“…not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:25)
One of the purposes of the local congregation is to build a support network of people who grow strong together in studying the Word, uniting in prayer, exhorting one another and setting the example for one another. Together we build spiritual muscle in preparation for our spiritual battle in a way we never could on our own.
But there’s more. A high-ranking Air Force officer sat by me on the plane. Though American planes over North Vietnam took an average of one hit every 12 sorties, he came through more than 300 flights unscathed. “What a great pilot!” I exclaimed. “No,” he responded, “What a great partner! You always go in pairs and you’re responsible to watch the tail of your partner. Your job is to warn him when the missile is coming. If you fail, there’s no hope for your partner.” So it is in spiritual warfare — you need a faithful partner to watch your tail!
That’s where an accountability partner comes in, someone you can share with openly about your temptations, your victories, your defeats and with whom you can stand heart to heart in prayer for victory. A word of caution: it’s not usually wise to share with a partner who is vulnerable to the same temptation you are fighting. A drowning man doesn’t need another drowning man to come to the rescue! But one of the greatest defenses against temptation is a buddy in the battle, an accountability partner to pray with you about that besetting temptation. As Hebrews 10:25 reminds us: “do not neglect to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encourage one another.” If you have a prayer buddy or accountability partner and haven’t shared your struggle with temptation, why not do it this week?
Thus we have a defensive strategy that uses the weapons of the Spirit to prepare for battle. Only now can we build a defensive wall around our minds to block out the ideas of the world and counter the onslaughts of the enemy. Reject and keep on resisting the conforming influences of your environment, says Paul in 1 Corinthians 12:1-2 and this we will do with the Word, with prayer, and with our fellow soldiers.
Scan the war stories recorded in Genesis 3:1-6 and Matthew 4:1-11. Here we have deadly battles, first between Satan and Eve, then between Satan and Jesus — the welfare of billions depending on the outcome of each battle. Eve met the enemy with a background of a perfect heredity and a perfect environment; Jesus had a dreadful heredity and environment. But Eve lost, Jesus won.
Eve wasn’t all that committed to the authority of God’s word and quickly abandoned her only defense, accepting the enemy’s word over God’s. Satan cynically used Bible quotes to push his ungodly ends. Only Jesus used the Word of God as His weapon. And He won! You will, too. But you must stockpile your ammunition, or you won’t have it available at the time of testing.
There are two ways we can stockpile ammunition: regular reading and selective study. For example, I may be blind to the discontent in my life that is choking out the growth of joy and peace. As I read the Word, day by day, I see how great He is, how greatly He cares about me. Then I begin to realize how sinful my discontent really is, how stupid it is in the light of his greatness. The Word has spotlighted a temptation I didn’t even know existed, has alerted me to a hidden enemy. Selective study, on the other hand, is to search out all the Bible teaches about some personal temptation. Those passages can then be used as a weapon in the moment of temptation, like Jesus did.
You do well to start the day in devotional reading. This sets your heart in the right direction. Do you add a purposeful stockpiling of regular reading and study of God’s word? Are you growing in knowledge of God’s heart for you and your life by knowing His word? If so, well done!