“Never let the sense of past failure defeat your next step.”*
The Devil wants to destroy you. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy,” warned Jesus (John 10:10). “Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat.” He said to Simon Peter (Luke 22:31). “Be alert and of sober mind,” Peter himself later wrote. “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Pet. 5:8).
He is a ssssinister, ssssneaky foe, “that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan,” says scripture. The one “who leads the whole world astray.” (Rev. 12:9). So sly and subtle are his ways that Jesus forewarns the faithful, “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” (Matt. 10:16). We must be quick to outwit him, forgiving each other’s faults, for our brother or sister in Christ is not our true foe. “Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.” (2 Cor. 2:11).
And so we must also guard our own hearts against his lies. Our sins are forgiven though he tempts us to remember them and bear guilt that was long drowned in the depths of Christ’s shed blood. The devil wants us to dwell on sins past, sins of which, once confessed and repented, Christ has now long forgotten (Micah 7:19, Isa. 43:25, Ps. 103:1, Heb. 8:12).
The glorious truth is this: “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Rom. 8:1).
So believer, You have no business, no right, to cast condemnations upon yourself! — No more right than you have to cast condemnations on a brother or sister in Christ. In fact, you are no longer even your own to treat in any such disparaging manner. “…You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” (1 Cor. 6:19b-20).
Train yourself to think like what you have now in Christ’s eyes already become: a citizen of heaven, holy and beloved of God. You are commanded to do this: to “set your minds on things above” (Col. 3:2), to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5).
The devil wants you to focus on sins past, to limit yourself – and God — to the ceilings that once were. But Christ says to you, despite all pasts, “RISE… LET US BE GOING…” (Matt. 26:46). Not even the sky is the limit with Christ by your side.
- Title quote: Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, Feb. 18 entry