In The Line Of Fire

When you become a Christian, all of your problems are solved, right? Since God is now taking over your life, nothing bad should ever happen to you and you should be successful in everything you do… Right? There isn't really a perfect straight answer of "yes" or "no" unfortunately. In a way the answer is yes AND no. In respects, you have accepted the salvation of Jesus Christ and will live eternally with him. You have surrendered control of your life over to God and he is now for you and with you. So,

"What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?"

- Romans 8:31 KJV

What could go wrong? Sure, anytime someone puts their faith in Jesus Christ is a cause for great celebration. Scripture says when even ONE soul is saved, all the angels of Heaven rejoice. The Lord will give our minds peace, and our hearts a joy unlike anything you thought possible in this lifetime. We have the promise of God's holy protection, a ridiculous amount of grace, and forgiveness of ALL sin. We are promised an equal inheritance with Christ, and the hope of spending eternity with our loving Father in Heaven. And we did NOTHING to earn all this?! Wow! What a deal!

But, our EARTHLY path is not always going to perfectly clear. Aside from the fact that at times God uses trials to help correct us and force us to grow, there are other spiritual forces at work that may be throwing spears at you. It is the latter that I would like to go into a little more detail this time.

You see, before you are saved, Satan really doesn’t need to pay much attention to you. You are already lost and he is not worried about you spreading the gospel to anyone, bringing people to the truth. You are already on your way to the broad gates. Why should Satan spend any significant amount of energy on you? Sure, demons will still follow you around and bug you at every corner, influencing you to make bad decisions, and ensure you never get a chance to hear the truth of God’s word. And with every temptation you give in to, or with every bad decision you make, you give these demons more permission over you. But in Satan’s eyes, there are bigger fish to fry and more important people to focus his fire on.

Consider this, if you were Satan and you wanted to suppress and stop the spreading of truth by salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, where would you center your main attacks? You would want to focus more on the word of God, and those who are spreading the the word of God, right? And Satan not only wants to stop them, but also to bring them back OUT of salvation. I understand it’s debatable whether or not you can actually lose your salvation or not. I honestly believe you can. If an individual had once been a follower of Jesus Christ, but later decided to reject Him; said person would lose their salvation since it's dependent upon faith in Christ. However, the Scripture does NOT teach that you can lose your salvation by failing to perfectly follow God’s law. Salvation is by “faith” and not by “works”. The Apostle Paul explains this;

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

- Ephesians 2:8-9 KJV

However, my understanding is you should at least have intent to TRY and please God as best you can. Jesus even broke it down for us; all you have to do is love God and others, everything else will fall into place.

Jesus said unto him, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."

- Matthew 22:37-44 KJV

But of course you won't be perfect at this, and that is OK. Just get back up, wipe off the dust, and ask for forgiveness and strength against any temptation, learn from it, and move forward in love for the Lord and others.

When you become a Christian, your eternity may be secured, but what you may not realize is you immediately put yourself right in the middle of Satan’s cross-hairs. He will come after you with EVERYTHING HE HAS to try and make you change your mind about Christ AS FAST AS POSSIBLE to stop the spreading truth of the Gospel. (Read Jesus's parable of the seed sower; Matthew chapter 13)

Unfortunately, for the saved ones that stick it out, Satan's aim on them is not something that is only for a day or two, or even a week or month. This is a spiritual battle you will deal with for the rest of your life!

"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."

- Ephesians 6:12 KJV

“Well where is God in all this? Doesn’t He help you combat Satan's attacks? Aren’t you now one of His protected children?”, you might ask. Yes, God is right there with you, but He isn’t going to remove you from every battle. We need to learn that the main defense in combating Satan, in my experience, is to have the closest relationship with God as you possibly can. Pray expectantly, read His Word as if He is speaking directly to you, and never stop having faith. Learn how to listen to what God wants you to do at any given moment; pray frequently and ask what He would have you do. Learn how to use the "armor of God" explained in Ephesians chapter 6.

"Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil."

- Ephesians 6:10-11 KJV

We need to learn when to pause on a situation...

"Be still, and know that I am God..."

- Psalms 46:10 KJV

And when to move...

"And the LORD said ... , Wherefore criest thou unto me? [why do you cry out to me?] ... go forward:"

- Exodus 14:15 KJV

Here is an illustration of the Christian life I would like to offer. When I was in the United States Army, going through Basic Combat Training, there was a course we had to complete called the “Live Fire Range”. This is where your team would navigate a course of mud and barbed wire mesh over your head with quarter sticks of dynamite going off in protective drums close to you. Meanwhile, there were instructors firing live rounds over the top of you, so you obviously needed to keep very low and under the wire.

Let us imagine there is freedom going straight forward, through the mud, dynamite, and live fire, beyond those pulling the trigger. However, on the sides of the course, is a much easier path that eventually becomes a cliff where you would fall to your death. There is no way to get to the point of freedom except through the obstacle course. Anyone that goes around may have the clearer path, away from the bullets and other dangers, but eventually would find themselves going off the cliff.

This is how I view our existence on Earth and how we chose where we will spend our eternity. If you choose to follow Christ then basically you choose to take on the obstacle course where Satan puts you in thick mud, barbed wire over your head, dynamite going off at every turn, and shooting live rounds at you. It’s a tough course, and it takes a lifetime to get through. But even in that mess, you learn how to see God’s hand protecting you as you manage this course of life. You may notice that the only dynamite allowed to be used on this course are the quarter sticks, and they have to be in protective barrels. You also notice that the weapons firing the rounds are not able to point straight down at you, only over your head. God has Satan on a leash, he is not God’s equal opposite. God created Lucifer to be a great angel, and he chose iniquity.

"Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee."

- Ezekiel 28: 14-15 KJV

“What about the good Christians that have unwarranted troubles in their lives? What about the good Christians that experience sickness, starvation, loss of loved ones, persecution, and even death? Why do these things happen to them when they love the Lord and do everything to obey the Lord?” I would be inclined to quote Isaiah when he wrote God’s statement saying,

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

- Isa 55:8-9 KJV

I trust the Lord with all my heart and believe He loves us. I believe He knows what’s best for us, even when it’s hard going.

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

- Romans 8:28 KJV

These things can include all the trials we encounter in our lives, they all “work together for good”. So, my answer is, God must simply have a good reason for these things and knows something that I don’t. And because I trust God wholeheartedly, that answer is sufficient for me, and I know it will all be for my good in the end.

In contrast, you might also ask, "What about the people that do not follow Christ and also have very difficult lives?" My belief is these people can make themselves more of a target by their choices and actions. For example, devil worshipers can invite demons into their lives that will wreak havoc. Or people who make sinful decisions can give demons permission to attach themselves to that person. I suppose if you get enough attention from Satan and his demons they will just delight in making your life Hell, no matter who you are. Even fallen people are made in the image of God, and Satan hates them as well. The difference is, when you are a child of God, you avoid spiritual death no matter how many physical trials you face while here in earth. Just stay on course, being in Satan's cross-hairs is where you want to be because it means you are doing something right!

"And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us."

- Romans 5:3-5 KJV

Written by: Joshua Berry

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