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Where discouragement and doubting really come from
All discouragement and despair come from only one source, and that source is sin. He who does not sin in any way cannot possibly become discouraged. However, it is not necessary to be discouraged, even if you have sinned. It is not written: “Discouraged is the man whose sin is forgiven.” On the contrary: “Blessed is the man whose sins are forgiven.” (Romans 4:7)
Discouragement comes first from sinning and then from doubting. What do we doubt? That the sin is forgiven in the very second that it has been confessed; that it is totally forgiven and forgotten for all eternity; that God loves us just the same even though we have sinned; that we have a right to be bold just the same; that it is profitable to pray, etc., etc.
Where does doubting come from? It comes from our adversary the devil, the liar. Why do you believe him? Do you seek him? Do you trust him? Is it his word that you hide and keep in your heart? Whom has he saved and made happy?
After you have become discouraged, then what? Then you have lost the rest of your power to resist. Consequently, sin has even more power over you. Although it was only the one sin that caused you to become discouraged, it becomes an entire series of sins – a period in which sin rules over you in various ways, one sin being added to another.
A fight of faith
However, not one single soul needs to live in this way. Everyone can learn to fight the fight of faith, to walk in the boldness of faith – and with good courage in all circumstances, even if he has fallen.
The fight of faith can be divided into two parts. The first part is to walk faithfully in the Spirit and by faith hour by hour, watching and fighting so that we do not give in to sin in any temptation, so that we do not fulfill any of the lusts of the flesh, so that no sin of any kind is conceived. (Galatians 5:16; James 1:15) Then we can rest assured that discouragement is kept away and that Satan is conquered. Consequently, he cannot gain entrance through a chink in the armor through which he can shoot his fiery darts.
The other part of the fight of faith is to overcome Satan, the accuser, and to drive him away after we have sinned. This last part is the most important part, as it is most common, and what we need in order to learn to resist Satan.
Satan, the accuser, is a liar
When we have sinned, Satan is there to accuse and reproach us. “So you have done it again,” he says. “Alas, it is so,” says the soul. “Aren’t you quite useless?” continues Satan. “Yes, it seems that way,” he says. “And you will never amount to anything,” Satan presses on. “No, I never will,” moans the soul. “What business do you have going to church?” he questions. “I guess it is quite useless,” he agrees. If you do go to church, Satan says, “It isn’t fitting that you should pray.” “Yes, you are right.” “Neither can you sing out loud because then people might think that you have victory,” says Satan. “Yes, that is true,” says the soul.
The accuser speaks as though he were an apostle of the truth. Don’t you believe it! Was it not true what he said? No, far from it! First of all, what he said was false. Secondly, the essence of it was a lie even if it was true according to the letter; and thirdly, what about all that he did not say?
Then I would like to ask you this question: Didn’t you have any truth to tell him? Not a single Word of God? Didn’t you have a single weapon? No, you didn’t! You were a poor warrior! You were no warrior at all! You surrendered to the enemy right away. You did not strike a single blow with your sword for the salvation of your soul or for your Captain! You willingly gave the adversary your hands and let him take your weapons and put handcuffs on you so he could do what he wanted with you.
Weapons to fight back
We are not in this world to play “cops and robbers.” You must join up to fight on the front lines and fight until bloodshed against our wicked adversary, both for the sake of your own soul and that of others. We must put on the full armor of light and use the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. With it we can always drive back and conquer Satan.
If you have sinned and have fallen, then rise up immediately and confess your sin. Then you know that it has been erased according to the Word of truth. (1 John 1:9) If Satan accuses you, you can beat him off with this Sword. Give him a few blows with 1 John 2:1-2, and top it off with Proverbs 24:16. Remind him that he has had the Just One crucified, that he has lost the war and has no claim on you.
Christ loves you! He defends you. He gladly forgives you! Be courageous; never surrender to the enemy! Say, “Not this time; no, never!” Blessed is the man whose sins are forgiven. There is strength and courage in joy. The one, who has been forgiven much, loves much.
Conquering and driving Satan (the adversary, liar, accuser) away after we have sinned is extremely important. The best thing, of course, is to be victorious in the temptations, so that we do not sin at all. But if you lose one round, it is all the more important to win the next one. The first round is usually about a sin in thought, word, or deed. If you have lost it, the war about being discouraged or being full of courage and boldness will immediately be on again. In each case it is either one or the other; either you conquer, or you are being conquered.
Whom do you believe? Whom do you follow?
Satan accuses God’s elect day and night. (Revelation 12:10) But Christ intercedes for us day and night. (1 John 2:1) Who is right? Who presents your case truthfully?
God has not given us a spirit of discouragement or fear. (2 Timothy 1:7) From whom have you received your spirit? To whom have you listened and opened your heart? Whom have you obeyed? Whom have you trusted?
“Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” James 4:7. “Resist him, steadfast in the faith …” 1 Peter 5:9. To whom have you submitted? And whom have you resisted?
“… nor give place to the devil.” Ephesians 4:27. To whom have you opened yourself? For whom have you made room?
Our future and hope!
With all that is in me I exhort each soul who wants to be finished with sin at any price to be of good courage! Be bold! Endure! If mighty Satan is against you, the mightier Christ is for you! Thanks and praise be to God! Victory will be yours at last! The work of Satan is to accuse all those who fall. The work of Christ is to intercede and defend, to uphold and to raise up all those who fall. (Psalm 145:14; Proverbs 24:16; 1 John 2:1)
It is impossible to conquer Satan with feelings, opinions, intentions, wishes, and dreams! You have to give him blows with the edge of the Sword, with the exact words of God. Arm yourself now with the Word of God which is the truth, in your heart and on your side. Always have your weapons ready! Fight as soon as you are aware of the slightest opposition against the truth in your mind; use the Sword at once! However, should you have sinned, and you hear the accuser’s voice accusing you for what you have done, you must answer him: “But I also know something that is true.” Then you can silence him with suitable scripture verses. One, two, or three words of Scripture can drive him far away from you, because he is the prince of darkness, and he cannot possibly endure light of the Word of God!
Thanks and praise to God! Our future is bright and long and full of hope. Forward, soldiers! On to the battle and to victory! Attack with swords drawn! Use the Sword of the Spirit, which is the living, true, and unchanging Word of God. That is the weapon that conquers! Then your adversary loses courage, and not you!
This is article has been translated from Norwegian, and is an abridged version of an article titled “Discouragement” that first appeared in BCC’s periodical “Skjulte Skatter” (“Hidden Treasures”) in February 1927.
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