Just because Jesus set us free from bondage to sin does not mean we will never be tempted to sin again. We will! Even Jesus was tempted of Satan, yet he never gave in to any temptation. He was without sin. But, not us.
So, what do we do when we are tempted? Better yet, what do we do to avoid temptation? What spiritual disciplines do we have in place to keep us from yielding to temptation? These are very important questions.
We can’t just wait until we are tempted and then hope we don’t give in. We must be proactive in our approach to sin and to temptation to sin. If we don’t make and implement a plan to succeed, we plan to fail.
The Lord Jesus led me to read Ephesians 6:10-20 (ESV).
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Vv. 10-12
When I was a child, I had a father who was an abuser. If I sensed a hit was coming from him, I would cross my arms in front of my face, hoping to not get hit, but that did not stop the hits from coming.
Well, the problem with that is that I learned to take that same approach to temptation to sin. I didn’t have a plan, at times, in my younger years, and so when the temptation came, I tried to fight off Satan’s attacks like I tried to fight off my father’s. Sometimes it worked, because I coupled it with prayer, but sometimes it didn’t work, because I caved to the pressure, and because I truly believed that Satan still had power over me.
One of the things I had to learn in life is to truly grasp the truth that Jesus Christ set us free from slavery to sin. Satan no longer has power over us! Jesus delivered us from the power of Satan! And, he has given us everything we need to resist Satan, to flee temptation, and to walk in the Spirit, in godliness and holiness, and no longer according to the flesh. We just have to believe it, live like we believe it, and put what he has given us into practice.
And, that is what this passage of scripture is talking about. If we want to be able to stand strong against the devil’s schemes, and not cave to pressure, then we have to apply these truths to our lives, proactively, every day.
“Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” vv. 13-17
When I was much younger, I just didn’t get this. I thought it was just words I said in a prayer, like “I take on your armor,” or something like that. If someone did explain this to me, it must have gone over my head.
So, how do we do this? What does it mean to put these pieces of armor on? Obviously they are not physical pieces of physical armor, but they are spiritual. So, how does one fasten on the belt of truth or take up the shield of faith or the sword of the Spirit?
I believe it means we apply these things to our lives. We put them into practice, not just defensively, when we are being attacked by Satan, but offensively, ahead of time, we have these things in place and ready and prepared for when those attacks or those temptations do roar their ugly heads. We don’t just wait around, guards down, and let the enemy get us by a surprise attack, especially if this is not the first time this has happened.
For example, we have to be truth tellers. If we are in the habit of telling lies, and we are tempted to lie, we are more likely to give in to temptation than would someone who makes a practice of telling the truth. We have to be people of faith, too, believing what God says is true, and obeying what his Word teaches us. If we don’t put the Word of God into practice, it will not be there when we need it to warn, to encourage, to counsel and to help us, so it would be easier to just give in, then, rather than to fight.
We also have to recognize our areas of weakness, our areas where we have given in before, and we have to guard our hearts and minds in those areas. For example, if you keep giving in to the temptation to lust, or to view pornography, then you examine your triggers, and you purposefully remove from your life what you know is going to lead you into sin. Again, stupid is what stupid does. If you keep getting burned on a hot stove, smart would not keep putting its hand on a hot stove. Get my drift? We can be really dense sometimes when we keep repeating the same mistakes.
Smart is putting into practice what we know, not ignoring it.
“…praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.” Vv. 18-20
Prayer is critical to all of this. We need to be praying for ourselves and for our fellow believers in Christ in the area of temptation to sin, that they might resist Satan and flee temptation, and be strong in the Lord. We must also pray for them in the area of Christian persecution. Satan and his hordes will come against us because we are standing strong in Christ, we are resisting Satan, and we are putting on the armor of God daily. Satan doesn’t like it when we obey God and we resist him, so he will do everything he can either to get us back or to bring us down in another way, and in order to shut us up. He doesn’t like it, too, if we are helping others to be free.
Yet, we must stand strong in the Lord and in his power, and we must put into practice our faith, love, perseverance, truth, righteousness, and the Word of God, so we can resist Satan and live godly and holy lives, pleasing to God. We must not fear what humans may think of us, say about us, or do to us, but we must keep on keeping on in our faith and in our testimonies for the sake of the gospel, which is where we give people the hope that they, too, can be free in Christ from the power of Satan and sin.
He Touched My Mouth
An Original Work / June 13, 2012
Based off Isaiah 6:1-8; Jeremiah 1:4-9
Oh, I saw the Lord seated on His throne,
High and lifted up; Holy is the Lord!
The earth is full of His glory.
“Woe to me,” I cried,
“I’m of unclean lips.”
My Lord touched my mouth
With His cleansing pow’r;
Removed all my guilt, paid for by His blood.
He asked, “Whom shall I send;
Who will go for us?”
I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
Before I was born, God set me apart;
He appointed me to His servant be.
I said, “I don’t know how to speak.
I am but a child.” Then, the Lord replied:
“Do not say to me, ‘I am but a child.’
You must go to all, and do what I say.
Do not fear them, for I’m with you.”
My Lord touched my mouth;
Gave me words to say.
Sunday, December 17, 2017, 3:32 p.m. – Thank you, Jesus, for this teaching from your Word. May we all put your Word into practice. Amen!