Holding To What Is True
How easy it would be today for a Christian man to lose sight of God and His Word, in a world consumed by notions of success and having more of the materialistic or natural pleasures found therein. From a secular standpoint, this is to be expected. However, these ideologies have infiltrated the Church, whereby what is often taught from the pulpit more readily aligns with these worldly notions, and strays from sound doctrine regarding the Gospel.
I say this, not because I take any joy in being critical, but because of what the implications are for Christian men who genuinely love God, yet find themselves being taught how to be great instead of how to live a life that is humble and fully surrendered to the Lord. However, we shouldn't be surprised any of this is occurring in the Church today.
The Devil and Distraction
The devil has been at work since the beginning distorting the truth and trying to distract humanity from having an unwavering union with God. Consider the similarities in his temptation of Eve (Genesis 3:1-7) and his temptation of Christ (Luke 4:1-13). He distorted the truth, cast doubt upon what God really said, then made an appeal to their sense of pride. The point is that he's been at this type of game all along, and he surely isn't willing to stop now.
This is why it is so important for men to remain closely united with the Lord in prayer and the study of Scripture. We are daily in the throes of a spiritual battle, which the apostle Paul addresses in Ephesians 6:13, and only wage war effectively when these spiritual disciplines become an ingrained part of our lives. Neglecting them leaves us open, vulnerable, to temptations appealing to what the apostle John so aptly describes in the following verses:
"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 anything in the world - the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his flesh, 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
The enemy would love to distract us in this way, seeing us bound by our lust. He understands that by doing so we will find ourselves lost, alone and heading down a path that is painfully dark, meaningless and far away from the will of God.
A Lion Gone Astray
These results of distraction were sharply demonstrated in a recent documentary about a young lion, Tau, who was left to survive alone with his brother. Their lives depended upon staying together and they did well for a time. However, there was a pivotal moment when Tau spotted a lioness and blindly followed her a long distance into unknown territory. He was distracted, consumed by his desire to mate.
The situation quickly turned on him, when his stupor was broken by a powerful roar in the near distance. Immediately realizing he'd wandered into a foreign pride land, and that his life was in danger, he quickly headed away from the lioness and found himself lost, alone, and heading down a dark path far away from what mattered most, the safety and connection of his brother.
In the end, the brothers were reunited, but not without Tau first facing a deep seated fear, aloneness and pain as a result of allowing himself to be distracted.¹ If only we would learn a lesson from this story in nature, and realize that keeping our focus on what matters most, on God himself, is not a game but rather a matter of life and death.
A Moment of Honesty
If we take a moment to be honest with ourselves, we'll see that as men we bear certain similarities to this lion. We're just as susceptible to following our momentary passions, moving away from an essential closeness with God and finding ourselves lost, afraid and wandering down a dark path of uncertainty. The truth is that I've seen this process occur in my own life, and have spoken with many other men who've had it happen to them as well.
How did we get there? We lost our spiritual focus and pridefully gave way to our lustful passions. For some of us, we were distracted by the lure of pornography. For others, the distraction took the form of alcohol, gambling, work, sex, pride in our possessions and the drive for success. Either way, the reality is we had wandered to where we did not belong, but we were never without a remedy.
The Lord Continues His Work in Us
Scripture makes it evident that God's grace, extended to us through Jesus Christ, is far greater than our sin (Romans 8:1-4). As a result, we are always able to set things right again by turning back towards God, confessing our sin and allowing him to purify our hearts:
"If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives." - 1 John 1:8-10
But the question we have to ask is, "Will we endeavor to stay in that frame of mind?" It's one thing to seek forgiveness, it's another situation entirely to diligently focus on remaining close to God and obeying His commands over time (1 John 2:1-6).
"The man who say, 'I know him,' but does not do what he commands is a liar and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did." - 1 John 2:4-6
Thankfully, God never intended us to walk as Jesus did according to our own strength. He gave us of his Spirit to empower us to that end (Romans 8:1-4, 12-14), while also reminding us that "those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires (Romans 8:5)."
A Fervent Desire for the Lord
My prayer is that we as men will fervently seek after God, and have a unending passion for his Word, so that our hearts will remain close to Him and not be laid susceptible to the ploys of Satan. May we firmly resist him, as the apostle Peter boldly declares, by standing firm in our faith and being self-controlled, alert and humble before our Lord (1 Peter 5:12). I'm confident we can do so through the unyielding grace, love and Spirit of God. I leave you with a video that serves as a reminder of these things:
1. Botswana Lion Brotherhood, Nat Geo Wild.
For more information about Fulfilled Christian Counseling, or to schedule a consultation, please contact us by clicking on the button below.
Eric Gomez, MS LMFT MHP
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
Fulfilled Christian Counseling