Section One: The Spiritual Characteristics of a Godly Life.
Our current theme: Characteristic Three: Being Victorious.
Our reading for today: Ephesians 6: 10-18 (MsgB)
And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and He wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels. Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.
Five blog sessions back, we began this discussion on living the victorious life in Christ by saying how vitally important it is to never underestimate two things:
1) the power of the cunning ways our enemy, Satan, whispers into our ears, and…
2) the confounding way in which we, well-meaning followers of Christ, can get so easily caught up in ourselves, leaving us vulnerable and ripe for the picking by a Devil who loves to catch people in our own traps of self-satisfaction.
So, as Paul states it here in his letter to the Ephesian church, “that about wraps it up.”
You see, it’s vitally important for you, as a Jesus-follower, to fully understand the battle you’ve been placed in. The Just Do It crowd will tell you to focus exclusively on two things in order to survive and thrive in this dark and sometimes very dreary place we call Planet Earth:
1) Resist Satan. 2) Stop sinning.
Good advice, but not nearly as deep and detailed as Jesus seems to indicate in His actions. As we stated last time, the underlying issues behind our sin problems can actually be much better identified, and dealt with, when we address, as the Master did, three major temptations associated with self…
The temptation of self-preservation. Failing at this important test of self is when I choose to believe that God’s promise of perfect provision for my life just doesn’t satisfy me. As a result, I push extra hard to take care of number one; many times, even at the cost of hurting others and myself.
The temptation of self-promotion. Failing at this important test of self is when I listen to that little voice inside me that whispers that I’m simply not getting the honor and attention I am worthy of. A thrust of fleshly self-promotion assumes that God will never recognize me, and pushes hard to make myself number one in order to feel really good about myself.
The temptation of self-perpetuation. Failing at this important test of self is when I decide to no longer trust in God’s sovereign timetable for my life. This drive to ‘get-r-done’ pushes me out ahead of God and His plans, perpetuating life and circumstances at my own prerogative, not God’s.
It’s been my experience over the last decade or more, that I’m much more able to keep my life in check when I focus on my temptations toward self rather than spending all my time and attention on managing the sin that flows out these same issues. Let me give you an example…
When I fail to trust in God’s perfect plan for my life, forgetting that my Father in heaven fully recognizes me as His beloved son, my drive for recognition (self-promotion) will rev up so strongly, it will push me into sinful, self-promoting activity that, quite honestly, feeds my fleshy desire to be recognized. And that’s sin, right? But with my awareness on self and not sin, I can get ahead of the sin problem, by going back to my insecurities about self. And in so many occasions, when I’ve allowed God to minister to my inward insecurities of self-worth, the drive for self-promotion simply goes out the window. Get it?
You see, it’s this wisdom and awareness of these tests and temptations surrounding self that have truly helped me in putting on the armor of Christ that Paul talks about here in his letter to the Ephesians. So as I close, I encourage you to take this simple advice…sit down right now, and invite the Spirit of God who dwells inside you to help you take a full account of where you are currently being tempted to act in the areas of self-preservation, self-promotion, and self-perpetuation. Take careful note of where and when these temptations have pushed you into sinful activity. Then, as Paul states, pray hard and long…which simply means, invite Jesus into these matters, and over time, it’s my belief that the victorious life of Christ, the perfected life of Jesus we all desire, will continue its good work in your life and mine. For His glory alone!
My prayer: Father God, thank You for the illumination of the battle with self that faces us every day of our lives. I choose this day to say “no” to the two-headed monster named Satan & Self, choosing instead Your perfect love and provision given me by the work of Jesus and by the impartation of peace given by Your Holy Spirit. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: So what action steps need to be taken in my life today to address the whispers of Satan and the alluring voices of self-preservation, self-promotion, and self-perpetuation? Am I finding a release from sinful activity as I allow Jesus access to these difficult temptations of self?
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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