I’ve done a lot of thinking lately about the different responses we Christians have when it comes to trials in our lives. Why do some seem so able to hear from the Father or Jesus or the Holy Spirit, and walk out their circumstances in confidence and trust … while others seem to strive and struggle under a mantle of oppression? Both sets of Christians love the Lord without question and earnestly seek Him; yet only one overcomes their trials in victory. What is the difference? Is one’s faith stronger or bigger or more mature? Perhaps. But Jesus says if we have faith as small as a mustard seed, we can do the impossible (such as telling a mountain to move).
Before I go on, I would like to say this [about that] … depending on which version of the Bible you read, that verse can be rendered, “faith like a mustard seed”, which implies a different connotation than referring to the size (small) of the mustard seed. Jesus might have been suggesting that if your faith [acts] like a mustard seed, it will grow from a small seed into a bush 4 feet tall, or a tree 10-15 tall (which are actual sizes of various mustard seed plants), putting the emphasis on the active growth of your faith, [rather than the size], which enables you to move mountains. But back to my original issue…
Ultimately, I think my question is this: why do some Christians seem to go from anxiety to anxiety, while others go from glory to glory? You may be familiar with 2 Corinthians 3:18, which says, And we all, with unveiled face, continually seeing as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are progressively being transformed into His image from [one degree of] glory to [even more] glory, which comes from the Lord, [who is] the Spirit (Amplified Bible). Now, I have heard this verse interpreted like this … The first “glory” is that of the Old Covenant—the Law of Moses—while the second is that of the New Covenant, the gospel of Jesus Christ. The interpretation goes on to say that it is two different kinds of glory, and the transformation is from the glory of the Law to the glory of faith in Jesus Christ. The conclusion is that each “glory” refers to something different. I disagree with this interpretation.
The word “glory” is from the Greek word dôxa and Strong’s Concordance tells us it refers to “what God essentially is and does, as exhibited in whatever way He reveals Himself; the character and ways of God as exhibited through Jesus and through Believers”. So, in the case of 2 Corinthians 3:18, those who move from “glory to glory” progressively grow into being like Jesus in every circumstance in their life; revealing the very character of God while walking in the ways of God’s own glory. It isn’t a question of two kinds of glory, but rather a measure of growth [through our faith] in becoming more like Jesus in how we respond to trials.
And that word “respond” correlates to Jesus’s model for us. Jesus always responded to the Father (staying focused on hearing or seeing what the Father communicated), rather than reacting to the dark side. That allowed Him to walk out God’s glory (character and ways) instead of being distracted and turned aside by the temptations of the dark side. Here lies the difference between those who react to spirits of anxiety [which are the temptations] and those who respond to God’s glory.
Both sets of Christians are new creations when they receive Jesus as their Savior. They have new foundations from which to occupy this earth. Those Christians who live in anxiety and oppression have allowed that foundation to become weakened by listening to two eternal temptations that the Enemy presents to them: 1) The first is what he whispered to Adam and Eve in the Garden … Can it really be that God has said ….? Today, he asks the anxiety-ridden Christian, Is that really what God said [in His promises over your life]? Can you really trust Him to deliver on those promises? 2) The second temptation was delivered to Jesus in the wilderness: IF you are the Son of God … Today, the same Enemy whispers to the anxious Christian, Are you sure you are a Child of God? Are you confident in who you are?
Can you see that if we truly believe the promises of God which are contained in the Bible, and if we are certain of our true identity as a Child of God and Co-Heir with Jesus, then the trials and fiery darts the Enemy throws at us can be defeated by our faith because we stand on a strong foundation of God’s glory (His character and ways) as exhibited through Jesus, in whose image we are being transformed. When you listen to the Holy Spirit, instead of the Enemy, your journey through this life will be from one glory [experience and encounter] to another.
But if you do not take captive those tempting and persuasive thoughts that the Enemy tosses your way, you will listen to his seductive whispers that cause cracks in your foundation, and you begin to doubt the promises of God and who you are. I am not saying it is easy! And I am not condemning those who struggle with these battles of faith. The Bible says the devil is cunning and intelligent and deceptive. He prowls around looking for someone who has doubts about God, or who doesn’t fully believe the character and ways of God. BUT he is no match for the Christian who recognizes those snares and traps, and who is ready to declare that they are joined to the Lord and are one spirit with Him (1 Corinthians 6:17).
I know from our deliverance ministry how difficult it can be to stop listening to the devil, especially when you have a history of sinning or being sinned against — and we all have that to varying degrees. But when you accept Jesus as your Savior, you become sealed with the Holy Spirit who will help you to start to renew your mind, so that those old thoughts now come against a mind that is being transformed to the mind of Christ, who resisted those tempting thoughts. You will be able to fight the way He fought those temptations; each and every one was defeated with the Word of God.
Believers must come to realize that just because you have been Saved, it does not mean that the devil will quit trying to talk to you. Salvation does not guarantee a devil-free life. You are not transported into the magic Kingdom of God, where the devil has no access. On the contrary, you are now behind enemy lines, because “the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one” (1 John 5:19). In fact, you can expect that you have become an even bigger target for him, and he will use all the tricks and schemes that worked before you accepted Christ to cause a crack in that new foundation.
So, let us become convicted that we will no longer listen to the devil when he comes knocking on the door to our mind. We will do what Jesus did … speak the Word of God as the Holy Spirit inspired His thoughts. Remember, the Bible says in Matthew 4:1 that “Jesus was led by the [Holy] Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil”. Matthew 10:19-20 tells us that when we are handed over to our enemies, we don’t need to worry about what to say, “for what you are to say will be given you within that [very] hour; for it is not you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you”. That’s what happened in the wilderness, and is our model when our thoughts do not conform to the mind of Christ. Just as the Holy Spirit gave the Word to Jesus to speak to the devil in response to the temptations in the wilderness, so should we seek the Word from the Spirit when that same enemy comes against us.
Once you begin listening only to the Holy Spirit, and consciously and persistently stop listening to the devil, you will find that the whispers of those spirits of anxiety, doubt, and unbelief will be harder to hear. You will recognize them for who they are, and the Spirit will give you the words to resist them. Whoever has ears to hear, let him hear …
Luke 8:18 “Take care then how you hear, for to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away.”