For the past month or so I’ve been experiencing what I now believe to have been a spiritual battle. I also think it may have been necessary preparation, training camp if you will, that God allowed for a purpose.
Throughout my Christian life I haven’t been a person who has wavered in faith, or suffered real periods of doubt, thank the Lord. I think I’m one of those people who have the blessing of being naive and childlike in faith, and prepared to take things at face value.
Over the years I have asked God for things that my mind afterwards would argue are impossible – yet, God answered my prayers. He loves the childlike faith that moves mountains.
Jesus even said that without the faith of a child we could not enter the Kingdom of Heaven. (Matthew 18:3)
So it was with dismay, guilt and shame that I experienced mental misgivings when I read the gospels. This didn’t come from me, the real me that believes and loves God, but it sure FELT like me.
I had a detestable other conversation going on, alongside my normal thought-pattern, that questioned the words I was reading, even though I believed them.
That other conversation would put thoughts into my mind that sometimes made me gasp! It (he?) would say that Jesus was being unreasonable, asking too much, letting people down after promising them things – and I would respond by being shocked, apologising for even having a mind that could entertain such thoughts.
I remonstrated with myself, “are you actually implying that Jesus is a liar??” and it shocked and dismayed me deeply that I could even think it.
But where was the source of these thoughts? Was it my flesh (in which case I felt ashamed) or was the devil feeding me with doubts (in which case I was angry.)
This I knew, it wasn’t my spirit. In my reborn spirit I angrily and absolutely denied and rejected the thoughts. I didn’t BELIEVE what was said – nonetheless, as it kept happening it alarmed me.
What part of me could be so unfaithful?
There were times I was almost persuaded that my faith was a sham, that it was indeed my true self questioning the bible. Horror! Had I been kidding myself up to now, just sailing along saying that I believed and trusted God without being honest with myself? Were these thoughts an accurate indication of my OWN doubts?
The question arose – is THIS what I’m really like?
But at the same time, it did feel like a kind of alien commentary, and – perhaps reluctant to believe it could be from my own flesh – I saw it as a demonic taunting. Anything that could suggest Jesus was wrong, or less than perfect, couldn’t be from me but sounded like the mockery of the devil.
So for a long while I experienced this when I read the bible (but not in prayer, interestingly!) and dealt with it by contradicting it out loud, and reaffirming my faith.
Two days ago it came to a head. Then the tide turned, praise God.
As yet another suggestion came that what I read of the words of Jesus was somehow unreliable (it sounds crazy, but somehow a doubt was suggested that was terrifying) I finally got mad enough to take definitive action.
This was a battle of FAITH against FEELINGS, thoughts, impressions. The world and its thinking was set against the TRUTH of the word of God.
Can I trust my own perception? NO. Can I rely on what I have been taught and learned? NO. I may be wrong about any number of things, but God is never wrong.
Can I depend on my own ability to believe, or what I have believed up to now? NO. I am fallible, weak and imperfect, and only God is perfect and unshakeable.
Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths. (Proverbs 3:5-7)
So out loud, in a very strong way, I told God and anything else that was listening that I DID have faith in God’s absolute perfection and promises NO MATTER WHAT. It doesn’t take answered prayer, experiences, results, evidence or circumstances to prove the truth of God, it takes faith, and faith is a DECISION not a feeling.
So I told God that I commit to him without reservation. I believe he is perfect, all-powerful, infallible and full of wisdom and that everything Jesus said was true and reliable. It doesn’t matter if I like his words or not, nor if I fully understand them. It’s not up for question. I WILL put my faith and trust in him!
It doesn’t matter what I think about it, the FACT is that God is God and his word is true. Either with or without physical proof, it is true. And I will put my flag in the ground and stand on that fact, no matter what.
Faith Without Evidence
I remembered that Job said “though he slay me, yet will I trust him” (Job 13:15) and the three in the furnace said “God will save us, but even if he does not, we won’t serve other gods.” (Dan 3:17-18) Many in the bible trusted God despite the evidence, not because of it! (Abraham and Isaac on the mountain of sacrifice, for example.)
Despite thoughts, suggestions, or even a whole world full of contradictions and supposed evidence to the contrary, I declared God and his word to be the one unmovable thing that can always be trusted.
It took me a little while to notice that I now had inner peace, and could read the bible as before, with full confidence and joy, trusting God absolutely. The distracting and disgusting commentary had gone!! Praise the Lord.
The reason I’m sharing this, is because I feel it may have been a kind of trial run for a much bigger battle in the future, one where our trust in God will be shaken to the core.
All those who are shaky and have no firm foundation will find themselves “tossed to and fro” and perhaps doubting the way they have believed up to now.
Will your anchor hold in the storms of life,
When the clouds unfold their wings of strife?
When the strong tides lift, and the cables strain,
Will your anchor drift, or firm remain?
We have an anchor that keeps the soul
Steadfast and sure while the billows roll;
Fastened to the Rock which cannot move,
Grounded firm and deep in the Saviour’s love!
All those who have made their foundation other than God’s word, by the revelation of the Holy Spirit, and by the leading of God, will suffer loss.
On Whom do You Depend?
Will church leaders and teachers save you from this testing? No. If you have heard the word but not let it into your life to transform you, then you have no defense against the infiltration of a stronger word.
Similarly, if all your beliefs are the result of following man, then when a stronger man comes, with a more strident and compelling message, what is to stop you following that teaching instead?
Experiences and Feelings May Lie
Even worse off are the thousands who have already based their beliefs on their feelings and experiences. Even though they may have faith in the true God for now, what is to prevent them being overthrown by deeper and more overpowering feelings in due course?
We must be anchored to the ROCK, who is Jesus Christ, not man, nor the Church, nor anything nor anyone in the world.
Neither sin, the world, nor alternative beliefs should turn us away from the rock-solid truth. If we leave the rock and drift around in the sea without an anchor, it will inevitably lead to a shipwreck. Why else did Jesus warn that in the last days “the love of many will grow cold”? (Matthew 24:12)
If this trial comes to you, I urge you to abandon all mere HUMAN support, even that which comes from your own reasoning or feelings. There is only one ROCK that never moves while everything else shakes and is tested, and that is the absolute dependency of God and his word. Make that your only foundation.