I’m sitting in the air conditioned comfort of my home right now, with my daughter out with a friend, my boys in the basement playing x-box, and the dog not barking:) It doesn’t feel at this moment of apparent calm that there is a war raging.
Yet John Piper speaks the truth. He says, “Life is war. That’s not all it is. But it is always that.”
The apostles affirm this truth. Peter says, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Everywhere we look, we are bombarded with the siren’s call of the world. And we cannot escape the battle, because the enemy within, our flesh, is constantly with us!
So what causes you to fall in the battle? There are multiple attacks that take me down, but one where I fall the easiest is through my children. This past weekend i was out of town with my husband. Such a blessing, such a sweet time, such a peaceful time. Then one of our children texted to tell us what another had done. I was immediately put out of commission. Thoughts racing through my mind of what a failure I was as a mother. If I had only done things differently when this child was younger, this wouldn’t be happening now. It’s all my fault. On and on and on. I couldn’t get out of the spiral. My husband was sad because my focus was no longer on him:(
I felt like it took about 2 hours or so before the Lord lifted me out of the pit of despair. I had been crying out to him in my mind, silently confessing my deep need for His grace to be able to turn from my fear and turn in faith to Him. I could feel my flesh wanting to wallow and stay in the fear. That is what I have always known, how I have always reacted. Turning away from that felt so foreign and almost scary. It’s as though my twisted thinking was that the fear was my friend. The fear was my comfort. It was familiar. Turning to faith was too hard. It was scary. I couldn’t let go. I was stuck. Caught. Captive.
It is only by the grace of God that I was able to walk forward by faith. The fact that this incident did not ruin the rest of our trip is truly a gift of grace from the Lord.
I was taken captive in the war. “For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members” (Rom. 7:23). “For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do” (Gal. 5:17).
Is there another word from the Lord that makes it any clearer for the reason why we must wage the war against our own flesh?!! “Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul” (1 Peter 2:11).
But there is good news!! Hear the promise and instruction of the Lord to us!!!
“Awake, awake, put on your strength, O Zion; put on your beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city; for there shall no more come into you the uncircumcised and the unclean. Shake yourself from the dust and arise; be seated, O Jerusalem; loose the bonds from your neck, O captive daughter of Zion” (Is. 52:1-2).
I know this is long, please bear with me…I’m battling to stick with it and get it all out! May we have ears to hear our Beloved Savior speaking to each of us!!
“O afflicted one, storm-tossed and not comforted, behold, I will set your stones in antimony, and lay your foundations with sapphires. I will make your pinnacles of agate, your gates of carbuncles, and all your wall of precious stones. All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children. in righteousness you shall be established; you shall be far from oppression, for you shall not fear; and from terror, for it shall not come near you. If anyone stirs up strife, it is not from me; whoever stirs up strife with you shall fall because of you. Behold, I have created the smith who blows the fire of coals and produces a weapon for its purpose. I have also created the ravager to destroy; no weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed, and you shall confute every tongue that rises against you in judgment. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord and their vindication from me, declares the Lord” (Is. 54:11-17).
“For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Cor. 10:4-5).
What are some of these weapons of our warfare? It seems impossible, but can the war be fought with fruit?!!
Humility, gentleness, rejoicing, patience, long-suffering, love. This is the way of Christ. This is the way of victory. Putting our flesh to death. Turning from our sin and putting our faith in the Truthful One. The One who is for us and not against us. The One who is our Friend that sticks closer than a brother. The One who demonstrated His great love for us by dying in our place.
These are not fruits of the flesh of course. The fruit of the Spirit will only come through prayer and our obedience to the Lord’s Word. In the midst of the battle as well as the calm, we must by God’s grace make our SOS cry!
SELF POURED OUT TO NOTHING – FILLED WITH CHRIST
OBEDIENT TO DEATH – CHRIST BROUGHT TO LIFE
SERVANT OF OTHERS – HANDS AND FEET OF CHIRST
In the heat of the battle when the war is raging within and without, we must go lower. We must turn from all pride and humble ourselves. I was thinking of the instructions of firemen. If in a fire, get down on the floor. Go lower. That is where the oxygen is. That is the way out. That is the way to freedom from captivity. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life!
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (2 Cor. 4:16-18).
May the Lord continue to pour out His grace upon each of us as we seek to walk forward trusting in Christ alone.