June 28, 2017

Are There Breeches In Your Wall?

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. –2 Peter 5:8-9

In ancient times, cities were fortified to protect against attacks from the surrounding enemies. Some cities, such as the Byzantine capital of Constantinople, had incredibly thick walls, built with ingenious craftsmanship and skill. Others had  short, brittle walls that could collapse under April showers. If you had live two-thousand years ago, you would realize the absolute necessity of such protection. There were always enemies who sought to capture various small towns. There were the Huns from the East, the Vikings from the West, or the Assyrians from the North, as is the case in the story revealed in the book of Nehemiah.

In Nehemiah 1:3 we read that the city of Jerusalem was in serious danger. “The remnant there in the province who had survived the xile is in great trouble and shame. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates are destroyed by fire”. What’s worse is that the city is now vulnerable. It is practically welcoming the enemy in. If the Assyrians were to attack, Jerusalem would have no practical defense.

Our spiritual lives are a lot like walled cities. Within our walls are held the things that are most precious to us; our loves, our theology, our faith, our hope. Imagine if your walls were brittle or broken down, and the enemy could have that type of access inside? No, He could not ever take away your salvation. Yes, God is greater than Satan. Yes, Satan will be defeated in the end. But we as Christians cannot put down our swords and say that Christ has left us nothing to do.

This enemy is strong; he’s stronger than we are. He’s deceptive; he has had seven-thousand years of practice, after all. His goal now is to tear you down, to so twist our intellect that what lose all reason. Allow me to share some quotes that have really drive this home for me and caused me to think;

“The focus of Satan’s efforts is always the same: to deceive us into believing that the passing pleasures of sin are more satisfying than obedience.” –Sam Storms
“It grieves me to say this, but the primary reason people are in bondage to sin is because people are bored with God. One of Satan’s most effective tactics is to convince us that God is a drag.” –Sam Storms
“It strikes some as odd to say that Satan has a strategy. They mistakenly conclude that because our Enemy is sinful he must be equally stupid. Such reasoning has been the downfall of many in the body of Christ. He does not act haphazardly or without a goal in view.” –Sam Storms

We tend to ignore the fact that Satan exists. We tend to think that it’s “just me and God”, and that there is no real enemy. Satan is, after all, more of an embodiment of evil, right? He sort of just represents evil and sin in general. Of course, this is exactly what he would want you to think. So long as you believe he is nothing but a cartoon-ish ghoul dressed in a Halloween costume, you’re less inclined to recognize his tactics when he really is at work. What does The Word have to say about Satan? 2 Corinthians 11:14 tells as that “even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light“. Or what about 2 Peter 5:8-9? “Be sober minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith”. Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians that we must forgive one another “so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs”.

But all of this is will only drive a Christian to despair. How can a Christian fight someone as powerful as Satan and his legion of demons? It’s simple; you can’t. But Christ can. He has already defeated him, and Satan is able to do nothing that God does not give him permission to do. God has given you, as a Christian, the power to say “no” to temptations. For that is all that Satan can do; tempt us. He can’t force us to sin. But as Thomas Adams has said, “Satan, like a fisher, baits his hook according to the appetite of the fish.” Satan knows you and your sinful nature better than you do yourself, and therefore he is no one to be trifled with. You do not entertain him. You do not even give a second thought to those tempting baits. You do, through Christ, have the power to, as my pastor put it, “just say no“.

But you will remember that I began by speaking of Nehemiah. What does that have to do with Satan? I would highly encourage you to read the book of Nehemiah for yourself. Read it as more than just a piece of Jerusalem’s history. Read it as it applies to your life today. After the wall of Jerusalem has fallen into terrible disrepair, Nehemiah begins to build it back. The whole while the enemy is taunting at him for trying to build it back. They jeer and tell him that those walls will never keep them out of the city. But Nehemiah does not listen, and in the end he has built the wall back twice as strong as before, and the enemy cannot get inside.

Are there breaches in your wall? Practically speaking, these would probably look like areas in your life where you are entertaining worldliness and flirting with temptation. Is your internet usage leaving you wide open to temptations? Do your choices in movies and music expose you repeatedly to things such as profanity, nudity, and adultery? Are you doing what you want to do on the Lord’s Day, instead of spending the entire day in fellowship and communion with Him? Are you neglecting regular prayer and bible-reading? Are you harboring bitterness in your heart towards someone? Are you reading books that are drawing you away from spiritual duties and causing you to dwell on them instead of your heavenly King? Are your hobbies or sports dominating your thought life?

We all have breaches in our walls. Some have more than others. Some are good at hiding their weaknesses. But we all have them. The enemy cannot come in unless with “leave the door open”, as it were. Now, of course I’m not saying we all need to go live in a convent or monastery. So what is the solution to these areas of open temptation in our life? Well, when Nehemiah first noticed the sorry state of Jerusalem’s walls, he got down on his knees and went straight to the only one who could fix them. He first confessed the ways that Israel had sinned, and he begged for God’s forgiveness. He said, “We had acted very corruptly against you and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, and the rules that you commanded your servant Moses.” He confessed Israel’s sins fully, and without holding anything back. Then, Nehemiah prayed for mercy and forgiveness, and God granted them in abundance. God enabled Nehemiah to rebuild the walls, and through that deed He brought glory to Himself.

In conclusion, I thought I might add this helpful list given by Sam Smith. I found this while looked for my other quotes, and I hope you find it as insightful and beneficial as I have. Let us do as Paul encouraged, and “fight the good fight of faith”.

Seven Tactics of Temptation:

1.       Satan especially likes to tempt us when our faith is fresh, i.e., when the Christian is only recently converted and thus less prepared to know how to resist his seductive suggestions.
2.    Satan especially likes to tempt us when our faith feels strongest, i.e., when we think we are invulnerable to sin. If we are convinced that we have it under control, we become less diligent.
3.    Satan especially likes to tempt us when we are in an alien environment.
4.    Satan also likes to tempt us when our faith is being tested in the fires of affliction. When we are tired, burnt out, persecuted, feeling excluded and ignored, Satan makes his play. His most common tactic is to suggest that God isn’t fair, that he is treating us unjustly, from which platform Satan then launches his seductive appeal that we need no longer obey.
5.    Satan especially likes to tempt us immediately following both spiritual highs and spiritual lows. Periods of emotional elation and physical prosperity can sometimes lead to complacency, pride, and a false sense of security. When they do, we’re easy targets for the enemy’s arrows.
6.    Perhaps Satan’s most effective tactic in tempting us is to put his thoughts into our minds and then blame us for having them.
7.    A related tactic of temptation is for him to launch his accusations as if they were from the Holy Spirit. In other words, he couches his terms and chooses his opportunities in such a way that we might easily mistake his voice for that of God.

Elizabeth

Comments

  1. it’s a very good Article,thank you very much!

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