At HKC Youth this term we’ve been looking at the behind the scenes stuff – the spiritual stuff that goes on behind the scenes in our life, how that affects here and now, what we can see, how we feel, how we act, and how we are not victims but how God has given us tools to equip and empower us for any situation.
A couple of weeks ago one of our awesome youth leaders did a phenomenal message about the armour of God – who can remember the different parts of armour?
One of the parts that especially challenged me and made me go mmmmm was when he wrote on each nerf bullet a tactic or strategy that the enemy uses to mess with our minds.
And he shot them out of his nerf gun at his brother who was wearing his helmet of salvation and had his shield of faith up and the bullets just bounced off and were deflected.
Our shield of faith is made up of all the truth we know about God.
He is good.
He is for us.
He is powerful.
He gives us peace.
He heals us.
He is at work to make all things good.
When the enemy fires a lie at us, fires a dart at us, his aim is that it will hit us, penetrate us, wound us – kill steal and destroy us. That we’ll get hit and then we’ll buy the lie and it becomes the way we think.
But faith identifies the lie and replaces it with the truth of the Word of God.
Jesus did this when the devil tempted him in the desert after he was baptized. The devil would say “so if you think you’re the son of God do this or do that” and Jesus would hold up his shield of faith and say “it is written in the word of God” and the lie would just bounce off.
There is power in declaring who God is. Regardless of our circumstances, regardless of what it looks like, God is faithful, He is good, He is mighty to save. When we declare Who God is, our circumstances have to bow to the truth.
But sometimes we have our own lies. We have our own issues that fight against God.
The war is within us. My will vs God’s will. My ways vs God’s way.
There are things that I don’t want to do, that I end up doing.
There are things that I want to do, but I don’t do them.
An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.
“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, , empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
This war is an inside war. The Bible says it is a war between our flesh – our old nature – and our spirit, the new nature that God gives.
Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, 22 throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. 23 Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. 24 Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy. Ephesians 4:21-22
So what is our sinful nature? What is the old nature? What is our flesh?
They can be confusing spiritual terms eh.
Who here has become a New Zealand citizen? Where did you live or your parents live before?
And then you became a New Zealand citizen?
But there are some things or some customs from your old country that you still like to do?
Like South Africans and their braai’s. Looking forward to seeing what one actually is next week at Father’s day!!!
Or how you have an accent – even though you’re a New Zealand citizen you still sound like you’re from some where else.
Even if you’re a New Zealander you can have a different accent – I’m proof of that! Do you know I’ve been asked if I’m American, Canadian, Scottish and dare I say it, Australian! But I’m kiwi through and through but lived for a short time in a place called GORE and it changed the way I talked forever!
In the same way when we become Christians it’s like we become citizens of the Kingdom of God. We have a new identity and a new passport. But we still might have an accent from our old country, and we still might cheer for the old sports team or love the food from there.
Now I just want to say none of that is bad!!!!
But when it comes to become a Christian we are called to turn away from our old way of living, from our old behaviours, the dumb stuff and to live like a child of God.
The flesh, the old nature is from the old country, the old way we lived, but now we are called to live a new way.
Isn’t that dealt to when we give our lives to Jesus?
When we give our lives to Jesus we are made brand new. We have a clean slate. Our old rap sheet with all the dumb stuff we did, all the stuff that is wrong, all the mistakes, all the sin, is exchanged with Jesus’ perfect rap sheet. When Jesus lived on earth He did NO dumb stuff, He did nothing wrong, He didn’t sin. He lived a perfect life that pleased God. When Jesus died on the cross He made a way for us to be innocent and clean, to be holy like God is holy, so we can be friends with God.
When we give our lives to Jesus we make that rap sheet swap. We say I want to follow you Jesus, I want to live my life the way you want me to live it, I want to be your friend.
But we don’t all turn into perfect people right there on the spot.
We begin a journey of transformation. We begin a journey where we have to choose to obey God, where we have to choose to do the things He wants us to do, and we have to choose to let go of the things that God wouldn’t want us to do.
Now God has those lists, those boundaries of what is good and what isn’t, not because He is a killjoy but because He knows that sin, the dumb stuff hurts us. It hurts our families, our friends, our relationships, our futures.
Sometimes however sin can look really good. It can look really attractive. It can seem harmless. But every sin is doing bad things to you from the inside out.
We need to make the choice every day to throw off our old clothes, our old ways and to dress right.
That war is between swearing at your sister for being a pain – or using “non swear words” and speaking in a kinder way.
That war is between dating that guy because he likes you and makes you feel worth something even though he’s not a Christian and actually he’s pushing you to be more and more physical past your comfort level – or making a choice to believe that God has a great plan for your life and that it’s worth it to wait for the best person, who loves God and is prepared to wait for marriage before getting physical.
That war is between watching that show on tv that is kinda raunchy and sparks thoughts in you vs turning the tv off or switching channels.
That war is between doing drugs and saying no.
That war is between going with the crowd as they bully that kid in class vs either not participating or making a stand and saying that’s not cool.
That war is between reading your Bible or watching shortland street… playing candy crush…. Doing anything else.
That war is between choosing to buy into those thoughts in our head that say “I hate myself, I’m useless, im hopeless” vs believing what God says and taking control of what you think. Just because you think it it’s not true and just because you think it you don’t have to let it move in and set up house. You can choose to carry on thinking like that or you can choose to stop the thought, stop feeding it.
That war is between cutting yourself because it’s been a bad day vs reading your bible or talking to someone in real life (as well as God) about what’s getting you down.
That war is between slagging off at that person because they did something that offended you vs forgiving them and not saying anything.
That war is between getting physical when you’re dating because it feels great vs waiting until you’re married.
In this war the devil has a part to play. It’s like he throws petrol on the fire. You were dealing with a match sized flame and then boom he throws on a cup of petrol and those thoughts are raging out of control.
But we can still win. We’re not victims, we’re victorious because of Jesus. Jesus came and defeated the enemy and because He won we win.
In this war, all that matters is Jesus. He has to be the general of your life, the one in charge of the battle plan.
“Jesus is with you always, but here’s your responsibility, to make sure that when He knocks that it is louder than any other knock in your life… The problem is that there’s a whole bunch of knocking in your life. There’s a lot of distractions, there’s a lot of knocking, there’s a lot of noise… that’s the war and you have to get to a place that when you hear Jesus knock that it’s louder than any other knock.
You have the ability when Jesus knocks to say “I have many options, there are many things knocking in my life, I could do many things… but Jesus, I choose you in the midst of all of those options, you’re the one that I want, and you’re the one I’ll respond to”
It’s the only way… He’s crazy in love with me… and all that other stuff just doesn’t even matter anymore… I think “God I’m so in love with you! I’ll give everything for you!” — Banning Liebscher
For me the war was in the way that I spoke after I became a Christian. Swearing my was 2nd language. Everyone around me swore. But I was convicted in my heart that it wasn’t matching up with how God wanted me to speak. I prayed and asked God to help me clean up the way I spoke.
For me the war was with who I was allowing to influence me and how I was spending my social life. On a Thursday, Friday, Saturday night my friends and I would find a place to hang out and then we would binge drink, talk bad, swear heaps and hook up. After I became a Christian I began to realize that perhaps they weren’t the best friends to hang out with and that what I was doing wasn’t good for me or good for God. Something on the inside began to make me uncomfortable. I knew that it wasn’t right. That was the Holy Spirit speaking to me, making me uncomfortable. But the tension was that if I didn’t hang out with them, who would I hang out with? And you know, sometimes I enjoyed that kind of hanging out. But that feeling on the inside would grow. Something is wrong, this isn’t right.
I had to make a choice. It was a war on the inside.
I had to choose between my friends and God. Between drinking and God. Between PDA and God.
How do we make sure that we’re putting on the right clothes?
How do we make sure that we’re listening to what Jesus wants us to do?
How do we make sure we win this war that is within us?
We feed the right wolf.
That wolf is our relationship with God.
Here are things we can do to grow our relationship with God and to win this war
- Read the Bible. The Bible will tell you what is the right fashion for the way we live our lives. It will equip and empower you and give you faith in God so that your shield is massive against any lie the enemy throws at you or any lie that we think ourselves. We feed ourselves with the right stuff. The Bible is going to show you how to live. We fight temptation with Scripture – remember it’s our sword. Jesus used it when He was tempted in the wilderness. Commit yourself to reading it regularly so that you’re not unarmed. One great way that isn’t talked about heaps is memorizing the Bible. Memorizing verses is like the wax on wax off of karate kid… It can feel like a task but when you need it BOOM BOOM BOOM you’re armed and dangerous to the enemy!
- Spend time with Him. When you take some time to hang out with God – when you perhaps sit and put worship music on at home or read the Bible, or pray – you’re learning about who God is, what He is like, what He likes. And something amazing happens from the inside out – He transforms you and changes your mind so you can see what is the right way to live. You become aware of what is wrong. But most importantly you grow your love for God. When you love someone you don’t want to hurt them and you want to hang out more. When you spend time with God the things that come to kill, steal and destroy have smaller attraction.
- Give permission to God to change our fashion sense…. Remember Ephesians 4: Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, 22 throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. 23 Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. 24 Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy. Ephesians 4:21-22
We give God permission to make us aware when we’re putting on those crappy old boots or that stinking dirty jacket… when we’re about to make a wrong decision and do dumb stuff, the Holy Spirit on the inside of us says STOP and you know what, we pause and we listen. We make the choice to stop and surrender and we choose the right thing. It’s not always easy and I don’t always win at this one, but my hand is up saying God I want to live transformed.
“He loves you. God knew you were going to be messy. God knows that you are going to screw up. That’s what the cross is all about. You are going to fail, and stumble, and feel dirty and awkward. The whole point of the cross of Christ is that there be this mighty picture of His love and pursuit of you despite you. The cross is necessary because of you but it is also the picture we have of how far God is willing to go because He loves you. “ || Matt Chandler