Despite what you have heard or might think, following Jesus is not a one-step process and it’s definitely not something you master automatically. It’s actually a constant process and one you don’t master at all.
Jesus never asks us to have everything together before we go to Him, He doesn’t even ask us to believe, let alone understand, everything He says right away. He knows who you are, what you’ve done and what you believe, and He asks you to follow Him anyway. Skeletons, questions and doubts included. He knows from where you have come, and He is inviting you into a new way. He sees your brokenness. He sees your emptiness. He sees your desperation. He sees it all and He sees you, and He loves you too much to leave you there. You don’t have to squeeze yourself into a mold to get to Him, but once you commit to knowing Him more, He will radically change your life and show you a better way.
Jesus’ way of life—the way life was originally designed to be—is foreign to all of us, whether you grew up in Sunday school or ten miles away. Even in His day (when He ministered on earth in human form), He was unconventional. He rocked the boat, challenged the status quo and pushed back on what had “always been done.” He introduced an entirely new way of thinking, believing and living. He literally turned the world upside down, and society is still reeling from it 2,000+ years later.
Furthermore, His way of life was (and is) not easy, even when you realize its truth. You may believe what He says, agree it makes sense (or at least as much as it can for your human mind) and profess that He has changed (and is changing) your life, but the old you is still there beating down the door.
There’s a reason for the saying, “Old habits die hard.” Not because Jesus is not powerful enough or He doesn’t care enough, but because we as humans are a prideful, stubborn bunch who white knuckle our comforts. We dig our heels in and double down on what we believe and want. We tend to gravitate toward views that align with ours and are weary of those which oppose. Oftentimes, unless we’re convinced new information is better and will benefit us more, we will cling to what we already believe, regardless if the new information is true and the old is not.
This is what our Enemy, Satan, banks on. The Father of lies (John 8:44), he tries to fill your mind with lies about you, God, others and even himself so that when you finally hear and experience the Truth, your mind is too full or too set in its ways to believe anything different (2 Corinthians 4:4).
He (Satan) planted a seed of doubt then by asking Eve, "Did God actually say?" The same doubt he plants in you now (2 Cor. 11:3).
Instead, you will try to “reason” the truth away using what society deems as truth (which is manipulated by Satan) or convince yourself it’s too good to be true or can’t be trusted. It all goes back to Satan’s original deception with Eve in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:1). He planted a seed of doubt then by asking Eve, “Did God actually say?” The same doubt he plants in you now (2 Cor. 11:3).
Unlike God, Satan is not all-powerful (omnipotent), but he is not stupid either. He’s crafty, cunning, vain and jealous. He desires to be God (see Matthew 4:9, Isaiah 14:12-15 and Ezekiel 28:17), but his pride blinds him from seeing the impossibility of such a desire and thus he remains in his misery (which is stupidity in its own way). Not just misery of unmet desire, but misery of permanent separation from God (see John 12:31 and Revelation 20:10). And what do they say about misery? Yep, it loves company.
That, my friend, is why Satan deploys his tactics, all of which are based on lies. He wants all the glory yet knows he will never come close, so he does whatever he can to convince you his side is better, even disguising himself as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14). Like a prowling lion, he seeks for those he can devour with his lies (1 Peter 5:8). He feeds you with distractions, hardships, busyness, half-truths and cheap imitations not to make you happy (though that’s what he tries to convince you), but to fill you to the brim with him and his lies so you have no space or appetite for God and the Truth (see John 10:10). He shovels in all the junk food to get you addicted and numb your taste buds to the natural, healthy and life-giving food our Father offers.
This is a very real battle we all face, and don’t let Satan fool you—it is a battle. One you cannot win on your own. Yet, the story does not end there for we have a Savior who delivered the greatest and only solution we need. By taking on our sins—everything we say, think and do that goes against God (past, present and future)—paying the penalty they deserve—eternal death and separation from God—and rising from the grave in glorious victory over sin and death, Jesus reclaimed all those who would believe in Him (1 Peter 2:24). Because of Him, we can have a relationship with God (John 3:16-17). We can be adopted as children of God and treated as co-heirs with Christ (John 1:12, Romans 8:15-17), set to indwell a Kingdom far greater than we could ever fathom (Philippians 3:20-21). The original design can be restored (Rev. 21:1-5). We can see and hear the Truth and allow it to set us free from Satan, sin and death (John 8:31-32).
Jesus did the work on the Cross and is available to continue to do the work in you to make you more like the person He created you to be (2 Cor. 3:18). A child that better resembles its Father, Creator and Savior. This work is a constant one, from the moment you give Jesus your life until you take your final breath on earth. It doesn’t happen overnight. It is not instantaneous and cannot be shepherded in by baptism, church attendance or saying a prayer. It’s not something you can do and it’s certainly not something you master (see Phil. 3:12-14). Only Jesus can truly change you because only He is God, and this is a work only God can do (Eph. 2:8-9).
Don’t let the process discourage you though. In Jesus’ name, don’t let Satan steal your joy! He will try to convince you of countless lies. You’re not good enough. You’ve messed up too many times. God isn’t powerful enough to change someone like you.
In Jesus' name, don't let Satan steal your joy!
True, you are not good enough because none of us are good enough (Rom. 8:28). We are all humans and we all make mistakes (sin), even after we give our lives to Jesus. Giving your life to Jesus results in your salvation—being saved from the slavery of your sins and the penalty they deserve—and begins the process of your perfection—being made to look more like Jesus every day, free from the bondage of sin. This is what God calls “sanctification” (see Rom. 6).
Our “worthiness” is not the point. God is the point!
HE is all-good, and HE is all-powerful. HE wishes none to perish but all to repent (turn away from a life ruled and enslaved by sin and toward one in and for Him; 2 Peter 3:9). HE is enough, and HE is the One who is making you into someone new.
So next time you find yourself bogged down in the process, wondering why you can’t just “get it” or change, remember: it’s a process, a process set on moving toward Christ. Whenever someone tries to shame you by pointing out all the ways you’re not like Jesus, remember: it’s a process. Each time Satan throws another lie at you about yourself or God, remember: it’s a process; then, like Jesus, remind yourself and Satan about the truth of God’s Word. What does the Father say about Himself? What does the Father say about you?
He says you are being recreated—remolded—by Him, the Creator, and He promises to finish His good work in you. He also cannot lie and nothing is impossible for Him (Hebrews 6:18, Matt. 19:26), so you do the math.
The time that stands between God starting a good work in you and Him finishing it is meant for you to lean into Him and let His touch comfort, strengthen and mold you. Press into the process. Lean into the new. Sit in the tension. The glory awaiting you on the other side is beyond human imagination and is definitely worth it because God is worth it.
English Standard Version Bible. (2001). Crossway Bibles.