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"If"

Updated: Mar 4

Matthew 4:3

By Drew Zuverink



During that time the devil came and said to Jesus, "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread." (Matthew 4:3)


Satan's taunt in Matthew 4 reminds me of similar thoughts that I've heard in my own head. "Drew, If you were really a Christian you would talk to more people about Jesus." Ouch. "If you actually loved God you'd read your Bible more." Ouch again. "If you truly had the Holy Spirit inside of you then you wouldn't be struggling with the sin of ________ as much as you are." As a youth pastor who works with young people, I know I'm not the only one who has these thoughts. It's a good thing that we age out of them though, right adults? (sarcasm definitely intended). These sorts of thoughts are painful and they can be scary too.


Who knows where thoughts come from, they have a strange way of just popping into our heads out of nowhere, but whether they come from ourselves or an evil spirit - they can really hurt. Sometimes they hurt because there's a tinge of truth in them. Satan's best attacks usually do. It is true that Christians should want to talk about Jesus, read their Bible, and defeat sin patterns in their life. But is it true that struggling with those things (or other things) means you aren't a Christian, don't love God, and don't have the Holy Spirit? Of course not.


The not so fun truth is, we're always going to experience negative thoughts. Sometimes their source might be from the spiritual realm (although whether the devil has the power to influence our thoughts is a matter of debate) and sometimes they might be from our flesh, but in order to find freedom we have to learn how to deal with them. Here are 2 Biblical reminders that I hope you'll find helpful again.


  1. God is the only person who is allowed to define us. In 1 Corinthians 4:4 Paul says, "my conscience is clear, but even that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me." Other people aren't able to define us but did you know that we don't have the authority to define ourselves either? Neither does the devil. Only our creator is allowed to make us and then step back and say, "this is what you are." And he's done so many times. (Gen. 1:27, John 1:12, Rom. 5:8, 8:1, 1 John 2:1, 4:19). Do not give someone else, the devil, or even yourself permission to define you.

  2. Take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ (2 Cor. 10:5). If we entertain every thought that comes into our head we will become a slave in our own minds. This is easier said than done but we have to engage our will, examine each thought to see if it's edifying, and if it isn't - we shouldn't give it life. This can be a tiring task, especially when those thoughts just keep coming, but as brain science is confirming, our thoughts are very powerful.


Perhaps someone will object that this blog post could enable people to sin freely and still call themselves a Christian. Perhaps these "what if's" are warnings from God. I understand your concern, I used to think that way too. It's also certainly true that not everyone who claims to be a Christian is a Christian. Jesus says as much in Matthew 7:21. However. in my experience the thought that I might not be a Christian doesn't usually motivate me to live a more godly life. It usually fills me with discouragement instead. On the other hand, when I listen (truly listen) to God tell me who I am in Christ, when he calls me beloved, son, and friend, then I start to experience freedom over sin. We shouldn't need our salvation to be threatened in order for us to live how we're supposed to live. It should be enough just to know that when we obey God it's good for everyone and it makes him happy.


I really believe that the more we let God tell us who we are (through prayer and scripture) without arguing back (with our own doubts, the devil's accusations, or other people's opinions), we will have more joy in life, more power over sin, more intimacy with him, and a more of an impact on those around us.

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