Most of you know that I am a car guy (also trucks). I was recently reminded how the world without Jesus can be very difficult. I was watching the movie “Ford vs Ferrari.” It reminded me of the cut-throat nature of big corporations. This, of course, is not limited to just large companies. The devil is also actively working to hinder and destroy the follower of Jesus Christ. One way he can do that is by destroying your reputation before others.
Paul reminded the Corinthians, who were operating like the culture, “so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.” (2 Corinthians 2:11). The Bible reminds us that we need to be “on our toes!” This past week in Galatians I was reminded of four of the many ways that the Devil temps Jesus’ followers to be superficial Christians.
First, is to be more concerned about impressing others rather than impressing God. He writes, “It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh who would force you to be circumcised,” (Galatians 6:12a) The phrase “make a good showing” is speaking of a spiritually shallow person. They have given priority to those externals that impress others while neglecting what impresses God, a heart for Jesus. Think about how easy it is to skip time with God because we stayed up too late, or were rushing to get dressed for the day, or prioritize food before our spiritual appetite. The danger here is that we develop habits that cause us to be shallow powerless follower of Jesus. Guess who wins here?
Second, is to filter our faith for fear of what others will think. Paul writes, “and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ.” (Galatians 6:12b) I want to draw your attention to “they may not be persecuted…” These false teachers were taking the easy way out, the path of compromise. Yes, they fit in but at what cost? When the fear of man derails Jesus’ followers from serving Him, guess who wins?
Third, is to just fake it. This is a person that gives up trying and just plays the game. Paul again writes, “For even those who are circumcised do not themselves keep the law” (Galatians 6:13a) The temptation to fake it only increases as we gain reputation and position in ministry. We expect others to do what we ourselves are not doing. The danger of putting on this mask is that God’s power is absent in our lives. Unknown to us, we are setting ourselves up for a fall.
And the fourth is, to steal God’s glory. This happens when we make life all about me. Paul again writes, “but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh.” (Galatians 6:13b) They were counting the proverbial notches in their belt. They were taking credit for what God was doing. Their ministry (and life) was not about serving Jesus but themselves. And again guess who wins?
I appreciate Paul’s word to the Galatians. This is something that all of us are struggling with, whether we are willing to acknowledge it or not. These tactics of the Devil if left unchecked will weaken our faith and eventually destroy our reputation as Jesus’ follower.
Let me encourage you to make it a priority to live for Jesus each day, even when you do not feel like it. It is amazing how God meets us when we open His Word. How he speaks to us when we attend a church service. How he stretches us through our commitment and involvement in ministry. It all begins with us putting ourselves in a place where God can work in our lives!
-Pastor Joe Parkinson