Hello readers! Sorry for posting this a few days late. I had a lot of things that kept me busy outside of writing for the blog. For those of you who know me personally, I lead a small group at a campus ministry at NMSU and we recently had a Fall retreat where God moved through many people including those whom I disciple. If you want to know more about my personal life, follow me on Instagram. I post it all there!
Regardless, this post is a bit different. I decided to throw a few things together from something I recently read. I will do these sort of writings again in the future, so I hope you enjoy.
What I’m reading.
Recently I read the book, “Wild at Heart”, by John Eldredge. I had mixed feelings about the entirety of the book’s content, but some of the topics that Eldredge speaks of, I consider gold.
In “Wild at Heart” (primarily written towards a male audience), Eldredge presents us with many analogies of man becoming the warrior that he needs to be. Eldredge definitely watched all of the war and gladiator movies that have been produced; the way that he speaks to his readers, I would not be surprised if he watched Dunkirk, Hacksaw Ridge, and War Machine over the past year as he sees the”real” man present throughout these films. He tries to have his readers understand that we need to become mighty warriors that fight and defend. He tells us that a warrior needs to be smart when it comes to battle and war. That makes sense. We expect for a warrior to know this kind of stuff. A warrior will never charge blindly and will know what weapons and ammo to carry and how to use them. A warrior in command will have ideas of how to attack or defend an opposing warrior and how to strategize in the battlefield. He uses all these analogies to have us see what enemy we are up against in the Spiritual Warfare we are thrown into.
Eldredge tries to have the reader believe that they are the warrior in their line of work or wherever they find themselves on a day-to-day basis. Towards the end of the book, he mentions that we will always face three enemies; the world, the flesh, and the devil, which he identifies as the “unholy trinity”. It is an interesting concept. As we know, the devil is always at hand when it comes to Spiritual Warfare. The world is our influence that we need to stay away from; it messes with our mind and thoughts. And the flesh, well, it hurts us from the inside out, working against our emotions, one of our most vulnerable parts that makes us human. This was one concept that I enjoyed reading; the idea of the flesh.
John Eldredge uses a castle as a metaphor for our bodies. The traitors of any organization or team are always the best at attacking a defense system. They attack from the inside-out and they are unpredictable. We never expect one of our knights in our castle to turn against us, especially because we trust them. That is the way that the flesh works and that is why it is so dangerous. We trust ourselves and, with pride, expect to fight off any temptation in any situation.
The traitor in us is our fleshly and worldly desires or, to put it simply, is a desire that goes against God’s will. One of the biggest issues about the traitor in us is that it is always easier to fulfill and please those desires than going against temptation and go against what we believe to be bad.
John Eldredge gives two examples in his book; “It’s much easier to masturbate than to make love to your wife, especially if things are not well between you and initiating sex with her feels risky. It’s much easier to go golfing than to face the people at work who are angry at you.”
How do we respond?
This reminds me of a time when I was hanging out with a group of friends at my house and we began to talk about. . . well, you know. . . guy things. One of the friends was not being vulnerable about a question going around and another responded to him saying, “Why are you avoiding the situation? Run towards your crucifixion as Jesus ran towards his.” It shook, both, my buddy who was the target of that statement and myself. It makes sense, though. Jesus could have done something to get out of his situation instead of dying for us. Yes, I am stretching the example, but it is so much easier to please yourself, simply because it is so difficult to have self-discipline and run towards the cross. In this situation, my buddy was more comfortable not opening up to us.
When it comes to dealing with the flesh, we go against what we know is right. We go towards what makes us feel good and many times, that means running from God. Running from His good intentions for us. Running from His will.
I asked a good friend about his thought on the matter about why we do things fully knowing that they are bad. He said that people would rather seek immediate joy and deny eternal happiness. He suggested that the best thing for us to do is to reject the immediate temptation of wanting to respond with anger out of impatience. You can resist the immediate joy of wanting to lust over someone because you know that there is eternal happiness in your future and that should be enough.
What does the Bible say?
When speaking about this in “Wild at Heart”, Eldredge references Romans 7. It clearly shows us that Paul also dealt with this. In verses 17-24, it shows us that we need to take sin more seriously. If we don’t, we become slaves to sin. We become a slave to the traitor that holds those desires. The battle is not between God and ourselves, but between us and the traitor, the one who takes control of the flesh. The traitor is the one who has all of those selfish desires that wants to do what you know is wrong.
And this only means that we have more responsibility when we choose to sin. How can we choose against that self? It’s not easy to walk away from the moments when the immediate joy presents itself so attractive. We need to learn that we truly want to be in the presence of any situation we normally run from; those situations where God dwells in.
But, I must say that self-discipline is not an easy ability to hold. From personal experience, I can suggest a tip that has worked for me. I’m not saying that this will solve anything, but it will get you to reconsider what you are doing. We find ourselves wondering what it will be like if we clearly do what the Bible states as going against God’s will. Not only do you have to realize that what you are doing is bad but from experience, I noticed that I have to tell myself, “I shouldn’t be doing this.” You are conscious of the idea that you do have a choice. “Do I follow God or sin?” No one will force you to do either option (at least I hope not). I don’t always succeed, though. I, sometimes, fall short of God’s glory. That is where self-discipline comes in. Knowing how Paul describes the choice for sin, we need to be responsible for what will come out of those decisions.
Life’s biggest problem isn’t your suffering. It’s your sin. Your suffering and your restraint are not what will keep you out of heaven. It’s our sin.
I’m curious to know; What is your strategy? Do you have a way of combatting sin and temptation? Let me and others know in the comment section below.
P.S. Well, I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, feel free to like the blog’s Facebook page, here. I sometimes share things on there that I find interesting and worth your time. I promise!