Knowing When to Run and When to Resist
This article is for those individuals who know Jesus lives in their hearts through faith. Born again, given a new heart, they submit to God because of His Son's sufferings.
THE COMPLETE STATE
The motivation that can enable a Christian to be obedient to God's revealed will is the love found in Jesus Christ, our Lord. Christ's love is self-sacrificing, having faced the Father's anger, which was meant for rebellious haters of God. If you live long enough, you come to understand what it feels like to be rejected by someone you admire and respect.
In an eternal state, God the Son loved God, the Father utterly and received the same infinitely. We cannot understand perfect or infinite because we are neither. We can only imagine the sufferings of an infinitely loving Son as He is shamed before the Father from whom He has only known mutual pleasure.
The recipient, having caused Jesus' suffering, receives every possible blessing instead. Paul stated in chapter one some benefits such as blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, chosen in Him, holy and blameless before Him, adopted as sons through Jesus Christ, grace freely bestowed in the beloved, the price of our rebellion paid through His death, for the forgiveness of our trespasses, etc.
According to the Apostle John, the effects of God's love are as stated. "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love." (1 John 4:18) That which makes love complete is in verses 16 & 17, "God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this, love is perfected (made complete)." The one who remains in God and God remains in Him is complete in love. Move away from God, and you move away from completeness.
THE FREE STATE
Satan tries to use every difficulty to blame God for evil intent when nothing could be further from the truth. God does no evil; neither does He tempt men with evil. On the other hand, Satan is wicked, invokes men to sin, and blames God for the sin.
The most illuminating passage on spiritual warfare in the New Testament is Ephesians chapter 6. It begins with this verse, "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might." (Ephesians 6:10) Identification with Christ, in my opinion, is the most liberating doctrine in the Bible. All the weight of every problem, hindrance, and evil that divides men from God is eliminated through identification with Jesus by His sacrificial death. He paid the price of God's need for justice, and we are set free.
"I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me." (Galatians 2:20)
Sinful men are always looking for what they have to do; it's a matter of pride. Paul starts off the previous verse with "I have been crucified..." It's past tense, accomplished, and finished. Crucifixion is done; it is not something that has yet to be done. Jesus achieved our liberty 2,000 years ago. To be strong in the Lord is to reckon, trust, believe, and rest that our identification with Christ has secured victory over Satan's temptations.
It is the power of His might (Christ) that Paul points us to and not our own. When he uses the word "finally," he tells us this is the climax and overarching message of the entire letter. He's not telling us to be strong but to be strong in the Lord. This teaching is strength through identification.
THE STANDING FIRM STATE
In 1 Corinthians 6:18, we are instructed to flee sexual immorality. In 2 Timothy 2:22, we are told to flee the evil desires of youth. In 1 Timothy 6:11, we are admonished to flee the love of money as the root of all evil.
When avoiding sin, the instruction is always to escape as Joseph fled from Potiphar's wife. However, James tells us to resist the devil. What could be more different than fleeing from resisting? The one is to leave the problem, while the other is to stand against it. When faced with sin, we are to run away from it. When faced with the devil, we are to stand firm against him.
The issue with sin is our sinful hearts. We are the problem. Looking at evil and approaching it is what gets us into trouble in the first place. The answer for sin is turning from it, what the Bible calls repentance. In spiritual warfare, we are not a problem, but we can become a problem. The best answer is to identify the problem and stand up to it through faith.
A Christian can stand firm against the devil's schemes if he is discerning enough to recognize the devil, and if he is adequately prepared. Preparation has to do with a powerful prayer life that energizes a believer with the love of God. Conversations take place. The believer who continually receives the armor of truth, righteousness, peace of the Gospel, and the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, is also able to wield God's word.
When the love of God covers every part of a person, he becomes a formidable warrior. As a type of Christ, David was a light to Israel, a lamp of faith. The Bible records the mighty men of David, not that there was anything inherently special about them. To the contrary, "So David departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam; ...Everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented gathered to him, and he became captain over them." (1 Samuel 22:1, 2)
"Josheb-basshebeth ...he was called Adino the Eznite (slender, well-formed), ... eight hundred slain by him at one time; after him was Eleazar ...He arose and struck the Philistines until his hand was weary and clung to the sword, and the LORD brought about a great victory that day; the people returned after him only to strip the slain. Now after him was Shammah ...the people fled from the Philistines. But he took his stand in the midst of the plot, defended it and struck the Philistines; and the LORD brought about a great victory." (2 Samuel 23: 8-12)
Stated most clearly, the LORD brought about a great victory that day.
Jesus is our victor, not as a fighting machine but as a sacrifice. He was willing to lay down His life that He might rise to victory. In our humility, as we rely on Him, He gains the victory as He works on our behalf and through us.
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