Let’s talk about bondage to sin — that is, your battle with the flesh. Under the New Covenant, God allows situations to enter your life to show your helplessness and total dependence on Him to deliver you through faith. God never leads us into temptation but He allows us to come to our wits’ end at times.
If you have a besetting sin, lying spirits come against you continually with demonic lies: “You’re not going to make it. You’re going down! You will end up destroyed.” You wonder, “Lord, how will I ever get up from this? I’ve gone down so low!”
You know you can’t outrun the enemy and you are no match for him in a fight. So you stand before him, cowering, trembling, terrified. Perhaps you run to friends or counselors, anyone who will listen as you weep and pray. You are doing everything except being still and trusting the Lord to bring deliverance.
The Old Testament gives us example after example of how we have no power in our flesh to fight spiritual battles. Our old man is utterly weak and powerless, but we have a new man inside us and he is to submit his life totally into the Lord’s hands. This new man understands there is no human way out and God must do all the fighting for him. We resist the devil by the power of the Holy Spirit, which is revealed in us by faith alone.
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you” (Isaiah 41:10).
Are you facing a severe crisis right now? You may ask, “What am I supposed to do when I’m brought into such a desperate situation? What should I do when everything appears hopeless — when there is no place to turn and no visible escape? What happens when I’m overcome with fear because everything is coming down all around me and I have no answers for my problems, no one to tell me how to get out of my trouble?”
Our Lord is not a hard taskmaster and when He sees us in a frightening, difficult situation, He longs to hear us cry out to Him. He is pleased with a prayer such as, “Lord, I’m afraid! You have always been faithful to deliver me and I know You have the power to deliver me now. Father, I commit my life into Your hands.”
Here is how God answered Israel when they faced a major crisis: “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. . . . The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace” (Exodus 14:13-14).
The Lord was saying to them, “The first matter you must deal with is your fear! I will fight for you and I will save and deliver you. Now, I want you to let that promise be your strength. Let it drive out all your fear!”
We read in Exodus 14 that God told the children of Israel to camp “before Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea” (14:2). This location was situated between two mountain passes with the sea bordering a third side. The only possible route of escape was back into the wilderness — and that was blocked by Pharaoh’s approaching army.
The Israelites were horrified at their situation and were equally horrified that God Himself had led them there! There were so many ways God could have rescued His people. He could have prearranged to knock the wheels off the Egyptians’ chariots, stranding them in the wilderness and starving them to death.
Or He could have sent the supernatural cloud down upon the Egyptians’ camp to confuse them, causing the soldiers to run around in chaos and disorder for days. But, instead, He chose to send the cloud behind the Israelites as protection.
Or He could have sent a single angel to slay the entire Egyptian army in the blink of an eye. God could have chosen many ways to destroy them at any point.
However, the Lord chose not to take such actions. Instead, He saw fit to squeeze Israel into a tight, alarming situation that was impossible to escape by human means. How do we know God arranged this frightful situation to test His people? His own Word says so: “You shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep [My] commandments or not” (Deuteronomy 8:2).
The Lord leads His children into difficult situations in order to provide an opportunity for them to put their lives into His hands — to stand still and trust Him to give deliverance and direction.
In times of crisis we want to take action and fix the situation. It is against our nature to stand still and wait; in fact, waiting patiently for God to act is probably the most difficult thing about the Christian walk. Even devoted believers sometimes panic when the Lord doesn’t act quickly, and they often desperately cry out, “Lord, do something!”
God is searching for a people who will trust Him in every crisis, trial and hopeless situation. Indeed, as hard as it is to fathom, God often leads us into situations that are alarming and difficult in order to test us. He wants to see if we are willing to stand still and wait for Him to bring supernatural deliverance. He is producing good fruit in us and molding us into examples of faith to be His testimony to a faithless, ungodly age.
“The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way” (Psalm 37:23). Ordered means “prearranged, fixed, ordained by God.” This means that it is God, not the devil, who leads us into difficult places. Not only does He allow our trial, but He does so deliberately — and that is hard for us to accept!
I don’t believe God would ever lead us to the brink of a difficult situation and then abandon us. He is absolutely faithful to His children in every crisis. His intervention may not be according to our schedule but He always acts and it is our duty and privilege to stand still and trust Him to see us through to victory.
Have you ever been on a long road trip and after driving hundreds of miles, you see a sign that says your destination is only thirty miles away? You would think those last few miles would pass quickly but they seem to just crawl by. The last portion of a trip can be the hardest.
The same can be said for our faith during tough circumstances. My father once told me, “Son, when you feel like giving up, when you feel like your life is off track and you don’t hear God anymore, hold on! That last part is the hardest.”
“For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised” (Hebrews 10:36, ESV).
I want to encourage you to hold on just a little bit more. I know you may feel like your dream will never become a reality and you want to give up. But God is saying to you, “Hold on for just a little while longer, dear one. Your victory is just around the corner.”
I have met so many people who are living a life of mediocrity because God’s promises to them were slow in materializing. If they had held on just a little longer, they would have realized the fulfillment they longed for. But they abandoned their faith, withdrew from valor, forsook their dream and purpose. And in so doing, they began living a life of quiet desperation because they no longer really trusted God.
When we no longer believe God for great things, we move in our own strength — completely without His power. So hold on just a little while longer because “after you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.”
In order to be able to follow the Spirit and be sensitive to all His detours, we must first have an open, prayerful heart that stays connected with God. Jesus is our greatest example of this.
No aspect of Jesus’ life shines more brightly than His dependence on prayer and communion with His heavenly Father. It is the defining characteristic of His ministry, the strength behind all He said and did. Jesus prayed constantly, at every opportunity. He prayed for sinners, for His disciples, for wisdom and guidance, for His food and water — for everything. And He often went away to be alone so He could listen for the Spirit’s voice without distraction.
Prayer is the portal by which the Holy Spirit is allowed access into our hearts and minds, and any serious inquiry into God’s guidance and direction must begin with this simple act of communication.
When we pray, we can be completely honest. Jesus knows our hearts, our motives, our thoughts, our sins and struggles. He fully understands our pain and temptation: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weakness, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are — yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:15-16).
Jesus understands us much better than we understand ourselves. He made us and lived among us. He knows what we are going through. And part of our being an effective tool for Christ is being willing to open up our hearts and souls to Him — allowing Him to share with us in our successes and failures.
Nicky Cruz, internationally known evangelist and prolific author, turned to Jesus Christ from a life of violence and crime after meeting David Wilkerson in New York City in 1958. The story of his dramatic conversion was told first in The Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson and then later in his own best-selling bookRun, Baby, Run.
It was the night before the crucifixion of Christ. Jesus had gathered His disciples in an upper room to prepare them for His departure from the earth. After they shared a meal together, the Lord took a towel and proceeded to wash the men’s feet.
That evening, Jesus told these devoted followers He was going to be “lifted up” (meaning crucified) by the hands of wicked men. When He told them this, He was forewarning them about what was to come.
Jesus ended His message to them by saying, “I came forth from the Father and have come into the world. Again, I leave the world and go to the Father” (John 16:28).
To this, the disciples responded, “You are speaking plainly, and using no figure of speech! Now we are sure that You know all things. . . . By this we believe that You came forth from God” (16:29–30).
The disciples were letting Jesus know that they understood clearly what He had told them. Yet, more importantly, take note of their words in the last verse: “Now we are sure . . . we believe.”
It appeared that a great faith had gripped their souls. These men were declaring to Jesus, “Now we see, Jesus! Now we know. Now we believe.”