- Your finances are not more important than your character.
- Your marriage is not more important than your character.
- Finding a husband or wife is not more important than your character.
- Your children, even though you love them, are not more important than your character.
- Your ministry is definitely not more important than your character.
All of those things ARE important, and all should be prayed about. But you know what? Everything in your life will be impacted by, limited by, or spurred on BY YOUR CHARACTER.
And the Body of Christ is suffering, and has been suffering, from chronic lack of character …
In men …
In women …
In children …
… of every age and every stage.
This doesn't mean that no one has any good character; of course, many people do. However, all too often, we treat the Gospel like fire insurance–something we subscribe to that will keep us out of hell–but we don't bother to become conformed to the image of Christ while we're still alive.
It's time for this to stop. It's time for GODLY CHARACTER to become the central value of our walk with Christ again.
Jesus taught on character. In the early church, they carried on the teachings of Jesus and focused on character. Why do you think your character grows when you read and obey the teachings of Jesus–and even the instructions written for us by the inspiration of God by the apostles Paul, Peter, and John? Because they focused on character.
But all too often, modern-day Christianity is nothing more than the worship of self:
- Too many people embrace “If it feels good, do it” Christianity.
- Too many people are seeking to use the principles of God to gratify the flesh.
- Too many people think they can have “fire insurance” to keep them out of hell, but never bother to stop looking at porn, stop fornicating, and live holy lives.
And if you have embraced anything other than full submission to God, you're in idolatry. You're worshipping yourself and others.
It's not that full submission to God isn't going to prosper you and bring you joy. It is.
That's why I embrace the teachings of Scripture that say God is going to prosper us–because I want to submit to Him in every area. That's why I embrace the teachings of Scripture that say your joy should be full–because one of the fruit of the Spirit is JOY, so in order to submit to Him fully, we have to demonstrate and embrace godly joy.
But every good thing should come ONLY from submission to God. Pursuing stuff without first pursuing God is idolatry, and it's evil.
Character matters. It matters most.
When we come to God, YES, we must believe that He exists and that He is the rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). But you know what comes before that reward? The process of diligently seeking Him. And you know what diligently seeking Him means? It means …
- conforming to His image.
- It means obeying Him.
- It means learning who He is and what He is like through the pages of His Word …
- and then seeing that He wants us to become like Him …
- and then DOING EVERYTHING that is in both our power and His to become like Him.
Diligently seeking God means we spend time with Him. We pray and study God's Word with intensity, not lackadaisically. It means we seek Him alone, in one-on-one time with Him in prayer, fasting, worship, and the study of His Word, EVERY DAY. It means we become so focused on Him and centered on Him that He is our magnificent obsession.
And when you seek Jesus like that, your character will grow–because you'll see that our OBEDIENCE is God's #1 priority.
First Samuel 15:22-23 tells us this:
“So Samuel said:
‘Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.
For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He also has rejected you from being king'” (1 Samuel 15:22-23).
A couple of months ago, I had a prophetic dream.
The short version of this dream is that I was with two people–a married couple–in their living room. They were fighting and rebelling against God. I was praying for them and attempting to exhort them to obey God and submit to His voice. At every turn, this couple would say they wanted to obey God; however, then, they would do the exact opposite. \
This couple was in rebellion. They were operating in witchcraft. In the dream, I tried to convince them to abandon their sin and obey God, but they would not. Over and over, they kept saying they would–but they actually did the exact opposite.
When I began praying over this dream, I was deeply moved.
I was moved because I felt the hurt of God in the dream. I sensed His anguish over these people's rebellion. I prayed for the couple in the dream, but I don't really even think the dream was primarily about or for them. I think God's main point in the dream was to show me His agony when we rebel against His commands.
And I didn't want Him ever to feel that way about MY life.
I've always prayed for godly character more than probably anything else. But since that dream, I've been on my face over this like crazy. I've been asking God to search my heart and get ANY rebellion that He finds in my heart OUT. I've been asking Him to discipline me, to chastise me, and to do whatever it takes to make me like Him–along with a lot of other things.
My friend, I want to invite you to join me today–and every day going forward for the rest of your life–in praying for godly character more than you pray for anything else.
Your “character” is what IS or IS NOT in your heart. It's how you DO or DO NOT submit to God and obey Him. It's what you are like on the inside, and it will always eventually manifest on the outside.
And your character matters. It is more important to God than anything else–and your character will determine what everything else in your life looks like, is, and becomes.
Again … character matters.
But you know what? We have mercy by the blood of Jesus. We have grace. That doesn't mean that God will excuse our sin or our rebellion; He absolutely will NOT excuse sin or rebellion.
But the blood of Jesus bought GRACE for us, and grace empowers us to LIVE HOLY.
Did you hear me? You can live a holy life.
If you have Jesus in your heart, you can live without sinning–and you should. I should, too. We all should. GRACE is the manifest power of God in our lives that enables us and empowers us to live holy, without sin.
Yes, you heard me. You don't have to sin.
If you have given your heart to Jesus and made Him the de facto Boss (Lord) and Master of your life, then you can walk through every moment of every day without sinning. You are NOT a sinner; you are a saint of God. And the Bible says that God's grace has freed you from the law of sin and death.
Yes, it's true that you used to be a captive and a slave to sin. At that time, your will was bound to sinning. But now, in Christ Jesus, He has made you free. And He whom the Son sets free is free indeed (John 8:36).
So you can live today and every day the rest of your life without sinning. But in order to do that, you need God's help.
And that help comes when you PRAY over your character. That help from the Lord comes when you ask Him to work in you both to WILL (to want to) and to do His good pleasure
Philippians 2:12-13 tells us:
“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12-13).
For this reason, I strongly believe that your character is THE #1 most important thing to pray about.
And to help you pray, our next few blog posts will contain seven sample prayers for you to pray about your CHARACTER. I am not going to include all seven prayers here as the article would be too long. But, stay tuned for the next post and for several posts after that. And as we talk about these things, I pray you would grab hold of these prayers, print them out, and pray them every single day.
Beloved, how can you prepare TODAY?
It's simple. The only way to prepare is to examine yourself and see if you have really made Jesus the BOSS of your life–or if you just think He's a really great guy that you like a lot, but whom you don't bother to obey. Ask the Lord to examine you and show you this, too. And ask Him to change you; to forgive you; and to REALLY be the Master of your life, having total and complete charge of you.
Stop for a moment and do just that.
Then, ask yourself:
What did you find out when you searched yourself and asked the Lord to search you?
Did you find out that you are completely sold out to Jesus and desperately in love with Him, throwing yourself onto the altar of obedience in every single thing in your life?
Or did you find that there is rebellion, witchcraft, and disobedience in your heart?
If the latter, pray this with me:
“Dear Heavenly Father, I know for sure that I have sinned. But, You are my hope. I want a relationship with You; I desire to be close to You; and I want to be perfect in Your sight.
Abba Father, I believe that Jesus came to earth and died on a cross for me. I believe Jesus took my punishment for all my sins. I confess my sins to You right now, Lord, and I believe You forgive me for my sins because of what Jesus did for me.
Abba Father, even if I have already said that I receive Jesus as my Lord and Savior, TODAY I want to receive Jesus into my heart in a whole new way. Right now, Lord Jesus, I ask You to be my Savior and Lord in a new way–because I am surrendering to You in a new way. Please forgive me for rebelling against You in absolutely ANY area of my life.
Abba Father, whether I have made the choice to receive Jesus as my Savior before or not, TODAY I admit to You that I have not been living a holy life before You.
I have not been obedient in all things. I have walked in disobedience, pride, and arrogance, and I have not been sold out to You. I have instead treated You and Your Son like fire insurance, believing that You would save me from hell–but not caring about You enough to actually obey You in my everyday life.
Abba Father, I have sinned. Please forgive me. I turn my life over to You for real right now, Lord. I release myself to You. I choose You, Lord! I want You and You only. Please forgive me for all my sins. Cover me with the blood of Jesus. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit where those things were, Lord, and thank You for being my Daddy.
Abba Father, I need You. Please change my heart completely and make me like You.
Please help me to care about obeying You as much as You care about this. Help me to care about my character as much as You do. Convict me; discipline me; make me humble; and change me. Make me like You, Lord, and teach me to pray and seek You in every area–especially that I would be formed into the image of Christ. Help me to become obsessed with You, and obsessed with seeking You and obeying You, Father.
Thank You, Father, for hearing and answering my prayer. Thank You that I will never be the same again. Thank You that the life of Jesus flows through me right now. Thank You for Your help, grace, and power. I love You, Lord, and I bless You.
In Jesus' name I pray, amen.”
My friend, is Jesus speaking to you about your character today? Is Holy Spirit tugging on your heart? If so, please leave a comment below–and be sure to check back for all the blog posts in this series!