Idea: A simple thing prevents victory; a simple solution brings it.
What do you think about persons who claim to believe in victory over sin but who obviously and routinely fall under temptation?
Or does that describe you? And if so, how do you cope? Isn’t the thought that you are lost hopelessly discouraging? Don’t you feel a panic at the idea that the Spirit isn’t living inside of you? Aren’t you terrified by the truth?
Hebrews 10:26,27—”For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.”
The gospel promises of victory and cleansing, of holiness and purity, seem to mock many. They have at times mocked me. And no mockery is so cruel as that of God’s promises to the one who fails to reap their rewards.
This is why, when I was on the little Island of Culion (in the western Philippines, north of Palawan) only two months ago, I was thrilled to come across a simple statement that helped me see why I have victory at times and have little of the same at others.
Here is the statement:
“The darkness of the evil one encloses those who neglect to pray. The whispered temptations of the enemy entice them to sin; and it is all because they do not make use of the privileges that God has given them in the divine appointment of prayer. Why should the sons and daughters of God be reluctant to pray, when prayer is the key in the hand of faith to unlock heaven’s storehouse, where are treasured the boundless resources of Omnipotence? Without unceasing prayer and diligent watching we are in danger of growing careless and of deviating from the right path. The adversary seeks continually to obstruct the way to the mercy seat, that we may not by earnest supplication and faith obtain grace and power to resist temptation” (Steps to Christ 94).
Do you see it simply? Believers in victory experience defeat nonetheless. And why? For the very reason that they do not make sufficient use of prayer to connect with God! It sounds like what Jesus said:
Matthew 26:41—”Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Now men who love to preach against bad theology often have issues with temper and evil speaking (I say this from experience dealing with their teenage children). Why is this?
We need not look for gospel answers in the high-flung reasoning of persons who collect graduate degrees. The gospel was made for common men and the best answers can be understood by them. Perhaps it is as simple as a neglect of “unceasing prayer” that leads to such moral carelessness.
Believing in victory doesn’t bring it automatically. Faith is the hand that reaches for the vault of heaven’s treasure, but even faith needs a key. And prayer, unceasing prayer, is that key. Prayer—don’t forget it—is the key.
What was I doing on Culion? I was with the Young Disciple Mission Experience team. And though there were two evangelistic series going on (four if you count the children’s meetings separately), I wasn’t preaching to the Filipinos.
Rather, my part was to give worships for the Young Disciple workers about Steps to Christ, giving two or three worship talks per chapter. We covered the book in a month.
Let me testify about that: I had read Steps to Christ previously. In fact, I had done so repeatedly. I had given scores of worships directly from the book. So how did the experience of preaching through the book go for me? Was it like examining the back of my hand anew?
It was a new experience. The Spirit used recent experiences and things I have been learning to magnify the value and meaning of so many sentences. I was revived.
My wife, Heidi, was with me on the trip. When she was a teenager she had a negative view of Ellen White. She had heard things, you know. And though she had never read anything by her, she was braced to not appreciate whatever that lady might have to say.
But someone friend, a good friend, gave Heidi a Steps to Christ that apparently did not have the author’s name prominently located on the book. As a teen being raised in a “Whiteless” environment, she didn’t recognize the title. So she read the book.
And it changed her life.
It wasn’t that it has some great complicated formula for spiritual living. No, it was just that it has a simple, straightforward presentation of how much God’s love has done to save us, and of just what we must do to experience all the blessings He has for us.
What I am hoping is that someone reading this will be inspired to give that book another slow reading, have an ‘aha!’ moment, and begin again a lost habit of unceasing prayer.
I am hoping that those who believe in victory over sin will experience it. And I am hoping that will add power and gospel content to their sermons.
That is what simple truth can do.