In scripture, I always wondered why God hardened Pharaoh’s heart. Exodus 4:21 says, “The LORD said to Moses, When you go back to Egypt see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders which I have put in your power; but I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go.” Throughout Exodus, it is repeatedly pointed out that Pharaoh hardened his heart, or that God hardened his heart. I read through the verses several times, because I couldn’t understand why God would actively keep someone from believing in Him. I assumed that to have a hardened heart was to rebel against God, and that hardened hearts belonged to unbelievers. Until God showed me my own.
“For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”
When we think of empty faith, we typically think of this verse in James. Faith without works is dead, but faith that is misplaced is also dead. If we put our faith in our works, instead of our Christ, we can’t become who He made us to be. A picture of this is when Christians stay in their comfort zone, not believing that He can do greater things.
When I was younger, I wanted a love like the movies. I wanted someone to tell me they loved me more than anything. I wanted to be the thing they loved the most. After being in relationships where that was the case, it terrified me to look for a husband who loved Jesus more. What if that didn’t leave enough love for me?
As Christians, we know the war has been won, but there are still battles to fight. We can be victims or victors in these battles, depending on our knowledge and understanding of what we are fighting. God knows the strategies the enemy uses, and He shows them to us in His Word, so that “we are not ignorant of his devices, lest satan should get an advantage” (2 Corinthians 2:11). In this passage, Paul says to forgive those who have grieved us, and comfort them, so that they won’t be swallowed up by sorrow. This implies that the enemy attacks us by reminding us of our sin and our unworthiness. If he has a strategy against us, we need a strategy against him. So what do we do when we are attacked?
This past weekend, I ran my first 5K. I had been doing high intensity workouts for several months, but running was a whole new ballgame. The first time I ran, I felt like I had been going forever and looked down to see that I had gone 0.2 miles. All I could think was You’ve got to be kidding me.
“I believe in God, and I asked Jesus into my life – but how do I know if it worked? How do I know for sure that I am saved?”
In the past several weeks, I’ve had three different people ask me this. And each time, it’s like having a conversation with myself five years ago. Why do we not talk about this more? I think this is one of the enemy’s favorite places to attack believers, especially new believers. The faith is new and fresh, and if he can get even a kernel of doubt in our hearts, we will never be able to live the life God wants for us. If we are not equipped with a way to fight this, we can spend years – or decades – living a life of uncertainty.
The first step in defeating our enemies is recognizing them. Scripture tells us that God told Jesus He would “make His enemies a footstool for His feet” (Luke 20:43). I’ve often heard that verse quoted as a way for Christians to say, “Let God fight your battles”. But in this scripture, who is the enemy?