May 19, 2013

A Full Week and a Fight

Posted in Blogging, Faith, Favorite Quotes, Just Life tagged , , at 9:28 pm by catsinboxes

Today marks what I do believe is a first on this blog: since last Sunday, I have blogged every day.  For me, that’s a milestone!

The past week has been good, definitely full and busy.  All along, I’ve been planning ahead, and I knew what I wanted to write about on Sunday.  I wanted to blog about a fight.  Not a physical fight yet one that is occurring continually all around us.  I love how God makes everything work together, so I can’t say I was surprised when I sat down in church today to see that our sermon’s title was: “War Time Mentality.”

Wonder what that means?  Here’s a great quote from John Piper that Pastor Greg used to begin his message:

Thousands of Christians do not hear the diabolic bombs dropping and the bullets singing overhead. They don’t smell the hellish Agent Orange in the whitened harvest of the world. They don’t cringe or weep at the millions who perish every week. They don’t reckon with spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places and the world rulers of this present darkness. “In fact, it is not dark,” they say. “It is bright and comfortable and cheery. Just look at my home and car and office and cabin and boat, and listen to my new disc player.”

As Christians we should be aware that there is a battle raging at this moment, and, in the words of J.C. Ryle, “If we would be holy, we must fight. . . . True Christianity is a fight.”  J.C. Ryle goes on to clarify what he means by “true Christianity” in a passage I found very convicting to the state of Christianity in modern America:

There are thousands of men and women who go to churches and chapels every Sunday, and call themselves Christians. . . . They are reckoned Christians while they live.  They are married with a Christian marriage service.  They mean to be buried as Christians when they die.  But you never see any “fight” about their religion!  Of spiritual strife , and exertion, and conflict, and self-denial, and watching, and warring, they know literally nothing at all.  Such Christianity may satisfy man, and those who say anything against it may be thought very hard and uncharitable; but it is certainly not the Christianity of the Bible.  It is not the religion which the Lord Jesus founded, and his apostles preached.  It is not the religion which produces real holiness.  True Christianity is a fight.

This begs the question: fighting what?  Each other?  Bickering over theological thimbles and splitting hairs over secondary or tertiary doctrines?  No!

The principal fight of the Christian is with the world, the flesh, and the devil.

We have to realize that the moment we become Christians, we have an enemy who is doing his best to take us out, and the best thing we can do for him is to be complacent and unaware of our own danger.

Is being a Christian easy?  No, it is not!  There is a fight, and there are times when we are wounded and brought low, times when we are besieged by doubts and paralyzed by worry.  At times like these, it can be so hard.  You can ask, “What am I doing wrong?  Why is everything bad happening that possibly can?”

There can be times when that question is helpful.  But another helpful question is to ask the opposite, “What am I doing right?”  Because if you’re stepping out in faith, if you are striving to grow closer to God, if you are trying to weed that particular sin out of your life, then you are a target for the opposition.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.  (Ephesians 6:12)

It’s a terrifying array of forces, all with more power than most of us can comprehend.  –Our sermon was on Daniel 10 today, in which a demon, ‘The Prince of Persia,’ manages to keep an angel from ministering to Daniel for 3 weeks.  If these forces can take on an angel, what about me??–

It is daunting, but at the same time, I am really encouraged by the fact that, when we –Christians– feel an “inward fight and struggle . . . It is the invariable companion of genuine Christian holiness.” (Ryle)  Often, when life just seems to keep throwing us curveballs, I’ll look at Mom and say, “Well, I guess we’re doing something right!”

Because this fight isn’t one we should be afraid of entering; no, it is a fight that has ultimately already been won.  We’re battling a foe who was already defeated at the cross.  Not only that, but we have weapons (Ephesians 6) that are not of our own craftsmanship, but made by the King.

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 . . .

Another Sunday is past, another week is beginning.  Fellow Christians, let us not be complacent to the fight that is waging at this moment.  The stakes are eternal, and victory is certain.

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Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.  -I Corinthians 15:58

*All J.C. Ryle quotes taken from Holiness: Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties, and Root
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