During this time of the year, we often experience violent thunderstorms. That is what we saw early this morning is central Oklahoma. These storms are the result of the unstable atmospheric conditions created by the clash between relatively cold, dry air masses with warm, moisture laden weather systems.
Clashes in worldviews produce similar conditions. This is especially noticeable for Christians who are seeking spiritual revitalization. With this in mind, we need reflect on the following:
1) It may be that one of the devil’s favored strategies is to cause believers to remain content in a lukewarm lifestyle. It is a lie, foisted upon believers by the father of all lies (John 8:45), that the Lord is not concerned about the heart condition of those who have drifted into a state of spiritual malaise. This principle is made clear in Jesus’ teaching regarding discipleship in John 15:5-8. Here Jesus states: 5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
This is further underscored when we recall what Jesus said to the Ephesian Christians, who had forsaken their first love. Jesus says: “5Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.” (Revelation 2:5)
2) What I am certain of is this: The moment there is a flicker of desire for spiritual renewal a firestorm of opposition is unleashed by the evil one.
Before we look at this more closely, let’s remember a couple of things about Jesus’ life and teaching:
- Jesus’ teaching collided with those who wanted to maintain the status quo. The Sermon on the Mount is an unequivocal call to spiritual renewal, which thunderously collided with the stationary patterns of His day. When you have a few minutes, open your Bibles and read these three chapters. Notice the number of times Jesus says, “You have heard that it was said….but I tell you…” Also, notice the clash between the cold, dry thoughts driving Pharisaic legalism and the fresh, warm teaching of Jesus which emphasizes the spirit rather than the letter of the Law.
- Jesus’ own words in John 3:14-21 make it clear that not only are light and darkness mutually exclusive, those who embrace light will be hated by those living in darkness. Jesus explains:
“14Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. 16“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”
Therefore, we can be certain that those who seek a closer walk with Jesus, those who desire spiritual renewal, will encounter fierce opposition. To be forewarned is to be forearmed!
Three things to remember in our quest:
1) Be on guard: The devil trolls about looking for targets of opportunity—1 Peter 5:8, “8Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
2) Be fully informed: The evil one seeks to steal, kill and destroy—John 10:10, “10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
3) Be strategically prepared: The adversary is not irresistible—James 4:7, “7Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
Three things to remember about our Lord:
1) God does not toy with us through temptation—James 1:12-15, “12Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. 13When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. 15Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”
2) God will always provide a way of escape—1 Corinthians 10:12-13, “12So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 13No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”
3) God has already provided for our protection—Ephesians 6:10-18, “10A final word: Be strong with the Lord’s mighty power. 11Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies and tricks of the Devil. 12For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms. 13Use every piece of God’s armor to resist the enemy in the time of evil, so that after the battle you will still be standing firm. 14Stand your ground, putting on the sturdy belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. 15For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News, so that you will be fully prepared. 16In every battle you will need faith as your shield to stop the fiery arrows aimed at you by Satan. 17Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18Pray at all times and on every occasion in the power of the Holy Spirit. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all Christians everywhere.” (NLT)
Where spiritual renewal is sought,
Spiritual warfare will be fought.
Take up, therefore, the full armor of God;
That the road to victory we may continually trod!
© Bill Williams
updated August 8, 2018