Have you ever been in a season where God is calling you to a place that pushes you so far out of your comfort zone that you’re looking around like now wait a minute…we’re doing what in this season?!? If you haven’t, walk this Christian walk out just a little while longer and I can guarantee that answer will eventually become a yes. Perhaps, He has shown you specifically what it is that He needs you to do but because He hasn’t given you the formula, or steps a through z, of how it’s going to work out, you’re still trying to figure out if it’s really Him. You’re trying to make sense of it and reason yourself out of it because to you, it just doesn’t make sense. You’ve probably received confirmation on three different occasions and in five different languages but you’re still waiting for Him to send you a sign just to be sure. You have all the questions of how, why, what, when, why again, where, why again…and wait what? Maybe even fear has crept in and led you to believe that it can’t be done, you’re not cut out for the task that you’ve been assigned, or it’s simply just too hard.
God had placed it on my heart earlier this week to talk about fighting temptations and I had somewhat been putting it off and God must have really wanted me to share it pronto because He hit me with this dream last night. I’m going to try to sum it up as briefly as possible so just bear with me. In this dream I had met a guy and this guy was very attractive. I mean VERY attractive! He looked the way that I wanted him to, he was built the way I wanted him to be, and he was the height that I wanted him to be. The best way to put it is he was nice on the eyes and part of the desires of my heart in what I want in a husband. So he picks me up for our first date and he has a really nice car so I’m thinking hmh okay, okay. Then he takes me somewhere; I don’t ask any questions; I don’t ask where we’re going, who is going to be there, or anything. We finally arrive at this place and I see that it’s a club. Immediately the Holy Spirit checks me; I get that gut feeling that is yelling CAUTION! RED FLAG! RUN FOR THE BORDER! I look at the guy and I make the decision to go inside with him because I figure its daylight so it’s not really the club scene right now so it should be okay. The way that the club was set up, there were these winding stairs that you had to walk up like three flights to get inside. To show you how real this dream was as I was walking up the steps the Holy Spirit was showing me my own word that I just preached two weeks ago about being spiritually faithful and claiming to be a Christian yet riding the fence. Then the lyrics of Jonathan McReynolds song No Gray started playing in my head, “it would be cool if we could love the Lord and still go do our thing. You see it doesn’t work like that, you’ve gotta be white or black.” Once again I make the decision to continue to follow this guy in spite of all of this.
We get inside the club and we sit at a table and order food and I think see, this doesn’t seem that bad. We’re sitting there eating and talking and I’m thinking wow this is a beautiful man and he seems like a really nice guy. Remind you the topic of Jesus NEVER came up; not even once. For some reason I had to go to his car to get something and when I come back to the stairs there is now a line of people like a really long line and they’re all dressed in their club get up. I’m now looking like oh gosh this doesn’t look good so I go back to the car. I don’t know if I was thinking of leaving or what but I just sit there for a minute. For whatever reason I make the decision to go back inside to this guy. I go around the line to get back in and the girl at the door asked me if I was at least 21 and I say yeah I’m 26 (although I’m 25 so that was weird but there’s a story for that later) and she goes to put a hot pink wristband on me to show that I’m legal to drink and I start slightly panicking and thinking omg what if someone sees me and thinks that I’m drinking, this is a mess! Nonetheless, I make the decision to go back inside to the club and now the music is on very loud and people are inside dancing all on each other. I see the table where the guy is sitting and to my surprise there are four other people sitting in our booth with him now. So now I’m really confused like what is going on? I make the decision to go over to the table anyways and what do you know it’s his family…like the whole family; his mother, father, and two siblings. This is our first date remind you. The mom is asking me a ton of questions and the father is staring at me and I’m just sitting there like a deer in headlights. What really took the cake was when his mother said, “So tell me about yourself, what do you do?” I didn’t mention anything about Changed Hearts, ministering the gospel, or anything relative to my relationship with Christ and the Holy Spirit urged me to say it and I didn’t. It wasn’t just that I didn’t, but it was like I didn’t want to. We’re talking back and forth and then the mom says son I think she will make a wonderful wife and I’m sitting there thinking oh gosh how did I get here??? Then I woke up….
Okay, so that wasn’t brief but I wanted to make sure that you understood the depth of this dream. As crazy as that dream sounded, people do very similar things every single day. The amazing thing about God is that with every temptation that the devil sends our way, God has already provided a way of escape! (1 Corinthian 10:13). The problem is we keep making exceptions to the provision that God has laid before us. In my dream I had choices; there were a number of times where the Holy Spirit was giving me an opportunity to flee from the situation I was putting myself in. I had decisions to make and the Holy Spirit was right there willing to lead and guide me through it but I chose to take matters into my own hands because initially it seemed okay. Do you know why God gives us the Holy Spirit to lead us? It’s because in spite of our best efforts and what we may believe, we’re not capable of making the best decisions for ourselves and so we need that guidance. God sees the end result that we can’t see so He gives us those checks through the Holy Spirit to help us make the right decision but we can’t ignore that and do our own thing.
Let’s look at what the bible tells us about fighting temptations:
1. Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against the body (1 Corinthians 6:18). Now granted the apostle Paul is referring to sexual sin in this verse but there’s a keyword that can be applied to dealing with temptations in general and that is to FLEE! My bishop used to say “A good run can be better than a bad stand.” Look, sometimes you have to put on your jogging for Jesus shoes and run. You don’t have to play around with sin to know that the end result is death. Stop seeing just how far you can go and push the limits yet still claim to be saved. The bible says flee not play patty cake.
2. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. (James 4:7). Once again we have another keyword, RESIST! We give the devil too many opportunities to wreak havoc because we don’t choose to resist the temptations that are placed before us. Just as God knows the desires of your heart, so does the devil and he will send you a Lucifer Jr. beautiful man or Delilah woman who looks, talks, dresses, walks, and smells exactly the way that you want as a distraction. You’ll be so focused on the exterior that you fail to see their heart which is wicked and leading you astray.
About 2 years ago I was at a revival or conference and the speaker asked me how old I was and I said 23 his response was didn’t God tell you 25? Just be patient. I got really excited because I wanted to be married by the time I was 25 so I was thinking yes!!!! God’s going to send me my husband in the next two years party over here! So every guy I made eye contact I thought that might be my husband. Insert cup of water for my thirst. The person never said it was a husband that God would give me by the age of 25 but the bigger picture is that God had never told me that I would be married at 25 it was just the age that I had chosen for myself! God had to help me to become content that even if I wasn’t married by the age of 25 that it was okay otherwise I would end up settling for everything but a man of God because I wanted it to happen so badly! Trust me when I say the devil knows the desires of your heart as well and he will definitely use them to tempt you to create idols out of them.
3. Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit is indeed willing but the flesh is weak. (Matthew 26:41). Remind you this is Jesus speaking. He told the disciples to stay up and pray because He knew the time was at hand that He would be betrayed. His spirit was willing to be crucified but His flesh was weak. Guess what? Our spiritual man wants to do what God wants us to do but our flesh does not; it is weak and wants to do what the world deems as fun. You need to be prayed up no if, ands, or buts about it. Prayer connects you to God and when you remove that communication you leave yourself open for your flesh to rise up and take over. Your strength in fighting temptations comes through your prayer life. Most people give in to temptations because they didn't prepare on how to deal with them before the temptation arrived. Prayer is your prep.
So why do you cheat? Now before you go “uhm excuse me I’m no cheater!” let’s take the time and do a quick self-inventory and really search our hearts. Would you call yourself spiritually faithful? So many people have a relationship with God in the four walls of a church building but then they leave and flirt and mingle with the world. It’s so easy to look at people who cheat/commit adultery and turn our nose up and gasp at all their triflingness (yes I added a new word to the dictionary) but the gasps and finger pointing get a little quiet when you’re in the hot seat. Let’s have a quick heart to heart; what has caused you to step out on Christ? Is your relationship with the world overlapping with your relationship with Christ now? Remember we’re married to Christ and men because Christ has no gender ya’ll are included in that too FYI. Matthew 6:24 tells us that a person cannot serve two masters so that whole double dipping business is for the birds. The reality is if we're cheating on Christ with the world we've already decided who we really want to be with. You're not riding the fence, you've chosen the world. In order to acknowledge our spiritual adultery we must first identify why we are doing it. In the natural sense, people cheat for a number of reasons and although some may say they didn’t have a reason there is always a root to why people do what they do. So let’s apply this to our relationship with Christ and look at a few reasons why people cheat.
One of the reasons people cheat is because they are not really serious or committed to their relationship. Here’s the thing about our walk with Christ, if we are really committed to Him we are going to pursue Him and not sin point blank and the period. There are so many people who profess the name of Christian but the way they act, live, and speak confess more that they are not serious about their relationship with Christ. If you are really committed to Christ you are not going to be living it up with the things of this world. Bottom line, you cannot say you are serious about your relationship with Christ yet you condone things that are contrary to the will of God. First John 3:9 states that if we belong to God we will not continue in sin so what does that mean if we keep sinning? I’m not talking about occasional mess ups here and there, no I’m talking intentionally doing what we know is not the will of God. As long as you have not developed a reverent fear of the Lord you’re not going to be serious about your relationship with Him and you will continue to step outside of your marriage with Christ to indulge in the things of this world. We cannot pick and choose what parts of the bible we want to follow and ignore the parts the convict us of our hellish lifestyle. Let’s be real! In order to be a follower of Christ we have to deny ourselves. That means we realize that our life is not our own and we die to our flesh so that Christ can take over. So often people talk about the single season as being a time that you don’t have to check in with anyone and you can do whatever you want when you want. Not so, you still answer to Christ. Until we realize that we don’t do just do whatever we want but we do what is the will of our Father we have not truly committed ourselves in our relationship with Christ.
Another reason people cheat is because they think they are missing out on something because they believe that there is something better outside of what they already have. In our walk with Christ it is so easy to be tempted by the things of this world. The devils job is to entice you and to trick you into thinking that the world has so much more to offer than what God has provided you with. The enemy often times likes to do this by getting us upset at how people who we know are not living for God appear to be getting blessed and yet we’re over here doing our part and it seems like we’re barely making it each day. Proverbs 23:17 tells us, “Let not thine heart envy sinners: but be thou in the fear of the Lord all the day long” (KJV). We have to get our eyes off of people and keep them on the Lord. The reality is that there will be people who live in the world who live it up and have a great life and die feeling as though they accomplished a lot and were successful. The other side of that reality is that if they did not have a relationship with Christ their soul went to hell and all their success in the world and the good time they had was temporary. Second Corinthians 4:18 says, “While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (KJV). Our focus has to be on eternity and the true word of God not on the temporary things that this world has to offer that are nothing more than idols that will only fill voids temporarily and still leave us empty.
We have to remember what the bible shows us in Matthew 4:1-11 when Jesus is tempted in the wilderness. The devil attempts to get Jesus to abandon His mission by tempting Christ with the things that the world has to offer. If Jesus would have stepped away from God to indulge in the things of this world we would’ve been in some serious trouble. What the devil was trying to tempt Him with all looked good, however, in comparison to what God had sent Christ to do it wasn’t worth it. What are the things that the devil is trying to use to tempt you to step outside of your marriage with Christ? In comparison to whatever it is that he is trying to offer to you it doesn’t even come close to the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. Don’t take the bait!
Some people cheat because of lack of communication and when they feel like they are not getting what they need from the relationship they are in they start to look for it elsewhere. How do you respond to God’s timing taking longer than you would like for it to? When your relationship with Christ is not perfect and you are facing different tests and trials how do you deal? So often our communication with Christ is so one-sided; we speak and say what we want to but we don’t allow Him to get two cents in and God forbid He says something we really don’t want to hear we just ignore it and contribute it to being gas from a big lunch. If we could be real with ourselves for a moment we would admit that after we gave our lives to Christ things were not always a beautiful day in the park. There were some days where we felt like we were treated unfair, we may have felt that different things happened that we didn’t think we deserved; we may have felt as though God allowed things to happen to us that He shouldn’t have. So what did we do? We gave Him the silent treatment like we would do in a relationship. Now we aren’t reading our bibles, we aren’t praying, we aren’t fasting, and we aren’t having quiet time….lack of communication. We have to realize that this is exactly what the enemy wants! He wants to harden your heart towards God and make you stop communicating with Him so that he can now come in and plant seeds of discontentment, anger, and bitterness so that you feel that God has left you out to dry. The devil wants to convince you that this whole salvation thing ain’t all that it’s cracked up to be and you’re not getting what you need from your relationship with Christ so come on back over here to the world….satan is like a pimp whispering sweet nothings in your ear trying to pimp you back into the world! Stop giving the enemy a door into your heart by your lack of communication with God. We have to learn how to communicate and we also have to learn how to listen!!! God is always speaking we however are not always listening.
Psalm 84:11 says, “For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly” (KJV).
We have a tendency to spend so much time focusing on all the things that we think God is withholding from us that we can’t even see all the good that He has provided us with or what He has protected us from. If our eyes are not fully fixed on Christ it is easy to become jealous of the things of this world. It’s easy to look at people in the world and think that they’re having fun and they seem fulfilled because they have no cares. We can feel as though we’re trapped in a sense because they appear to have freedom and we feel stuck by living holy before God. Romans 6:22 tells us that we are free in Christ because we are no longer bound by the trap of sin and not only are we free but the benefit of this freedom is eternal life with the Father. Stop convincing yourself otherwise like there is anything better in the world. We have to learn to communicate with Christ just as we would in any relationship when we are upset, when we are frustrated, etc. Oh and FYI, the one difference in our relationship with Christ compared to natural ones is that the problem isn’t with Him it’s always you…
Now what typically happens if a person takes a cheater back? They usually have a conversation about why they did it but then they also ask an important question; how do I know you won’t do it again? What are you going to do differently to make sure that you don’t go back to your adulteress ways? You cannot continue to do the same old same old and expect to get different results. Didn’t someone say that’s the definition of insanity? Just saying….but seriously! If you want to do better in your relationship with Christ, you have to do better and be better bottom line. Stop putting yourself in situations that you know will tempt you but also acknowledge the problems in your relationship so that you can identify the root and allow God to deal with that issue in your heart. Ask God to show you how to be faithful to Him and read up on people in the bible who exemplify faithfulness so that you can see what to mirror. If you don’t know who to start with Jesus is always a great One.
So really long story short, I’ve been having a little issue with my face for the last couple months and I found out yesterday what the problem was so I got a treatment to take care of it. As the case with most things that have to heal, it ends up getting worse before it actually gets better. So I woke up this morning and it wasn’t looking that great…who am I kidding it wasn’t looking great at all so I threw on makeup to cover it up as I had been doing for the last couple of months. As I get to church and I go into the bathroom to check out that my “cover up” is still intact, the Holy Spirit showed me that it won’t heal if you keep covering it up. I immediately thought but it’s ugly I have to cover it up! I don’t want people to see it. Once again, it won’t heal if you keep covering it up. So I'm going back and forth thinking I'm not taking this makeup off for this mess to be exposed. Then it hit me…it’s funny how sometimes we have to go through things to understand something that’s completely unrelated but completely related at the same time if that makes sense. God was not talking about my face; He was using this as an example to deal with the heart…talking about sin and things that He wants to heal and deliver us from but we keep trying to cover it up instead of allowing it to be exposed.
We have a tendency to want to cover up the things that are ugly. All the things that we don’t want exposed to people we try to keep it hidden by covering it up and not really dealing with it or portraying to people that everything is okay when the reality is behind the mask we’ve caked on, it’s a mess; it’s ugly and we’d rather keep it hidden. But it won’t heal if you keep covering it up. God wants to expose the mess, the ugliness, the unpretty but we spend so much time trying to cover it up. Covering it up slows down the healing process because God is trying to pluck up the root of that mess but we keep trying to cover it up because of how it effects the outward appearance yet we fail to realize how it is really detrimental to us on the inside. We fail to understand that just as we keep covering it up we are holding ourselves in bondage. God wants to free us of the ugly and the mess but we have to stop covering it up in order for Him to do so. He wants to expose what we try to keep hidden and it’s not to embarrass us but so that we can be freed from the bondage of condemnation of our sin that we think is ugly and that we feel we have to cover because we don’t want people to see it. In John 8:31-32, Jesus reminds the disciples that “if ye continue in My word, then are ye My disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (KJV). Part of that truth is that there is now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit (Romans 8:1, KJV) so why allow yourself to remain in bondage by holding on to things in your heart that you know are separating you from God and trying to condemn you?
The longer you keep wounds covered the more likely they are to become infected and what usually happens with infections is that they tend to spread. It contaminates more of the area and now it takes longer for the antibiotic to work because it has to fight harder against the infection. In some cases the infection is too strong for the antibiotic because we either don’t use it as often as we’re supposed to or we wait too long to treat it and so now the virus is immune to the treatment. This is also what happens with sin that goes unaddressed. The only difference is that sin will never be too strong for God to attack and take control of but we have to allow Him to do so. It is a tactic of the enemy to make us fear having the mess exposed but it’s in that exposure that we become free and are no longer bound by what we are trying to keep hidden. Oftentimes when people come to visit where we live we may show them the living room area, the kitchen, the bathroom, but there’s usually a room or two that we’ll keep the door closed; maybe because we didn’t get a chance to clean up or there’s something that we don’t want them to see. We do the same with God, closing off certain parts of our hearts to Him because it’s not clean or not as “ready” to be presented to Him as we would like. We keep hiding things thinking that we’re benefiting everybody else by keeping them from seeing what’s really going on but you’re only hurting yourself. God can meet us where we are but we have to acknowledge where we are, not where we pretend to be. David asked God in Psalm 51:10 create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me (KJV). He realized that he could not create a clean heart for himself but he needed God to purify his heart and make him whole again. Just because we don’t tell God our struggle that does not mean that He does not realize it. He wants to help but we have to acknowledge that we need help and stop trying to hide it so that He can show us how to be freed. Here’s the reality: no matter how much you try to cover up what’s going on with you it will be exposed eventually. You can only keep things hidden but for so long. The great pretending game will get you nowhere; deal with what’s dealing with you and give it to God. Be free.