A BORN-AGAIN BELIEVER

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Monthly Archives: August 2022

THE TEMPTATION OF ROMANTIC LOVE

We are to love God with all our heart and all our soul and all our mind and all our strength. That is a Commandment. If we love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, we don’t need romantic love. We have no room for it; we have no desire for it; we have no time for it. Romantic love is just another filthy worldly rag that we throw away.

Jesus said that if we don’t hate everyone except God, we’re not worthy of him. What on Earth did he mean by that? He meant precisely what he said: God and God only should be our focus. God and God only should have all our love.

God and God only.

In our all-consuming relationship with God, there’s no room for anyone else. That would be someone coming between us. That would be spiritual adultery.

Jesus did not have a girlfriend or a wife during his time on Earth. He also did not have a boyfriend. All his love he gave to God and God only. To be a follower of Jesus means to be like Jesus in whom we choose to love.

Born-again believers don’t form romantic attachments. That doesn’t mean we’re not still attracted to people or are not attractive to them. I experience both, as temptations. I have no intention of giving into those temptations. A romantic attachment has zero value to me. It’s like I’m standing on the side of a mountain, with the peak within easy viewing range, having reached that point with phenomenal effort over a long period of time, only to have someone call to me from the canyon below to come down and join them. It would be stupid of me to traipse down the mountain to join them, to give up everything I’ve learned and experienced and accomplished over the years for a few seconds of fluttery feels. I can’t think of anything less worth losing grace over than romantic love.

Listen carefully to the words of popular love songs. Imagine that instead of a man singing them to a woman or a woman to a man, demons are singing those words to God. Because that’s what popular love songs are – demons mocking God by claiming to be heartbroken over his rejection of them, and demons inciting people to replace their natural desire to love God with an unnatural desire to love others rather than God, to love created beings rather than the Creator who made them.

Love is only love when it comes from God, the source of all love. Otherwise, it’s fake love. It’s a sham. Most of what people call love is actually a sham. Real love never dies.

When Jesus told us we are to love God more than our family, he was basing his teaching on examples such as Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac and Aaron’s refusal to mourn his sons when they violated their priestly office and were killed for it. There are numerous instances in the Old Testament of people choosing God over their families or their people, even to the point of deserting wives and children. Regardless of the collateral damage, choosing God is always the right choice. It is never wrong to choose God, just as it is never wrong to follow the examples set by Jesus.

Jesus advised us to become eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven’s sake. With this, he not only promoted celibacy but the stage beyond celibacy, which is not the denial of sexuality but the dismissal of it. Sexual desire has no value to born-again believers living in the Kingdom, any more than gluttony has any value or coveting has any value. These are all appetites that we leave behind us when we enter the Kingdom. We will be tempted by them, certainly (even Jesus was), but it shouldn’t be any problem for us to overcome them once we identify them as temptations and then lean on God and his Word to strengthen us against them.

When we look to people to give us what only God can give us – perfect loyalty and unconditional love – we will fail in our pursuit. Romantic love is a cheap, imperfect knock-off of God’s love. It is often demon-inspired, and born-again believers have no reason to be involved in romantic love or to seek it out. Yes, romantic love will seek us out (we are lightning rods for the devil’s temptations), but we don’t need to give into it. There is no value for us in romantic love. It is a diversion off the narrow Way and a possible trigger for our fall from grace.

God’s love is all you need. The more you open yourself to God, the more he can satisfy you and fulfill all your God-given need for love. No-one can love you better or deeper or longer or stronger or more unconditionally than God, because God is the source of love. He is love. Love is what he does, and he does it perfectly.

Give God all your love and open your heart to him and him only, and you will have no need or time or inclination ever again for romantic love.

UNHOLY CURIOSITY: VIDEOS ABOUT DEMONS

Based on my online activity, YouTube algorithms routinely “recommend” videos by allegedly Christian pastors. I don’t watch the recommended videos, but I can’t avoid reading the titles as I scan through the AI-generated offerings. What I’ve noticed is that videos about demons have far more views than videos about, for instance, entering at the strait gait or living the sober Christian life. Significantly more. One series of videos by the same author consistently shows views of around 16,000 for non-demon-themed videos, while postings about demons generate 64,000+ views. This is not an insignificant difference. I see the same trend in videos by other pastors.

What is the draw to videos about demons? Why are so many Christians more likely to click on a video when fallen beings are the theme?

The answer is: unholy curiosity, which reveals a chink in the armor of faith. Jesus spent very little time preaching on fallen beings, and that for a reason. We don’t need to know about them, beyond knowing they exist and that we should have nothing to do with them other than to cast them out as God guides and enables us to do. Wanting to know more about them is spiritually unhealthy and even dangerous. It is a form of spiritual adultery; a man may at first be drawn to look at a woman who is not his wife, then to speak to the woman, then to fantasize about the woman, then to be drawn into a physical relationship with her, all the while knowing what he is doing is wrong but somehow unable to stop himself. One step almost inevitably leads to the next. The same happens with spiritual adultery: a demonic obsession can be sparked by something as seemingly innocuous as clicking on a “Christian video” about demons.

Do not click on those videos. Do not be curious as to what the pastor has to say. Do not be drawn into the study of fallen beings. Do not be lured, tempted, or seduced by pastors who do not have your best interests at heart. No-one sent by God will post a video about demons, unless it is to warn you against watching such videos.

Similarly, do not be drawn into “comparative religion” studies where you are tasked with reading the so-called holy books of other belief systems. Refuse to have anything to do with those books. Treat them, as the Old Testament prophets would say, as a “menstruous cloth” – unclean spiritual disease vectors that are to be given a wide berth. To do otherwise may lead you into spiritual adultery.

God hates spiritual adultery. It is more repugnant to him than physical adultery. All our love, as born-again believers, should be for God and God alone. That is the Commandment. If our love for God wavers for whatever reason, our attention will be drawn to other spiritual beings. This is a sign of faith that has been weakened by unrepented sin. If you find yourself drawn to spiritual entities other than God (even just through curiosity about them), you need IMMEDIATELY to repent and get back 100% with God.

What is the draw to a menstruous cloth? It is a filthy thing teeming with bacteria and potentially with disease. It holds spent blood that has no value. Only the spiritually unwell would be drawn to such a thing; only the spiritually unwell would hold it out for you to touch and feel and smell.

Do not be curious about the fallen beings. Let them alone. Never invite them in, even through allegedly Christian videos. Shun any pastor who tries to lead you down the path of spiritual adultery.

The Way is narrow for a reason. We need to set tight boundaries for ourselves. Temptation is everywhere, all the time, even through AI-generated viewing recommendations. If we don’t set and adhere to tight boundaries as we walk along the narrow Way, we will not survive spiritually. A click is not just a click if it opens the door to damnation.

THE PRIVILEGE OF POVERTY

God has granted me the very great privilege of being poor.

Being poor is the financial version of being on the spiritual strait and narrow.

Straitened financial circumstances narrow your options, which means you are less likely to do something you shouldn’t (mainly because you can’t afford to).

I was raised in comfort and lived in comfort for most of my life. Comfort became my default, and I assumed life was meant to be comfortable. I couldn’t imagine being uncomfortable, and the few times I was, I rushed to feel comfortable again.

Comfort and doing God’s will do not always align, at least not during our time on Earth.

Jesus lived a relatively comfortable life in Nazareth as a carpenter. When he became a full-time minister, his comfort years ended. Then he only occasionally lived in comfort, while the rest of the time he slept rough. He dined well, though, at the homes of the wealthy hypocrites (too bad about the dinner companions).

Scripture says that God’s children will be a “poor and afflicted” people, and so we are. When we struggle against our condition of being poor by trying to earn more money, we are essentially struggling against God. We are throwing God’s great gift of poverty back in his face.

We shouldn’t do that.

If God grants us a life of poverty, it’s because he trusts us to know how to handle it and to embrace it. As Paul says: “I have learned to rejoice whether I’m abased or abounding.” The key word here is not “rejoice” but “learned”. Learning requires an immersive experience. You can’t learn to rejoice over being abased unless you’ve actually live abased and learned the right way to handle it. God, of course, will guide you in that.

Immigrants who move from third- to first-world countries typically experience an increase in comfort but a decrease in overall well-being. Comfort, it seems, isn’t good for your health. Nietzsche loathed “wretched comfort” and blamed it for the stagnation of people’s philosophical (that is, proto-spiritual) aspirations. He wasn’t wrong in that. I know people who refuse to travel because they don’t want to leave the comfort of their own bed. They trade experiencing the invigorating wonders of God’s creation for a few hours of unconsciousness. That, to me, is not a good trade-off.

When God first introduced me to my life of poverty, I fought against it. I railed against it. I tried to figure ways around it. But God was firm with me, even while allowing me space and time to get used to it.

Now I can honestly say that I prefer poverty. I see how much better I am in every aspect of my life when I have enough for my needs but not more than enough. When I have more than enough, it just gets me into trouble. Pride creeps in – pride in consumerism, pride in being able to afford more than you or you, pride in what I have achieved rather than in what God has blessed me with. I am not a pleasant person when I have more than enough.

I was also not a pleasant person when I first started to have just enough and no more. It was initially unnerving. Even though God assured me I’d always have enough for my needs, I was too used to having more than enough to find having “just enough” sufficient. Having just enough didn’t seem like enough. But it was, and it is, and it will continue to be for the rest of my time here.

Those outside the Kingdom dream and scheme about ways to make more money, while we inside the Kingdom put aside those thoughts and let God provide for us. On nights when I don’t officially have a place to lay my head, God guides me past snoring security guards and through open doors that should be locked to find temporary shelter waiting for me. I’m constantly in awe at where I end up. It’s not always comfortable, but it is sufficient. I get the rest I need.

Poverty keeps me active, alert, and always on the move, whereas comfort tends to make me inactive, dull-minded, and stationary. For those reasons alone, I far prefer poverty. Jesus taught us to pray “Give us this day our daily bread”, not “Give us this day enough bread for the next six months”. If we truly mean that prayer (and we should always mean our prayers), we would embrace the godly concept of “just enough” and reject comfort.

A life of ease is no life for a follower of Jesus.