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Intoxicated by gluttony, Vegas, Facebook, or…? Here’s more help for hoping in Christ.

rays of hopeThis post has been a long time coming. I have written three blog posts offering help for hoping in Christ. You can read the first, the second, and the third here (they will each open in a new window).

Christ died to bring us to God according to 1 Peter 3:8. The goal is not simply to be rescued from hell or to get to heaven or to have a better life on earth. The goal is to be brought to God. If we hate our sin, love heaven, and love worship songs…all without genuinely hoping in God, our faith is a sham…and we have missed out on redemption. We have been redeemed with the precious blood of Christ “so that our faith and our hope are in God” (1 Peter 3:18-21). We have been “born again to a living hope” in God (1 Peter 1:3).

We hope, but we struggle to hope.
Our hope is real. It’s genuine. But, it’s not perfect. We see Christ through a glass darkly (1 Cor. 13:12). If we could see Him perfectly, we would be completely holy (1 John 3:2). But, alas, though we struggle to see Him, “we all…beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18). We are progressively being glorified. So, our hope right now is fighting hope. It is a living hope, but a fighting hope. Our hope in God is real. It is continuing. It is sustained by God. But, it is battlefield.

How do you struggle to hope in God? How do we wage this war to fix our hope completely on Christ and His grace? Here’s what we have said so far…

  • First, pray for it.
  • Second, look long and hard and frequently at the beauty of the crucified and risen Christ.
  • Third, identify false hopes – things that you have “set apart” in your heart.
  • Fourth, after identifying your false hopes, consider them in light of Christ and Scripture.
  • Fifth, prepare your mind to hope in Christ fastidiously.

And now…

Sixth, be spiritually sober.
Let’s look again at Peter’s counsel in 1 Peter 1:13.

1 Peter 1:13
Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

intoxicatedKeep being sober. Don’t be spiritually drunk so that you cannot think clearly to hope in Christ alone.

When you are drunk, your senses are deadened. Your responses are slow. You are not ready for action. You are not ready for sound decision-making. You are not in control.

You can be drunk in a spiritual sense as well. Peter says, for you to fix your hope on Christ and His grace, you must be spiritually sober. You must be ready and able to respond quickly and carefully. Make yourself ready to evaluate things clearly and biblically.

You can’t have yourself numb with spiritually intoxicating influences.

When we have pet sins that we quietly feed, our spiritual senses are deadened.
If we have bottles of worldliness hidden in the cabinets, we will keep going back to them. What is it that slows you down spiritually? What desires do you allow to continue unaddressed in your life?

  • Gluttony
  • Love of money
  • Pornography
  • ???

Perhaps you allow yourself to unchecked in one of these area. You feel guilty at times, but not enough to fight the sin in a radical way. You say you will control yourself, but you leave the bottle of worldliness in the back of the closet. My friend, you will go back to it. You need to clean house!

We may have places, people, or things that are spiritually intoxicating.
There are many ways to get a buzz which causes spiritual sluggishness. Here are some examples. Please understand that these places, people, or things are not sinful for all people; they’re just spiritually intoxicating for some. Under the influence of these things, some people will struggle to fix their hope completely on Christ to bring them real satisfaction. (Note: Each of these items is not necessarily inherently sinful.)

lasvegasLas Vegas. Some Christians shouldn’t even go to Las Vegas because they get a buzz just being in the airport. They can hear the sound of the slot machines. The sound can be so loud in their minds that their heart starts to race. It would be foolish to think that a commitment to spend an hour in the Word each morning would make a week-long vacation spiritually safe for Christians so tempted. It would be like a drunkard planning to have his devotions it the local bar.

A former, sinful relationship. A Christian girl may find herself spiritually intoxicated when she is around a past boyfriend. It may be his smell, his charm, or simply the opportunity for romance. When she is around him for more than 15 minutes, her spiritual vision is blurred and she starts swerving.

facebookFacebook. Some people may find facebook.com or myspace.com to be spiritually intoxicating due to the seductive ad banners or the coarse jesting that can be so prevalent. They may find themselves “innocently” clicking on the banner ads. They may find themselves laughing at or even joining in on the coarse jesting.

A love song on the radio. When I was in high school, I liked a song by The Jetts. Though I didn’t realize it at the time, when I listened to it, I become spiritually intoxicated. Usually, I “exercised my discontent.” At times I worried about what a particular girl thought of me. At other times I cried about a relationship that went sour. I could go on, but you get the point…I was far from fixing my hope in Christ. I wasn’t ready to worship Christ at all!

Soap operas and Romance novels. Some women grow more and more dissatisfied with Christ and His care for them because they watch soap operas and read coinsromance novels.

Coin collecting. Some people false asleep every night thinking about the coin that they want to get next. They can’t focus when they read the Word because they keep thinking about their coins.

We may have particular desires that cause our spiritual vision to be blurred.
Do you have any desires that elbow out you’re your serious thoughts about the Lord? Identify them and get rid of them!

  • When your mind wanders during a sermon, what does it go to? Mark that desire. Root it out!
  • When your mind wanders during your worship, mark that desire and root it out!
  • Is there a fearful thought that occasionally comes to your mind? Address the issue head on! Get help! Get biblical counsel! Replace that fear with a healthy fear of God!

You can’t afford to have those desires and fears slowing you down!

  • What is it that deadens your thirst for spiritual things?
  • What is it that causes you to be spiritually careless?

Watch your desires carefully! When we are passive and have the attitude of, “I just take life as it comes,” we are setting ourselves up for failure; we are not sober and self-controlled and poised for hoping in Christ.

Conclusion
We’ve looked at five weapons for fighting the battle to hope in Christ.

  • First, pray for it.
  • Second, look long and hard and frequently at the beauty of the crucified and risen Christ.
  • Third, identify false hopes – things that you have “set apart” in your heart.
  • Fourth, after identifying your false hopes, consider them in light of Christ and Scripture.
  • Fifth, prepare your mind to hope in Christ fastidiously.
  • Sixth, be spiritually sober.

My guess is that, of these weapons, we will pick up the last two first. We will read good books. We will avoid certain places and things. These activities are comparatively easy. I don’t mean to belittle their importance, but I do want to emphasize the necessity of the others…especially the first two. First, everything we do MUST be prayerful. If you don’t pray much, how can you expect to make progress? Second, we must behold the glory of the Jesus Christ in order for the Spirit to transform us from glory to glory (2 Corinthians 3:18). Worship Christ. Sing to Him. Read books about Him. Tell others about Him. Talk with your children about Him. Study the OT prophecies about Him. Meditate on His life and death in the gospels. As you read, continually ask the question, “How does this fact make Christ beautiful?” Then, talk to Christ and sing to Christ and tell Him He is beautiful!

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