“But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall…”
Do you ever feel like a Christian who is far from God? I sure did. It was a constant feeling of dread, backed up by severe, stinking thinking:
“Am I doing this right? I don’t think I am.”
“Oh no, I messed up again. God is going to be so mad. I better make up for this tomorrow so He doesn’t punish me.”
“Dang it. I lost my temper, again. Why can’t I just be a good Christian?! I bet I’m not even saved!”
“Why did I watch that porn when I said I wasn’t going to do that any longer? I’m sure that was the last straw with God.”
“Screw it. I keep messing up. My repentance isn’t working so I’m sure God is fed up with me anyway. I’m getting drunk. What more harm could I possibly do?”
It gets worse:
“If I’m really saved, then why do these bad things keep happening to me? That’s it, I’m making sure God treats me right. I’m never missing another church service, I’m never going to swear again, I’m going to read my Bible at least 30 minutes a day–and THEN God will answer my prayers.”
OLD. STINKING. THINKING. It’s no wonder my feelings were so jacked up. It’s because my thought life was. I could easily continue writing such statements as these, but I won’t because I don’t think this way any longer. These types of thoughts do nothing except create distance between me and my Creator in my mind–not in my spirit–but in my head.
Over time, I’ve unlearned these immature mindsets as the Spirit of Christ has changed the narrative in my head to match up with the truth in my heart. “Time and truth. Time and truth.” I’d repeat this to myself when old pockets of thinking wanted to steer me off course.
Friend, the very same Spirit who lives in me, lives in every Christian on the exact same level. We are all equal and He equally teaches us the truth! He teaches us the truth of Himself–God–as well as the truth of who we are. Jesus explains what His Spirit will do for us:
“But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.” (See John 16:13)
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have said to you.” (John 14:26)
So when did the Spirit of truth come? This Helper, the Holy Spirit, when did we get Him? After Jesus came back from the dead! From the moment we first believed! As believers, the Spirit of the Creator of the universe lives inside our human bodies! And even better, He will never go away no matter what we do or don’t do! (See Colossians 3:3, 1 Corinthians 6:17,19, 2 Timothy 2:13, Hebrews 8:12, 13:5, Ephesians 2:8-9).
THIS SHOULD MAKE YOU FEEL SPECTACULAR!
The “secret” to feeling close to God is to understand the truth that you actually are. Christian, you are as close to God as you can possibly be. You are infused with Him!
“But Matt, why do I feel like I’m so far away?”
Because you have no control over how you feel–none of us do. Feelings are like the wind. Feelings are not facts. The enemy wants you to think they’re facts, but God wants to guide you into the truth of His commitment to you rather than what you feel at any particular moment. As you give the Holy Spirit time to teach you just how close you are to Him, your feelings will be a lot more steady. Sure, you’ll have bad days, we all do, but the solidarity of knowing your identity in Christ will be the anchor for your soul. Storms will come and your feelings will sway–sometimes violently–but you’ll still be tied up and fastened to the truth.
Although we can’t change how we feel, we can change how we think. To change how we think, we must get a steady dose of truth. Read and study God’s Word, He’s given it to us for a reason. It’s a wonderful tool, but even if you don’t study it, His Spirit will still teach you the truth! The Bible didn’t cause us to be saved, our faith did. Us, reading a book, didn’t cause God to kill off our sinful spirits and give us new, perfect spirits–our faith did! Don’t put your faith in the Bible, put it in Christ!
Let me be clear, the Bible is wonderful, right, perfect, and true. It will back up everything the Spirit reveals to you in black and white–and red in some Bibles. But I want you to go deeper than pages in a book! I want you to realize God’s Spirit in you is your true Teacher!
It is He who leads you into peace as you submerge yourself into the knowledge of His grace. Learn from Him! Listen! He loves you unconditionally and only wants what’s best for you! As you listen, He will transform your mindset. As your mindset is transformed, your feelings will be a lot more secure. As your feelings are lassoed in, your life will get better–even when it gets worse.
But this all begins in your mind. Paul tells the Romans:
“Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (See Romans 12:2)
Not once does any New Testament epistle tell us to be transformed by the renewing of our feelings. Not once does Paul, Peter, James, or John write, “You need to change how you feel!” No. But quite often, they teach the Church to change how they think. Quite often, they remind us of who we are, and who lives in us! Once we know that we are holy, blameless, heaven-ready saints–only then will our feelings begin to catch up! (See Colossians 1:22, 1 Corinthians 6:11, 1 John 5:13)
So today, my friends, know this: God is in you and you’re in Him, you can’t get any closer than that! Take your focus off your behavior, and refocus on your identity! Do this, and you’ll be amazed at how you feel!
A prayer for you: Heavenly Father, thank you for uniting yourself with me. Thank you for Jesus’ sacrifice for my sin, which made our union available! Right now, I lift up all who are reading this, directly to you. So many of these dear readers are way too hard on themselves; the enemy has them convinced they should live by how they feel. Please help them realize who they are! Help them go deeper into the knowledge of their identity as your child! Teach them that you’re with them and you’ll never go away! That’s why Jesus died–to give us such commitment from you! Once they begin to believe these truths, they’ll feel better. Also, their words and actions will be a lot more confident. Reveal that you’re not far away! Reveal that you’re united with them for good! Amen.
This devotional is from 60 Days for Jesus, Volume 2. Get your copy here!