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.

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 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.