As I engage in the journey of walking toward God, I know how hard it is to do what is right in a consistent manner daily. I know the struggle Paul speaks of in Romans 7.
“14 For we know that the law is spiritual – but I am unspiritual, sold into slavery to sin. 15 For I don’t understand what I am doing. For I do not do what I want – instead, I do what I hate. 16 But if I do what I don’t want, I agree that the law is good. 17 But now it is no longer me doing it, but sin that lives in me. 18 For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For I want to do the good, but I cannot do it. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but I do the very evil I do not want! 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer me doing it but sin that lives in me. 21 So, I find the law that when I want to do good, evil is present with me. 22 For I delight in the law of God in my inner being. 23 But I see a different law in my members waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that is in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.” ©NET
We are engaged in spiritual warfare whether we like it or not. It is human nature to sin. We are born bent that way. But we can overcome. We can win. It takes daily discipline, an alert mind and the help of God. Because of our sinful nature, we are to be ever vigilant because the devil prowls around like a lion looking for those he can devour. (1 Peter 5:8) If we let our guard down, it leaves us wide open to the temptations that are deliberately aimed at our weakest places.
We have an enemy who is vigilant and wants to destroy us. We are limited in our abilities to see him, but the evidence is always there. If we are vigilant (watchful), we will see the signs and know what to avoid. If I am walking out in the woods, and I do not pay attention to where I step, I have a greater chance of falling and getting injured than if I watch the trail and pay attention to the rises and dips and the debris in the way. We all know to look at the trail often enough to know what is there and avoid the dangers. That does not keep us from enjoying the beauty all around us. It keeps us safe. So, why do we think we can walk through our spiritual journey without paying attention to the path enough to avoid the pitfalls. A walk in the woods in the midst of a storm is dangerous. But the dangers on our spiritual path are far greater because the stumbling blocks are placed there deliberately by our enemy. Our life is not a peaceful walk in the woods. It is a journey through dangerous terrain in the midst of a war that has been declared against us, with enemy forces lurking all around. We must be sober, clear minded, alert, and above all else, focused on Christ. He is our guide through the war-torn terrain of our hearts.
I do not say these things to scare anyone. But if you know the truth, it is sobering and draws your attention to what you need to focus on. As I continue my journey, I, more slowly than I like, am learning to be more alert to the devil’s traps. It is so easy to just traipse along through life and forget that there is danger, until I fall.
We are often reminded in the news and other sources to be aware of our surroundings so that we can avoid danger. Let’s do the same in our spiritual lives. Look around. See what is happening and evaluate what is the appropriate action at any given point in time. Stop the bickering and infighting. Those are distractions that keep us from seeing what is coming in the spiritual battle. We are at war. Our minds are the battlefield. Assess your thought life. Is it pleasing to God, or is it just pleasing to you? Are your thoughts taking you away from God’s perspective or are they leading you toward His perspective? Are you hearing your own words and evaluating their impact on those around you? Is that impact drawing them toward Christ or pushing them away?
I have asked God to nudge me when I am speaking in a way that does not please Him. That is God’s part of the equation for change. My part is to listen and obey when He nudges me. Sometimes, when I am angry, I do not hear Him or feel the nudge. Anger keeps us from hearing or receiving responses from God. God is still keeping up His end of the agreement, but at that point, I am not, because I am not focused on Him and cannot sense Him communicating. That is when it is time to set aside my anger and listen to Him. Anger is a defense. It is also a weapon. But the truth is that we do not need it. Even legitimate righteous anger hinders us, especially if we hold onto it.
If we can remember that ultimately, life is not about us. It is about God. He extended grace to every human being by sending Jesus to suffer and die in our place so that we could spend eternity with Him. He bought us out of slavery. He now owns us. As His servants, we must obey Him and follow His lead. He is gracious to us. He has adopted us, His slaves, as children of God, thus giving us freedom. It is important to walk in that freedom and not allow sin to enslave us again. Gal 5:1 says, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” That does not give us permission to engage in sinful practices. Don’t do it. It is a trap of the devil. Walk in the freedom that God gave us because of the sacrifice Christ made for us. Now, we have a right to choose. But there are only two choices; slavery or freedom.
So, when someone “triggers” us, let’s choose right responses. Let’s ask God for His perspective so that it is easier to make the right choice. Ask God for the truth in each situation so that we can live godly lives filled with integrity and peace. Pray for each other because we are all tempted, we are all human and make mistakes. We all need God. Pray for peace in the church. Pray for truth to abound. Pray for each other to be able to see from God’s perspective. We are not each other’s enemy. We have a common enemy; the devil and his minions. We need to band together in unity in order to overcome what is not of God. We need each other. The devil wants us to bicker and fight each other so that we do not see the truth and are an army in disarray. He wins then. Let’s not let our enemy win. Unite against the devil making Christ our lord. Live in obedience to Christ our King.
Be blessed and free my friends.