Not long ago, I returned to a city where a great church had been. Now, because of strife and sin, the church is struggling to survive and many believers are not even attending a place of fellowship. Others have moved on to new churches, hoping to find the same spirit of faith and revival they knew from the past. I spoke with one group who called themselves the “survivors.” It pained my heart to see them. I remember them being so hot and full of passion, but now I saw only pain on their faces and the excitement gone from their eyes. As we talked, they reminisced how it “use to be” and began to ask me questions. I could see that we were stirring up the fires of God once again. In the end, I could sense the Spirit of God was drawing them back. I remember one question as being the most important we discussed that evening.
Is it possible to live one’s entire life on fire for God?
They had been hurt. Leaders had disappointed them. Their hopes had failed. In the end, they just wanted to get on with their lives. And whenever you see a believer losing his passion for God you will hear them justifying their lifestyle. “God doesn’t mind if I have a good time,” they say. “God doesn’t mind if I miss one day in church. God doesn’t fall off His throne if I go a few days without reading my Bible.” During your lifetime you will hear many statements like this. Often it will center on drinking wine or watching an immoral movie or television show. But notice this – they generally speak in reference to God, but seldom will you hear them speak with any consideration of Satan, the great Adversary.
The fact is God doesn’t mind, but it sure makes the devil happy. I have never seen anyone who wants to find how much they “can get away with” get very far at all. The Bible doesn’t prohibit drinking wine, but it emphasizes the greater reasons why a believer should not, (Romans 14:21-23). You can get away with a lot, but if you want to accomplish much in the Kingdom of God your thoughts must flow in a different direction. There are always things you will need to lay down in order to run the race intent on winning, (1 Corinthians 9:24-27; Hebrews 12:1).
Others will say, “You are too uptight, too serious, and too fanatical. It’s not realistic to live on fire for God. Eventually, everything settles down.” I’d rather be fanatical than a failure. I’d rather be serious than defeated. I’ve watched it happen time after time. Men and women who once made a passionate pursuit of God and His Word begin to look for ways to settle down and enjoy life. The fact remains that such a relaxed lifestyle would never have been sufficient to deliver them from their past problems. In the beginning of their Christian walk, they had to press into God in order to be set free from the world, from the bondages of sin and sickness; but once set free they begin to coast. It’s the problem of the champion. How do you stay on top once you get there? How do you live your entire life on fire for God? Let me share two powerful keys…
The first step is to stay in love with the Bible, daily reading the Word of God and fellowshipping with Him in it. I’ve been reading it for almost twenty-five years. I don’t read my Bible because I’m bound up in legalism, but because I haven’t found anything else that gives such an abiding sense of joy and peace. It’s one thing to gain victory, quite another to maintain it. Read your Bible like your life depends on it, because it does. When David said, “the entrance of thy words bringeth light,” (Psalms 119:130) he revealed the basic principle that after you spend time in God’s Word, then the emotions will come. Don’t look for the feeling before you feed on God’s Word, but after.
The second step is to deal with the Enemy wherever and whenever you find him. Paul said, “Give no place to the Devil,” (Ephesians 4:27). The Greek implies, “don’t let him find a toe-hold.” It’s good to examine ourselves each day that we never begin to hide any questionable area, issue or sin. The secret of a life on fire for God is a life of continual dependence on the presence of God.
God isn’t against you enjoying things, but have you lost your spiritual initiative? Why open the door for the Enemy? Have you lost your vigilance, your watchfulness against his attacks? Are you maintaining a bold victory so you can set other people free? Do you have a bold confession of faith? If enjoying the things of life lessens to any degree your passion for God, trouble is brewing. I like what John Wesley said, “Worldliness is anything that cools my affection for Jesus.”
I can’t tell you how many people who once called me a fanatic end up calling me at midnight when sickness and disease hits their home. Playing around with the things of the world only lasts for a short while. Eventually, every house of cards will fall. Unless the foundation of your life is built on the rock of God’s Word, the storms of life will lay it low, (Matthew 7:24-27).
Satan’s strategies are not played out in a week, but his plans are woven over the space of twenty and thirty years. We should see Satan’s intent in even the smallest temptation. Convictions are seldom broken, they are bent. Given enough time even the largest rock is broken by the tide. What once was solid is now sand, and the promises slip between your fingers. Hebrews 2:1 reads, “Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.”
This world is in turmoil. It’s not time to relax, it’s time to pay even closer attention to the things of God, to the things we have learned, to the life of faith that has brought us this far. The only real safeguard against Satan’s ever present attacks, though they be so subtle, is to constantly bear our hearts up to the Spirit’s watchful eye.
You can live a life on fire for God, because you must.