“I still struggle with fear that I will be cast out on the day of judgment. The promise to those who overcome and keep his works comforts me though it is that same promise that scares me. Am I keeping his works? Am I overcoming? Is my faith and struggle enough for Jesus when I periodically “fall off the wagon” and fall into sinful and world states of mind which ALWAYS accompanies depression. But Jesus keeps bringing me back, replacing the zeal in my heart that is so often lost to the pain of this world, my past and mental health issues. And guilt and fear etc. etc. Is that keeping his works? I don’t know.”
Someone shared a journal entry they wrote after reading the Thyatira posts. I was given permission to share and to respond publicly for the edification of our brethren.
I want to look at each statement and provide some scripture.
“I still struggle with fear that I will be cast out on the day of judgment. The promise to those who overcome and keep his works comforts me thought it is that same promise that scares me.”
I know what you mean. Jesus says that His word—which include His promises—are like a sharp, two-edged sword. I think it is natural to feel both comfort and fear when we consider His words. Jesus by the prophet Isaiah said this in Isaiah 66:
“To this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit that trembles at my word.” If you fear the word of God, this is good. Paul the Apostle said that we should “work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” There is a level of fear that is natural, considering we are dealing with the Almighty. This fear shows that you have faith. You know that He means what He says.
You also show that you are of a “poor and of a contrite spirit” which means you see your lack apart from Jesus. Jesus says, “blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.”
Though it is good to fear the word of God, do not fear being cast out on the day of judgment. Instead, try to look at your fear as a comfort. God looks to you. “He shows mercy to those who fear Him.”
Am I keeping his works? Am I overcoming? Is my faith and struggle enough for Jesus when I periodically “fall off the wagon” and fall into sinful and world states of mind which ALWAYS accompanies depression.
What does it mean to keep His works? What does it mean to overcome? We might debate on this issue. I’m sure many do, but I do not want anyone to be led away from the comfort that we find in the simplicity of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
“This is the will of my Father: that you would believe on He whom He sent.”
I believe that “keeping His works” means that we trust in Jesus to do what He said He would do. He promises to forgive us of our sins, to send the Holy Spirit who will “guide you to all truths” and to raise us from the dead at His coming. Paul the Apostle said, “he who began a good work in you is faithful to complete it.”
As we trust in Jesus, we learn about Him and what it means to be a Christian. We “keep” these sayings near and dear to our heart. We struggle to perform them, but we know that Jesus will work all good things in us if we continue to seek Him. We do not reject His ways. We do not try to replace His ways with our own righteousness or what the world says is good. If we respect His ways, do our upmost to honor them according to what He has given us and trust in Him to keep working in us, then we are “keeping His works.”
We are also overcoming.
“Falling off the wagon” is part of every Christian walk. Sometimes it seems like one step forward and many steps back, but if we keep going, then we are “overcoming.”
There is much to overcome, as we read about in the letters to the 7 churches.
There are many things out there that attempt to replace Jesus and the work of His Holy Spirit. There is the temptation to view our Christianity as a mere mental exercise, so if we have the right doctrines, we have all we need. There is temptation to forget the love, mercy, and patience of God as we fight against false doctrines and “sinners.” There is temptation to consider ourselves righteous using outward actions and regulations. There is the temptation to use His mercy and grace as an excuse for sinful living. There are false forms of spirituality. There is temptation to look to the securities and pleasures of this world instead of Jesus.
There are many ways in which we can “fall off the wagon,” but as you mentioned, you are not content there. This leads to depression and Jesus pulls you back. This is His grace towards you—and this is something to trust in. He will cause you to overcome.
But Jesus keeps bringing me back, replacing the zeal in my heart that is so often lost to the pain of this world, my past and mental health issues. And guilt and fear etc. etc. Is that keeping his works? I don’t know.”
Jesus brings you back! That is the key. He is the Good Shepherd who will leave the 99 to go after that 1. You might be interested in Psalm 119. One of my favorite scripture songs was made for this song (I will share it with you if you would like). This song speaks to that struggle, in my view. The final verse states, “I have gone astray like a lost sheep. Seek thy servant, for I do not forget thy commandments.”
Part of our “keeping His works” and “overcoming” means we wrestle with the things of this life, including painful things in this world, guilt over past and present sins, and a slew of physical and mental troubles. Jesus is near and He does not turn away from those who trust in Him.
Psalm 22 – another favorite of mine for these exact reasons you mention in this post – states “he does not despise nor abhor the affliction of the afflicted. Neither hast he hid his face from him. But when he cried unto him, he heard.”
He hears your cries and He will come through for you because He is always faithful and true to His word—a word that you both love and fear—which is fitting!
When you are feeling heavy-hearted, turn your heart to praising Jesus. This is very helpful. Think on how wonderful He is. If you need some help because your words fail you, look to the Psalms. Find audio versions on YouTube if you want, or I can send you some scripture music. You can also ask the Lord to give you the gift of praying in the Spirit. The Spirit will intercede on our behalf, revealing things in our heart that are too deep for us to fully understand.
There is much to praise Him for, and praise lifts us up. His judgements are always just and merciful. He is gracious and slow to anger. He desires that all who belong to Him will repent and come to fuller understanding of who He is and He “rewards those who diligently seek Him.” Keep seeking Him—and you will “keep His words.” You will “overcome.” You will inherit the promises—because He who made these promises and He who began this transformative work in you is Faithful and True!
I love, love, love it when I get feedback on the writings published here at thelordalone.com. Positive, negative, neutral—all things work out for good and help build all of us up in Jesus.
Please do not hesitate to respond, though sometimes it might take me some time, depending on the nature of the conversation. I don’t care if I am detained from writing the final work on the 7 Churches for months or more if it means having real-to-life conversations with my brethren. For me, this is what it is all about and I trust that the Lord’s timing is at work in all things!