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Many Christians report that their temptations and struggles seem to intensify to levels they've never experienced after beginning to deal decisively with sin or other issues which have limited their growth as Christians. This is very discouraging to some, even leading to a desire to quit the course of action to which they’ve committed.
However, as uncomfortable as this is, it is actually something to rejoice over!
Remember the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the book of Daniel? King Nebuchadnezzar had made a golden idol of himself that was some 90 feet tall. He'd commanded everyone to worship this idol. However, Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego refused. They chose instead to worship the Lord and obey Him. What happened as a result? Did they suddenly wind up on easy street spiritually speaking? Take a look:
The New Living Translation says in verse 19 that Nebuchadnezzar's face became 'distorted with rage'. This is the kind of temper tantrum the enemy throws when someone he's had under his control begins to break free. Satan uses habitual sin to keep many of us in bondage. When we turn our backs on it and begin to obey the Lord, Satan can't stand it, so he turns up the furnace!
19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and his attitude toward them changed. He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual 20 and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. 21 So these men, wearing their robes, trousers, turbans and other clothes, were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace.
The story doesn't end there though for Shadrach, Meshach and Abednigo:
The story doesn't end there for us either!
24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, "Weren't there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?"
They replied, "Certainly, O king."
25 He said, "Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods."
If you feel like you're in the middle of a hotter furnace than you've ever been in, take heart for it means you're moving in the right direction. The enemy of our souls doesn't need to turn up the heat on those of who's bondage he's sure. Only those in danger of breaking free merit this kind of attention! Remember too that if you're born again, you don't stand alone in the furnace. Just like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednigo, there's someone with you and not only does he look like a 'son of the gods' He IS the Son of God!
This time of increased struggle is only temporary. Don’t give up. Walk with the Lord during times of struggle and you will eventually walk with Him in freedom!
No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. (I Corinthians 10:13)
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