Though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand (Psalm 37:24, NIV).
In a refresher course of study on spiritual warfare ( see Ephesians 6:10-20), I came across a broadcast on the necessity of walking in (complete) integrity otherwise spiritual warfare will be ineffective, Satan will not “flee,” apparently, even when the power of God’s Word is applied, and we may be all-around miserable in the trenches.
Or so the logic of the subtext implied.
Might as well be back in the “religious works system” where you could one minute be saved, the next, damned, only worse: even if we resist evil as best we know how, there may be some lack of integrity about us that renders our efforts null and void, weak, at best.
Not good news.
Also, if you think about it, depressing.
Who, after all, walks in integrity all the time? Most of the time?
Indeed, sometimes it takes someone else to inform us of some blind spot of error, sin, or wrong-thinking so we may not even be aware of what it might be that keeps us from “victory” over the Evil One, at least in that line of logic. Additionally, people who endeavor to improve, to continue to grow as good human beings and believers, generally do so over time leaving a lot of trial and error in their wake.
Through some experience, information, or awareness, they eventually learn how to replace old, defeating and wrong thoughts and behaviors with new. They repent (sometimes again and again), ask and extend forgiveness, make better and very different choices than, say, in the heat of youth and immaturity—even old age and immaturity.
In short, can anyone ever say he or she has ever come to the point of achieving the kind of complete integrity suggested in that sermon that is required to be effective “spiritual warriors”?
If he/she does, that’s a lie and the gig is up…not to mention the pride of thinking one has finally acquired some kind of uber-righteousness (one thinks of the parable of the prideful Pharisee and the humble Publican in Luke 18:10).
I hope I missed the preacher’s point, although I have heard this type of “behavior” preaching many times before.
However, be all that as it may, my possible misunderstanding or his seeming behavior preaching, my intent today for you, embattled reader, is encouragement.
In addition to the opening verse, be strengthened by these truths, also:
It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption (1 Corinthians 1:30, NIV).
The righteous person may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all (Psalm 34:19).
To wit: that which really scares the skin off The Snake is not my efforts, noble or sincere as they might be, but the crucified, resurrected Son of God, Jesus Christ, Who came down in the form of a man to show us the Way, Truth, and Life, and to take on HIMSELF our “unrighteousness,” our sin, pride, presumptions, assumptions, failures, and misunderstandings on the cross as the only power to successfully counter the power of the adversary.
I can make right choices and walk in integrity, but it doesn’t take salvation to do that. There are a lot of good, noble people out there doing the same who are not believers.
But “righteousness” in the realm of the spirit is something else entirely, rather, SomeOne else: Jesus Christ, Whose spirit we receive at our re-birth.
Not only that, as noted above, He promised to stay with us “on the battlefield,” so to speak, to deliver us from our troubles as we, seeing only dimly through that “dark glass,” do our best—or even at times succumb to our worst—as we mature, grow, strengthen, and learn of Him then allow the Holy Spirit, His gift to us, to lead and guide us further (John 16:13).
It is Jesus Christ, then, Who is our righteousness, our integrity, our help in time of need, the “hand that helps us up again,” and the Light that shatters “darkness” (John 1:5).
Because try though we may, we will never be able to muster up.
So take heart, fellow “spiritual warriors,” and remember:
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:1-4)
Pick yourself up, brush yourself off, and start all over again.
And ask the Holy Spirit to show you the next step of spiritual growth while at the same time enjoying continued confidence in the lesson Jesus taught us about defeating the Enemy in Jesus’ own wilderness of temptation.
How did He do it?
“It is written…” Jesus said. Three times. To Satan.
And the Tempter left.
In the midst of the fray—external or internal—the “sword of Truth” is available still.
So true Priscilla, so many people aren’t really sure what putting their armor on each day means. I think that some read the Word, but aren’t sure how this applies to their armor. Also one thing I think most have lacked in their lifetime, is a daily shodding of their feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace.
It IS hard to remember the peace part, especially when so much is going on of a fearful nature. But remarkably, we still get to have peace. And to extend it.
By the way, since you brought my attention to the growing Calvinist influence in the church, I have been picking up on this elsewhere, too. Thanks for the alert.
Agreed! Sadly, there doesn’t seem to be very much instruction on spiritual armor anymore. Or the power of God’s Word which, when accurately read and discerned with respect to all aspects of meaning and context, as we do with all great literature, reveals that power. Jesus knew this and used it effectively against Satan in Jesus’ own temptations (Matthew 4:1-11).
Now, many people don’t regard the Bible as anything other than just another religious text, but SOME understand its potency and they fear it, thus the otherwise inexplicable force to eradicate its influence where people read it (again, in context), respond to it, and then become free. No other religious text seems to have this kind of influence–and power.