Battle Plan – Strategy 8 – Make No Provision for the Flesh

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

Strategy 8: I am not making any provision for the flesh. I do not make arrangements of time or place to permit sin to gain a foothold.

 One would think that this would be the easiest strategy to implement, but unfortunately it is one of the hardest because in all reality we love our sin too much. So often we have a divided heart. We need to say with David, “Unite my heart to fear Your name” (Psalm 86:11).

Paul writes the following to the Christians at Rome, “Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.” (Romans 13:13–14, NKJV)

There are lusts which war against the soul (1 Peter 2:11) and these should be avoided because of the destruction they cause within our very person. One of the steps in overcoming these lusts is to avoid making provision for them. When we speak of making provision for something we are talking about making arrangements so that all that is needed will be provided. When a man makes provision for his family so that they will be cared for if he should die, that means he has made financial arrangements for a regular income. He has annotated procedures for handling the paying of bills and maintenance issues around the house. He has labeled important folders and documents so that his family will know where things can be found without a lot of additional hassle.

When we make provision for the lusts of the flesh, we do the same thing. We make sure we know how to locate whatever it is that triggers our lusts. We know where to look in our mind. We know where to look on our computers. We know who to hang around with that will provide the stimulus we “need” to fulfill our lusts. Sometimes these arrangements are so subtle that we hardly realize that we are doing it.

The author of the book of Hebrews writes, “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12, NKJV)

Here we can see that the Word of God is able to help us discern between the thoughts and intents of the heart. Sometimes our heart can plan an innocuous trip to the shopping mall, but the deeper intent of our heart is to search out something — book, magazine, car showroom, theatre – that will strengthen our fleshly lusts. Our conscious mind almost convinces us that the obvious purpose – shopping for our wife for Christmas – is the real reason, when in reality there is a more sinful, devious purpose that we almost don’t see ourselves. Regular reading and meditation on the Word of God will make us more sensitive to those real motives and will encourage the repentance and victory that we desperately need.

As a teenager I was encouraged to write the following sentence in the front of my Bible: This book will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from this book.  Haven’t you found this to be true in your own experience? When we avoid the Bible, our sensitivity and discernment go down. The Scriptures are able to help us discern the thoughts and intents of the heart. The more know the Word of God, the more aware we are when our own motives are not really what they seem.

 

Priority Goal 8: Today I will make no arrangements for the flesh. I will make it as difficult as possible for the flesh to find and use its lusts against me.

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.

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

Patience – Part 2

Patient endurance is required of all Christians. The passage under consideration  (2 Peter 1:5,6) tells us to be diligent in adding it to our faith. Peter also tells us in I Peter 2:20 that when we do good and suffer, it is commendable before God to take it patiently. Paul tells Timothy in I Timothy 6:11 that patience is one of the things a man of God is to pursue having fled from youthful lusts and other evils. In 2 Tim 3:10 we find that Paul commends Timothy for having followed his example in the area of patience among other things. An older man who would be a good example to the young men around him must have patience as one of his personal characteristics (Titus 2:2).  Patience is one of the attributes that commended Paul as a minister (2 Cor 6:4).

The kind of patience or endurance spoken of here is not the simple patience that we normally think of when we say we might need some patience when the car ahead of us is moving too slowly or something like that. Patience is the enduring of a trial whether that trial is directly from the hand of God for our discipline or is being applied by the world and its system in opposition to God and His people. We are strengthened by God Himself so that we might endure. (Col 1:11)  It is a goal to be sought after, not avoided. According to James in chapter 5 we are not to grumble against one another while enduring the trials. So rather than grumbling and complaining as we often do when going through hardships, we are to be joyful and accept the trial without complaint. That’s a tough assignment.

God shows his pleasure in this kind of endurance when he commends the Ephesian church in Revelation 2. He says in verse 2, “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary.”

Being able to endure trials with endurance and patience is helpful in providing the support and encouragement needed by others coming after us who may face the same or similar trials (2 Cor 1:6-7).

As I mentioned earlier, there is a strong connection between patience and hope. We already looked at the fact that patience produces the proof in our lives which gives us hope. When Paul wrote to the Thessalonians he said he remembered their “patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” Patience helps produce hope and hope also strengthens patience. When we have a sure hope, we wait for it more patiently like the farmer does for his harvest (James 5:7-10). Even though the word is different, Hebrews 6:11 says that “we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” In other words through our patience we demonstrate the full assurance of the hope we have. Romans 15:4 tells us that through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures we might have hope.

One of the things that is most interesting to me is the close connection with endurance and the final reward. Heb 10:36 tells us, “For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise.” He goes on to say in verse 38 that the just shall live by faith, but if anyone draws back, my soul has no pleasure in him.  In speaking in an “end time” context, Jesus tells us that His followers will be hated by all for His name’s sake. He then adds, “By your patience possess your souls.” In the same kind of “end time” context Matt 24:13 says that he that endures to the end will be saved. 2 Timothy 2:12 tells us that if we endure, we will reign with him.

Our pastor, in preaching on 2 Corinthians 4 called our attention to verse 8 which tells us that though we are hard pressed on every side, we are not crushed. Then in verse 16 we see the evidence of perseverance. “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.

In a message during prayer meeting he spoke from 2 Thessalonians 1:1-4. It was interesting to see the connection with what we are studying here. Paul boasted of the Thessalonians for “your patience and faith in all your persecutions.” He goes on to say in verse 5 that this is a “manifest evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer.”

Patience or endurance then is to be the hallmark of the Christian life. It is the pattern of life that results in God’s approval of our lives. We are told to run with patience the race that is set before us. Jesus said that the seed that fell on good ground are those who heard the word and keep it and bear fruit with patience (Luke 8:15). This is the characteristic of a true believer. Love endures all things. As our lives are marked by the love of God, they will also be marked by the kind of endurance that only comes from the power of God at work in us for His glory.

(This article was first posted to Faithful Men Blog in October 2006)

Patience – Part 1

In 2 Peter 1:5, 6, Peter gives us characteristics which we are to diligently add to our faith. First we are to add virtue and to virtue knowledge. To knowledge we are to add self-control and to self-control perseverance. As I am studying through these characteristics, I wanted to take some extra time to delve into the meaning of perseverance.

Perseverance is a translation of the word “hupomone”, which means to remain under. The person who is persevering or enduring is remaining under some circumstance or pressure and he is doing so in such a way that his spirit is not crushed by the circumstances. Perseverance can be the result of remaining under the pressures which God brings directly in the form of discipline.  Hebrews 12:7 “If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons.” Perseverance can also be the result of enduring the pressures inflicted by the world and its system of evil and persecution. Either way we are to remain confident and strong in spite of the pressures.

In the passage under consideration, Peter instructs us to be diligent to add this trait to the others that are being added to our faith. Diligence means that we will focus our attention on and work toward accomplishing this goal of adding endurance to our faith. Endurance is gained primarily by practice. In order to be diligent in adding it to our faith, we will have to go through various trials and be diligent about taking those trials patiently. Needless to say, that is not an easy task.

What does the New Testament teach us about endurance?  James 1:3 tells us that the trying of our faith produces patience. Similarly,  Romans 5:3 tells us that tribulation works patience and patience brings experience and experience hope. This is why James says that those who endure are to be counted blessed (James 5:11).  It is also why he tells us to count it all joy when we come under the various pressures because we know that these trials will produce endurance in us. Perseverance/patience/endurance is a tremendous goal to reach for. Trials bring joy because we know the result will be good.

The word “experience” in Romans 5:3 is an interesting one which would take an entire study of its own. In essence it means proof or evidence. So the patience that comes from tribulation brings about the kind of experience that proves the genuine nature of our Christian life. Experience is not the flimsy, superficial feeling-oriented concept that we have today. It is the documentation of our Christian faith. Tribulation brings about patience which gives rise to the documentation of our genuine faith which then provides hope. Someone has said that hope looks to the future while endurance helps us get there. You don’t get there if you don’t endure. We will see hope in close proximity to endurance throughout this study.

(This article was first posted to the Faithful Men Blog in October 2006.)

Biblical Thinking in Troubled Times

Biblical Thinking in Troubled Times – This is a short Bible study on the topic of thinking appropriately in troubled times. I’ll post the “answers” next week.

I’ve posted a printable version here.

 

  1. Commit yourself to thinking about what is _________

John 8:32

Phil 4:8

 

  1. God is in control of ________________, 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

Our _________ – Romans 8:28

 

Rom 5:3                      James 1:2

 

His ___________

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

 

According to His _________________

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Pray

For leaders -1 Timothy 2:1, 2

Confess our corporate sins – Daniel 9

 

Meditate on the Word – Example: Psalm 33

Ephesians 1:15 -23

Ephesians 1:15-23

In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, 12that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory. 13In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.

It’s an interesting study to go through this chapter and see the number of times Paul speaks of being in him or in Christ. Here we see that in Him we have received an inheritance. Later on Paul will describe God’s inheritance, but here we receive an inheritance because of our union with Christ. To describe this idea, Paul says that we were predestined. Predestination is not the same thing as election. Predestined means to determine the destiny or outcome ahead of time. In this passage, that destiny is that we should be to the praise of His glory. In other words, God has determined and planned that we will be to the praise of His glory. He works all things out according to the counsel of His will and if He determines and wills to accomplish it, it will be accomplished. We will be to the praise of His glory, because God knows what it will take in our lives to accomplish that task.

The Ephesians also trusted in Christ after they heard the word of truth, the gospel. That is the way we all come to salvation. It is always and only by trusting in Christ that a person is saved. It is always faith in the Word of God. Salvation never comes except through the Word. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. People cannot be saved without the Word, that is why missionary activity and preaching are so important.

Having believed, we are sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. Paul describes Him as the guarantee, earnest or down payment of our inheritance. Someone provides a down payment as a pledge that the rest will be forth coming. If the rest does not follow, the down payment belongs to the recipient. In this context, that would mean that if God does not follow through on the rest of His promise, we get to keep the Holy Spirit. It is foolishness to think that God would lose the Holy Spirit because of failure to fulfill the remainder of His promise and that is the point. God’s promise of our inheritance is that secure. The Holy Spirit is the down payment until the redemption of the purchased possession. What is that purchased possession? Us!

All to the praise of His glory.  These things are not for our glory but for His. Modern Christianity has made man the center. God does what He does for His glory including our salvation. Let’s give Him the glory He deserves.

Previously Published June 2005

Ephesians 1:7-10

Ephesians 1:7-10

Several things come to my mind as I read these 4 verses. I think of the key word “redemption” mentioned in verse 7. Here we have visualized the process whereby a slave is bought back. Someone has been sold as a slave and a kind person pays the price to buy him out of slavery and sets him free. I see that as a picture of how Christ has bought us back and set us free from guilt and sin. In fact that is what the next part of the verse talks about – the forgiveness of sins. There are some people who have no concept of how sinful they really are and therefore may not fully appreciate what forgiveness is. To be completely set free from the guilt and penalty of sin is an amazing thing. As we grow older and study the Word more, we realize how depraved we actually are and as a result we realize all the more the wonder of forgiveness. All of this of course comes from His grace. It is all undeserved by us. Sometimes I think we come to believe that God owes us something. But the Bible teaches us that it’s all because of His amazing grace.

Paul seems to delight in superlatives because he doesn’t just stop with the word grace at the end of verse 7. He tells us that this grace abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence. His grace doesn’t come in a trickle. It is abundant and it doesn’t come out of God’s ignorance but through his great wisdom and insight. It’s a result of His character.
Probably the next two verses take a deeper study, but what I see here is an expression of ultimate purpose. It flows down through verse 12. But in this section I see that when time is complete and all of the ages roll together toward their ultimate conclusion, God is and will gather together all things in Christ and make Him the ultimate focus of everything there is. This not only includes the things in heaven but also the things on the earth. I imagine that this is why he tells us elsewhere that every knee will bow. Thinking about this certainly makes a lot of other things pale in comparison and much we focus on in life seems rather insignificant, doesn’t it.

Discipleship

I’ve been reading a book by Eusebius. He lived in the 300’s and wrote the first history of the Christian Church. What makes it very interesting is that he lived very close in time to the time of the apostles and those who heard them directly.

He tells of Ignatius of Antioch who was ultimately martyred by being devoured by wild animals in Rome. Ignatius wrote a letter to the church in Rome requesting that they not deprive him of his longed-for hope by asking that he be released from martyrdom. He wrote:

From Syria to Rome, I am fighting with wild animals on land and sea night and day, chained to ten leopards—a troop of soldiers—whom kindness makes even worse. Their shameful deeds increase my discipleship, but this does not justify me. May I benefit from those wild beasts that are ready for me, and I pray that they are prompt. I will coax them to devour me quickly, not as with some whom they have been afraid to touch. If they are unwilling, I will force them to do it. Pardon me, but I know what is best for me; now I am starting to be a disciple. May I envy nothing seen or unseen in gaining Jesus Christ. Let fire and cross, struggles with beasts, tearing bones apart, mangling of limbs, crushing of my whole body, and tortures of the Devil come upon me, if only I may attain to Jesus Christ!

———————————————–

And I thought I knew what discipleship was! May this short excerpt encourage all of us to be all that we can be for Christ our savior.

 

(Originally Published January, 2005)