When you understand the Christian experience, it's not as complicated as a lot of people think it is. As a matter of fact, the Christian life is pretty simple. It's so simple that we often stumble over it's simplicity, and on the other hand, it's so difficult that none of us can live it on our own strength.
That's because the Christian life is a supernatural life and the only Person who can help us live a life full of meaning and purpose is Jesus Christ, who empowers us with His Holy Spirit.
That's right Kevin. It's impossible to live the Christian life apart from the Holy Spirit's help because we live in a supernaturally hostile environment. The Bible tells us that the whole world is under the control of Satan. He uses deception to appeal to our weaknesses to manipulate us into disobeying God. That's why it's critical for believers to be prepared for this spiritual conflict.
My spiritual warfare comes in the form of complacency, I would say, kind of a riding on the fence of living for Christ.
It's hard to have fellowship with God when you have big ugly blocks of sin in between you and Him.
So many times things that are presented to us in our lives-options and choices that we have to make can be spiritual warfare.
The Bible explains that there are three forces-the world, the flesh, and the devil-that constantly wage war against the believer. Let's look briefly at each of these forces.
If a Christian loves this world they cannot be used of God in a significant way. There's nothing wrong with money and other material success; however, you must wear the cloak of materialism loosely. You must set your affection on Christ and His kingdom, and not on the material things of this world.
First John 2:15–17 warns:
"Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever."
(1 John 2:15-17, NLT2)
God's Word teaches that the spiritual Christian should be prepared for battles with the flesh. You will have conflict in your life as long as you live. There will never be a time in this life when you are free from temptation.
Galatians 5:17 says:
"The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions." (Galatians 5:17, NLT2)
All people, no matter how spiritually mature in Christ, experience temptation and have a tendency toward sin. There is a difference, however, between temptation and sin. Temptation is the initial impression to do something contrary to God's will. Such impressions come to all men and women, even as they did to our Lord, and are not sin in themselves. Temptation becomes sin when you meditate on the impression and develop a lustful desire, which is often followed by the actual act of disobedience.
Yet this conflict is largely resolved when you, by an act of your will, surrender yourself to the control of the Holy Spirit and face these temptations in His power. Galatians 5:16 says:
"Let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won't be doing what your sinful nature craves." (Galatians 5:16, NLT2)
How do you do this? For practical daily living, you simply recognize your weakness whenever you are tempted and ask the Lord to take care of the problem for you. Claim the promise given in 1 Corinthians 10:13:
"The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure." (1Corinthians 10:13, NLT2)
When you are tempted, remind the Lord that you belong to Him and need His help. Ask Him to cleanse your mind and thoughts with His blood, and to control and empower you with the Holy Spirit so that you will not yield to any temptation.
Let there be no mistake. Satan is a real foe, and we need to be prepared for conflict with him. We need to be alert to his subtle, cunning ways as well as his obvious attempts to defeat and destroy us.
First Peter 5:8,9 says:
"Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are."
(1 Peter 5:8,9, NLT2)
You have nothing to fear from Satan as long as you depend on Christ and not on your own strength. Remember, Satan has no power except that which God in His wisdom allows him to have.
The apostle Paul warns us, "Put on all of God's armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh–and–blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places." (Ephesians 6:11,12, NLT2)
Satan and the forces of darkness are dangerous foes, and you must be alert to the way Satan works. You need have no fear of him-if your life is surrendered to the Lordship of Christ and if you continue to walk in faith and obedience in the power of the Holy Spirit. Satan is an expert at deceiving Christians and inducing them to disobey God. The Scripture promises "Humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you." (James 4:7,8, NLT2)
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