Image courtesy of Calvary Chapel Birmingham
I think sometimes, as Christians, we can overemphasize how much we give up to follow Jesus the way we do.
God asks us to lay down our lives for Him. It’s all over the place in the Bible. Take up your cross and follow me, Jesus says. The woman who gives all she has to the offering is following God’s will, Jesus says.
That is all beautiful and significant, but we must not forget that God has given us so much in return for our faith. We have received and will receive far more than we will ever sacrifice to follow Jesus. I think of two Bible passages in particular that show me that abundantly.
The first I read just now in 1 John 4. He is writing about spirits that come into the world through false prophets, spirits that lead people astray from the true way of Christ. The right spirits, the ones you know are from God, John writes, are those that confess “that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh” (v. 2). They say that Jesus is God, that He was and is the image of the invisible God. Remember, at this time, Jesus’s physical presence on earth wasn’t that long ago.
John continues to write encouragement to his audience, particularly in verse 4:
Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.1 John 4:4
First of all, I love that John calls his readers “little children.” He’s done it before, in 2:28 and 3:7, and I just love it. It’s very fatherly and compassionate and wise-sounding to me.
Secondly, his emphasis is that God is greater than Satan. Duh. This seems obvious, but I don’t know if we always get it.
So often in Christian culture, I feel, we get so worried about the state of “the world” and how it will harm the church and the youth and society. While there are things in “the world” that are harmful and destructive, I think that, in those moments, we forget what God is capable of.
God is greater than Satan. Any move that Satan makes in the world, God is so much greater than Satan that not only can He match Satan’s move, He can one-up them, easily. We may not always see God’s moves the way we see Satan’s moves so often, but they’re there and they’re accessible.
Correct, they’re accessible. John says that his audience has “overcome” those false-prophet spirits because God is greater than Satan. And this leads us to our second passage.
In just one book prior, 2 Peter, the disciple of Jesus starts off his letter by explaining that as believers we have access to something very special because we are God’s children:
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.2 Peter 1:3-4
God has made us “partakers of the divine nature” through His promises. What did He promise us? He promised us His Holy Spirit, by which we know how to live and be godly. He gave us His Word, Jesus, so we know how to live and be godly.
Because He’s given us this power, we can fight sin! We can choose right over wrong. We can see who is a false prophet and who is not.
We can be like God in those ways. There are many ways we can’t be like God, and thank Him for it. But we need to remember that we can access that power in moments of weakness, moments of temptation, moments of happiness.
He is there, and He is for us. And He is greater than Satan. Alleluia, amen.