Because of the Oppression of the Enemy

Psalms 42:1-2 ESV

“As a deer pants for flowing streams,
so pants my soul for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?”

We live in a day and age, at least here in America, where a large number of Christians (or professing Christians only) have been taught a more casual approach to God and to salvation from sin and to eternal life with God. God is often pictured as someone who serves us like a genie in the sky there to grant our every request. And the gospel is being taught, too, as though God does it all and that we do nothing, that nothing is required of us other than some obscure profession of faith in Jesus Christ which changes nothing.

The fear (obedience to, honor, respect, reverence, and true worship) of God is not being taught much at all these days. Instead, so many people are being taught a god (not The God) who is just so enamored with us humans that he just wants to hang out with us. Everything is about what God has done and can do and will do for us but not about what he requires of us in the way of repentance, obedience, and holy living. Many are calling holy living “works salvation,” and so they are discouraging walks of holiness.

But true worship of God should include a genuine heartfelt awe of God and a sincere honoring of God for who he is and for his holiness and righteousness. It should involve us humbling ourselves before God in true repentance and in walks of obedience to our Lord’s commands. And we should not think of our relationships with Christ as involving only a 5 minute devotion each day, but our souls should long for God and for time spent with him in his word and in obedience to what he teaches us anytime throughout the day.

[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:19-20; 2 Co 5:15,21; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:22-25; 1 Jn 1:5-9; Rom 12:1-2; Eph 2:8-10; Heb 12:1-2; Jn 6:44; 2 Pet 1:1; 1 Co 15:58; Php 2:12-13; Col 1:21-23; 1 Co 10:1-22; Heb 3:1-19; Heb 4:1-13]

Psalms 42:3-5 ESV

“My tears have been my food
day and night,
while they say to me all the day long,
‘Where is your God?’
These things I remember,
as I pour out my soul:
how I would go with the throng
and lead them in procession to the house of God
with glad shouts and songs of praise,
a multitude keeping festival.

“Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God.”

Have you ever gotten deeply saddened and disheartened? Has it been because of Christian persecution? Or has it been because it seems so many people these days who profess faith in Jesus Christ are not honoring God with their lives but they are still living sinful lifestyles? And is it because you are seeing so many people being deceived by clever enchanters and master manipulators? And because so many people are being blinded to the truth?

Do you grieve over the fact that so many people are flocking to market-driven churches where many are listening to charlatans (fakes, deceivers) tickling their itching ears with feel-good messages which do not teach death to sin nor living to God and to his righteousness? And does it grieve you that so many people are being promised forgiveness of sins and heaven as their eternal destiny but while they are being left still living in slavery to sin?

These are the kinds of things which should grieve us. We should be heartbroken over so much of what is being done today in the name of Jesus, in the name of the gospel, and in the name of the church, the body of Christ. For it is barely distinguishable these days between the church and the world. For the church and the gospel are being turned upside down and inside out in order to appease and to appeal to human flesh and to the people of the world.

Although we should be grieved by these things we should not let them overtake us to where we become depressed. We must trust in the sovereignty of God over all things and lay our burdens at his feet. We must cry out to God the things which grieve us and let him bring his peace and his healing to our souls. And then we must do what God has called us to do in taking the truth of the gospel to the world and in exposing the fruitless deeds of darkness in hopes that many blinded eyes will be opened.

Psalms 42:8-10 ESV

“By day the Lord commands his steadfast love,
and at night his song is with me,
a prayer to the God of my life.
I say to God, my rock:
‘Why have you forgotten me?
Why do I go mourning
because of the oppression of the enemy?’
As with a deadly wound in my bones,
my adversaries taunt me,
while they say to me all the day long,
‘Where is your God?’”

When we are following the Lord Jesus with wholehearted devotion, and our zeal is truly for God and for his gospel and for his people and for the unsaved – that the truth is what is being taught, that people are hearing and believing the truth, and that those who are hearing and believing the truth are living the truth – we are going to feel it passionately in our souls when this is not what is taking place, but when so many people are diluting and distorting the gospel message to make it more palatable to human flesh.

And if this represents our relationships with God, in truth, this will be on our hearts and minds because we truly love God and because we care about other people and their relationships with God. We want to see God honored for who he is but we also want to see people genuinely delivered from their slavery (addiction) to sin living holy and godly lives, pleasing to God, for to this purpose we were all created. And our desire, too, is for people to have true hope of salvation from sin and eternal life with God.

But if this does represent our hearts and our lives, along with that comes persecution. We will be oppressed by the enemy of our souls. We will have people opposing us, rejecting us, and not wanting to be with us, some of whom will not even want to acknowledge that we exist. And we will have people who literally will fight against us because they are fighting against God by how they are living their lives. But we are to not let that dishearten us, but we are to trust the Lord and keeping moving forward.

[Matt 5:10-16; Matt 10:16-25; Matt 24:9-14; Matt 28:18-20; Lu 6:22-23; Lu 21:12-19; John 15:1-21; Acts 1:8; Acts 26:18; Rom 5:3-5; Rom 12:1-8; 1 Co 12:1-31; 2 Co 1:3-11; Eph 4:1-16; Eph 5:17-27; Phil 3:7-11; Col 3:16; 1 Thess 3:1-5; Jas 1:2-4; Heb 3:13; Heb 12:3-12; 1 Pet 1:6-7; 1 Pet 2:9; 1 Pet 4:12-17]

Living by Faith

Lyrics by James Wells, 1918
v. 4 by Robert E. Winsett, 1918
Music by J. L. Heath, 1918

I care not today what the morrow may bring,
If shadow or sunshine or rain,
The Lord I know ruleth o’er everything,
And all of my worries are vain.

Living by faith in Jesus above,
Trusting, confiding in His great love;
From all harm safe in His sheltering arm,
I’m living by faith and feel no alarm.

Though tempests may blow and the storm clouds arise,
Obscuring the brightness of life,
I’m never alarmed at the overcast skies—
The Master looks on at the strife.

I know that He safely will carry me through,
No matter what evils betide;
Why should I then care though the tempest may blow,
If Jesus walks close to my side.

Our Lord will return for His loved ones someday,
Our troubles will then all be o’er;
The Master so gently will lead us away,
Beyond that blest heavenly shore.

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