Battle in Christ

You can also find my blog on the Top 100 Christian Women Blogs.
Thank you for your support!

By Hedieh Mirahmadi

Between the riots, looting, and closed churches, many Christians are frightened about “battle.” I often get this surprised look on people’s faces when they see how outspoken I am since becoming a Christ-follower, after 20+ years as a devout Muslim. I know they are wondering why I am not afraid? Throughout my professional career, I survived being shot at on the streets of Damascus, the outbreak of civil war in Lebanon, the Tsunami in Southeast Asia, and direct confrontation with more than a few suspected terrorists. Yet, being “battle-tested” is not where I draw my strength. It is the Holy Spirit’s power within me that gives me the strength and courage I never experienced before salvation. Most importantly, that power is available to ALL those who accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

Alongside strength and courage, I am learning that a warrior for Christ must have the fruit of the Spirit, namely forbearance and self-control. Sometimes, the Lord signals us to stay quiet and let the storm pass. This concept was entirely new to me. Before my salvation, I was the first to retaliate for an offense, real or perceived. Now, I am waiting for a prompting from the Holy Spirit of how to respond. In this season of social and political unrest, the ability to hold my tongue has been incredibly valuable. So many people are reacting to world events based on their trauma, myself included. The Lord is teaching me not to react out of emotions. He is showing me through prayer and reading His Word, the reality of my situation, and how to respond with wisdom and guidance from the Holy Spirit.

With spiritual discernment, we can also determine who comes at us as an enemy and when its time to stand and fight. In Mathew 10, Jesus Christ said, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.” He warned us that we would face battles and hardships in our lives to prepare us, not scare us. We have many verses of the Bible that tell us how to protect ourselves when the enemy does come to attack. “The weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds”1. We learn to draw on the spirit realm for strength and defense in the battle against evil forces.

However, Christ also made it clear that physical trials may come to us as well. Starting with the disciples’ gruesome fate to the persecution of Christians today throughout China, Iran, and the Middle East, the Church has faced physical trials. Jesus continues in Mathew:

“For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’ He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.” 10:34-39

I often worry that the American Christians who have enjoyed being the majority for centuries are not prepared for persecution and hardship. Those of us from the Middle East or Africa have lived through bloody civil wars and lawlessness. Surviving persecution is a way of life. It is fascinating that the Lord in His infinite wisdom is calling so many of us into salvation for such a time as this. I strongly believe they will help strengthen the brethren through their experiences.

Jesus warned often enough about the difficulty that would come from confessing His name so it is unlikely that the American church would never face physical battles. So, He says in Luke 22, “But now, he who has a money bag, let him take it, and likewise a knapsack; and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one.”

Think of it like an earthly battlefield. There are soldiers on the ground fighting in hand-to-hand combat, but that doesn’t mean we stop diplomacy and negotiations, or that the military won’t use drones from the air. It is a multi-prong defense or offense in the theater in battle. The same goes for the individual. Though many of us would never battle physically, we should always be battle-ready in the Spirit. Every one of us should be praying for the hedge of protection, the full armor of God, and God’s warring angels2 to guide and protect you, including protecting you from dangerous places or people.

In my career, I listened to many potential terrorists who had one thing in common–how they described Christians. They would say Christians are “weak in spirit and discipline”, or “Christians don’t know what it means to die for God”. Now as a believer, I see how those words should NEVER be used to describe a follower of Christ!

Our courage comes from knowing that we have the Holy Spirit’s power3 and that Christ lives within us to overcome any kind of obstacle. Every man dies but very few really live. That’s the choice we have because Jesus Christ died for us to have life, and life more abundantly. We must choose to stand in the power of the Lord.

‘Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. Ephesians 6:10-11

Whether it’s marching around Jericho seven times or Gideon defeating an army of 10,000 with 300 men, God’s people can and will be victorious if they have faith in Him and the courage to stand. Throughout time, God delivers the believers; but someone had to stand. The victory is ours if some show up.

God always defends His people when they uphold His commandments and stand for His truth. He didn’t promise it would be without suffering, but He did always promise victory. We have a righteous cause to advance the Kingdom against demonic forces, which are the enemy of souls.

As a Christian, the next time you are frightened by the news reports or wonder whether you should defend our freedom to gather for worship and defend the Gospel, remember the words of Jesus in Mathew 10.

“Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

____________________

1 2 Corinthians 10:4
2 Psalm 34:7, Psalm 91:11
3 2 Timothy 1:14

If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8 & 9

By Hedieh Mirahmadi
It never ceases to amaze me how God’s word is applicable in every situation, throughout all time. If you simply turn on the television these days, just standing for biblical values makes us public enemy number one. During the life of the Apostles, circumstances were even worse, but Paul reassures the believer that our victory is guaranteed through our love and faith in Christ.

Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will affliction or distress or persecution or hunger or lack of sufficient clothing or danger or the sword? …. No, but in all these things we prevail completely through the one who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.1

We cannot allow the opposition we face to make us doubt or forget how committed God is to His plan for us. Although we continue to struggle with the presence of sin in our lives, or with the seeming demise of the moral fabric of society around us, we must hold tightly to what the Holy Spirit is trying to do in us and through us, without regard for people’s reaction to it. Every individual believer who receives the Holy Spirit is going through the sanctification process. Our focus is to become more Christ-like so He is glorified, which fulfills God’s purpose on the earth. It is being Christ-like that draws others to us and brings about God’s will for humanity. When we focus on bringing forth our Divine purpose and gifts, it accomplishes His ultimate goals not just for us, but for whoever He puts in our path to be saved, impacted, or helped. Whatever benefit we gain in being conformed to God’s image is secondary to His greater purpose in seeing His Son properly honored.2

I am not going to pretend this is easy, it is not. Declaring that there is only ONE way to Heaven through belief in Christ or that all of humanity is equal regardless of race or gender, are NOT popular opinions these days.

Having left Islam, it saddens me to hear even Christians make the false claim that we all worship the same God and each religious path can lead to the “truth”. There is only one God and no one will reach His presence except through faith in Christ. I understand and believe that now but I did not believe that as a Muslim. So, the greatest gift we can give a Muslim is to lovingly lead them to this ultimate Truth. I wish someone would have explained that to me earlier in my life! However, when I first wanted to accept Christ, I was terrified of what other Muslims may do to me. It is these verses, Romans 8:31-39, that gave me peace. Accepting Christ gave me God’s protection. Nothing could happen to me that did not pass through Him first.

Do not be content to give false or comfortable versions of a “truth” that leaves the individual without salvation or the love and protection God promises through faith in Christ. The listener may not accept or believe it, but that is up to God. Others may get angry and call us extremists or racists, but our duty is to speak the Truth– regardless of the outcome. When we do this, God stands with us.

The same is true in the discussion about race. Faith in Christ is the great equalizer. No law or absurd solution like defunding the police brings about equality. Only faith and the transformative power of the Holy Spirit will bring social justice. In Paul’s time, the struggle was between Jews and Gentiles. The former claimed superiority but Paul adamantly rebuked it. It does not matter what family we are born in to. The only thing that distinguishes us is whether we are children of God, grafted into His family through faith in Christ.

That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed.3

Standing on this principle is also widely unpopular today. Yet it cannot change how we defend a Biblical truth.

So, what does all this mean? If God has determined to stand with us, tell me, who then could ever stand against us?4

Paul reminds us that suffering is inevitable but that we will be victorious in the end. Let’s find peace and comfort in that reality.

Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.5

____________________

1 Romans 8: 35, 37-39
2 Romans 8: 28-30
3 Romans 9: 8
4 Romans 8: 31
5 Romans 8: 37

What will come forward from your life in captivity? Book of Romans 8

By Hedieh Mirahmadi

God is at work in the heart of his people during this pandemic. Who other than God could allow the entire world to be in captivity through something microscopic? The question we must ask ourselves is, what does God expect us to manifest through it? Though our physical body is in bondage, our Spirit is free to worship and draw near to the Lord.

If God doesn’t take us out of a situation, what is He bringing forth in us? There is always a purpose in pain. When the Apostle Paul wrote the Book of Philippians, he was in a prison cell. He didn’t know if he was going to live or die. Similarly, we are locked in our homes with the fear of death looming over us, and we cannot change it. Despite his seemingly desperate situation, Paul expressed uncertainty and confidence all at the same time. Paul doesn’t bother to describe the horrible circumstances in prison; he just wants to talk about the fruit of the situation.1

And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the Gospel without fear. Philippians 1:14

Could we be bold enough to look at our lives in a similar way right now? What’s happening in me is more important than what’s happening to me. What is God pruning in me this season? Personally, having no means of “escape” forces me to confront my character flaws that negatively impact the quality of my life and those closest to me.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control… Galatians 5:22-23

In all my years practicing Islam, I never learned or even considered most of these attributes, especially not forbearance or gentleness. I worked in the very fast-paced, competitive industry of federal contracting, so I was always fighting my way to the top. Gentleness and kindness were not part of the equation. I worked hard and outdid my competitors, so I was successful.

Similarly, in Islam, as long as I prayed, fasted, and wore a headcover, I was good with “God.” Life was just a series of transactions. Even love was a transaction, so I treated my personal relationships the same way. It was not until I encountered the Gospel that I learned about unconditional love. I began to understand the significance of gentleness, kindness, and forbearance. Jesus was so loving, kind, and forgiving. He gave it all for us to be free. It was my love affair with Jesus that made me want to be more like Him. However, only when the world completely shut down did I realize I still had so far to go.

What do you feel God is speaking to you in this season? Can you focus on what fruit He wants for your life, rather than the frustration of the moment? What if this season is fast-forwarding us into wisdom God wants for our lives. Imagine the possibilities!

In this season, we are all equally ignorant. Nobody knows what our new normal will be. God is filled with mystery. None of us know what He will do. Faith doesn’t negate uncertainty. In life, the only thing you can control is your emotional and spiritual focus. So what matters is what we choose to focus on. We don’t need to know how it ends, only that God will be with us through it. There’s a confidence that goes beyond knowledge.

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. Romans 8:18

Now those are words to live by! As the saying goes, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

If we can focus on the transformation occurring in us, the pain makes sense. Pain without purpose is unbearable. We need to listen for what God is trying to teach us in this season. It doesn’t happen overnight, though. That’s why Jesus uses so many parables of harvesting. Growing fruit takes time. You need good soil, that first seed, fertilizer, water, and time. The tree has to grow before there is fruit. Honestly, it is only since quarantine that I appreciate the harvest analogy of the Gospel. I understood it conceptually, but now I am living it. I am covered in dirt, sometimes buried, but I have the hope in the Lord to make something beautiful out of it. Hope is a focus we have to choose consciously.

….but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. Romans 8:23-25

Paul is teaching us that the transformation and redemption is the promise we hold onto through the pain. If we already had it, we wouldn’t call it hope. Nonetheless, there is a groaning and suffering that comes along with it. I am so grateful for a God that prepares us for the hardship. He doesn’t pretend it will be easy. He teaches us to embrace it. He also promises to carry us through it. When we don’t know what to pray, the Holy Spirit will pray for us. And when we mess up or stumble, God will make it work to our advantage if we love Him and continue to follow His purpose for our lives.2

None of us know what will come of the world in the coming months or even years. However, we can choose what to focus on. Let’s focus on what’s ahead and the fruit God is trying to bring forth in our lives. I’m going to try and ignore what I can’t control.

What will you focus on as you go into the new normal?

____________________

1 Parts of this blog post were excerpted from Pastor Furtick “Focus on the Fruit” available at youtube.com/watch?v=QED4Oqd202c
2 Romans 8:26-28

Oh the pain of transformation – Book of Romans 7 & 8

A lady with broken chains
A lady with broken chains
By Hedieh Mirahmadi

…. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind, I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.’ Romans 7:21-25

I love how honest and heartfelt Paul describes the “war” inside his body. The battle between sin and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit can be fierce! In 20+ years as a devout Muslim, I obeyed the religious duties out of fear and peer pressure. I wasn’t changed internally, I was just masked. The experience I have now in Christ, my Spirit longs for change and fights my flesh to flee from sin. Within months of my salvation, it literally felt like a war inside my being. Sometimes I wasn’t sure who would win. Since the experience was new, I did what I always do. I tried to control it. 

The more I tried to control the process, the worse I did. I had to learn to let Christ lead me. I had to surrender my power so that He could guide me through the transformation. I was not use to surrendering my willpower to anyone or anything. The process was painful, humbling, and frightening at times. I was letting go of all my expectations from life, in exchange for the unknown that I accepted entirely by faith.  I didn’t always listen to His voice, though, as I am sure many of you can relate. So I experienced great disappointment and agony in those failures. Yet, the more I failed my own way, the easier it got to follow His lead.  Through prayer, reading the Word, and just spending quiet time in contemplation of God, the Holy Spirit encouraged me, picked me up when I failed, and comforted me when I felt defeated. In my own strength, I just wanted to punish myself but He doesn’t do that to us. He loves us into submission. He creates a desire, a longing for goodness and righteousness, that overcomes the urging of our flesh to go back into sin.

It was almost like being a child again. Sometimes, we listen to our parents because we love and trust them; but, other times, we just want to touch the hot stove. However, once burned, we learn.

‘For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.’

Romans 8:22-23

Notice Paul’s use of the word “groan and labors” because transformation in Christ is not meant to be easy. We see in our lives the first fruits of our rebirth, but the old self tries to trap our hearts and minds with old destructive patterns. It makes us cry out to God and the Holy Spirit will even pray on our behalf. Though we stumble, we get back up and try again. 

The most amazing thing is that even though we fail to listen or we make a couple of wrong turns, He promises to turn it to our favor! A very popular verse of the Bible stems from this very principle. If you love God with all your heart and are striving to be transformed by the Spirit, He will make all things work for our good. It is another extraordinary manifestation of His love for us. God the Father knows we are weak and subject to our flesh so He gives us endless opportunities to try again. Suit up and show up. I always loved that expression and now it has new significance to me. My Heavenly Father wants me to prepare for the spiritual battle through prayer and worship. Then, just show up ready to try again. 

This internal transformation is why a personal, intimate relationship with Christ is so important. The soft still voice of the Holy Spirit often isn’t heard at a church service or around a group of people. It is when you are alone with His Word and cry out to Him for help that the fruits of the spirit are grown. 

If you believe in Christ but have not experienced a personal relationship, I encourage you to cultivate one. It is not ritualistic or require a particular format, it is you and Him. He speaks through His Word. Open the Bible and meditate on the words. Open your heart and mind to what He is trying to say to you, personally. The Bible is not just a bunch of stories of people who lived thousands of years ago, it is the timeless, word of God to His people. It will speak to you, draw you in, and never let you go. 

____________________
1Romans 8:28

How I went from bondage to freedom. Romans 6

By Hedieh Mirahmadi

In my last blog post, I compared leaving Islam to being set free from a cage. However, that freedom led me straight back into the bondage of a life filled with sin and personal destruction. All those years of prayer and fasting did nothing to conquer the desires that led me to seek God in the first place. Luckily, Christ rescued me from that torment and that is when the REAL transformation began. No one told me I had to stop the habits that were leading to my disintegration; but, there was “force” within me urging me to change. It was the Holy Spirit transforming my thoughts and actions to no longer want that lifestyle. Sometimes I could hear Him gently nudging me and other times it was a scolding; but, I knew it was not in my own strength. Like walking around in shoes that were too small, it felt wrong. I was evolving from the inside, out. It was the indwelling of Holy Spirit, that communion with Him that was remaking me. Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty. Zechariah 4

In Romans Chapter 6 Paul teaches us how and why this transformation occurs. As believers in Christ, we undergo a death and a resurrection. The Holy Spirit puts to death our old way of life so we can be resurrected into who we are meant to be–free. Free to live in the righteousness He died to give us.

Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace. Romans 6:12-14

Paul gives us three actions we must do or refuse to do for this resurrection to take place. First, when sin calls to us, we must stop obeying it! We died to sin, so let’s not go back. Instead, we offer ourselves to God as those who are alive and free from sin. Third, we don’t give our body parts over to sin, but use them as instruments of righteousness.

Paul continues: But now, having been set free from sin and having been enslaved to God, you have your fruit leading to sanctification, and its end is eternal life. Romans 6:15

So we must make the conscious choice not to allow sin to control and rule us. Don’t look back nostalgically at the past, it was a life of death. Even though we have accepted God’s gift of righteousness by faith and we are delivered from the penalty of sin, we still must choose how we will devote our lives moving forward. Paul challenges us to invest in a life that will pay the dividends that God intended.

Even as redeemed believers in Jesus, we still contend with the ongoing presence of sin in our bodies. Yet, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit empowers us to live free from the bondage of sin. We choose who we want to serve and we cannot serve two masters. The Holy Spirit will do the rest.

This also applies to the sin of “false idols or codependency” . The Holy Spirit can free us from seeking the approval of others and living a life enslaved to another human being who devalues our worth as a son or daughter of the Most High God. Paul invites us to serve only Christ. I won’t lie. Allowing the Holy Spirit to transform me and not thinking I can do it in my own strength– was super hard for me. I was used to a work based religion. I always thought I had to earn God’s love. Now I had to surrender all the power and authority to Him. It hurt really bad at times. It can be lonely and frustrating, but I kept at it– praying and listening for the Holy Spirit to guide and comfort me.

Jesus has filled my hollow places with His glory. I am humbled by it and feel utterly helpless at times, but free. Free from the shackles of being a slave to desires, or the feeling that I fall short or never did enough to please God or people around me. That freedom brought a joy I have never known before.

Whether you are seeking that freedom for yourself or for a Muslim friend, there is no other power on Earth, no empty religious laws that make you pray 5 times a day or wrapping you in layers of clothing, that can save us from ourselves. It is only through a direct, personal relationship with Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that we can truly be set free. He alone can redeem and resurrect us.

Why Did I Leave Islam to Become a Christ Follower?

1 John 4:10
1 John 4:10
By Hedieh Mirahmadi

I am so excited to share my transformation in Christ with you! I know the question on everyone’s mind is HOW?? I have described it in 3 main principles that set faith in Christ apart from Islam.

Salvation is a FREE gift!

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– Ephesians 2:8

In Islam, you never really know if your good deeds are enough to enter God’s Heaven. On the Day of Judgement, God will decide if we were “good enough” and that terrified me. What if there was one big sin He could not forgive despite my hundred acts of obedience? It was very unsettling to live every day, wondering whether I would spend eternity in hellfire. 

Then I learned that God would guarantee a place in His eternal Heaven if I put my trust in Christ as God incarnate. I needed to accept that Jesus was God wrapped in flesh, who came to earth and died on the cross, then rose again from the grave to pay for MY sins. As my daughter says, “well that’s a no brainer!” How could I not accept that free gift of salvation? All Muslims believe Jesus was born of a virgin birth, ascended to Heaven, and returns in the Last Days. It was actually quite logical that He was God incarnate when He has those miraculous qualities. It was so comforting to believe God loved me so completely that He would give His only Son for me to be saved. 

The one true God is LOVE. 

He does not hate us nor has vengeance, but He is also just. That means the price of every sin must be paid. Solution? He gave his only Son to pay the price for all of our sins so we can be forgiven and have eternal life. The rest is about unconditional love. 

In over 20 years of being a devout Muslim, I NEVER heard God referred to as being love or commanding us to love others. We are taught that God was merciful [arabic word “rahman”] and benevolent [arabic word “rahim”]. Though that could be stretched to be extremely merciful or nurturing like a parent, it is still not the word love. So I was worshipping and sacrificing for a God that did not tell me He loved me? It was depressing. 

Compare that to the Bible, God’s infallible living Word. He says He is love. 

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is Love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 1 John 4:16 

He is the originator and fulfiller of everything we know and experience of love. Jesus also teaches us that the MOST important commandment for us as believers is to love God and love other people!  

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31

The foundation of our faith is love. How beautiful and enriching that is. Being loved unconditionally and loving others the same way has brought me extraordinary joy. Unconditional love has improved my relationships beyond my wildest expectations.   

Receiving the Holy Spirit

In Islam, God is said to be closer to you than the veins on your neck, but he will not speak directly to you. In fact, it is said that it is not befitting of God to do so. This meant that prayer was a one-way communication. I had no way of knowing whether he heard me or even accepted my prayers and repentance. There was no conversation between us. 

So when I first was saved and got baptized, I was excited for what would happen next. I kept asking my mentor, so now what? She would lovingly but persistently keep saying, “wait to hear from the Lord”. I had NO idea what she meant by that. I did not know how to talk with God, and I surely did not expect Him to talk back! It wasn’t until I studied what it meant to receive the Holy Spirit that it made sense. 

If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray to the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. John 14:15-18 

However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. John 16:13

What an amazing and exciting reality. Jesus tells the believers that the Holy Spirit, the third member of the triune [the third reality of God], would be inside each of us!  I no longer needed to ask another person’s advice about God’s plan for me or be wandering aimlessly not knowing God’s plan for my life. God would tell me directly. The Holy Spirit inside of me would direct my path. If I listened well enough, I could avoid making misguided choices that I would make if left to my own desires or thoughts. Receiving the Holy Spirit and communion with Him has radically transformed how I make decisions and has led to the most awe-inspiring experiences of my life. 

I could go on endlessly describing how these three principles have changed my life forever; but, I will save that for another day. I hope this information has helped my Muslim friends appreciate why I have so boldly and wholeheartedly become a Christ-follower. I pray that you will consider these principles and will ask God to reveal His reality to you. I firmly believe He will meet you where you are! 

For my Christian brothers and sisters, please educate Muslims about the Gospel with love so that it will plant seeds of faith. Focus on the real power within all three manifestations of God– the loving Father, the redeeming Son, and the support of the Holy Spirit. We trust God will do the rest.   

God Bless You! 

Jesus is the Solution to Islamic Terrorism – Book of Romans 4 & 5

Jesus-in-sky-2-optimized
By Hedieh Mirahmadi

Before my salvation through Christ, I spent over two decades trying to defeat Islamic radicalization. I built evidence based programs across the US and around the world, partnering with law enforcement and communities, to “hopefully” prevent young men or women from committing ideologically motivated violence. I used to be proud of all that I had accomplished but obviously, I never solved the problem. No matter what any of us “experts” did, the terrorists multiplied. After awhile, it was exhausting and felt worthless. I kept doing the same things over again and expecting different results. So I simply stopped doing it. 

This week, I reconnected with a dear friend and colleague who heard of my acceptance of Christ. Though she was happy for me personally, she was disappointed I was no longer “fighting the good fight”. When I thought and prayed about what she said, I decided the truth was quite the opposite! I AM still in the fight, but now with a REAL solution. It is the power of Christ Jesus that can save, transform, and redeem all of humanity, even lost Muslims. 

In Romans, Paul appeals to God’s promises to Abraham as evidence that there never has been a distinction amongst people who believe His message. God’s plan all along has been that this message would bless all nations through Israel’s proclamation of it. It doesn’t matter whether you come from the law of the Jews, Paganism or Islam. Once you put your faith in Christ, we are all the same. We are all reborn as children of God. 

It was not through the law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. For if those who depend on the law are heirs, faith means nothing and the promise is worthless, because the law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression. Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. Romans 4:13-16 

My duty now is to spread the good news of the Gospel and offer Muslims the ONLY solution to a life filled with anger, vengefulness and hatred. Accept the grace that abounds through a simple yet powerful profession of faith in Jesus as your Lord and Savior. Watch your life go from darkness to light, bondage to the freedom, and hatred to love. 

Adam brought trespass into the world, but Jesus brought a gift. With Adam, death multiplied because all have sinned; with Jesus, grace multiplied as God’s gift of forgiveness was offered to everyone.

For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous. Romans 5:19

What Has Jesus Done for Me – Book of Romans Chapter 3

By Hedieh Mirahmadi

Most of my adult life I spent engrossed in Muslim devotions because I wanted God’s forgiveness and acceptance into His Heaven. The requirements were physically demanding– the prayers, ritual washing, fasting and meditation, but not transformative. Despite over two decades of practice, I did not sense any change in my spiritual being or my character.  The requirements NEVER got easier and in fact, became progressively harder to maintain. As a result, when I stopped the rituals, the flood of sin came rushing back into my life. I felt like a bird whose master left a crack in the door of the cage. I escaped. I escaped right back into the cycle of sin and emptiness. It wasn’t until I read the Bible that I understood why. 

 For by the works of the law no person will be declared righteous before him, for through the law comes knowledge of sin. Romans 3:20

Paul explains though God’s law may be entirely spiritual and holy, it provokes desire and that desire leads to sin. The more law you know, the more knowledge of sin you have and the more you are held accountable for following that law. Without justification through Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, you have NO tools to combat the desire for disobeying those laws, leaving you at the mercy of your own will power.  It is a terrible cycle of guilt, sadness, and bursts of obedience. It felt like God was impossible to please and I had no way of knowing if He actually was. 

Without salvation, we are inevitably drawn into a life filled with sin, which leads eventually leads to death. 

Since God is ultimately just with all his creation, he can’t exact a penalty for sin against some people and not for others. The solution– He sent Jesus as a ransom for the penalty of sin. The result– anyone who believes in Jesus as their Lord and Savior is FREE from that penalty and weight of sin. Now that I trust in Christ with my salvation rather than my deeds, I experience true joy, peace and contentment in everyday life.  I no longer have to perform for God or fail to perform and live in fear of damnation. For those that do not or have not accepted Jesus, they will owe the penalty for all their sins. That burden is felt in this life through depression, addiction, and other forms of debauchery. The flesh without grace is drawn to sin, it’s the fallen nature of man.  GOD offers Heaven as a free gift to those who accept his Son and I accepted the free gift wholeheartedly! Nowadays, I hear people say God is love and will forgive everyone. Are you prepared to take that chance with eternity? I surely am not.   

There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus. Romans 3:21–2

Book of Romans Chapter 2

By Hedieh Mirahmadi

In Romans 2, Paul tackles the dangers of hypocrisy. He teaches us the dangers of relying on good works while having bad character and bad intent. This will only lead to affliction and distress. It’s quite common sensical if you think about it. You can’t trick God by outwardly following commandments if inwardly, in your heart, you are doing it for lust, power, or fame. God does not reward that kind of behavior. 

….but to those who act from selfish ambition and who disobey the truth, but who obey unrighteousness, wrath and anger. There will be affliction and distress. 

Paul accuses the preachers of blasphemy for engaging in the exact behavior they preach to others NOT to do. In Romans 1, he goes after the Gentiles/Romans for ungodly behavior without the law, and then in 2, he goes after the Jews who have the law and don’t behave morally or justly in accordance with the law. Though Paul is talking to the Jewish leaders at the time, the universality of it is ANY believer who manipulates the truth of God for selfish ambition or who engages in “unrighteousness” will earn God’s wrath and anger. Think about how many believers are turned off of by Church and thereby distanced from faith in Christ because the preachers behaved in a way that dishonored God. Though we must have grace for those who transgress and quickly repent, ultimately there is a higher standard placed on those who preach than those who are just personally guilty of sin.  

21 Therefore, the one who teaches someone else, do you not teach yourself? The one who preaches not to steal, do you steal? 22 The one who says not to commit adultery, do you commit adultery? The one who abhors idols, do you rob temples? 23 Who boast in the law, by the transgression of the law you dishonor God!d 24 For just as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” – Romans 2: 21-24 (NIV)

All of this leads to Paul’s ultimate point: it doesn’t matter how many laws we follow, whether we do them sincerely or as hypocrites, if we do not have the spirit of God within us. The reward is in abiding with the Spirit, not the letter of the law. In seeking God’s pleasure, not people’s. He’s not saying there is no value to the law; rather, on its own, it’s not enough. The law without spiritual obedience is worthless. 

28 A person is not a Jew who is one only outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. 29 No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God.

Reading this had a profound impact on me, because in Islam there’s a strong emphasis on following the law. The more we did, the better our chances of being forgiven. There was no mention or concept of the “spirit of God.” Consequently, it felt like abiding by the law was no more than a set of rituals. God was nowhere in them. Though Paul directs his comments to the Jews, it speaks to me about my experience in Islam. The Bible is a living and breathing revelation that can speak to all of us differently. 

I pray you read the Scripture and allow the words to speak into your Spirit what God is trying to tell you—not only about the past, but about your present and future. 

1 –  The New International Version. (2011). (Ro 2:28–29). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Book of Romans – Introduction

By Hedieh Mirahmadi 

Background: The book of Romans in the Bible was written by the Apostle Paul, also known as Saul. He was such a devout believer in Judaism that he severely persecuted the followers of Christ. 

When he was on the way to Damascus to arrest believers there, God got his attention, as recorded in Acts 9:1-6. Supernatural light blinded him, and as he lay on the ground, he heard the voice of Jesus.

A lot of people didn’t believe in the power of seeing Jesus after he had ascended. Many don’t believe that he appears to people today even if he did so for Paul back then. 

But others do believe in the power of God to do anything, and that Jesus is the same as before, today and forever. If you are one of them, then you accept that these things are still possible. 

In my own conversion experience, I heard Jesus’s voice, then saw a vision of him. He made it abundantly clear to me that He called me for a distinct purpose, just as He called Paul. I, too, was a believer in another faith: born of a sacred lineage and a devout Muslim. Christ revealed Himself to me, and therefore I cannot deny the calling He has placed on my life. It may involve pain and suffering, as it did for Paul.

In Romans, Paul expresses his deep desire to promote unity between believers in Jesus who were originally Jewish and those who were Gentiles.  

Since everyone who was not Jewish was considered a Gentile, that term encompasses nearly all of humanity who accept and are born again in Christ, including atheists and Muslims. 

Paul wrote passionately and convincingly, with love and respect for the Jewish people. He wanted them to realize the immense gift of grace that comes through the acceptance of Christ as our Lord and Savior. He also plainly described the dangers of not doing so. 

I found his arguments brilliantly articulated, with grace, divine power, and conviction. His words spoke to me so clearly about why faith in Jesus is so irrefutable and necessary.—We all need faith. Not only for our salvation but for joy and transformation in this life as well. 

I want to share with you some inspiration I received from the Holy Spirit about how the Book of Romans relates to my own experience. 

 

General Themes in Romans

 

  1. Paul begins his argument by describing God’s wrath against all mankind. In case his Jewish readers thought that their heritage somehow made them better, Paul shows otherwise in the second chapter. In fact, a Jew who judges a Gentile stands condemned by the same standard. All sin. All must repent. No one has the right to point accusing fingers at anyone else. The people who confidently believe they have measured up to God’s righteous standard may be in the most danger. 
  2. Only through acceptance of Jesus Christ as the only begotten Son of the one true God can we achieve reconciliation and unity. Christ represents the fulfillment of God’s covenant promises to humanity. These go all the way back to Abraham, the father of all monotheistic religions, including Judaism and Islam.   
  3. Paul sought the reconciliation between Jews and Gentiles but also wanted to be clear and convincing about the consequences of not accepting the one true God alone is worthy of worship. 
  4. God’s very first commandment is that his people worship no other gods. But Paul recognizes that all of us are slaves to temptation and sin, because we put our other desires such as wealth, sex, and fame as idols. Our idolatry of our desires rather than God can only lead to sin and death. God reveals his wrath on our unrighteousness both individually and as a society. Proper fear of God entails fearing both his wrath and his grief. 
  5. In the seventh chapter, Paul eloquently describes how even the most devout adherents to religious law can be the worst perpetrators of sin. The law reveals what sin is, and our flesh then desires it. It’s a vicious cycle. We agree with the law and want to follow it. But the sin that still lives in us impels us to live otherwise. Only the risen Christ and the Holy Spirit can rescue us from this body of death.  
  6. Though Paul wrote to Jews and Roman Gentiles, the universality and eternal nature of the word of God applies to all humanity at all times. So it is a warning to any learned believer that they should avoid self-righteous thinking or the condemnation of others as if their sins are somehow less than the sin of those less versed in the law. The other great monotheistic religions should take heed. Jews don’t accept the divinity of Christ or even acknowledge he was a prophet. In the Islamic tradition, Jesus was born of an immaculate conception, ascended to Heaven without death, and is believed to return in the last days to defeat the anti-Christ. However, it only assigns him the title of prophet and absolutely denies his divinity. If Muslims can consider this objectively, without the lens of politics, they can take heed of the Scripture as the infallible word of God for humanity and not just a “holy book.”