PART 16 - UNDERSTAND THE ENEMY (23/1/20)
After David becomes king over the whole of Israel, he sets about driving the Jebusites from Jerusalem. This is a picture of God’s expanding kingdom in the world and our lives as He drives demonic activity and sin out.
How many times have we said, or heard someone else say, “I did/felt/thought this because I’m being honest - this is how I feel and I’d be inauthentic if I didn’t act this way”. This sort of thing breaks marriages because “I’m just not in love...”; it stops people serving God in leadership because “I just don’t feel the desire to sacrifice any more...”; we stop worshipping, praying, reading our bibles because “I’d be putting on an act if I just went through the motions...” I could go on!
We are all tempted to be unfaithful. However, we must learn to recognise the temptations of the ‘flesh’ and the devil and resist them rather than just going with the flow – putting lies and feelings over God’s truth! Today, we will consider the two main sources of temptation to sin in our lives.
THE DEVIL AND THE FLESH
I) The devil
We’ve already spoken about the devil and demons this week. They are real, spiritual forces that are bent on slandering God and destroying us. Here are a couple of texts,
‘Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith’ (1 Peter 5:8-9).
‘Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you’ (James 4:7).
We resist through submission to God. The devil is seeking to make us proud and independent. However, if we seek dependence and obedience, the devil will flee.
II) The flesh
The ‘flesh’ (Sarx) can be summarised as desires that are contrary to God. These desires will be expressed in our thoughts, words, and actions. All Christians have an ongoing war with the flesh; or, I should say, now that you are a Christian, now you are made alive by the Spirit, you now have a war with the flesh! The flesh is like the Jebusites in our story - They inhabit Jersusalem, the place that is meant for God. They fight against Jesus entering the city of our hearts. Paul wrote,
‘The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God’ (Galatians 5:19-21).
These terms can be put under three categories:
i) Sexual sin
‘Sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery.’
The first three terms are overlapping terms for sexual sin - we can all be tempted by sex that’s outside of God’s design for sex within the bounds of loving heterosexual marriage.
A couple of questions to ask yourself:
Do you look lustfully at images or people, other than your spouse (if married)?Are you involved in sex outside of Christian marriage?
ii) Worship gone wrong
‘Idolatry and witchcraft.’
The Jebusites said to David,
‘You will not get in here; even the blind and the lame can ward you off.’ They thought, ‘David cannot get in here.” (2 Samuel 5:6)
The flesh - even in Christians - fights against faithfulness to Jesus. The flesh has an appetite for false teaching, trusting in status, money, luck, the stars, technology...
A couple of questions to ask yourself:
Are you ‘praying’ to angels or the ‘universe’ or trusting in the stars or spirits or involved in magic? Are you praying and trusting God as a lifestyle?
iii) Sins that damage community
‘Hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.’
These eight words are ways that our ‘flesh’ and the devil can damage relationships and church community.
A few questions to ask yourself:
Do you repeatedly fall out with people? If so, why is this?Do you hold grudges and keep your distance from people that have offended you?Are you devoted to a Community Group? If not, how can you move toward this?Are you struggling with jealousy? Will you trust the love of your Father who has made you and will provide what you need?
The Jebusites, the enemies of God, are a picture of the flesh and the devil. We must recognise them, expel them, refuse them space in our hearts - our Jerusalem!
In every devotional this week I’d like us to memorise, meditate and pray out of the Lord’s Prayer.
This prayer teaches us to pray, “your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth...keep us from temptation...” Do you see that we are to pray this kind of thing constantly, so as to keep our lives free from ‘Jebusites’.
Matthew 6:9-13. ”This, then, is how you should pray: ‘ “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”
i) Some questions to help in meditation:
Biblical meditation is to prayerfully read, repeatedly, a section of the bible and pray, worship and respond as God leads. A few questions you could use when meditating:
GOSPEL- What does this text say about salvation through Jesus?
UP- What does this text say about God – His worth, character, attributes, will, promises…?
IN- What does this text say about you, the church and how we are to relate?
OUT- What does this text say about non-believers and our mission?
RESPONSE – Is there anything you want to pray, worship God about, do, ask forgiveness about, ask God to help you to change…?
ii) Memorise Matthew 6:9-13
A few tips:
Include the reference
Read it slowly and carefully x 10
Recall it, without looking as much as possible x10
Do this a few times through the day
Revise regularly (and revise previously memorised verses)
Make it a habit to learn new verses - skill comes over time