The first attack came when he was a child, the abuse, the lies, the degradation stung him at every turn like a crazed hornet’s nest; the pain blocks most of the details, but the horror of the acts remains. Over time, other deceptions come as trusted friends choose desire over honor and loyalty. Not every disagreement is a betrayal. We need good friends to push back against us to be the iron that sharpens our discerning character’s steel. We need a good debate to refine our faith so it stays anchored in the truth. Even the scars we bear of past abuse or battles fought are evidence of what it cost to build the character God has established in our lives today.
With every opponent, struggle, lie, heartache, and abuse, we are faced with the question of “Staying in the fight… or running to hide.” And sometimes that means to escape into the darkness of death. It is natural to want to avoid pain and seek pleasure, but as we learn in life, pleasure is insatiable, and pain is unavoidable. Life is the ‘valley of the shadow of death’ stretched between our birth and death. With occasional lulls in the battles, every moment holds something that we must choose to ‘resist’ because of its evil intent… or ‘fight for,’ because its value is priceless.
Paul reminds us we are “not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and evil spirits in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12 NLT) This fight is for our souls and concerns our eternal death or life. This is not a battle for the half-hearted… you must be either ‘All in or All out.’ Those who are distracted by the temporary things of desire or pleasure will be pierced through by the lies of this current age. Paul goes on to direct us to “put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.” (6:13 NLT) This is where I want to be… not hiding in some hole, but still standing firm amid the storm. I want to be wielding the sword of the Spirit, which pierces our hearts with the Word of God. I want to be defended by the shield of faith and wearing the righteousness of Jesus, my Savior, and Lord. I want to grasp the truth and pull it tight around my soul, so no lie deceives me, and I want to deliver the truth to as many as will hear so they too can receive the helmet of salvation.
So, where do we start? We start with prayer… because prayer wins the day. Every piece of God’s armor is an aspect of Jesus’ nature. To receive them, we must take hold of Him by prayer, seeking Him through the work of the Spirit who leads us into all truth, thereby ‘renewing our minds.’ The Spirit helps us “not to copy the behavior and customs of this world but let God transform us into a new person, and this by changing the way we think or taking hold of Jesus’ nature. It’s through prayer then that we learn to know God’s will for us, which is good and pleasing and perfect, just like Jesus’ nature.” (Romans 12:2 NLT)
Once we understand the battle, we are in is for our souls, we must take a side and be ‘All in or All out.’ We can allow the pain of abuse, suffering, or heartache to dictate our response, or we can take hold of Christ and allow His nature to direct who we are… in Him. You can think you are better than you really are and choose to bear the consequences of God’s law on your own, or you can be honest in your evaluation of yourself. To do this, “we measure ourselves by the standard of faith God has given us, and that standard is Jesus.” (Romans 12:3 NLT) Joshua stated it best, “Choose you this day whom you will serve; as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15 NLT)
Written by David Brown: David Brown is a husband, father, grandfather, Pastor with a Masters of Religious Studies and a Professor of Philosophy and Comparative Religions. Dave is the Associate Pastor of Pemberton’s First Baptist Church.