When we seek out our manufactured fixes or superficial strength to deal with anxiety, failures, guilt, or depression, we set ourselves up to be manipulated by the enemy. Naively we come to depend on these superficial strengths, which increases our risk of becoming addicted to something like alcohol, adrenaline, drugs, or pornography that literally re-wires the brain, demanding more, more often, and more intense. Furthermore, anything that replaces or reduces our dependence on Christ, the enemy will use and even encourage if it creates distance between God and us.
I’ve been as guilty as the next person believing the lie that “I can manage this on my own” or “I’ll take it from here” mindset, which often leads to tragically destroying our relationships with loved ones. Here are some examples of what I mean.
- I sought out my immediate self-soothing fixes like pornography, high adrenaline activities, emotional affairs, gambling, video gaming, and even adopting a work-acholic lifestyle.
- All of these feel good for a time and appear successful at the moment, providing the allusion of “control” that reinforces a self-sufficient identity.
- Because these superficial strengths appear to be working (they do for a time), my dependence on God becomes less and less each day. Consequently, spending time with him daily becomes less important. I’m blind to the fact that I stopped following Him, can’t hear his voice because I stopped listening for it.
- It also made me less empathetic toward others, including loved ones, because I judged them through my “self-sufficient strengths mindset,” self-righteously wondering why they don’t fix it just like I did.
- I viewed others as weak or less of a “Christian” because I blindly believed that my superficial strengths worked.
Paul spoke of this in Romans writing:
“As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my “flesh” sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.”
“So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Romans 7:17-19, 22-25
No matter how much of a mature Christian we may think we are, we’re helpless at fighting our sinful nature on our own without God’s presence, power, protection, and provision. “For in Him we live and move and have our being.” Acts 17:28
Like Timothy, may God teach us to fight the good fight of the faith by relying on His omnipotent strength and sustaining grace.
“But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” 1 Timothy 6:11-12
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