“You ran well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion does not come from Him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. I have confidence in you, in the Lord, that you will have no other mind; but he who troubles you shall bear his judgment, whoever he is” (Gal 5:7-10)
This is the picture of an ordinary man who trains to be a great athlete. Let’s call him Brother Gold. He has paid the price to be a champion, a hero and an inspiration to many others. He is now running the marathon at the Olympic Games and he wants to win the crown of gold. The race starts… All is well for a while… Brother Gold is making good progress. Suddenly, another athlete comes from his right side and skillfully pushes him down. He is shocked at the viciousness of the attack. He staggers. He falls. He loses precious seconds. Others from the back are passing him by, running to the finishing line. On the ground, Brother Gold has to make a quick decision: he is staying there on the ground, crying for his loss and broken dreams or he will get up and trust God for the supernatural strength to run to the finishing line. It is easy to lie down in defeat. But if you do, you will lose your chance to win a medal, your testimony as an overcomer, your dreams to be a champion and the opportunity to trust God, to experience the release of His strength in times of need.
For me, these are too many loses to consider quitting. I choose to get up when I fall. I have learned to wipe my tears after I weep, to pray in tongues when no other words make sense, to start praising God when all things seem lost. I have learned to trust God for the impossible. I do not trust myself. I know that even with all the training, without God I can do nothing. But I can do all things thru Christ who strengths me! From my experience, the devil does not bother to attack when I train for the race in the lonely hours without spectators. But when God opens a ministry door for me, when there is a chance for me to win a medal or to gain a new testimony, then the devil suddenly attacks. The devil wants me to stop obeying God’s Word. He wants me to start believing in cheap religious lies. He wants me to grieve the Holy Spirit. The devil wants me to fail and not to recover. But I trust God!
The devil cannot stop a child of God from moving on but he can hinder him. In Greek, the word ‘hinder’ means to break the road across so that you have to slow down; it means to drag you from behind, to prevent you from moving ahead, to make you anxious and confused. The hindering agent tries to prevent your free movement and your progress in life. God promised to punish all human agents of the devil who attack His children!
You can see that this runner started well. In the beginning he was strong in the Lord, having faith that he will win the crown. He was running the race obeying the truth of the Gospel of Christ crucified and resurrected. Everybody thought that he is the new champion in town. But then, something unexpected happened. The devil cut across and succeeded in hindering him from obeying the truth and from moving forward. The attack was sudden. The runner was unprepared for it. He forgot that there are enemies around him who are jealous on him because he was making progress. He forgot that the race must be combined with spiritual warfare. He forgot that not all athletes are his friends. He forgot that there is a devil. Forgetting this, he fell. All this forgetting happened because he listened to the lies of the devil.
These are some common lies the devil uses to attack the minds of committed Christians: ‘you are running too fast – slow down… you are too holy – take it easy… you are working too much in the church – work less… your offering in the church is too much – reduce it… you pray too much – God knows your needs so you should pray less…you look too ‘hot’ for Jesus – cool down a bit…’ Once you allow these doubting ideas to penetrate your mind, you will slow down spiritually. Your crown, your expected reward will look farther and farther. You will feel tired spiritually and physically. You will feel too weak to pray, especially to do warfare. Slowly, a form of depression sets in. You will feel discouraged to move on. You feel like dying internally. You become slow. You feel like backsliding or giving up on your dreams. The only One who can help you at this dangerous moment is God, the Holy Spirit. He is the only Helper who truly helps and the only Comforter who truly comforts.
What should you do? Repent from even considering backsliding. Repent from complaining against the unfair pain of persecution. Remember: all true born again believers suffer persecution. You cannot avoid it! Persecution is a sign that you are making progress! Thank God for the pain! Nothing and nobody should slow you down from moving forward to see Jesus! Finally, these are some good questions for you to meditate upon: You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth? Who held you back … Who hindered you… who tried to stop you… who agitated you… who tried to keep you from trusting the truth… from being influenced by the truth? Reject all evil spirit of hindrance, lies, depression and discouragement! Holy Spirit please take control! Run to the finish line! Against all odds, if the devil likes or not, you can make it! With the gold medal on his neck, with the crown on his head, standing on the podium and waving to the crowd of witnesses, Brother Gold sends you encouragement in the power of the Holy Ghost! Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might!
(In the picture: Michael Phelps cried after he won his 19th Olympic medal as the U.S. second-leg swimmer of the 4×100-meter freestyle race)