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.

The Crucial Importance of the Church

The Crucial Importance of the Church

The Church, the body of Christ, is the fullness of God.

….the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him [God] who fills all in all.” (Ephesians 1:22–23, NKJV)

God the Holy Spirit baptizes (places) us into the body.

For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body” (1 Corinthians 12:13, NKJV)

He places us in the body as it pleases Him.

But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased.” (1 Corinthians 12:18, NKJV)

We then are one spirit with Christ. He is the head. We are the body and share His spirit.

“But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.” (1 Corinthians 6:17, NKJV)

We also have the mind of Christ.

For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:16, NKJV)

We also are members of His flesh and bones. Our hands, toes and eyes are His flesh and bones.

For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones.” (Ephesians 5:30, NKJV)

We are therefore members of one another since we are part of the same body and share the same spirit.

so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.” (Romans 12:5, NKJV)

The Holy Spirit gives a manifestation (external evidence, gift, spiritual ability) to each Christian to be used for the profit of the other parts of the body for the overall health and growth of the body.

But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all:” (1 Corinthians 12:7, NKJV)

But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.” (1 Corinthians 12:11, NKJV)

 

A body is healthy only when all its parts are there and functioning according to their design. When a part of our body is not functioning or is functioning weakly, our body is not healthy and not growing as it should. The same is true of the body of Christ. Every part has a function. Every part is connected to every other part and must be aware of the impact it would have on the other parts of the body if it does not function as it should. There are no individual parts of the body just floating out in space. All parts are interconnected and have the same life and spirit flowing through them.

from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.” (Ephesians 4:16, NKJV)

But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor… But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.
(1 Corinthians 12:20–27, NKJV)

Spiritual Gifts Listed in Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12

Word of wisdom                                                                          Mercy

Word of knowledge                                                                     Leading

Faith                                                                                                Giving

Healings*                                                                                       Exhortation

Miracles*                                                                                       Teaching

Prophecy1                                                                                       Serving

Discerning spirits                                                                          Administration

Tongues*                                                                                       Helps

Interpretation of tongues*

Many of these characteristics, such as faith and giving, should be present generally among God’s people. But some are especially gifted by the Spirit in these areas.

There may be additional gifts not listed here, but many of these gifts cover a lot of areas. Gifts such as serving, faith, or helps have a broad range of applications.

God gives some men gifts to be used to equip others to do the ministry.

But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore He says: “When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, And gave gifts to men…. And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;” (Ephesians 4:7–13, NKJV)

And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers….
(1 Corinthians 12:28, NKJV)

The main point to remember is that you as a Christian have been given one or more of these gifts. God has given the gift to be used in and with the local body of Christ. There should be a consciousness and awareness of the rest of the body and how your gifts are serving for the edification of others so that the body is made stronger and healthier “to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph 4:13). This is to be intentional. It does not just happen. Paul warned the Corinthian Christians about this when instructing them about communion. It wasn’t general secret sins that Paul warned them about resulting in “some are weak and sickly among you and many sleep,” it was not discerning the Lord’s body. The body of Christ, the fullness of God,  with its many members was right there among them and they didn’t see it. They were just interested in themselves and making sure their personal needs were met.

For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.” (1 Corinthians 11:29, NKJV)

Questions each Christian must ask himself:

  1. What is the gift or gifts the Holy Spirit has given me?
  2. How am I using my gift in the church to serve the Body?
  3. Am I a healthy member of the body functioning and interconnected with others?
  4. How is my gift strengthening the body, building up others in the body and helping the body to grow and mature?

*We believe these were special gifts given to the church to authenticate the apostles’ message and are no longer widely active today. This does not mean that God cannot or does not use these gifts in some special circumstances today.

1By prophecy we mean the Spirit enabled proclamation of the truth of Scripture, not the foretelling the future.

 

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 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 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.

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.)