Who told you you are unworthy -- no good, useless, unusable to God? Who keeps reminding you you're weak, helpless, a total failure? Who told you you'll never measure up to God's standard?
We all know where this voice comes from: It is the devil himself! He's the one who keeps you convinced God is angry with you. You hear his lies all day long -- and they come straight from the pits of hell!
Who tells choir members they're not worthy to sing praises in God's house? Who tells musicians they're not worthy to play instruments of worship? Who tells elders, ushers, Sunday school teachers, volunteers, people in ministry, people in their pews they are unworthy? Who reminds them of every sin and failure, accusing them: "You have unclean hands, an impure heart! You have no right to touch the holy things of God. You are a disgrace to the Lord!"
That is the hounding voice of the devil -- the accuser of the brethren! He tells you, "God can't use you until you sit down and get this thing figured out. You can't even come into his house until you've made yourself worthy!"
Many people are reading this message right now who have been convinced by the devil they are unworthy ever to be used of God. Does this describe you? Perhaps you feel unworthy even to be called a child of the Lord. When you look at your spiritual life, all you see is inconsistency. And the enemy keeps sending a constant barrage of lies at you -- reminding you of your failures, always harassing your spirit.
Now you've begun to think, "I love the Lord with everything that's in me. But there are still failures in my life! I'm not a consistently faithful servant. I still have to battle great temptations, things that discourage me. I'm never going to measure up. I'll never be what God wants me to be -- and what I want to be!"
Let me stop here and confess something to you: I have never once, in all my years of ministry, felt worthy of my high calling as a preacher! Throughout my service to the Lord, I have been barraged by accusations that I am unworthy to speak for God -- unworthy to preach, to teach others, to be a leader.
Yet I don't know of any sincere Christian ever used by God who hasn't experienced this. William Bradford, the great Puritan minister, said, "I think sometimes I have the blackest heart in all of Europe." He kept hearing the accusation that he was completely unworthy. And every time he spoke or preached, something churned in his stomach -- an anxiety, a fear, a trepidation about standing before people. That great preacher felt an incredible sense of unworthiness!
Of course, in our flesh we are unworthy. We can never be worthy on our own. But many believers allow Satan to rob them of precious life by believing his lies about how God sees them. They believe they can never be worthy in his sight.
Whenever such downcast Christians hear strong preaching against sin and compromise, they immediately fall under condemnation. They think, "I'm still weak. I don't have total victory. I'm stuck in a continual warfare!"
Then another thought comes flooding in: "You must sit down -- drop out of all service -- until you get things right. If you continue trying to do God's work and worship while you're in this struggle, you'll be judged!"
Occasionally, pastors have to ask church workers to "sit down" for a season -- that is, to set aside their ministry duties -- in order to put certain aspects of their life in order. At Times Square Church, we do this when someone is blind to his sin and doesn't see it's wrong. And sometimes we have to do it when a person is living in open, flaunted sin, with no sign of repentance. That has to be dealt with.
But I'm talking about something else entirely -- something every Christian must deal with. The fact is, if every child of God listened to the accusations of the devil, all ministries would have to shut down completely! There would be no church -- because there would be no one to stand in the pulpit, no one to sit in the choir loft, no one to usher, no one to teach Sunday school -- and no one in the pews! We all would be lied out of the blessings of God -- and the Lord wouldn't get any of the praises he ought to have from us.
I Have Three Questions
I Want to Ask You:
- st Question: Was Satan able to keep you from opening up this letter? Did his usual accusations make you want to avoid reading my message? Evidently not, if you are reading it right now.
- nd Question: Has the devil been able to stop you halfway to church, fill your head with accusations, turn you around and send you home? Has he flooded you with thoughts like: "You can't go to church today -- you can't sing in the choir, teach Sunday school, serve communion, sit in the pew and worship -- because you still don't have things right! You still have inconsistencies, sinful desires in your life. Your heart isn't ready to hear the word preached!"
Even if you didn't go to church that particular Sunday, I'm sure the devil wasn't able to keep you away for long.
- rd Question: After you arrived at church, greeted a few saints and prepared to enter the sanctuary, did the devil hinder you from going in? Did he fill your head with thoughts such as, "I'm not worthy to worship the Lord today. I still have too many battles, too many unsettled struggles. I can't raise my hands in worship while these things are going on inside me!"
So, did you grab your coat, gather your family and head home then? Probably not. Most likely, Satan left you alone at that point. You simply took your seat and settled in to worship, not bothered by anything at all.
But after a little while, the accuser began to move in. He waited until the opening song -- when you opened your mouth to praise the Lord -- and hit you with his strongest lies!
You see, Satan knows he can't stop you from getting out of bed. He knows he can't keep you from going to church. And he knows he can't turn you back once you get there. So he reserves all his serpentine venom for the moment you're standing before others, singing, "Blessed be the name of the Lord! Magnify his name. Majesty!"
Satan knows we delight in praising God. And he knows God has great delight in our worship. The Lord says of his people: "To the saints that are in the earth, and to the excellent, in whom is all my delight" (Psalm 16:3). The Lord delights in our praises!
And that is exactly what the devil is after in you. He knows he can't drive you into the arms of some pimp or prostitute. He can't entice you into entering some bar or nightclub. No -- he knows your great delight is in worshiping God. And he wants more than anything to destroy that worship!
That's why he sends his fiercest principalities and powers to accuse you in God's own house. I believe lying spirits are on assignment against every devoted believer who attends a church where the gospel is preached without compromise.
The lying spirits try everything to sabotage your worship. Their accusations never let up: "You have no right to praise a holy God. You still don't have total victory, even after all these years. Your joy is phony. You're putting it on -- it's all an act! Look at you, singing and praising God, acting so pious. You unworthy, sinful phony! Sit down and keep quiet. If people only knew what you're really like -- the jokes you listen to on your job, the mean things you say to your spouse, the way you yell at your children. You have Jesus on your lips, but Judas in your heart!"
You are shaken by this hissing voice. Then the sermon begins -- and with everything the preacher says, along comes the hissing sound again:
"Ha! He's talking about you again, exposing you. You can't be faithful to God even for a week. Whenever you get a victory, it lasts for a few days -- but then you're back to your old ways again. You'll never change. You're a hindrance to this body of believers. You're going to destroy the anointing here!"
You are condemned by these lies! The devil has succeeded in making you believe God is mad at you -- that you have grieved the Holy Spirit. And that is exactly what Satan wants to happen!
I recently read the story of a man I know, a tent evangelist. This minister was falsely accused of tax evasion. He was totally innocent -- in fact, he eventually was exonerated. But before that happened, he spent three years in prison.
Talk about feeling unworthy: This man was humiliated. He had been a well-regarded preacher, a prophet, a soul winner -- but now everyone saw him as a crook. He was mocked and ridiculed even by his fellow prisoners. As he walked through the prison yard, he thought, "I must have done something terrible -- something I don't know about -- that angered the Lord so much to do this to me. He's made a spectacle of me before the whole world. I don't understand!"
He felt so unworthy, so downcast, he contemplated suicide. Then, at his lowest point -- feeling totally useless, abandoned by God -- the Holy Ghost came to him in his jail cell. The Spirit reminded him of this scripture: "For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them...." (Luke 9:56). The Lord whispered to this weary man, "My son, I didn't send you here to destroy you. I brought you here to save you."
Suddenly, the Spirit fell upon the minister and prompted him to pray for the sick. He began praying every day for his fellow prisoners -- and they began asking him for prayer. Soon even the prison officials called on him to pray for their family members. He quickly became a model prisoner -- one of the most admired prisoners in the history of that prison system.
Then another amazing thing happened. This minister had dropped out of school at a young age, never learning to read. All he knew how to read was certain portions of the Bible. Now, as he studied the scriptures in his cell, the words began to open up to him -- and he learned to read. He began to study God's word, and the Spirit opened up the Bible to him in miraculous ways.
This man emerged from prison a hero. He had a touch of God on his life he'd never experienced before. Today he preaches to multitudes all over the world. And to think -- Satan tried to destroy this wonderful servant by telling him he was unworthy!
If We Are to Resist the
Devil's Lies, We Have to
Accept That God Is Not
Out to Destroy Us!
We must begin with this truth! God isn't out to destroy us by allowing temptations in our life. No -- he loved us even when we were still in sin, alienated from him. He is not against us, but for us. He wants only to do good to us!
I know what I'm talking about. Years ago, I had to battle Satan's lies over my own calling to ministry. It happened during the early days of the Teen Challenge ministry in New York. Our work with drug addicts and alcoholics kept me very busy, and I had to travel frequently to raise funds just to keep the ministry going.
During that time Sister Kathryn Kuhlman asked me to preach at a crusade in Los Angeles. Just before I left for the west coast, I had a terrible argument with my wife, Gwen. I left her in tears as I drove away to the airport.
On the flight to Los Angeles, I had an unsettled spirit. I had said some hurtful things to Gwen. And on top of that, I have always hated to fly. So by the time I arrived in California, I was weary and worn, cast down and feeling guilty.
That night, as I stood up to preach to four thousand people, Satan's voice literally screamed in my head: "You're the biggest phony in America! How can you stand here acting so holy? How can you preach to this crowd, when you blew up at your wife and left her crying? You're not an overcomer -- you are a compromiser. You're a fake!"
I froze in the pulpit. The accusing voice was so loud in my head, I couldn't shake it. It was all I could hear. In fact, I almost uttered the word myself: "Phony!"
I just stood there dumbfounded. I couldn't preach. I turned and looked at Sister Kuhlman, who looked confused. I prayed silently, "God, help me. What's going on?"
Finally, I closed my Bible -- and I walked away from the podium. As I went backstage, the voice continued its lies: "You're unworthy to speak! You have no right to preach the gospel until you get your life straightened out."
Sister Kuhlman asked me, "David, what's wrong?" I answered, "I'm sorry -- I can't preach. I'm a phony! I don't know if I'll ever be worthy to preach again."
On the plane going back to New York, I felt even more beaten down and unworthy. All I could think of were the areas in my life where I still struggled -- such as my temper, my covetousness. I knew the Lord had been dealing with me about these things -- and yet I never seemed to get victory over them. I thought I would never measure up. Before the plane ride was over, I believed I was totally unworthy of ministry.
Satan had succeeded in making me feel unworthy in God's eyes. I had believed his accusations -- lies that had come straight from the pits of hell. But thank God -- after I went home and made things right with Gwen, and spent time in prayer, the Lord began to whisper into my soul assurances of his love for me.
As I went back to the streets to minister, God restored my confidence in his mercy and love. I began to trust the power of Jesus' blood to cleanse me -- and I recognized all of the devil's lies and accusations against me. Every time they came at me, I pushed them all aside!
So -- have you been listening to Satan's lies about your walk with Jesus? Have you been thinking you're unworthy -- that you can't worship God until you make everything perfect? I've got good news for you: You already know Satan is a liar -- but I can prove to you that Jesus has made you worthy! He has made you clean -- fit to stand before him and serve him in faithfulness.
How are you made worthy, you ask? You have been made worthy by Christ's sacrifice on the cross! And that gives you every right to worship and serve the Lord.
"That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins" (Colossians 1:10-14).
The Greek rendering of this passage is: "The father has made us fit, worthy, qualified in character -- good enough to be partakers in the inheritance of the saints of light."
What Jesus did on the cross qualifies you for eternal inheritance! And if God has qualified you for eternal life, then he has made you fit in character as well. You could "sit down" from ministry for a month, a year, a whole lifetime -- trying to make yourself fit for him, to work on your character, to become good enough to be used of God. But you can never qualify yourself!
Even if you were able to win victories over every wrong thing you've done, every wrong thought you've had, you still wouldn't be qualified in God's sight. It is impossible. Why? God won't accept anyone's righteousness -- except that of his own son, Jesus Christ!
You can't obtain the righteousness of Christ by working for it. The only way to obtain it is by believing in it and trusting God for it. It comes to you by faith. You see, not only are you saved by faith -- but you are also sanctified by faith, justified by faith, healed by faith, kept by faith. It all happens by faith in what Jesus has done!
You Can Stand Before All
of Heaven and Earth in
Full Assurance of Faith!
Now you can say, "I haven't yet attained -- my flesh still resists the Spirit -- but I am redeemed by my savior's blood. I'm going to sing and shout praises to my God!"
I ask you -- does this sound like what you pray each morning? Probably not. Most likely, you start your day by finding ways to continue striving. You bite the bullet, promising God you'll never go back to your old ways again.
When you win an occasional victory, you feel good about it. You tell yourself, "I did it! I knew if I could just put my mind and heart to this matter, I would get the victory." And now the tendency is to feel so proud about what we've done, we go around judging others who aren't victorious.
Over the years I've learned that some of the most vicious, judgmental Christians are those who have won self-proclaimed victories that actually were only partial victories. Those people thought they'd overcome -- but the truth was, they only suppressed their sinful habits. Those habits were buried deep down -- and later they burst out even stronger.
When I was younger, whenever I needed a victory over something I would convince myself, "I'm going to do this if it kills me" -- and it almost would kill me! A month would go by, and I would think, "Those covetous thoughts are gone now. I'm free!" But it always proved to be only a partial victory.
That's when discouragement would set in. I would cry, "Oh, God, I've begged you to deliver me, but you haven't. This thing is still in me!" And I would blame God.
The fact was, I was so busy striving in my flesh to be righteous that I lost my understanding of true righteousness. And that is, the only righteousness the father accepts is that of his son, Jesus Christ! Only one man stands righteous before God -- and that is Jesus. And when we stand before the father, he accepts us only through Christ -- through his righteousness and victory.
So, what must you do, you ask? First, don't listen to the devil's lies. And second, get up on your spiritual feet -- and start giving praise to the Lord! Say, "By my faith in the blood of Jesus, I receive the righteousness of Christ. He has made me fit, qualified, to worship and serve my Lord!"
"In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins" (verse 14). Redemption means simply, "set free." We have been set free by Jesus' precious blood. And we have the right to stand against every accusation and say, "I'm not buying that, devil! You've accused me for the last time. My Bible says I'm redeemed because I believe in what Jesus did for me at the cross. I confess my sins to him, and I am redeemed -- bought, free!"
So then Satan comes to you and whispers, "What about that sin you indulged in just yesterday? You are guilty!"
You can answer, "No -- I've already asked forgiveness for that. And I've asked God to put a hatred in me to keep me from doing it again. It's all under the blood!"
"But you are still tempted!"
"True. But my Jesus has made a way of escape for me. His word says I will be able to bear the temptation. He will deliver me, because he promised he would."
"But God still has something against you! There are still unsettled matters in your life."
When the accuser brings up an "unsettled issue" -- some war that still rages within you -- you can answer with this passage:
"And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreprovable in his sight" (verses 21-22).
You can say, "Even when I was alienated in my mind by awful, evil works...even when I was in the pits of lust...even when I was one of God's worst enemies, the Bible says he loved me. He sought me out and reconciled me to himself.
"Now, he has translated me from the kingdom of darkness into his kingdom of light. He has made me to be at peace with him. So, how much more does he love me now that I'm reconciled, even when I struggle? He loves me!"
There is one thing that consistently robs us of our joy and peace with God: It is our endless striving to please him in our flesh! We are forever trying to please the Lord in our human power -- but it will never be enough. Any victories will be short-lived, and the next time we're tempted, we'll fall even farther.
The Bible calls our striving efforts "trying to establish our own righteousness": "For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God" (Romans 10:3). It is our flesh at work!
Let Me Expose Three
of the Devil's Lies!
God wants you to be able to rise above every lie of the devil -- to be set free from the pit he has locked you in. Here are three of Satan's wiles you must be on guard against:
- Satan keeps bringing up your sins in order to get your eyes off your savior.
The devil wants you to be so focused on your disease that you forget the power of the physician. He wants you to forget that God is your deliverer -- that he is on your side to save you, not destroy you!
Here is how you must answer this lie: "No, devil, I am not free from the presence of sin. It will always be present in my flesh. But I am free from the damning power of sin!"
Satan can molest you, taunt you, accuse you -- but he cannot damn you. He can throw all kinds of accusations at you -- but he cannot touch your soul!
The law can't condemn you, because Christ fulfilled the law. Divine justice can't condemn you, because Christ sanctified all of God's justice. No sin can condemn you, because every sin is under his blood. And your conscience can't condemn you, because Christ is greater than your conscience. So, you have been forgiven completely -- leaving nothing to condemn you!
- You may think, "I was overcome by a lust -- overpowered against my will. It just came on me, and I fell again!"
You were overtaken by the sin you've begged God to deliver you from. Now let me ask you: Did you cry out against it?
The Old Testament law stated that any woman who was "caught in the field" and overpowered (raped) by a man would be guiltless if she cried out for help (see Deuteronomy 22:23-27). But if she didn't cry out -- that is, if she didn't object or resist -- she would be stoned.
This is a picture of what the enemy does to us: He comes against us as we labor in the Lord's fields and overpowers us with temptation. Yet, in that moment, we are to cry out to the Lord for help. The next time you are in such a place, make your cry a prayer: "Lord, I hate this. I don't want it. Help me!" Your cry will keep you guiltless!
Does the devil keep condemning you because you were overpowered, taken advantage of? You must stand up in the spirit and cry, "Lord, you know my heart. I hate this sin. It was not something I wanted. I am crying out to you right now -- and I will keep crying out to you!"
- We must repent of our discouragement over our sins.
When we become discouraged, it is proof of two things: our ignorance of the mercy and grace of God, and our unbelief in his love for us. Both of these are sin!
If you discouraged over your sin, it means you do not trust in God's love for you during your times of failure. You are living in willful ignorance of your father's full acceptance of you. And you must repent!
If you only understood how great your father's mercy is toward you, you would know he loves you even when you fail. Then you could say, "Oh, God, forgive me! I've been so discouraged because of my sin. I haven't believed in your mercy and forgiveness!"
No, I'm not worthy to write this message. And you are not worthy to raise your hands in praise to God. Nobody is worthy -- not in our own human strength and power. But Jesus has told us, "I have made you worthy." And now we can stand and say in his name, "I am worthy -- by the blood of the lamb!"
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This data file is the sole property of World Challenge. It may not be altered or edited in any way. It may be reproduced only in its entirety for circulation as "freeware," without charge. All reproductions of this data file must contain the copyright notice [i.e., "Copyright © 1999 by World Challenge"]. This data file may not be used without the permission World Challenge for resale or the enhancement of any other product sold. This includes all of its content with the exception of a few brief quotations. Please give the following source credit: Copyright © 1999 by World Challenge, Lindale, Texas, USA.
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