One of the tactics hell employs against the church is found in the statement, . . .strike the shepherd that the sheep may be scattered . . . (Zec 13:7). When a Christian leader falls the faith of those who follow is shaken. The obvious question to all is, If a person who is so mature in Christ cant successfully live the Christian life, then what makes me think I can? The fallen leaders example strikes fear in our hearts leaving believers feeling confused and vulnerable, let alone ashamed by the ridicule they face from the world. Its no secret that an admired pastor and president of a multidenominational organization has had a tragic secret life uncovered. So, today I feel the need to interrupt our series on Revelation and try to answer the questions I asked above as straight forwardly as I know how. No, it is not inevitable that you too are going to fall! Yes, there really is a way to walk free of addictive behaviors, and thats what the Lord wants to remind us today. Yes, of course, the enemy wants to attack you and me just as he did our brother, but if well take up the weapons God has given us then well live in His supernatural protection and experience the truth of Judes benediction: . . .Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy . . . (Jude 1:24)
A. The Confusion which has arisen
- Ted H. named his church New Life Church, yet he said he was hopelessly trapped in the old life. This leads people to question Christs power to free us. (Ro 7:15-25)
- The unbelieving world takes such failure as confirmation that Christians havent been miraculously changed by God, but merely have accepted a lot of unrealistic rules they only pretend to keep. This would make Christians greater hypocrites than people who dont hide their sin.
B. The reality of the assault
Believers are not promised exemption from temptation or persecution. In fact, the reverse is the case. The more a person serves God the more temptation and persecution he or she will endure.
- We should not be ashamed of being tempted. Jesus Himself was tempted (Heb 4:15).
- Becoming a Christian actually increases the assault. Thats why some say, things got worse after I became a Christian.
- Becoming an effective minister intensifies it further. The greatest burden of ministry is not physical persecution but the enemys assault on our minds and emotions. This is a main reason why a person should not be placed in ministry too soon. They must be mature enough to withstand the heightened pressure.
C. Why sincere people fail
If a person tries to wrestle with temptation using their willpower to overcome it, they will lose. Temptation, though often affecting the appetites of our bodies originates in the spirit world . . . and a spirit doesnt tire. Trying to overcome a temptation with your willpower is like arm-wrestling a machine. In time youll grow tired.
D. Our weapons
1) Jesus taught us to ask God to guide us away from temptation (Mt 6:13).
2) Take every thought captive (2 Co 10:3-5)
- The devil has access to your thoughts. Youll notice that sinful thoughts you hate suddenly drop into your mind, including times when you are worshipping or ministering to others.
- Paul calls these thoughts flaming arrows (Eph 6:16) meaning they originate from a source outside of our hearts and are being shot over the walls and into our minds by the evil one.
-(Ro 8:5-13) We can control where we focus our minds.
- This should be done immediately, not allowing the temptation to take hold.
- Dont try to overpower the temptation. Turn to God.
- Change the channel: pray for the lost, visualize the blood of Christ, see Christ on the cross.
- Address it (if necessary), worship, youll know when it leaves.
- This will not work if I continue to feed the temptation (appetite grows with the eating). We pattern our brains by our conduct.
- It may take years to retrain the mind.
- Fast for that area of sin one day at a time. Dont worry about tomorrow.
- I fought to get it out, now I fight to keep it out. (Roy Hicks, Jr.)
3) Cleanse the leaven (Ex 13:7; I Co 5:7)
- All yeast was removed in preparation for Passover.
- Remove things that tempt you (cable, internet, alcohol . . .)
- How extreme? (Mt 18:8, 9)
4) Confess to one another (Jas 5:16)
- Sin grows in the dark like plants grow in the light.
- John Wesley: four questions, one hour per week, grouped by age, sex, marital status, no more than six.
1) What known sins have you committed since our last meeting?
2) What temptations have you met with?
3) How were you delivered?
4) What have you thought, said, or done that you doubt whether
it is sin or not?
- Dump up: confess serious matters to people more mature than you.
- We must not gossip or reject each other (Ga 6:1, 2)
5) Draw closer to Jesus
- Let your pain drive you toward Christ, not away from Him.
- The minute you turn to drugs/alcohol/sex/food, etc., you stop growing.
- The issue is where do you find relief. (Eph 5:18) Do not get drunk with wine for that is dissipation (asotia/unsavedness) but be filled with the Spirit.
- (Eph 5:19) Speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord. Paul says worship is a key to being filled with the Spirit.
E. Final Thoughts
1) We all have people following us and watching us.
2) You must carry your own weight. We cant carry you for long. Were fighting our own battles.
3) These five points (above) are not a menu . . . I think Ill do this one. They are the ingredients of a recipe and all must be done together.
1) Have any of these weapons been missing from your arsenal? Which one or ones?
2) To whom do you confess your sins?