December 3, 2012

Be Prepared

Its coming for us. It lurks in the darkness like a demonic beast. It is insidious and desperately wicked and evil. It is just waiting to inflict its damage on us like a viper waiting to strike. It wishes to kill us and will if we give it the opportunity. It is temptation. Temptation that leads us to sin. Sin that leads us to death. Do we just stand here and let it attack us or do we do something to ward off its approach?

Knights do not go into battle without their armor (Galatians 6:10-20). What is often missed in the Armor of God section in Ephesians is the aspect of needing to prepare. It is assumed in most cases this is a foregone conclusion. Not always. As a matter of fact, no human can be ready for the wiles of the devil constantly as we are not omnipotent nor omniscient. We are frail, finite and fallen.

More often than not, it is not the temptation that we see coming that nails us and causes us to sin, it is the temptation we didn't see coming that catches us off-guard. A quick gratuitous flattery from the opposite sex that sets off sinful chain reactions, quick angers or emotional outbursts, etc. These things almost instantly entangle us in the sin of our own heart. If we anticipate being caught off-guard, which most certainly will happen, we must have a plan. Perhaps it is because my sons are both Boy Scouts, but the following motto applies to them and also to believers. 

"Be Prepared" 

To the Scouts, to "Be Prepared" means to always be in a state of readiness in mind and body to do their duty. Believers could learn from the Scouts motto along with their Bible. It is to be vigilant and aware of the dangers and risks that surround us every hour of every day. The Scouts even break it down further for us.

To be prepared in mind or to discipline oneself to be obedient to every order, and also by having thought out beforehand any accident or situation that might occur, so that you know the right thing to do at the right moment, and are willing to do it.

1 Corinthians 9:26-27 ~ So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

2 Corinthians 7:1 Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.

 Romans 12:1 ~ I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God,  to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. 

What does this mean to a Christian?

If we are unprepared we're toast. The Boy Scouts are smart enough to do this. it is trained into them to act not react, just like well-trained soldiersChristians should be bright enough to figure this out also, especially because it is spelled out in the Bible in explicit detail. When it comes to something that can so profoundly affects us in this life and the afterlife...why wouldn't we be cautious and watchful? Temptation is the route to sin and sin is the route to death. The wages of sin are temptation should never be taken lightly.I believe the answer to fighting unexpected temptations lies directly in Christ and the Bible because in this life, it is the Bible that is our escape hatch. In Revelation 3:10, John's statement to Philadelphia tells them clearly that keeping the Lord's word will help keep the faithful from their hour of testing or properly understood their πειρασμοῦ/peirasmou -- temptation:

Revelation 3:10 ~ "Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth."

If Christ will keep the Church of Philadelphia from their hour of testing, so too he will aid and assist us. If God is capable at other times, why not in our times of need. The Lord is the same then, now and forever...He is unchanging and Sovereign. The atoms as well as galaxies are held at bay by the power of His words and commands. Reside in Christ and He will be our strong tower.

In the Bible we see that we are to actively press God again and again that trials, tribulation and temptation will avoid us or flee us. It may not always work but we are to do it anyway. In Paul’s struggle with the thorn in his flesh we hear him say this.

2 Corinthians 12:8 ~ “Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me…”

We see that it is God’s grace that is sufficient to allow the trial, tribulation or temptation to abate. So too our temptations: God’s grace should be sufficient as he will give us no more that we can handle.

1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

If you rest in these thoughts, God will either speedily deliver you out of it, or give you sufficient grace to not fail utterly and completely in your fight with temptations. The fight starts first and foremost in the mind.

But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. James 1:14

Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:41

Like the Scouts motto says we’re called to, “discipline ourselves to be obedient to every order, and also by having thought out beforehand any accident or situation that might occur, so that you know the right thing to do at the right moment, and are willing to do it.” Considering this is the motto of the Scouts, it is remarkably biblical. Be obedient to every order or command…like the ones given in the Bible which tells us to:

…submit ourselves to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7

Do not allow your thoughts to dwell upon the things that will undo you through temptation. Your first course of action is to immediately turn to God in prayer and meditate on Him. The immediate reaction to put God in your mind will displace the thoughts that will lead you to the temptation to begin with. By praying we immediately immerse ourselves in Christ to begin with and it will be He that will best know how to detour you around the trial. turning to Christ we turn to the One who, “Himself has suffered when tempted and He is able to help those who are being tempted.” Hebrews 2:18

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16

Please understand though that you may not necessarily be delivered in a manner you would’ve preferred like some (*poof*) of magic. He may deliver you through temptation by the use of afflictions to take your mind off of something like sexual temptation. Sometimes the only exits are blocked or covered by fire and the only way out is to run through the fire. It is at this time God wishes you to mortify or kill off some of your unnecessary sources of temptation or sinful desires.

The trick is to plug the hole that is leaking in the boat before getting in the boat, not have to plug them when the boat becomes your only means of survival. No one makes it to the far shore in a boat full of holes or on a bridge riddled with weak spots without first finding the weak spots and attempting to repair them. Part of the ability to correctly navigate is to have a plan or a map and to know how to use them. Another is to know and admit where our weaknesses and flaws are and to try to strengthen them or avoid them. 

In the end it pays to plan in advance. God teaches us this all over the Bible. It pays to be prepared. The Boy Scouts understand the importance of this and have made it their motto. It wouldn't hurt if Christians made this one of their mottoes too.

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