Do you ever feel as though you’re stuck in a Spiritual rut? You have your quiet times when you read your Bible, you spend time praying and talking with God, you regularly attend church, you talk with other believers, and you even share your faith with others. But despite all that, your life doesn’t change, nor do the lives of those around you. What is the reason for this stagnation? One of the greatest dangers Christians face today is that we become excessively distracted, rushed, and preoccupied until we have no time for anything as a result we will eventually settle when it comes to Christ. Unfortunately, too many believers have fallen into the hurry trap and are now living mediocre Christian lives. Jesus was often busy but was never in a hurry. He never lost the life giving connection with the Father.
Spiritual mediocrity is the result when you adopt sin and learn to live a life tolerant of a lack of faith. Sin is discouraging and holds us in mediocrity. The bible says sin starts in our minds take a look at James 1:14-15 where it says “but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin;” Our minds have evil desires that produce sin and death. We have a spiritual war going on in our minds. If we are stuck in mediocrity, the desires of the flesh are winning over our desire for closeness to God and spiritual success. Essentially you have given in to the gravitational pull of spiritual mediocrity.
This is significant because it teaches us that the problem behind sin and spiritual mediocrity is not outside of us. As James says in verse 13 the problem is not God. God is good and does not cause our problems. In fact, we cannot blame our problem on anything outside of us. We cannot blame our mediocrity and trouble with sin on our family, friends, life circumstances, job, the economy, or any other thing outside of us. The source of the problem is our own selfish desires.
In addition to this, mediocrity also loves company. When you settle for mediocrity, you want others around you to do the same. That’s when mediocrity becomes a culture, a lifestyle, and a threat to God’s Kingdom.
Ephesians 4:18-19 is a good summary of the problem going on in our minds. “They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.” The reason we aren’t soaring spiritually is because our minds are darkened from following our own desires. These desires keep us unclean and distract us from a desire for Christ.
Ephesians 6:12 expands the picture. This will help us see a second problem in our minds that causes spiritual mediocrity. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Notice also 1 Peter 5:8, “Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” So while we have desires, we also have spiritual foes of darkness trying to bring us down. They are actively scheming and seeking to spark more desires in our heart. They know our desires and seek to destroy us by tempting us to follow our desires.
So with materialism being the main problem the insidious desire for more physical things, satan provides opportunity and encourages those unrestrained desires through malls and sales and the pursuit of keeping up with the Joneses. The main problem behind lust is a desire for someone who is not our spouse, but satan gives opportunity to those desires through immodest dress, TVs, and computers. Selfishness and pride may be in our hearts, but satan gives opportunity to act on these desires through frustrating days at work or people that don’t meet our expectations. We respond by unleashing anger and demeaning others.
However, we must not be ignorant of satan’s schemes -2 Corinthians 2:11. He always makes the fruit look ripe and fresh. He always makes sin look good. He knows how to attack our weakness and desires making sin appear fun, satisfying, and problem-solving. But sin is the very thing holding us back from greater spiritual heights in Christ because of the discouragement and harm it does to our minds. Sin makes us impure. Sin distracts us from a desire to pursue and fully serve God.
Paul tells us in Romans 12:1-2 that we fight conforming by being transformed by the renewing of our mind. Our minds must be renewed. The word of God is the only place where minds and hearts and desires change for the better. But how often are our sinful desires incited while we are reading our Bibles? That is rare. The problem is that each time we step away from the word, satan tempts our desires.
Consider what Christ did in Matthew 4 when satan tempted him. Each time Christ was tempted he responded with Scripture. Though we know we must read the Word, I want to encourage you to prepare to do the same thing Christ did when he was tempted. Do not simply memorize Scripture, begin to live Scripture. Remember merely knowing Scripture is not enough, satan knows Scripture, we must live it. The goal is not mere memorization. Rather, this is the way we can further internalize the God’s word and allow it soak into our minds. The more God’s words are imprinted on our minds, and hidden in our hearts, the more we will be prepared to fight the desires in our minds when they are tempted.