Section One: The Spiritual Characteristics of a Godly Life.
Our current theme: Characteristic Three: Being Victorious.
Our reading for today: James 4: 7-10 (MsgB)
So let God work His will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and He’ll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious. Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet.
Let me be honest here.
The Just Do It crowd I spoke of last time, the champions of sin-management, will take today’s passage in James and tell you that the key to the victorious Christian life is simply a two-dimensional formula:
1) Resist Satan. 2) Stop sinning.
This simplistic two-step process sounds good on the surface, but sadly, all it really does, in the long run, is address the surface of our sinful condition. And over time, all we produce by using this simplistic formula is a church-full of hard-working Christian laborers who are doing their very best to stomp out their sin, yet rarely are they addressing the real two-headed monster that hides cunningly behind the curtain of sin management.
I call this hideous two-headed monster by its’ two names: Satan & Self.
So this week and next, let’s unmask this ugly dude and expose the complete work it does so that you and I might find a smarter, more comprehensive approach to the victorious Christian life in Jesus, using a strategy that is broader and deeper than the simplistic and often ineffective work of sin-management.
But first, let me say this…
I do agree with my friends on the Just Do It team when they say that step one in this pursuit of the victorious life is best accomplished when we address, first and foremost, our great need to resist Satan!
This bad boy also goes by the name of Lucifer, the Devil, the Prince of Darkness, and other assorted titles. And as we mentioned earlier in this blog series, his job description probably better describes him than his name. He’s an agent from the pit of hell, consumed with the demise of all human beings, and if he could have his way, he’d undermine everything God has ever done or ever will do in redeeming us from our sinful condition. Yet, sadly, there are way too many Christ-followers in the 21st century who are painfully unaware of the demonic realm and the great influence it has in our everyday world. But this is not just a modern-day problem. James, the brother of Jesus who was appointed as one of the key overseers of the Jerusalem church, said it very succinctly to his generation as well:
Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper.
You see, a mature disciple of Jesus must have a healthy respect for our ancient foe, Lucifer, as indeed, he is a cunning and crafty being who has found much success in tripping up many a human being over the centuries. But as Martin Luther wrote in his wondrous battle hymn for all Christians, A Mighty Fortress Is Our God, one little word will fell Satan. And that word, spoken in the power and authority of Christ, our Lord, and in the unction of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, is simply the word… “No.”
There are so many graphic illustrations of how we, as followers of Christ, don’t need to allow Satan access into our lives, our families, and into our circles of influence. One of my personal favorites comes from J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic, The Lord of the Rings. In the first volume, The Fellowship of the Ring, the wise, old sage, Gandalf has been given the overwhelming task of helping Frodo and his traveling companions as they forge ever farther in their long trek to defeat evil in their land. At one point, a furious dark dragon named Balrog looks to destroy them all, but a brave and selfless Gandalf stands on the edge of the abyss, holding this demonic monster back with his staff as the rest of the team scrambles to safety. And it’s here, the Christian writer, J.R.R. Tolkien places these powerful words into Gandalf’s mouth…
You cannot pass! I am a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the flame of Anor. You cannot pass! The dark fire will not avail you, flame of Udûn. Go back to the Shadow! You cannot pass!
So it should be, as you and I, followers of Christ, clearly state our “no” to Satan and to the darkness he desires to breathe into our lives.
My prayer: Jesus, Your words and works have pushed Satan back into a corner from which he will never escape, but in the mean time, he still rages, trafficking in any and all arenas of darkness where our unredeemed flesh allows him to go. Holy Spirit, enlighten me to his strategies so that I might join with Jesus in saying a strong “no” to his lies and his deceptions. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: So what do I really believe about Satan? Am I fully aware of his work in the world today or am I choosing to remain oblivious to him and his agents of darkness? Am I allowing Satan access into my life through my failure to be observant or by remaining asleep to the important role Jesus wants me to play in saying “no” to Satan’s strategies?
So what is God speaking to you today as we attempt to live the Christ-centered life?
Over a thirty-six week period, you and I will take a deeper look into twelve key characteristics of a godly life. In other words, we’ll take A Journey into Christian Discipleship. In order to keep all the blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Journey home page for ease of use. ENJOY!
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