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Chapter 7 - Becoming active
Satan has many traps to keep Christians inert and ineffective. However, even when a Christian actually seeks to draw near the Lord, there are also traps to divert and entangle a Christian into activities that are just as useless for the Lord.
Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye. - Mark 7:13
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. - 1 John 1:8
Two common diversions are the legalism of rule following and libertine indulgences. Both are of the flesh and sadly both are very common. It can be helpful to consider the biblical model for drawing nearer the Lord;
Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.- James 4:5-10
While some might be tempted to turn this into a step by step procedure, it can be more helpful to see it as a process. One thing to note is that it is bracketed by humility. There are two parts to this process, things we do and things God does. God provides his grace which flows more freely into us through humility. This would be the first condition we need to begin to draw nearer to God.
Extending from humility would be submission to God. In a way, this authenticates humility. There is a type of false humility that when faced with submission to God evaporates. Submission can be thought of using the examples of a servant awaiting his masters orders or a soldier awaiting orders from his commander. We often fall short at this point because we may consider an occasional acknowledgment of Godís supremacy as being the same as 'submission'.
The ability to resist the devil is closely related to our submission. A parallel illustration of this resistance can be seen using the example of spiritual armor.
Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; - Ephesians 6:11-18
The warfare we encounter is not so much combat with individual evil entities, but more with the forces and influences these entities have woven into the fabric of society and the world. Consider how much of our modern world is permeated with entertainment, our relationships filled with superficial banter, and our schedules filled with time consuming activities. It is almost as if the modern world has been specifically designed to draw us away from our Creator.
Come close to God and He will come close to you. [Recognize that you are] sinners, get your soiled hands clean; [realize that you have been disloyal] wavering individuals with divided interests, and purify your hearts [of your spiritual adultery]. [As you draw near to God] be deeply penitent and grieve, even weep [over your disloyalty]. Let your laughter be turned to grief and your mirth to dejection and heartfelt shame [for your sins]. - James 4:8-9 AMP
And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. - 2 Corinthians 5:15
So much of human existence is based on what we can accomplish. It can seem strange that we are not called to confront, rebuke, or defeat the devil, but simply resist. This is because we have to rely on God to accomplish our protection. In the list of spiritual armor there is only one weapon that is offensive and that is the word of God. We have an example of how Jesus used this weapon;
And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. - Luke 4:8
Some people think that getting active in the Christian life is about rule keeping, social justice, fighting Satan, or some other task. In reality the Christian life is about the diminishment of self and faithful dependence upon God.
He must increase, but I must decrease. - John 3:30
Christian 'success' is not accomplishment, but surrender, submission, and patient endurance.
SO, SINCE Christ suffered in the flesh for us, for you, arm yourselves with the same thought and purpose [patiently to suffer rather than fail to please God]. For whoever has suffered in the flesh [having the mind of Christ] is done with [intentional] sin [has stopped pleasing himself and the world, and pleases God], So that he can no longer spend the rest of his natural life living by [his] human appetites and desires, but [he lives] for what God wills. - 1 Peter 4:1-2 AMP
The beginning of the active Christian life requires us to thirst for truth. As we grow in truth, we can see the world for what it is and being repulsed by it, cling more strongly to our Savior. Truth also illuminates who we really are and who God really is. This can only result in growing humility.
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