June 9 – The Mindset of War

June 9 – The Mindset of War

Romans 12:1

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” (Romans 12:1)

Sometimes it is not easy to distinguish between legitimate desires and the bad stuff. Is this new TV a legitimate need or coveting what God doesn’t intend? Is this jerk squeezing righteous indignation out of me or is this sinful anger? Is the pain I feel justifiable or am I so unhappy because my ego took a heavy hit?

How do I distinguish between legitimate desires and the bad stuff? I trust the Holy Spirit to show me what’s right. But we mustn’t run to the other extreme and assume that the Holy Spirit within is all we need. He deliberately provided the other means of knowing His will, so we’ll surely go down in defeat if we neglect any of them. He’s no substitute for the others, He’s their energizer.

Then there’s conscience. “Let your conscience be your guide,” we say. But native conscience is a very unreliable guide since “it” is no more than our judgment in the realm of right versus wrong. That judgment has been programmed by home, school, and society, not to mention one’s own sinful inclinations. As a result, we seem to have infinite capacity to con ourselves into believing what we want to believe. But the person who has been transformed into a new creation by the Spirit, has regularly disciplined his or her judgment by Scripture, who keeps tuned in to the Spirit, and who has developed judgment by long, careful use and can be trusted more and more to make godly decisions. In developing a battle plan against sin, you begin with unconditional surrender to the will of God, the Grand Presentation. You’ve made your beachhead! That gets you out of a dangerous no-man’s land or out from behind enemy lines and solidly on God’s side. Now you’re ready. The next step is to take aim, identify the enemy. The source may not be that easy to spot for sure, so you may by-pass that step and identify the temptation itself. That isn’t always easy, either, since temptation fights dirty, always slips up incognito. But you can spot any disguised temptation by focusing Scripture on your situation especially the clear-cut laws of Scripture, allowing the Holy Spirit to illuminate your mind. Then, finally, to release his fire-power, you make your choice about that temptation. Choose right and grow stronger, choose wrong and grow weaker.

Being honest with yourself, accurately identifying the enemy, and yielding control to the Spirit puts you in a winning position. So the battle itself should be fun war games? Not! It’s hot, hand-to-hand, mind-to-mind deadly combat. To the death — of the temptation or of your spiritual vitality.

Every battle plan needs defensive strategies and offensive strategies. How do we defend, ward off temptation even before it strikes?

Romans 12:1 might be literally translated: resist the conforming influences of your environment and keep on resisting. Who will deny that popular media is hell-bent (literally) on cultivating lust, covetousness, and pride? In fact, I recently made a covenant with myself to stop surfing TV channels because when I finally got honest with myself and God, I had to admit what I was actually looking for — and it wasn’t purity, contentment, and humility! Sometimes it was just humor just to relax and unwind after a hard day, but it ate up priceless time and — worse — was subtly molding me into a different kind of person. Paul says to resist and keep it up—eternal vigilance is the price of spiritual freedom.

To take this proactive stance, having gotten into the warfare mentality, decided firmly on whose side I really am, and having identified my major enemies, I take hold of my weapons and go for it. The Bible, prayer, and the church are means of grace, and we consider them our front-line defensive strategy again debilitating sin.

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