share the whole Gospel: that our sins separate us from God, and we must turn away from them.
Jesus called people to leave everything behind, die to self, take up their cross, and follow Him. He called them to a radical lifestyle of obedience to His Word. But we have peddled a soft gospel that just requires church attendance and an occasional prayer asking forgiveness.
It’s easier that way and maybe more people will come.
And as long as everything in life goes our way, we have our get-out-of-hell-free card punched, and we can carry on with life as usual.
How to Guard Your Heart from Lies
Until life falls apart on us. Then we blame God, because we’re on His team now, so He should have worked everything out for us and answered all our prayers, right?
I sometimes talk to people whose lives are an absolute mess. They want prayer or advice, but they want to continue with their lifestyle as it is. They aren’t willing to surrender control of their lives to Jesus Christ; they just want Him to fix all their problems.
But they have fallen prey to the lion who roams around looking for someone to devour. They have tried to live with one foot in the church and one in the world. But leaving one foot in the world keeps you trapped there because that is the enemy’s domain. Give him a foothold, and he will take a stronghold.
The only way to live for Jesus is to surrender to Him completely. God is a jealous God. He’s all or nothing. We’re either in or out. We can’t worship the Lord and entertain the devil.
“You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.”James 4:4, NIV
The word for world here denotes the world’s system, the lust and temptation of the world’s desires, as opposed to the ways of God.
“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world–the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes, and the boasting of what he has and does–comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.”1 John 2:15-17
So how can we, as Christians, guard our hearts from the lie that we can belong to God and still live for the world and our own desires?
Understand the Love of God
First, we have to understand the love of God.
He calls us to give up the strongholds in our lives for our own good. He knows the power and control they hold over us. God loves us so much that He wants to set us free from the things that keep us bound. Those things only lead to our destruction, but our Father wants us to walk in His love and protection.
The lie is that God is holding back something good from us. We are afraid that if we let go and surrender all to Him, we might miss out on something good. But nothing could be further from the truth.
“For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless. O Lord Almighty, blessed is the man who trusts in you.”Psalm 84:11-12
If we want to understand the love of God, we must spend time in His Word. We have to hide the Word in our hearts so that truth is stronger than lies.
“My son, pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to a man’s whole body. Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”Proverbs 4:20-23
The heart is where we choose what we will believe. We must guard what we allow in. If we meditate on God’s Word, we will know His love, which is far greater than anything the world has to offer.
Understand God’s Desire to Restore
Second, we have to understand God’s desire to restore.
The Lord knows that, left to ourselves, we will make a mess of things–the very place so many end up in. But His desire is not just to chastise and correct us (although He will out of His love). His desire is to heal our brokenness and rebuild what we’ve torn down.
The lie we believe is that we’ve messed things up so badly, that God is no longer interested in helping us.
“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.”1 Peter 5:8-11
God’s desire is to restore us, but we have to actively resist the enemy and stand firm in our faith. Is it easy? No, but we know that all of us in Christ face the same challenges. Resisting temptation is difficult, and we will suffer. But Christ will restore.
Even if we’ve caused the destruction by our own bad choices, God still wants to heal and rebuild. But we have to be willing to let Him. We have to let go of doing things our own way and let Him have His way in our lives.
The whole message of the Gospel is that Jesus took on the punishment we deserve for our sins in order for us to be made right with God. Therefore, we must guard the message of the Gospel in our hearts.
“Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, which some have professed and in doing so have wandered from the faith.”1 Timothy 6:20-21
Paul warned Timothy not to allow the message of those who taught a different gospel to take root in his heart. Instead, he was to guard the truth of the Gospel by turning away from ideas that did not align with the Word.
Understand That What God Promises Is Better
Last, we have to understand that what He promises is better than what the world offers.
I think the biggest lie Satan and his worldly system constantly feeds us is that the world has something better to offer us–better music, better movies, a better and cooler culture, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Jesus doesn’t seem to quite measure up to all the world has to offer.
The truth is that what the world offers is deception, destruction, and devastation, but Satan packages it so well that we can’t see that truth. The only way to guard our hearts from those lies is to walk in the Word–the ultimate Truth.
“Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. Not so the wicked! He is like chaff that the wind blows away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.”Psalm 1
This is truth, but we have to accept it by faith, and after all, that’s what being a follower of Jesus is all about. Are you struggling to let go of some things in your life and surrender all to Jesus?
Meditate on these truths today and let God’s love penetrate your heart. He’s waiting for you–not to get it all right, but to just let go of control. If you will let Him have ALL of you, He can take your mess and make it into something beautiful.
Click here to check out my friend Laura’s book, Beyond the Noise: Silencing the Deceiver in a Loud World of Noise.