Day 23– The Three Great Battles

Today’s Quote: “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.” –Winston Churchill

I’m sure you’ve noticed as you’ve been trying to leave behind some of your bad habits, there are some forces at work against you.

Perhaps #9 has begun to contact you again and your mind is starting to get caught up in “the game”. Or maybe you’ve found since you’ve been pursuing a more godly lifestyle, you have never felt such a strong desire to live just the opposite. What is up with that?

Today we are going to identify the three things we are up against whenever we try to do something good for ourselves. Our Three Great Battles.

We will look briefly at each of them, along with their distinct behaviors and strategies, and hopefully become better prepared to be victorious on our road to wholeness and freedom.

1. The Enemy

Scripture speaks of Satan as being a great deceiver. (Revelation 12:9)

He specializes in deception of every sort.

One of his broadest deceptions has shown itself in most people thinking he’s not even real and that evil is just more of a concept than it is a distinct force. Us not putting our finger on him works so well in his favor.

Another way he deceives is through temptation. Tempting us with something that is very appealing, but is not going to lead us anywhere good.

He did it first with Eve. The very first woman on Earth, and do you know what he tempted her with? The knowledge of God. He tempted her to want to know everything for herself without having to lean on or trust God for it.

Does this sound like people in our world today?

Think about how this very same thing even plays out in our relationships. We want to know all things about our guy, what’s going on between us, the past, the present, the future. 
We think and dig and pry and press for all knowledge and information about our relationship so that we can do with it what we want-

Instead of trusting in God to give us what we need for each appointed time, and to do with it what HE wants.

Deception. Thinking there are other ways to goodness and wisdom besides Jesus.

I once heard an awesome youth pastor say something along these lines:

The enemy prays on that which is not yet mature. That which is not yet ready. The ones who have no clue of the repercussions that lie ahead of them and are not prepared to face the consequences. Young ones experimenting with sex, teenagers compiling debt, college kids drinking every night just for fun- just to name a few. Getting people hooked on behaviors before they are mature enough to realize the consequences. 52

He’s doing this everywhere. Tempting people with a counterfeit version of the real blessings that God offers.

Young girls want love, the enemy says find it in this guy. Young men want acceptance, the enemy says find it by doing this, and so on and so on. 

And while those counterfeit versions might satiate for a time, it is always at the expense of our dignity and our future. Deception.

Girls, do not be flippant about your enemy. He wants you to latch onto things that will drain you. You better know it’s true.

Satan wants the very opposite of what God wants for you. While God is out for your restoration, Satan is out for your downfall. He will even make you feel scared to get too close to God for fear of what God will want to do with you. Now if all God is and all God offers is GOOD, why would we ever be scared to get close to Him?  

Deception, girls. Very real deception.

And you will never be so under attack as when you are trying to change your life around and live for Jesus. The enemy would whisper in your ear that you’re becoming boring. That you’re losing your identity and your fire. The truth is that you are becoming stable. And that you’re losing his identity and his fire. And this whisper will usually come at a critical time. Right when you could potentially make a decision to put your feelings to the side and go with God on this one. Go with God!

And do not fear the idea of the enemy’s opposition. The devil is not all-powerful. Only God is. Yes, he is very crafty and will do everything in his power to try and peal us away from God. But ultimately, the devil has no power to control us. We are God’s creation. Not his.

You belong to Jesus. 

Thank you, Daddy
Yes, it is sometimes a daily struggle to remain close to Him, and the enemy can be very effective at distracting you or taking your eyes off of where they should be. But the instant that your lips call out for your Daddy, He is there to take authority over the situation. 

Never stop calling out to Him. He will always be there to steer you toward your good, and he is ALWAYS capable of winning your battles when you invite Him into them.

“Greater is He that is in me than he who is in the world”- 1 John 4:4

Which brings us to our next great battle….

2. The World
 In scripture, Satan is often referred to as “the prince of this world.” Take a look around and it’s not hard to see why. His deceptions have made themselves at home everywhere we look.

That is why we are not to make ourselves at home here.

We are to be in the world, not of the world, but for the world.

  • In the world…
God has us here for a reason. And although we will never fully understand that reason until we meet Him face to face, for now our bodies are stuck on this earth. But God wants our minds and hearts to be about His business.

Yes, of course there are many blessings on this earth for His people to enjoy. But there is a big difference between loving God and enjoying His blessings; and living for the pleasures of this world.

Our real pleasure comes when we are finished with the world, but for now, this is where we’re meant to be.

  • Not of the world…
“Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.” 1John 2:15-17

So, outside of Jesus, we see that this world can only offer us those three things:
1.  Craving for physical pleasure: preoccupation with  gratifying physical desires.
2. Craving for everything we see: coveting and accumulating things, bowing to the god of materialism; and
3. Pride in our achievements and possessions: obsession with ones status or importance.

There’s no doubt that we ourselves struggle with the things on that list. Not only is everything available to help us satiate our physical cravings, it is usually highly promoted and tantalizing. But as Christians God calls us to be focused on other things.

“By contrast, God values self-control, a spirit of generosity, and a commitment to humble service.”

We can be so quick to buy into the enemy’s lie that the ways of the world have greater perks attached. But that is all just…you guessed it, deception.

The ways of the world will ultimately leave us broken and empty. That’s why we need to invite Jesus into any situations that we’re unsure about, and let him reign with goodness and truth.

Be wise. Guard yourself where you are easily tempted. God will help you if you ask Him to. He doesn’t want us to be hesitant with surrendering our struggles in the world to Him, because He wants to use us to fight….

  • For the world…
Christians have a power of effectiveness in this world unlike any other group of people. If we have fully surrendered our lives to Him and are moving with the power of His Spirit in our designated purpose, there is nothing like that.

So many people out there are trying to compete and get ahead, but God calls us to step out of that rat race. To surrender our need to be better than anyone, be humble, and allow Him to just use us where He wants to use us.

On this front, true spirituality actually offers us a totally unjaded view of the world around us. Not the other way around as people often think. Deception.

If we are able to remain humble in this way, and open to what God wants to use us for, there is no doubt that He gives us eyes of discernment. Suddenly we are able to discern situations from a place of higher understanding, because we are no longer “in it”.

We are able to see a much deeper need. A heart that needs saving, just like our heart needed saving.

Our world is broken and corrupt because the hearts of the individuals who make it up are broken and corrupt. And while most people are busy about trying to fix it from the outside in (deception), we need to be helping people find the only true inner healing that exists. Jesus. All hearts without Jesus are bad. Our own included.

But now we are able, and are commissioned to, share the blessed hope that we ourselves received through Christ Jesus. (Matthew 28:16-20) The world needs that!

Let yourself be used.

Be in the world, not of the world, but for the world.

The Flesh

The third great battle we will face in this world is the battle with our own flesh.

This one is pretty straightforward. 

We are going to have physical urges to do things that God doesn’t want us to do. A lot. And walking with Him is going to mean learning to say “no” to some of those urges, in order to hold out for a bigger and better 

But this can be tough when we’ve been saying “yes” to our flesh for our whole lives.

Even Paul, the most awesome, God-loving, God-fearing Christian in the whole New Testament, struggled with His flesh. Read what he writes and see if you can’t relate:

“I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.
 And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.
 I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?”-Romans 7:15-24

Does this feel at all familiar?

It does to me!

God knows that as much as my heart desires to do right, and walk with Him and live for Him, a lot of times my biggest battles are against myself! My stinkin, rotten, sinful flesh, pulling me away from the good things that God is trying to do in my life.

So why on earth would He make us this way? Doesn’t He want us to be good and disciplined and successful?

Of course He does. But He’s made us with some certain needs that only He can meet. And this is one of those.

The need to be free from the limitations of ourselves!

Remember, He desires a relationship with you, and for a lot of us, it isn’t until we come to the end of our own efforts and capabilities that we will turn to God and cry out, “I can’t do it on my own!”
And what a great cry that is!!

Our struggles with our flesh provide great opportunities to learn self-control, maturity, and humility.

Not one of us can boast in our flesh. Not one. But through God, and only through God, we can have victory in ways that we never thought possible.

As I walk through my life and grow in my faith, I see everyday how much more real and multi-faceted these battles we face are. It’s enough to make me want to crawl into bed and never come out. Except that His light shining through the clouds is that much more devastatingly powerful. Who is this God?

His complexities glimmer more beautiful and His strength rises stronger and I can’t even take it I am so in love and in awe over all of this. This great story I am somehow a part of. Don’t give up. He made us to long with Him for our eternal home. The place our souls were made for where there will be no more suffering, heartbreak or pain over loved ones.

But in the meantime you need to let Him hold you, here. And the victory will be yours. I’m 100% sure of it.

Today’s Dare: How amazing is it that God allows us to stand “above” so many of the things that we never thought that we could get above? And to WIN so many of the battles that we never thought we could win?

He lets us stand with Him and be victors with Him! I just love the mental picture of that!

I see myself and God standing on top of the world, with all of the ugliness, the enemy's lies, and all of this messy confusion swirling about in the world underneath our feet.
But I’m above it. I can see it. I can see it for what it is and no longer am just being tossed about by it all. Thank you Jesus.

Today I want you to find a place that is high up (but safe!). Maybe a mountain top or a roof deck. Somewhere you can sit with God and look down at life.

Spend some time pouring out to Him. Ask Him for help with the things that you just feel like you haven’t been able to get ‘above’, and thank Him for those victories you have had so far with Him. Feel Him tugging at you. Wanting more of you. And rejoice over the marvelous reality that through Jesus, you have the power to overcome!