Caller ID is a beautiful thing. It’s hard to remember a day when we couldn’t screen our calls. Just last week, Caller ID came to my rescue when I looked down at my ringing cell phone to see an incoming call from Egypt. Since I don’t know anyone living in Egypt, I probably dodged an annoying sales pitch or even a scam. As I refused this particular call, I sensed the Lord telling me that another “Egypt” was knocking at my door and I shouldn’t answer.
In the Old Testament, God delivered the Israelites out of the land of Egypt and out of the house of slavery.
“And God, spoke all these words saying, ‘I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me.” Exodus 20:1-3 (ESV)
Everyone’s Egypt is different. My recurring “Egypt” has been a striving for perfection in my Christian walk. It sneaks up on me so gradually. I start out by spending more time with God and wanting a closer relationship. If I am not careful, I can easily slip into trying to earn His love by being perfect.
“Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh….It was for freedom that Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 3:2-3 & 5:1 (ESV)
As Christians we know that we are saved by grace but striving is in the very DNA of our flesh. We think if we try harder to keep God’s laws then He will be pleased with us and love us more. Those thoughts of, “If you are a real Christian then you would do this. If you really love God, then you would have never done that.” The “accuser of the brethren” is hard at work and will also target you too as you seek to have a closer relationship with God.
To quiet these voices, we might try a little harder. As we begin to experience a little “success” in our striving for holiness, pride creeps in. We face a new battle against critical, judgmental thoughts about fellow believers as we focus on their imperfections. And then we realize that we are sinning once again! We wake up one day to realize that we are a slave once again to the law that Christ already fulfilled on our behalf.
At this point, we might be tempted to give up altogether. This trying to get close to God thing is just too hard. Guess what? We just uncovered the enemy’s plan. Don’t let him win.
“But, now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code….There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit…..For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” Romans 7:6; 8:1-4,6
Our flesh wants to be “justified” in what we do. Our flesh wants to be right and better than our neighbor. Ironically, we are more likely to keep God’s commandments when we rest and walk in His Spirit. This is very counterintuitive to our logical minds and to the world as well. Don’t we get better by trying harder? Nope. We become holier as we give up and surrender to the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
If you are a Christian then the devil knows that he has lost the war for your soul. His only power is to lie to you, so don’t answer the phone.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10