Battle Plan – Strategy 9 – Flee!

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

Strategy 9: I’m prepared to flee if necessary; to remove whatever sources of temptation may be a stumbling block to me.

 

Paul writes to Timothy, “Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” (2 Timothy 2:22, NKJV)

 

The key word here is run. We normally have an instinct to run from danger. Why don’t we flee the lusts and temptations that are at war against us? I think it’s probably because we don’t realize or believe the danger that God warns us about in His word.

 

Paul told the Galatians, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.” (Galatians 6:7–8, NKJV)

 

I heard a message by Charles Stanley who said that we reap what we sow, later than we sow, and more than we sow. Somehow, I don’t think we believe this is true, otherwise we would be running away from our temptations the way Joseph did in Genesis 39.

 

I think a big part of our problem when it comes to our hesitance to run is simply a matter of unbelief. We don’t believe God’s warnings of the corruption and death that is inherent in our practice of sinning. Paul warned the Galatians in the passage above that if we sow to the flesh, we will reap corruption. Nobody wants to reap corruption, but we don’t believe it will happen with us because we are “saved.”  I’ve been thinking a lot lately about this passage from Romans: “For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” (Romans 8:13, NKJV)

 

This is written to believers, but there is the threat of death in it. Living according to the flesh, following its desires and lusts, results in death. He may not be referring to eternal death, here, but certainly we bring corruption, rotting, into our lives and hearts somehow by not fleeing. Is this really what we want?

 

Think about it!

 

Priority Goal 9: Today I will turn around and run away when confronted with the strong lusts of the flesh. I will retreat to the Word of God, prayer, and other believers who will be able to help me flee.

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.

A Song for This Sunday Morning

1. His be the Victor’s Name
Who fought the fight alone;
Triumphant saints no honor claim;
Their conquest was His own.

2. By weakness and defeat
He won the glorious crown;
Trod all His foes beneath His feet
By being trodden down.

What though the vile accuser roar
Of sins that I have done;
I know them well, and thousands more;
My God, He knoweth none

3. He hell in hell laid low;
Made sin, He sin o’erthrew;
Bowed to the grave, destroyed it so,
And death, by dying, slew.

4. Bless, bless the Conqueror slain,
Slain by divine decree!
Who lived, who died, who lives again,
For thee, my soul, for thee.

My sin is cast into the sea
Of God’s forgotten memory
No more to haunt accusingly
For Christ has lived and died for me

Words: Samuel Gandy, 1838 (verses & chorus), alt.; Zac Hicks, 2013 (bridge)
Music: Zac Hicks, 2013
©2013 Unbudding Fig Music (ASCAP)

Battle Plan – Strategy 7 – The Reason for God’s Wrath

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

Strategy 7: I realize that participating in and supporting immoral, sexual activities is making me a part of the reason God’s wrath is coming on the world.

 In Ephesians 5:3 we read the following:

But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints;” (Ephesians 5:3, NKJV)

Paul continues listing sins and then concludes with this:

For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them.” (Ephesians 5:5–7, NKJV)

Paul gives another such list in 1 Corinthians:

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9–10, NKJV)

So God is saying that people who live in the life styles listed here will not inherit the kingdom of Christ and God. Now before you get too self-righteous, be sure to notice that he doesn’t include just the sexually immoral. He also includes those who are characterized by covetousness, idolatry, drunkenness, and thievery and swindlers among those who will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Then he goes on (in Ephesians 5)  to tell us why we shouldn’t involve ourselves with these sorts of behaviors. The reason is because these sins are the reason why God’s wrath will come upon the earth. How can we justifiably participate in activities that are the cause of God’s judgment? It doesn’t make any sense for children of God to live in this way.

When we come to Christ there is a basic change in our nature. In this same passage in verse 8, Paul writes:

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light” (Ephesians 5:8, NKJV)

There is a change. We’ve gone from darkness to light. It makes no sense to have fellowship or common bond with the unfruitful works of darkness (Eph 5:11).

Priority Goal 7: Today, every time I am tempted to look at or participate in anything that God says is wrong, I will remind myself that it is because of these very things that God’s wrath is coming. Do I want to be a part of God’s reason for judging the world?

Battle Plan – Strategy 6 – Avoid the Second Look

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

Strategy 6: I’ve learned to control my eyes by avoiding the second look. I have made commitments not to look on or lust after evil.

Consider Job’s testimony: ““I have made a covenant with my eyes; Why then should I look upon a young woman?” (Job 31:1, NKJV)

Also consider this commitment from David: “I will set nothing wicked before my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away; It shall not cling to me.” (Psalm 101:3, NKJV)

These are examples of two men who made the decision not to take that second look. Sometimes we cannot help what we see at first, but we can turn our eyes away from those things which incite us to lust for things which God has forbidden.

Lust is the kind of thing that is never satisfied. We think that we will be satisfied if we just take one more look, or one more bite or view one more scene. But lust is going to come back stronger and will demand more and more from us. It is a powerful force!

When Eve was tempted to eat the fruit which God had commanded her not to eat, she looked at it too long. Look what the Scripture says, “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.” (Genesis 3:6, NKJV)

In Daniel 1:8 we learn that Daniel had purposed in his heart not to defile himself with the king’s food. This was a decision he had made ahead of time. We need to make that determination in our hearts and before God that we will respond in righteous ways when temptation is placed in front of us. Trying to make those decisions on the fly doesn’t work.

Priority Goal 6: Today I determine not to take that second look when confronted with any kind of temptation.

Battle Plan – Strategy 5 – Put on the Armor

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

Strategy 5: I have put on the whole armor of God so that I will be able to be standing when each skirmish is over.

Paul gives us this admonition in Ephesians 6: “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” (Ephesians 6:10–11, NKJV)

We already discussed the fact that our strength and power comes from the Lord. As we work, He works (Philippians 2:12-13). Paul tells us here in Ephesians that we are to be strong in the power of His might. Obviously we are not strong in our own might. Our defeats day by day are enough evidence of that.

In order to stand against the schemes and tricks of the devil, we are to put on the whole armor of God as explained in this passage. There are pieces of armor for the head and for all the other parts of the body. They are mostly defensive, but He has given us the Sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, as our offensive weapon. We are to put it on. It won’t put itself on.

Why do we need this armor? Because we are not wrestling against flesh and blood, but against spiritual forces of wickedness. This is a dirty battle and the enemy is deceitful and cruel. Therefore we need all the protection we can get.

We need the belt of truth. Don’t believe the lies, even the lies you tell yourself. Know the truth and base your life on it.

We need the breastplate of righteousness. This cannot be our own righteousness because our righteousness is porous – full of holes. Paul writes in Philippians: “[that I might] be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;” (Philippians 3:9, NKJV)

We need God’s righteousness as our breastplate.

We are to have the gospel as our footwear. We need to preach the gospel to ourselves every single day. Christ died for our sins and paid the death penalty for us. He was raised the third day and is ascended into heaven where He makes intercession for us.

We are to have the shield of faith to quench those fiery darts. Faith is believing God, taking Him at His word. Faith involves acting on what He says. Faith which doesn’t act is not faith. As James tells us, such faith is dead.

We are to have the helmet of salvation. In other words, we are to be a regenerated person. A person who has been given a new heart, a new spirit and new inclinations toward God.

And we are to have the Word of God as our defensive and offensive weapon. Remember how Jesus responded to the temptations Satan brought him?  He said, “It is written.” We must now and use our Bibles effectively.

Priority Goal 5: Today I will make sure I have the armor on. I will think through the components of God’s armor and make sure I am securely protected by them. I will do this consciously and intentionally with my mind and heart focused on its importance for a successful battle. So that having done all, I will still be standing.

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.

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.