Battle Plan – Strategy 4 – Control the Body

(The list of these strategies in chart form can be found here: http://rogert.me/2w6E0sK )

Strategy 4: I have taken control of my body and mind, keeping them in subjection.

Consider the following passages of Scripture:

1 Corinthians 9:27 But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.

Romans 6:12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.

2 Corinthians 10:5 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,

1 Peter 4:1 Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin,

In the Christian life we are charged with responsibility to actively pursue the battle for our minds and bodies. We have the promise of God that as we work, He works (Philippians 2:13). He provides the strength and power to do what needs to be done. In these passages we see Paul’s determination to bring his body into subjection. Our bodies should not rule over us and dictate what we will do. Our body has its desires for food, pleasure and sex, but is not to set the agenda. Paul tells us in Romans 6:12 that we should not allow sin to reign in our mortal body. It’s our responsibility to set the terms for what our body does.

Even the thoughts of our mind are to be brought under control and “into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” That’s not an easy proposition, but nevertheless is it not impossible because of the victory Christ has already won for us.

Priority Goal 4: Today, I will take control of my body and mind by the power of the Spirit of God at work within me. I will keep my body and mind under subjection to the will of God.

Battle Plan – Strategy 3 – Sin and Satan Defeated

(The list of these strategies in chart form can be found here: http://rogert.me/2w6E0sK )

Strategy 3 I am reminding myself of the fact that sin and the devil are defeated and God will not allow me to be tempted above what I am able.

These truths are not designed to make us complacent. They are given to us by God to strengthen our resolve and assure us that victory is possible on a daily basis.

Meditate on these passages of Scripture:

Hebrews 2:14-15 Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He (Jesus) Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

Colossians 2:14–15 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 15 Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.

1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

Romans 6:6, 14 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.  For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

From these passages we can see that sin and Satan have been defeated. God is actively engaged in preventing us from being tempted more than we are able to deal with. The power of sin has been broken. It might not feel that way, but the Bible tells us that this is the truth and so by faith we are to believe it and claim it to be true and to respond accordingly as we face the various temptations that come our way.

Priority Goal 3: Today I will claim the fact that sin and the devil have been defeated and that the power they claim to hold over me is a fraud. God has taken away their power and authority and I am able to overcome whatever temptation is coming my way.

Charles and Larry Discussions con’t

These CL Discussions are imagined conversations between a conservative Christian and a liberal person. The conservative’s name is Charles. The liberal’s name is Larry. These are not real conversations. They are imagined and the conservative views are mine, a fact you would have had no trouble discerning yourself. The opinions of the Liberal are typical of people I have met over the years, but don’t reflect any one person’s point of view. I am not claiming that these discussions are unbiased. I’m using them as a means of organizing my own thoughts as well as possibly helping others clarify their own point of view as well.

(Check for further conversations like this on Fridays. Whenever I have a CL discussion, I’ll post it on Friday.)

C: The other day we were talking about whether it was right or wrong for a man to break into a home and rape a 4 year old girl. Somehow we transitioned over to abortion, but I want to stay on this topic for a bit.

L: I’ve been thinking about our conversation and you are just bringing up extreme hypotheticals in order to prove your point.

C: I suppose I am, but sometimes men rape young girls and I am trying to figure out if that is wrong just in certain cultures or if it is wrong in all cultures and at all times.

L: It should be wrong in all cultures at all times, but unfortunately some cultures are more backward or less civilized and so they haven’t come to see that such abuse of children is wrong.

C: That’s what I’m trying to think through. So you think that as cultures develop and become more civilized and more sophisticated, they will see that abusing children is wrong? Is it wrong or is it just uncivilized?

L: I’d say it’s wrong. Cultures that allow such things are doomed to self-destruction.

C: So is child abuse wrong because of its impact on society and the culture or because it’s wrong?

L: I’d say both. It’s wrong because it hurts the civilization and culture. Just like murder is wrong for the same reason. You can’t have a successful culture when people go around abusing and killing each other.

C: So what you are saying is that there is nothing actually wrong with murder or abuse in and of itself. It’s wrong because it is detrimental to the culture and civilization. Do I have that right?

L: That’s right.

C: So purposefully inflicting pain on a child is ok as long it helps a civilization thrive. Isn’t that sort of what was going on with the Nazis?  The world reacted as though there was something wrong with what they were doing.

L: They were wrong.

C: I’m confused. Let me tell you what I think. I think there is a “list” of things that are wrong. They are sins.

L: I don’t believe in sin.

C: Just a minute, hear me out. I believe this because I believe there is a creator who made everything including us and because he made us, he knows what is best for us. Similar to a car manufacturer who gives you a manual that tells you how often to change the oil and so forth. These things are good for the operation of the car. The creator knows what things are good for the flourishing of human beings and he knows what things are damaging to that flourishing.

C: If there is no creator, then there is no list, no operating manual. And if there is no creator, there is nothing that is right or wrong, just as you have been trying to say. But the problem is, we can’t live that way. We all know down deep that there are some things that are just plain wrong and immoral and unjust. We’re all the time demanding that there be justice for certain people who have been wronged or committed wrong. We think there ought to be justice for those who had been in slavery because we believe that slavery is wrong, not just against our preferences. If there is not creator, these ideas are just preferences.

L: I can understand what you are saying, but I’m not sure I agree.

C: That’s fine. I’m just trying to explain my point of view. If there are truly rights and wrongs, then there is a creator somewhere who has the list and we need to find it because there might be things on that list that aren’t on our list. There maybe things that aren’t as clear to us as child abuse and murder. We need to know what’s on that list!

L: So where do we find the list?

Battle Plan – Strategy 2 – The Scriptures

Strategy 2.  I am renewing my mind actively and regularly by reading, memorizing and meditating on Scripture. 

In each of these strategies I put the statement as an affirmative statement of fact. That helps us focus on what the goal is. It is a true or false statement. Within our own hearts we know whether the statement is true for us or not.  Is this true: I am renewing my mind actively and regularly by reading, memorizing and meditating on Scripture.

Here we have another essential personal discipline that gets overlooked all too often. We are constantly looking for the secret of this or that as though there were hidden methods for being successful in the Christian life. There are no secrets. It’s all right there out in the open. We just don’t do it.

Romans12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

It’s important to be renewing our minds. God says this is the way that transformation takes place. And the Christian method of renewing the mind is to spend time reading, memorizing and meditating on Scripture. There is no shortcut. Consider these passages:

Psalm 1:1-3  Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper. (Emphasis mine.)

It’s interesting to note that in verse 4, the Psalmist says that the ungodly are not like this. The question we need to ask ourselves is, “Am I like this?” If not, I am putting myself into the category of the ungodly. Is that where I want to be?

Joshua 1:8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. (Emphasis mine)

Psalm 119:11 Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You.

Take some time every day to be in the Scripture. Read a portion and spend some time thinking deeply about it.  Begin a Scripture memory plan. Memorize one verse a week or one every other week. Write the verse on a 3×5 card and review it every day until you have it learned and then go on to another.

If you are not doing these basic things, you cannot expect to have victory over sin and temptation you may be facing. Don’t look for other solutions. Spending time in prayer and in the Word is foundational to victory.

Priority Goal 2: I am going to spend time each day reading and meditating on the Word of God.

If this is your goal, take a moment right now and determine where in your schedule you will put this important activity. What scripture passage will you begin to read today? Find a notebook where you can jot down questions and thoughts that come to mind as you meditate. Do this now.

Battle Plan – Strategy 1 – Prayer Life

Strategy 1  My prayer life is active and effective.

 

In each of these strategies I put the statement as an affirmative statement of fact. That helps us focus on what the goal is. It is a true or false statement. Within our own hearts we know whether the statement is true for us or not.  Is this true:  My prayer life is active and effective.

 

Every Christian man should have an active and effective prayer life. James 5:16 says:  Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

 

At the conclusion on the passage in Ephesians where Paul discusses the Christian armor, he writes, “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.”  Ephesians 6:18

 

The Bible speaks over and over about the importance of prayer and yet praying is a very difficult thing for us. Our lives are busy and taking the time to pray does not seem to us to be as important as God makes it out to be. And yet it is probably the core of our relationship with Christ along with the reading of His Word.

 

So if we are struggling with temptation, let’s not look to a lot of phony remedies and psychological tricks. Let’s invest the time it takes to really get to know God by spending some quality time with Him in prayer.

 

Priority Goal 1: I am going to invest time in prayer each day to strengthen my spiritual life.

 

If that is your goal, get out your calendar right now and decide when you are going to pray today and add it to your list of things to accomplish.

Battle Plan Series – Intro – Part 2

Last time we asked the question, , “Do I really want to pursue righteousness and holiness, and count everything loss in order to know Christ and the power of His resurrection in my life?” Do I really want this? Am I willing to work hard, suffer and sweat to gain it?

 

This is not a trite question. You shouldn’t just read it and go on. In order to help us think about this, I’d like to look at several passages of Scripture.

 

The Bible speaks about fleeing some things and pursuing others. Hebrews 12:14 says, “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.”  One of the things that should be pursued is holiness. To pursue means to chase down or chase after. You’ve seen the police chases. Several squad cars are seen pursuing a car speeding to get away. The point is they are trying to catch the person. They are not just following along after it like they would be during non-chase normal traffic situations.  So we are to chase down holiness, which the writer says we need if we want to see the Lord. Do you have the desire to see the Lord? Do you have the desire to chase holiness? Are you chasing it?

 

1 Timothy 6:11 But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness.

 

There are things to flee, but in this case I’m focusing on the pursuit. Here we are told to pursue several traits. Look these over and ask yourself, “Am I chasing these things?” Look at each one of these traits one at a time.  Do I have a desire chase them? Am I willing to ask God for the desire to chase them? Do I want to chase righteousness? Godliness? Faith? Love? Patience? Gentleness?

 

2 Timothy 2:22 Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

 

Am I fleeing and do I desire to flee youthful lusts. Older people can have youthful lusts. Sex is certainly one of these, but young people also have other inordinate desires for prestige, acceptance, power, recklessness, etc. Sometimes as we get older, these lusts don’t disappear. We need to run away from these lusts with as much energy as we can. And here again we are to pursue righteousness and other traits. So if you can picture this, we are to be running away from some things in hot pursuit of other things. This is not a lazy afternoon walk. This is a chase. Paul says he beats his body to keep it under control and in subjection to his mind (1 Corinthians 9:27). The author of Hebrews challenges us by saying that we haven’t resisted to bloodshed in our fight against sin (Hebrews 12:4).

 

And from Philippians 3:8-14 we learn that, like Paul, we should count things that are normally thought of as gain, we should count them loss. Keeping those things would be a negative. The reason is because of the excellence of Christ. Paul wanted to gain Christ. He described his effort as “pressing for the mark.”  He was like a runner stretching out to be the first person across the line. That is the kind of effort he was making in order to know Christ better and to be found in Him.

 

Before we go on to any of the strategies that I will outline for us, each one of us needs to ask ourselves the question: Do I really want this?  Do I want to pursue righteousness and holiness?  Do I really want Christ above all things? If the answer is “no” or if the answer is “I don’t think I really care.” or if the answer is a shrug of the shoulders, then there’s no point in going on.

 

Next time we’ll begin to look at some of the strategies in detail.

Battle Plan Series – Intro – part 1

Every day we are confronted with temptations that attempt to distract us from our primary focus of service and obedience to Christ. These temptations often derail our attempts to live a godly life. Every day we are engaged in a battle to defeat these temptations and to stay the course. What I hope to do in this series is to review some of what the Bible teaches as to methods and strategies we can use to fight successfully. I plan to provide you with 10 or 11 specific statements that you should be able to make about yourself and about your spiritual life. These will be supported with passages of Scripture to help give you a strong foundation for those statements. If these statements are true of you, you will be in a better position for success in this battle against sin, lust, and temptation. If the statements are not true of you, it should provide motivation and a goal that you can work on in order to improve areas of weakness.

 

You can download the Battle Plan Chart here: http://rogert.me/2w6E0sK

 

The first thing we need to realize is that this battle is universal among Christians. As you read this material you are going to be tempted to think that this is a battle for someone else. Often, when we speak of lusts, as we will in the following section, people immediately focus on sexual lust and if that doesn’t happen to be your problem, you might stop reading thinking that you have everything under control. That is a dangerous position to be in because if you are not aware of a battle for your heart and soul, the devil has you right where he wants you. But as soon as you realize that this applies to you just as much as anyone else and as soon as you take up arms to defeat your own lusts, you will find a battle greater than you ever imagined could exist.

 

The first step, then, is to ask ourselves the question: “Do I really want to pursue righteousness and holiness, and count everything loss in order to know Christ and the power of His resurrection in my life?”  In order to accurately answer this question, there are some truths we need to consider.

 

In 1 John 2:15-17 we read: Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.

 

There is a distinction between the things of the world and the things of God. These verses very clearly teach that it is not possible to love the world and love God at the same time. This means a decision is required. Do I really want to abandon the world for Christ?  This is an overarching decision, but it is also a decision that has to be made hundreds of times a day. Making the decision during a momentary temptation without having made it as a principle of your life will make the battle ultimately impossible to win. So, before you go any further you need to decide – Christ or the world.

 

In this passage, the Bible focuses on lust.  Lust is a strong desire that is excessive to the point of being sinful. In this passage we have three components given for worldliness – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. We don’t have time to go into each one in detail, but if you think about it you will realize that many of the things we do and decisions we make are made based on these lusts. We covet what we see other people have. We lust for sex or excitement or other flesh-based pleasures. We desire to have people look up to us as someone important or powerful or contented.  Yes, we can be proud of our contentment and wish for others to be jealous of our contented life. All of these temptations come from the world and not from God.

 

In James 1:14-15 we read this:  But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.

 

Here’s the issue then. The world and Satan provide attractions that feed the lusts that John referred to.  But our temptations come from within us, from our own lusts or desires and we are drawn away by them. Everybody has their own set of personalized lusts. Because of them, we are pulled in a wrong direction. The desires come from deep within us. They are part of our sin nature, our fallenness, our brokenness. As these desires are conceived and gestate within us they give birth to sin. Sin is a thought or deed that is not within the will and character of God. These sins begin to grow and then, as James writes, they bring forth death. The Bible teaches that sin has wages and those wages are death.

 

A Christian, having been born again and now a child of God, has a new desire in competition with the old tendency and therein lies the conflict. Paul writes it this way in Galatians 5:17 – For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.

 

So this leads us back now to the first point in what I’m calling Battle Strategies for the war on lust and sin. The first step is to ask ourselves, “Do I really want to pursue righteousness and holiness, and count everything loss in order to know Christ and the power of His resurrection in my life?” Do I really want this? Am I willing to work hard, suffer and sweat to gain it?

We’ll follow up with part 2 tomorrow.

Four Things Husbands Should Say Frequently

I love you.

Remember when you were engaged or newly married?  “I love you” was a common thing to say. We were feeling the joy of a new relationship and looking forward to all of the possibilities that God would provide in life. Then life began to take on a routine. Children may be added to the home and there is lot of work to do. Life can become hectic and sometimes frustrating. Often when that happens, the feelings of love are replaced by the feelings of a busy life.

Part of keeping things new, fresh and alive is telling your wife that you love her. It’s not enough to say, “You too!” after she tells you she loves you. Look her in the eye and tell her you love her. Do it frequently, purposefully and honestly.

Thank You

Say “Thank you” to your wife frequently. After each meal tell her thank you. Thank her when she brings you your dessert. Thank her for making the house a home. Thank her for her impact on the kids. Thank her for all the housework she does. Thank her for a romantic evening. Thank her for her godly example, her outreach to neighbors and anything else you can think of.

I’m sorry.

Men are notoriously bad at saying “I’m sorry.” When you have hurt her feelings, come home later than you planned, forgotten to call when you said you would, and for many other things, don’t fail to say you’re sorry. If your failure was especially grievous or frequent, ask her what you need to do to make it right. Say, “I’m sorry.”

What can I do to help?

It took me a long time to realize that my wife worked every bit as hard at her home responsibilities as I did at my job. For some reason, I felt that since I had put in a full day of work, I had the privilege of relaxing, reading or watching TV while she still had dishes to do or clothes to fold or children to care for through much of the evening. It finally dawned on me that we were in this as a team. If one of us wasn’t done, then we weren’t finished for the day yet.

So if you are sitting and relaxing watching your game or reading a book and your wife is busy with something, ask, “What can I do to help?” I often don’t like asking that question because there is enough work to do to keep both of us busy until bedtime. But it isn’t fair for one to have to work several more hours while the other is finished for the day. Learn to ask, “What can I do to help?”

These are four simple phrases to use frequently. If we learn to apply this principle, we will strengthen our marriages and glorify Christ by becoming the men God wants us to be.

CL Discussion – Absolutes

These CL Discussions are imagined conversations between a conservative Christian and a liberal person. The conservative’s name is Charles. The liberal’s name is Larry. These are not real conversations. They are imagined and the conservative views are mine, a fact you would have had no trouble discerning yourself. The opinions of the Liberal are typical of people I have met over the years, but don’t reflect any one person’s point of view. I am not claiming that these discussions are unbiased. I’m using them as a means of organizing my own thoughts as well as possibly helping others clarify their own point of view as well.

(Check for further conversations like this on Fridays. Whenever I have a CL discussion, I’ll post it on Friday.)

 

C: Yesterday you said that there is nothing that is absolutely right or absolutely wrong. Would you agree that it is wrong for a man to break into a home and rape a 4 year old girl?

L: Of course.

C: Should it be absolutely wrong in France?

L: Yes

C: Should it have been wrong in 1705 in Sudan?

L: Well, I don’t know what their culture was like.

C: So you can visualize a civilization where it might be acceptable to rape a young girl?

L: Yes, but I’m not saying it would be right. I’m saying that maybe that culture would think it was right.

C: But would they be right or wrong to have such a practice as a normal and accepted practice in their culture?

L: Since they are self-determining I guess it would be ok.

C: If such a thing were going on today in some country and you had the opportunity to intervene, would you?

L: Of course.

C: Even if that culture was fine with the practice?

L: I would intervene, because I think that even though the culture is fine with it, it seems abusive to me and so I would try to stop it if I could.

C: Why is abuse wrong?

L: It just is.

C: Who said so.

L: Everybody know that. It’s internal.

C: Not everybody knows it because some people are abusive. Some people may even have fun being abusive.

L: They’re probably lunatics. You know what I’m saying. Most people realize that abuse is wrong and oppose it.

C: So it’s wrong because most people have a sense it shouldn’t be happening and should be stopped?

L: That’s right

C: What if most people have a conscience that babies shouldn’t be killed while they are still in their mother’s womb? What if they think that is abusive of the baby?

L: The mother’s right supersedes the baby’s right.

C: So if it’s in my best interest to be abusive of a 4 year old, that is fine because I’m older and stronger?

L: No, we were talking about an unborn baby.

C: So the day before a baby is born, the mother has the right to take its life, but a day later after the baby moves from inside the mother to the outside, then at that point it takes on the right not to be killed?  That doesn’t make any sense to me.

L: But that’s the way it is. Before a baby is born, the mother has a right to an abortion. But after the baby is born, it has its own rights.

C: Is that absolutely true?

L: Yes

C: Here we go again. I thought there was nothing that is absolutely true.

Biblical Thinking in Troubled Times – Answer Key

Last week I gave you a Bible study to help us learn how to think biblically in the midst of times which are troubling. You can find a printable version here.

Here is the same study with the answers filled in.

Biblical Thinking in Troubled Times

Answers and comments

 

  1. Commit yourself to thinking about what is _true, good and beautiful________

John 8:32

Phil 4:8

 

  1. God is in control of __everything____, not just aware.

Political

Daniel 4:31                 Ps 75:6-7                     Prov 21:1

Isa 45:1-7                    Is 7:17, 18                   Isaiah 40:15-17

 

Nature

Job 38:8-11                 Luke 8:25

Matt 10:29

 

  1. God works all things for —ALL THINGS!

Our __good_ – Romans 8:28

Rom 5:3                      James 1:2

 

His __glory

Isaiah 48:11                Psalm 46:10                Rev 11:13

 

According to His _will

Dan 11:25-30              Romans 5:6                 Gal 1:15

 

  1. Sin______ and the Curse____ are behind much of what happens. After all, nature and the physical world have been cursed. Suffering is part of the consequence of sin.

Even suffering is ordained by God for our good and His glory. The Son of God suffered the curse. We are not better than He is.

Romans 8:18-22

But don’t try to connect specific events to specific sins:

John 9:2                      Ecc 9:1-3

Trials and tribulations cannot be avoided.  John 16:33

  1. What to do and not do.

Maintain watchfulness while avoiding “last days” mentality

1 John 2:18                 Rom 13:11                  2 Peter 3:4 ff

It’s been the last days since the New Testament days so it’s not good to have the Eeyore mentality that “we’re doomed” so let’s just give up. It’s not wise to say the old days were better. See Ecc 7:10

Avoid Cynicism – The view that everything is negative and will have a bad outcome or that God is out to get you and make things bad.

 

Avoid Fatalism – The belief that all events are predetermined and unalterable

For God this is true, but He asks us to participate by prayer and work to accomplish good in the world.

Pray

For leaders -1 Timothy 2:1, 2;  Confess our corporate sins – Daniel 9                                                Meditate on the Word – Example: Psalm 33