Adversaries to Pursuit

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Seeking the Lord is the most important pursuit a man can have. God tells us in Amos 5:4 to “seek him and live.”  

Hebrews 11:6 says  And without faith, it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

It’s this idea “I’ll do whatever it takes” to pursue the Lord. But, if you are like me, there are times when my pursuit is a distant figment of my imagination. Life is consuming me and for all intents and purposes, pursuit of God is the last thing on my mind. And, yes, I call myself a follower of Jesus. Sounds ironic, doesn’t it?

Three Things that Keep Me from Pursuing God 

Include the following:

1. Fear of People.

“You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth?” Galatians 5:7 

Sometimes, I’m actually doing well in my pursuit of God. My heart seems in the right place. All is right with the world, so to speak. Then, out of left field, when I least likely expect it, I run into a long-lost friend or have some people put pressure on me to do things I wouldn’t otherwise.. It all throws me for a spiritual loop. The next thing I know, God’s slipped a few notches in my priorities.

“What’s gotten into you?” both my soul and some of my closest friends ask. 

Pleasing people creeps up on my priority list. I’ll say what I think they want to hear. I’ll do some things that maybe aren’t outright sins, but stretch my comfort zones, all to make them happy. 

Fearing man more than God can trip up your pursuit of the Lord.

2. Fear of the Truth.

 “…Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith,  1 Peter 5:8-9

One of the biggest tactics of the devil is to push lies into our heads. Lies that make us think we are trash, a waste of time, and not worth knowing. “Did God really say?” is a question to stir up doubt and disbelief.  Scripture is full of verses that speak to our identity in Christ. Redeemed, cherished, called, and loved. Yet for each, the devil has a counter-attack suited to take us out. 

It’s the pursuit of a lifestyle of lies that puts the kibosh on our pursuit of God. One lie on top of the other and eventually, our once on fire pursuit of God is nothing more than a faint ember. 

3. Fear of Letting Go.

But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.” James 1:14

Of all three adversaries in our pursuit of God, we are our own worst enemies. We can blame others who pull us down, and we can blame the devil, but most of the time, we shoot ourselves in the foot with our own desires. We think mixing God along with our own desires gives us the best of both worlds. It does not!

Partial pursuit is not pursuit; it’s laziness and apathy.

Playing games with God is a guaranteed loss. It’s either all in with Him or not at all. No half-hearted pursuit of God on my own terms negotiation. 

“Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; 

give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.” Psalm 86:11 NIV

There are Three False Assumptions of Self.

That gets us into trouble. 

1. “Nothing is going to stand in my way.”

Call it stubbornness, hard-headedness, or simply being obstinate, but to think that nothing is more important than you is making yourself to be the center of the universe. Pursuit of self is usurping God.

2. When you start calling the word ‘No’ an act of oppression of your desires, you have made a serious error in your assessment of what the pursuit of God looks like.  To pursue God is to deny self. To take up your cross and realize in doing so, sometimes the right answer is to hear ‘No’.  No to yourself is actually what can best serve your pursuit of God. When God says ‘No’, it’s not done out of anger or rage, or punishment. When he says ‘No’, it’s “Don’t hurt yourself.  What I have for you is far better.”

3. The third false assumption of our desires is if I get what I want, then I’ll be happy. 

How many kids ask for a cookie, only to want another one and another?  After a stack full of cookies, they come to you with a tummy ache. It’s that way when we assume our desires are good all the time and there is no limit to what we desire. 

Too often, a good thing becomes a bad thing when it becomes too much of a thing.

What makes for a healthy pursuit of God is this:

Dying to self. 

Romans 6 says 

“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, 

we too might walk in newness of life. Romans 6:3-4

When I am not full of myself and instead full of Christ, dying to myself becomes a welcomed way of life. I am baptized into Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, so that just as He was raised from the dead, I too can walk in the newness of life.  Meaning, all out total pursuit of God is the only way to truly experience life.

Living Sacrifices.

Are what God calls us to in Romans 12:

 I appeal to you, therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

It goes like this: for there to be worship, you need a sacrifice. Jesus is our perfect once for all sacrifice, but as we live by faith in Him, we are called to be “living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God.”

No surrender=no sacrifice=no offering=no worship.

Said the opposite way. Full surrender=acceptable sacrifice=real offering=ultimate worship.

So, which adversary captures you from a full all-out pursuit of God? Perhaps it’s time to get with your mentor and work through which adversary of pursuit is your greatest enemy and work on a combat plan for victory.

Warrior On!

David Riffel is the Founder and Executive Director of Having gone through his warrior years (18-30) essentially without a mentor, God has placed in him a heart for warriors, to come alongside them in various ways as they figure out life. David’s newly released book, Mentoring Warriors: Coming Alongside Young Men 18-30, outlines principles for mentoring and gives advice for warriors in six key areas of life: self-management, life skills, education/career, relationships, faith, and identity.

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