Journal Entry // November 30, 2022
Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward. (ESV)2 John 8
In this world filled with so many distractions and deceivers, it is imperative that every believer take responsibility to watch themselves. It is the way of the world to lull the believer to sleep by turning their focus from the ever-present abiding Spirit of God to the fears, anxiety, and concerns of this mortal life. The voices of the world are many and these voices are all intent on damaging and bringing harm to the people of the Way. So as believers and followers of Christ, we are called to watch ourselves. We are called to be vigilant in the guarding of our heart and the perseverance of our faith. Any lapse… Any gap… Any breach in our hedge of protection against the evil one will be exploited. Our enemy seeks to kill and destroy all who align themselves with Christ. So, we prepare ourselves and we stand firm and ready for the onslaught of our enemy through the world and the flesh. We stand firm in the teachings of Jesus and the new heart he has given us. Remembering that the Spirit abides within us and is always empowering us with the love of Christ. Remembering that Jesus is in heaven praying for us constantly. Remembering that our heavenly Father loves us as little children and he cares for us more than we could ever imagine.
There is this constant background noise that plays in my head. A noise that comes from my own insecurities and feelings of guilt and shame. A noise that is constantly reminding me of my failure to be an obedient child of God. A noise that takes the truths of God’s Word that are planted in my heart and attempts to twist them in my mind to cause me to stumble and fall. This noise is most often attempting to deceive me into believing the lie that God cannot love a person like me. The lie that what I have previously done or not done is far too great for a holy God to forgive. The lie that I must do something to atone for my sins. All of this noise from the enemy working to take my focus off Jesus and onto myself. The enemy wants me to give up hope and give in to self-righteousness. And it often works.
I often let the deceiver of this world have a foothold in my life because I am not watching myself. I am not taking the time and putting in the effort to really examine my heart and life. I deceive myself into believing that I can fight this battle through the shear strength of my will. Meaning that if I perform the daily spiritual disciplines and if I am diligent enough in reading my Bible, or praying regularly, or spend my time at church related events then all is good and well with my soul. I deceive myself by believing that it is my effort and fervor for the spiritual disciplines that keeps me saved. I often miss the simple truth of following Christ. The simple truth that I need all of those good spiritual disciplines, but I need them in order to abide with Jesus.
In order to watch myself, I need to abide with Christ each and every moment of each and every day. The spiritual disciplines are necessary and are a soul satisfying path to abiding with Christ if they are done with a holy attitude and purpose. Meaning that when I am spending time in God’s Word, it is not to check a box off a list of spiritual good things I must do. I must remember that it is a privilege to come before the Creator of the universe and read his revealed Word. That when I am spending time in his Word, I am in the presence of the Lord. This time that I have even as I write these words is not just some casual moment I spend alone to refresh my body and give me a positive outlook on the day and life. I am in the presence of my heavenly Father through the ever-abiding presence of his Spirit. I am engaging with the Holy and Righteous One.
How do I watch myself? I remember Jesus. Remember all the good things Jesus has done for me in the past and his promises for the future. Remember the life of suffering that Jesus went through during his life here. Remember that Jesus experienced every aspect of human life. Remember that he experienced life to its fullest. He was tempted to the fullest and never sinned. He demonstrated perfect love. He demonstrated perfect obedience. He died for me on the cross. He who had no sin took upon himself all of my sin and endured the wrath of God as payment. Remember that because of Jesus, I am free. I am free from worry, anxiety, striving, and performance. I am free to love God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength through the abiding Spirit within me.