This morning I shared Strategies for the Fight against Sin in my Sunday School class at church. If you are interested, I’ve posted them on the Sanctification page (see link above). In my preparations, I returned again to a classic–J.C. Ryle’s Holiness. Chapter four is entitled “The Fight” (Evangelical Press, 1989). Here are some helpful quotes:
The first thing I have to say is this: true Christianity is a fight. True Christianity! Let us mind that word ‘true’. There is a vast quantity of religion current in the world which is not true, genuine Christianity. It passes muster, it satisfies sleepy consciences; but it is not good money. It is not the real thing which was called Christianity eighteen hundred years ago. There are thousands of men and women who go to churches and chapels every Sunday and call themselves Christians. Their names are in the baptismal registry. They are reckoned Christians while they live. They are married with a Christian marriage service. They mean to be buried as Christians when they die. But you never see any ‘fight’ about their religion! Of spiritual strife and exertion and conflict and self-denial and watching and warring they know literally nothing at all. Such Christianity may satisfy man, those who say anything against it may be thought very hard and uncharitable; but it certainly is not the Christianity of the Bible. It is not the religion which the Lord Jesus founded, and His apostles preached. It is not the religion which produces real holiness. True Christianity is ‘a fight’.
The true Christian is called to be a soldier, and must behave as such from the day of his conversion to the day of his death. He is not meant to live a life of religious ease, indolence and security. He must never imagine for a moment that he can sleep and doze along the way to heaven, like one travelling in an easy carriage. If he takes his standard of Christianity from the children of this world, he may be content with such notions, but he will find no countenance for them in the Word of God. If the Bible is the rule of his faith and practice, he will find his course laid down very plainly in this matter. He must ‘fight’.
I quote from one more section:
It is a fight of perpetual necessity. It admits of no breathing time, no armistice, no truce. On weekdays as well as on Sundays, in private as well as in public, at home by the family fireside as well as abroad, in little things, like management of tongue and temper, as well as in great ones, like the government of kingdoms, the Christian’s warfare must unceasingly go on. The foe we have to do with keeps no holidays, never slumbers and never sleeps. So long as we have breath in our bodies we must keep on our armour and remember we are on an enemy’s ground (quotes from pp. 51, 54 & 55).
Who is the enemy? The world (that in the world which is rebellious to God), the flesh (our indwelling sin) and the devil (Satan, the most-powerful fallen angel).
On Friday evening I went to see the new movie Cowboys and Aliens. It wasn’t bad. The acting was great (Harrison Ford was one of the main characters) and the special effects were awesome (the aliens were—as expected–gross!) At one point in the movie, Jake went to recruit the members of his old gang to help in the fight against the gold-grabbing, cowboy-and-Indian-killing extra-terrestrials. The group of misfit criminals had planned to drown their fears in alcohol on a beach in Mexico. Jake convinced them to join the attack because–like it or not–they would eventually have to do battle with the aliens.
Isn’t that a good analogy of the Christian life? If we don’t take the conflict to the enemies, they’ll bring it to us! Consider these words from Matthew 11:12, “From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force.”
Is violent a word which others would use to describe your spiritual life? Please understand, we are not meaning violence against other people–individuals of no belief (atheists), suspended belief (agnostics) or differing beliefs (other religions). Jesus is employing wartime language to passionately communicate how seriously we are to take our salvation as well as our sanctification. Christians are to actively engage in the conflict against the world, the flesh and the devil. As Ryle correctly stated, “we must…remember that we are on an enemy’s ground.”
Did you remember that today?
Are you fighting?
I found some helpful words from “Pastor Dave Online.” Search: “35 Strategies for Fighting Sin.” It’s worth your time. Have a great week!