‘And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.’ (Acts 2:42)
The Bible says that God has not given us a spirit of fear (2 Tim 1:7). Still, it is possible to be influenced by fear, as one wakes up each morning and tries to carry out his or her daily business. A ‘spirit’ of fear may seek to control a person, and dominate that person, and render that person’s testimony non-existent. The fear ‘speaks’ to a person words of rejection, frustration, and the like.
I was once in this situation — not to long ago, in fact — and I was very surprised to see what God used to ‘bring me out of it’: The bold testimony of a man on the radio who would not be influenced by others, but sought to influence others for Christ. His determination and will spoke volumes to me. It ‘broke’ something that had been trying to work in me: a spirit of fear and intimidation, to be sure. What happened? A spirit of fear had been ‘working’ on me, speaking lies to me, such that I began to believe that I ‘could no longer be an effective witness for Christ,’ and that it was better to ‘shut up’ than to ‘speak up.’
Satan works like that. He seeks to permeate and influence our minds through lies. That is why Jesus called him the ‘father of lies’ (John 8:44). And that is why Paul says we are to ‘take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ … destroying every speculation raised up against the knowledge of Christ.’ (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).
How many thoughts has Satan spoken to you already today? Yesterday? This past week? How many have you been able to recognize and ‘take captive’ to the obedience of Christ? If you say, ‘none,’ then I fear that you have been taken captive already! You have not noticed that he is speaking to you, trying to seduce you, and render your witness non-effective! God speaks. But Satan also speaks (in fact, one of the proofs that God does speak, is that Satan speaks — i.e. we are living in a spiritual world). In order to be an effective witness for God, you need to recognize that you have an enemy, and, like a good soldier, you need to be on your guard against those flaming missiles that he seeks to throw at you.
In a practical sense, though, how does God work to help us destroy these lies? It is simply a matter of our ‘putting to death’ these lies by means of self-effort — lies which speak to us through various means, including the well-meaning suggestions of others, secular media, and spirits which seek to influence our minds? The answer is a resounding ‘no’! We cannot do it in our own strength. And that is what the church is all about. The church, and all of the activities surrounding it (‘the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship … breaking of bread, and … prayers’ — Acts 2:42) provide us the means to receive strength and encouragement. We cannot do it on our own.
Without the help of the Spirit, we simply cannot do it. You or I may think that we are strong, but, without Christ, Jesus said that we could not nothing! (John 15:5). That means, that, no matter how hard we ‘try’ to take those troubling thoughts captive, we must rely upon the Spirit’s power to ‘make it happen.’ How do we do that? It is easy. By making it our habitual, regular, practice to do those things which are pleasing to the Spirit, and which indeed facilitate the working of the Spirit in our lives.
Like listening to Christian radio broadcasts (etc.).
‘Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit’, Zechariah 4:6 says. We cannot do it in our own strength, but by God’s strength. Our freedom does not come by human effort, or by ‘trying hard’, but by receiving from the Spirit. I had not been able to ‘break free’ from the fear that had been binding me during that period of time, because I was not receiving from the Spirit, I was not permitting myself to be basked in his love. Something was missing. That radio broadcast was missing. That radio broadcast was God’s way for me to receive truth and be ‘set free’. (Makes me wonder how many other radio broadcasts I have been missing.) That radio broadcast was God’s way of bringing the church into my midst. And, it worked! Through it, God did exactly what he planned to do: Impart truth that has the ability to change lives!
How about you? Are you free today? In what area is your life bound? It is my prayer that you will find the freedom that God has called you to, as you pursue him through the many activities that surround, and make up, Christ’s body here on earth, the Church.
– Pick up a good Christian book.
– Turn on a good Christian radio broadcast.
– Let good Christian worship music play in your house.
– Surround yourself with Christian friends and fellowship, and with prayer.
– Get involved with a church that believes and practices healing so that you may find the healing that God has promised you in his word.
– Continue in the teaching of the leaders of the church, and let God generally-speaking ‘love you all around’.
As you do these things, like I discovered, may you also discover that the fear that once had you bound, is no longer, as Christ sets you free by the truth of the Christian message. Remember, it is not by your own works that you are going to be able to accomplish this, but by God’s Spirit. Let him do it (that means finding a good church where God’s Spirit is truly honored — not just one that teaches the word, but practices it as well).
‘Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If you continue in my word, then are you my disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.’ (John 8:31-32)