those words, He walked away, still determined to reach His goal and then I woke up a short time after. I remember telling myself that if this really was Jesus, then the word "indubitable" would have to be a real word. I didn't remember ever hearing that word before in my life. I thought I had a dream and imagined Jesus and that I imagined some gibberish word coming out of the mouth of a dream I had manufactured and thought to be Jesus. So I looked the word up in the dictionary, and I found that it was a real word.
Indubitable means "unquestionable, certain, positive, concrete, surefire, too apparent to be doubted". Jesus used that dream to give me a word that I believe some of you need now from Him. You have been going through tests and trials and some of you just feel like giving up. Some of you think you can't make it to the end and that your failure, your unhappiness, your sorrow, and even your sins are just going to haunt and plague you for the rest of your life. I remember reading this somewhere, "A winner never quits, and a quitter never wins!" Jesus used that dream to tell me, a winner is not someone who never fails, a winner is someone who never quits.
What I was really asking Jesus when I asked Him if I was going to make it is, "Am I going to quit?" "Am I a quitter?" Jesus told me in response, that my courage to keep going was unquestionable, certain, positive and concrete. What He meant by that is that my faith was real, tangible, material and distinct. What He was telling me was that when I accepted Him as Savior and Lord, I meant business with Him. He was telling me that I have the guts, the nerve, the audacity, the boldness and the bravery to make it to the end REGARDLESS OF THE CIRCUMSTANCES AND REGARDLESS OF WHAT I CAME UP AGAINST!!! And what He is saying to you, is that He chose you, a loser in the world, because He sees the same guts, the same nerve, the same audacity, the same boldness and bravery to make it to the end IN YOU!!!
I Jn 5:4
Someone who has indubitable courage is someone who has a real, tangible, material and distinct, definite, clear-cut, noticeable, marked and well-defined faith in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. THIS IS REALLY THE POSSESSION OF EVERY TRULY BORN AGAIN BELIEVER. As Christians, sometimes we don't realize the power that we have in Jesus as the Lord and Master of our lives. It is our faith that secures our victory over EVERY CIRCUMSTANCE and even the world. Regardless of what comes against us, we are determined with a bulldog faith not to let go, not to quit. It is not our lack of failure but our refusal to quit that the devil and the whole world coming against us cannot defeat. This is our inheritance and our possession in the Lord Jesus Christ, a faith that refuses to quit!!! If you are genuinely born again, then you have it, in Jesus' Name. Everything you need to overcome every circumstance, every enemy, every sin, every failure and every defeat lives inside you. Your end has already been decided in the justice system of the courts of Heaven. Now it is up to us to keep our eyes focused on this HOPE.
That Holy Fire and that Zeal I saw in His eyes, His fixed determination as our Savior and Lord is not to give up on us, but to complete the work that He began.
If you thought the beginning of your Salvation experience was great, just wait and see what God is about to do in your life!!! The end of the work in your life will be greater than the beginning. You are about to get a breakthrough and God is going to do something so great in your life that, "Even YOU will be amazed."
Some of you for a long time now have been believing God for great things, and like Joseph after telling his brothers about his dream from God, things only got worse. But God is about to do not only what He has told you, He is not only going to fulfill that dream and that vision in your life that you have had and kept with you since long ago, He is, with it, about to do SOMETHING EVEN GREATER!!! Don't lose hope child of the Most High, you are almost there!
HUNGERING & THIRSTING FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS
I know there are some of you who are reading this, you have looked at
yourself in the Light of God's Word and you realize fully just how short
you come of the righteousness of God. You do not compare yourselves by
other Christians and say, "Wow, at least I am not as bad as them or
still doing the things they do."
You are not cursed for your sin, but God says I am going to bless you because of your willingness to admit your faults, because you have gotten back up again and you have dusted the dirt off the seat of your pants by forgiving yourself. You are still marching forward in Christ, regardless of the weaknesses you still currently possess. You are like Jacob the deceiver, who refuses to let go of God until He blesses you and makes you Israel. Israel means, "a prince with God", "he strives with God", "let God rule", "God strives", "having power with God", or "God's fighter". In spite of your sin, you refuse to let go of your relationship with the Father. You refuse to allow the accuser to rob you of your blessing. You admit you are Jacob, the deceiver, the betrayer, a sinner before God. But God says I am going to make you a prince and a principality, one who prevails over unrighteousness, God's fighter. Because you have refused to give up on the hope of righteousness. You have refused to allow sin, your own faults, and your own failure master you.
You still serve God even though you know how far from being like Christ you really are. God says it is not the righteous who are blessed, but rather the unrighteous who are still hungry and thirsty for righteousness. If we are hungry and thirsty for being found in the image of Christ, that proves that we are not yet completely like Him. We are longing to be fulfilled by being transformed into the image and character of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We are hungry and thirsty for what we do not have, righteousness. Or are we so full that we think we are righteous enough and no longer thirst and hunger for more of the character of God?
Jesus says that those who are hungry and thirsty for what they admit they do not yet have, THOSE ARE THE ONES HE IS GOING TO FILL WITH TRULY RIGHTEOUS CHARACTER. It is not the full who are going to be truly righteous before God, it is the hungry. Those who are not full. If having sin in your life is any reason for hope, then this is it. Our sin makes us sorrowful that we are not yet molded into the image of Christ, but the promise is that if we are just hungry, WE CAN HAVE IT! This is the Good News for those who admit their faults, their failures, and their sins.
RENEWING THE MIND
Before I finish this lesson and send you on your way to another level of victory and to the next thing that God has for you, I want to put yet another anchor of hope in you.
Remember earlier I was talking about the computer game I played that had weapons that had different attributes like armor piercing swords and other weapons? Well I want to tell you just a little bit more about the Helmet of Salvation.
When you first get saved, God puts the helmet on your first by telling you that you are saved. The enemy tries to tell us that we didn't really get born again, but we have on that helmet and we know that we know that we know that God saved us.
Well in this game that I use to play, as you advance in your fight against the monsters and gain more experience, the game offers you more advanced weapons and armor. It is the same in the Kingdom of God. As you advance in your walk and become more advanced in spiritual warfare, God gives you greater weapons and greater armor to lead you to fight against greater principalities and powers of darkness. You are no longer fighting against the devil at the point of whether or not you have been born again or not, but now you are more advanced and fighting against him in other areas of your life and facing his demonic army on new levels to achieve greater victories on behalf of others.
So God has to upgrade your helmet. In this game, you can find or buy helmets that have a greater defense and can more greatly protect you from the attacks of the enemy you face. In fact, the key to victory in this game, is gaining experience in battle by facing and killing as many foes as possible, and by finding, buying, or trading for the best weapons and armor the game has to offer, depending on the class of player you choose to play. Some helmets are designed to give greater abilities to certain classes of players just like certain gifts and people called to certain ministries need certain abilities and protection designed specifically for the areas of attack they are assigned to. Someone who is more active in hand to hand combat has to have different weapons and armor than someone who has a range attack ministry, like an archer who uses the bow and arrow of prayer to bombard the enemy. Just like in the army, not all soldiers are dressed the same and not all have the same weapons to fight with. Someone who uses the bow and arrow of prayer might not have as heavy armor as someone who has to use an ax and a short sword to fight against the devil in hand to hand combat. Both classes are effective against the enemy, but each class of character must be built and equipped in a specific way.
But just to talk about the helmet, as you get ready to face greater enemies, God is going to give you a greater helmet that is able to protect you against greater blows from the enemy. Satan may hit you hard one day with something more difficult than you have ever faced before in your life, but because you allowed God to upgrade your helmet, you will have more peace in your mind against a greater attack than you had with a lesser grade helmet against lighter attacks. This is called maturing in your thought life and trusting and depending on God more.
In this game certain helmets had certain resistances against specific attacks of the enemy. Maybe you are more vulnerable in the area of depression, so God has to give you a helmet with greater attributes of Joy to combat the attacks of the enemy that come to oppress your mind in that way. Maybe your weakness is lust, so God has to equip you with a helmet that has more strengths that enable you to think of members of the opposite sex for who they are and who they can be IN CHRIST, so you start looking at them and thinking of them as awesome anointed vessels of God instead of body parts or trophies for your bedroom.
Some of these helmets have sockets where you can add certain gems. The Bible speaks of a crown of life, a crown of righteousness, a crown of rejoicing, a crown of glory, and a golden crown just to name a few. I believe that through this lesson God is adding gems to your crown and to your helmet of salvation in the same way. Some area of your thinking has been changed and now you are more equipped to deal with things that you are going to face up ahead, accept this time you will face the demons with a crown of joy, a crown of hope, a crown of glory, and a crown of peace and total dependence upon God as the Hope of your Salvation. Things that bothered you and disturbed your peace before are going to appear small to you and you are going to face greater attacks with even greater victory than the smaller attacks because God is upgrading your battle armor, you helmet, your breastplate, your shield, and your sword.
Salvation is such a beautiful thing. It is the greatest possession one could ever have. Nothing can compare to having a relationship with God in Christ Jesus. You want to know how to keep having your helmet of salvation upgraded, how to keep having greater joy and peace increased in your heart and in your mind?
Another translation says, "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." Remember I shared with you in Proverbs how the Bible says that what a man thinks, that's what he is? Well God wants to change who you are into being more like who He is by constantly upgrading your helmet to a way of thinking that is more like His way of thinking. The key to becoming what you hunger and thirst for is by hungering and thirsting after the knowledge of God that is able to transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. The Apostle Paul said the Gospel is " the power of God to salvation." The Gospel is still the power of God to change YOU, not just the sinner who has never believed the Gospel Message before. The Gospel is not just mere words, the knowledge of God is not just sharing ideas about God, the Gospel and Word of God are POWER!!!
I remember when I first started writing articles. I used the ministry name, SGP Club, which stood for "Sharing Gospel Power"! I am still standing today, not telling others what I know, but rather Sharing Gospel POWER!!! Things that change your way of thinking to mold you more greatly into the image of Christ. To be an instrument of God to shape people into a new person by changing the way they think. If I did not have this hope and confidence, it would be a waste of time to write article after article, year after year, and to build web site after web site for other ministers of the Gospel. If the message we are teaching to others and sharing with our Brothers and Sisters in the Lord is nothing more than mere words on some electronic page or some piece of paper, or just more empty words coming out of our mouths, then everything we do is for nothing.
But we all have the confidence and believe that God's Word is still His POWER to change other people's lives, and not only others, but our lives as well. That is why I spend night after night, hour after hour studying the Bible and books that others have written about the power of God, going to church, hearing God's message and listening to other messages through tapes or other video and audio forms. Because I want to be more like Christ. The Bible says give and it shall be given. Well, I have purposed in my heart to give God's Gospel Power to transform others by changing the way they think so that I myself can be transformed in return. I want to reap change, that is why I sow God's POWER to change!!! In Jesus' Mighty Name, Amen.
For Additional Reading on Spiritual Warfare, the author recommends reading "Dressed to Kill" by Rick Renner. This book can be ordered for approximately $12.00 online @ Rick Renner Ministries!