For as long as our home church has been together, my purpose statement has been: “Leading people to freedom in Christ so they can experience God in a real and personal way.”
We have found that we can’t lead people to freedom in Christ when they don’t want to know God in a real and personal way. We have also found that we can’t lead people to experience God in a real and personal way when they are unwilling to be free in Christ from the things fighting against this.
I continue to explore with God how to customize what we are learning about freedom in Christ into something that is both teachable and transferable to anyone we are called to help. Everyone should know how to lead others into the repenting, renouncing and resisting that gives freedom from things, and the “from faith, for faith, and by faith” that gives us freedom to join God in his work.
However, the thing I am aiming for is a way of life in which we are always relating to the word of God in a way that we deal with both the “freedom from” and “freedom to” sides every single day. The “freedom from” side breaks our ties with the world, the flesh and the devil every time God exposes such problems. The “freedom to” side leads us into a growing experience of knowing God better every day than we have ever known him before.
This morning I was presenting things to God as I continue to struggle through my insecurities and uncertainties regarding leading people to freedom in Christ. I have a constantly maturing faith that God is working to set people free. However, I have the same relational issues as everyone else regarding how I feel about my participation in this work, particularly in view of the distinctives of each relationship in our church and my quest to be my real self in Christ no matter what comes up.
What came to mind is this expression, “casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” The thing I felt the Holy Spirit ministering to me was the comforting reminder of what to do with my “anxieties”. My heavenly Father cares for me in what I face in ministry, and he wants me to cast all those anxieties on him because he can carry them perfectly and I cannot.
The first comfort, of course, is the fact that God doesn’t reprimand us for having anxieties. Rather, he urges us to cast those anxieties on him.
The second comfort is that, a prayer time can begin with a heart full of anxieties, be characterized by the relationship of transferring those anxieties from our own hearts to the Lord, and end with us feeling that peace of God that surpasses all our understanding guarding our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
The third comfort is what we find in the context, that we are bringing our anxieties to “the mighty hand of God”, meaning, we are pouring out our anxieties onto the heart of the God who is all-powerful in his ability to work everything together for good in our lives. No one can stop his hand from working the things he has determined to do for his glory and our good.
All this comfort is to urge us in what we are to do first: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you…” There is no value in the “mighty hand of God” for the person who will not “humble yourselves” under his mighty hand.
What is the “therefore” there for? (Good question, by the way!)
The “therefore” says that we are motivated to do the thing stated based on the truth just expressed. What is that truth? That, “‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’”
You will notice that Peter is quoting from Proverbs 3:34 which reads, “Toward the scorners he is scornful, but to the humble he gives favor.” Both Peter and James “quote” this in the same way, as God opposing the proud but giving grace to the humble.
What does that have to do with us “casting all our anxieties on him”?
Answer: that humbling ourselves under his mighty hand means that we see nothing in ourselves by which to handle the things we are anxious about but see everything in him to handle those very same things in a way that is good and acceptable and perfect.
In the parallel passage where James quotes the same expression that, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble”, James urges us to, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.”
Submitting ourselves to God is the same as Peter’s call to humble ourselves under God’s mighty hand. Drawing near to God with the encouragement that God will also draw near to us is parallel to us casting all our anxieties on him because he cares for us. The point is that, even after we have fallen prey to the snares of the world, the flesh and the devil, when we repent and return to God, we will find him drawing near to us in agapè, grace and mercy, not rejecting us because we were such naughty children.
What about the personal attacks of the evil one to stop us from doing this? Included in us turning from our sin to surrender to God is the promise that, if we “resist the devil… he will flee from you.” This is why Peter tells us to, “Resist him, firm in your faith,” when “the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”
This is deeply encouraging for me because it shows me how to build up my faith as I seek to lead people to freedom in Christ so they can experience God in a real and personal way. If I humble myself under the mighty hand of God in submission to his divine will, and, at the same time, resist the devil in his accusations and temptations aimed at discouraging me, the devil will flee from me because God is drawing near to me. Simple as that.
I hope this encourages each reader that it is a good thing when we need to meet with another believer to help us repent, renounce and resist sinful strongholds in our lives and pursue a life of “from faith, for faith and by faith”.
However, I also hope this encourages us that when we get in God’s word every day, listening for whatever the Spirit is saying to the churches, will also guide us in things to repent, renounce and resist in order for us to do everything in our lives by faith in Jesus Christ.
For me today that means repenting, renouncing and resisting any belief or action that would lead me to handle my anxieties in my own strength, and “from faith, for faith and by faith” casting all my anxieties on Almighty God my heavenly Father because he cares for me beyond anything I can imagine.
And this is what I will be doing all day as I prepare for my next divine appointment with anyone else who wants the freedom in Christ that will lead them to experience God in a real and personal way. Nothing could be more rewarding than that!
© 2019 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)
 This is based on Paul’s glowing faith in the gospel as described in Romans 1:16-17.
 I Peter 5:7
 From the parallel in Philippians 4:4-8
 I Peter 5:6
 We can never lose sight of that glorious promise of Romans 8:28-30.
 Psalm 89:13; Psalm 44:3; Philippians 1:6; Revelation 19-22 show the glorious fulfillment of all God’s promises to work everything together for good in the lives of his children, and this requires us to believe that no one can stop him since his “arm” is stronger than any others put together.
 I Peter 5:6
 The Old Testament is full of examples of God’s mighty hand working for Israel’s blessing when they related to him by obedient faith, and that same mighty hand working for discipline and cursing when Israel renounced him and turned to following demonic idols and evil kings.
 I Peter 5:5
 See Romans 12:1-2 for these wonderful encouragements regarding how we view God’s will. The Beatitudes of Matthew 5:1-12 also show how God first humbles us in poverty of spirit, mourning, meekness, and hungering and thirsting after righteousness, and then leads us in victory as the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and those who rejoice in our persecution.
 See James 4:6
 James 4:7-8
 This is what James is dealing with in the context of James 4:1-5.
 I Peter 5:8-9
 That is a necessary step in letting the word of Christ dwell in us richly (Colossians 3:16).
 That’s the way Jesus described it seven times in the letters to the seven churches in Revelation 2-3 (Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22).