Last Sunday our pastor preached the type of sermon that I have been advocating at this devotional and at my blog. Look for it at my blog in the near future. I want everyone to copy it and pass it on to their pastors and parishioners and encourage their pastors to preach such messages. Bro Dennis said something that stuck to me and I had to write it down. It’s the title of this devotional. He said that Christians are born again to battle. Battle what?
His Scripture reference was Jeremiah 8 and Dennis preached on the backslidden state of the church and our nation. He preached on four questions for America and once I get the audio I will present all four questions. The centrality of the questions are why have we given up.
What does it mean to be born again to battle? First of all there is going to be an inward battle within each born again Christian. Paul wrote:
“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.” (Romans 7:23)
Paul sees two laws at work; the law of God and the law of sin. The law of God points us toward heaven because it is good, holy, and just. The law of sin points us towards hell because this law keeps us from the Truth. The law of sin is the explanation that experts have so long sought after. It is the reason people behave in the manner they do; every human being born is under the law of sin. The law of sin is like spiritual gravity; it constantly pulls us down. And Paul warned Timothy against this spiritual bondage that can cause all types of strife:
“Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.” (2 Timothy 2:22-26)
It is important as born again Christians to understand we battle against an invisible foe. We know about the spiritual armor of God and yet we leave the house most days with it lying in the corner of our offices and bedrooms. Why is that? Because we forget who are enemy is…
“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” (Ephesians 6:11-13)
And if we are indeed in a spiritual battle, why is it that we normally try to battle in our own strength? The Lord has not left us without weapons:
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)
Beloved, if we are born again to battle, would it not be correct for us to think the Lord wants us to fight? But fight what? Each other? Unfortunately that’s what too many Christians believe; we apply the sword of the spirit to each other too often. Or we allow ourselves to pulled into petty arguments with nonbelievers. If we see people who profess to be Christians acting like lost people, is it too far of a leap to wonder if they are truly saved or at best backslidden? Does God’s Word command we use it as a bludgeon to beat them back into shape? Or do we need to spread the gospel, the wonderfully joyous good news of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? The fight the Lord expects us to fight is the fight Paul exhorted Timothy to fight:
“Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” (1 Timothy 6:12)
If your pastor is not preaching the full measure of the gospel, don’t hiss in his face and tell him the sermon was lacking punch. Encourage and exhort him to preach on the mess this nation is in and how the law of sin is ruling the roost today. If your Sunday School teacher is just not making the grade, please don’t tell him so but pray for him or her and ask God to give you patience with the teacher. The spirit of criticism is not a spiritual gift; it is sin.
Demolition is indeed a needed commodity at times and I admit I’d rather tear down a building than build one up. That’s because I’m no good at carpentry and construction but I sure know how to swing a sledgehammer. But once the building is down and the rubble is cleared away I cannot show someone the work I’ve done other than to look for the absence of something that was once there. Of course condemned buildings need to be torn down, however, would it not be better to replace it with a new building built on a solid foundation?
I have no idea why this devotional has taken the course it has but I just feel a need to remind myself that if I want to be effective for Jesus, I need to share the gospel to the lost and be an encourager to the Body. Please do not misunderstand this to mean I’m going to tolerate sin or false shepherds leading the flock astray; I think you all no better than that by now. But again, which is easier…to tear down or build up? I want a new challenge, I want to be a part of Jesus’ work of building His church. I want to be in the battle that is ongoing and the greatest way we battle is to outnumber the enemy.
One thing I learned for sure in the Army is you are always going to have weak soldiers. Now I indeed did my best to kick out the bad soldiers, but for every bad soldier I escorted to the front gate, there were at least five weak soldiers who I worked hard to nurture, encourage, and mentor to become good soldiers. Had I given up on them there is no telling where they would have ended up. Is it not so with our Father’s spiritual army?
It took time for those soldiers to work out their abilities to become effective. Some of these soldiers had been in the Army a long time and had some how been promoted up the chain by the Peter Principle; promoted to the highest level of their incompetence. Now I could have just thrown them all out of the Army, some I had no choice. But I learned that if I would do the hard work and get them to believe in their abilities and to trust their training then they would become an effective soldier. It all came down to faith. So it is with the spiritual soldier; some are just now working out that faith and I want to help them through their journey. Oswald Chambers put it this way:
After we have been perfectly related to God in sanctification, our faith has to be worked out in actualities. We shall be scattered, not into work, but into inner desolations and made to know what internal death to God’s blessings means. Are we prepared for this? It is not that we choose it, but that God engineers our circumstances so that we are brought there. Until we have been through that experience, our faith is bolstered up by feelings and by blessings. When once we get there, no matter where God places us or what the inner desolations are, we can praise God that all is well. That is faith being worked out in actualities.
My faith is constantly being worked out in actualities. I do praise God that with all I have been through, I can honestly say that all is well. But I will tell you that is was not an easy road, in fact it wasn’t even a ride.
It was a battle…
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Copyright © 2010 David Jeffers