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As we wait on God to answer our requests, the devil will try to confuse and confound us. The enemy will use four basic errors (e.g., wrong thinking patterns) against us to hinder our progress, to discourage and demoralize us. They are:
(We already talked about the first two in our last lesson, so we will look at the remaining two in this lesson.)
A third error used by the devil to stop us from praying is, "God won't answer my prayers if there is sin in my life."
Let's test the prepositions of that statement.
First, can one attain sinlessness in this life? That's a key premise to the argument. What does the Bible say? John states: "If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us" (1 John 1:8).
Therefore, if we must be sin-free for God to answer your prayers, all requests would go unanswered. The Bible teaches that we are "freed from sin," not "free of sin." God continually prunes sin from our lives, but like weeds, they keep cropping up. The process isn't completed until we reach heaven.
Second, if it's impossible to be without sin in this life, what about verses like: "Behold, the Lord's hand is not so short that it cannot save; Nor is His ear so dull that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God. And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear" (Isaiah 59:1-2).
It's important to carefully examine this passage. Notice, that the passage is found in the Old Testament, not the New Testament. The declaration was made prior to the cross. It is not referred to in the New Testament. Old Testament offerings covered sin. The sacrifices needed to be presented continuously. Old Testament believers pled their case based upon the temporary benefits of an animal sacrifice. After the cross, Jesus' offering cleansed sin. He was the final offering. We plead our case based upon the permanent benefits of His sacrifice.
We pray based upon Jesus' righteousness, not our own. Jesus is our immortal High Priest, not a mortal descendant of Aaron. That's not an invitation to sin. Most Christians don't need such an invitation. God has ways of drawing us back to Himself when we stray (Hebrews 12:5-7).
Third, if we had to be sin-free for God to fulfill our requests, then why does God answer the sinner's prayer? Why did the Father in the prodigal son story take His child back? In both instances, there is evidence of sin in the lives of the petitioners. If God hears the prayers of sinners before they're saved, why would He be unwilling to listen to sinners after they're saved?
Another of Satan's lies is: "Could it be that you did something that's disqualified yourself from crossing the Jordan River like Moses?" (E.g., did you do something to disqualify yourself from possessing the full measure of God's promises for you in this lifetime?)
It is difficult for the average believer to commit a disqualifying act in the same league as the one that kept Moses out of the Promised Land. Moses had a face-to-face relationship with God that few have experienced. A couple of verses hint at the clarity that occurred between the two:
"Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend. When Moses returned to the camp, his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, would not depart from the tent" (Exodus 33:11). "...'Hear now My words: If there is a prophet among you, I, the Lord, shall make Myself known to him in a vision I shall speak with him in a dream. Not so, with My servant Moses. He is faithful in all My household; with him I speak mouth to mouth, even openly, and not in dark sayings, and he beholds the form of the Lord...'" (Numbers 12:6-8a).
I know one person among my immediate friends who has that depth of intimacy with the Lord. I'm not there. If God clearly told that person to do something, and they didn't do it, there might be grounds for considering that disobedience. God would have to decide whether that was a disqualifying act. While I can claim ignorance or confusion over what I thought I heard, my friend can't. The greater your accuracy in hearing God, the more accountable you are to obey Him.
God's will on some subjects is quite plain. Repeatedly, God says we should forgive others. Ignorance is not an excuse when the Lord clearly expressed Himself on a matter. However, if God is prompting me to get off the commuter train at a different stop than I normally do, and I miss it because of an exhausting day, He sees my lack of action differently. Perhaps, He'll decide to put the "training wheels" back on my prophetic bike.
Now, with all the preceding said, how can you move this knowledge from your head to your heart? Ask God to reveal the truth to your spirit. Wounds from your past may prevent the truth from reaching your spirit, touching your heart, and infusing your emotions. If so, God may prompt you to do some inner healing, as a prelude to your receiving the revelation of His love.
A fourth error used by Satan to stop our waiting on God is, "God has put you on the shelf and forgotten you." There are variations that the enemy uses. These may include: "Life is passing you by..." "God plays favorites..." or "You're not important enough for God to pay attention..." The enemy uses this series of lies to cover up a truth.
God hasn't forgotten you on a shelf. He's hidden you away in a secret place: "You hide them in the secret place of Your presence from the conspiracies of man; You keep them secretly in a shelter from the strife of tongues" (Psalms 31:20).
What's it like to remain hidden in God's pocket? When I got a cell phone with a camera recently, it was quite the novelty. I could take photos everywhere. As I reviewed the pictures, I noticed many where all black. I didn't remember shooting in the darkness. My son told me the pictures were taken while my cell phone was inside my pocket. The little button on the phone's side that activated the camera feature kept getting bumped as I moved.
Many of us feel the darkness, and think God is far away. But, in actuality, like the camera in my pocket, we are quite close to Him. The darkness bothers us when others seem to be advancing with God. And at some point, we believe God told us to pursue the prayer request. We feel left out, laid off. The Kingdom of God rolls past us. By all appearances, we were left behind.
But we haven't been left behind. Far from it. As Psalms 31:20 says, God may hide us in His secret place to prevent the conspiracies, plans, and gossip of others from affecting us. God also uses His secret place to prepare us.
In conclusion, we must discern the source of thoughts that trouble us as we wait. Forewarned with knowledge of some of the devil's errors, we can avoid traps that might cause us to stop waiting on God.