Chapter Sixteen
The Three-fold Battle

"Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,
whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy"
(Psalm 107:2).

The moment we put our faith in the Son of God, we step right into the middle of a threefold battle. We find that we are torn by the enemies of the world, the flesh and the devil. The flesh, whose appetite was fully satisfied with the pleasures of sin, is suddenly starved to a point of gnawing at the mind for want of food causing what the Scriptures call a "war in your members." Thoughts which once were acceptable, suddenly stir the alarm of conscience.

Not long after my conversion, I became so concerned about this battle within my mind, I sought deliverance prayer. I was a little disappointed that nothing happened. It wasn't a demon, just the rotten aroma of my corrupt and sinful Adamic self. I was now a new creature in Christ Jesus, old things had passed away, and all things had become new. The old nature stunk because it was dead in Christ, and now I had to bury it.

Just after our first child began to walk, he picked up a blanket and adopted it as his "cuddly." He would take that blanket wherever he went. In the usual child-like manner, he would put two fingers and part of his blanket into his mouth and make sucking noises. When it was washed and hung on the clothesline, he would stand beneath it and jump up to try and grab it. We felt that we had better try and break the habit before his wedding day, so we cut it in half and gave it to him. Then the next day, we secretly cut it in half again, and every few days, we would cut it in half, until the thing just became so small, it just disappeared.

That is what we are to do with the flesh. It is forever running around like a turkey with its head chopped off. It is dead, but it won't lie down without a little help from the whetted blade of the two-edged sword. The witless creature not only needs to have its head removed, it needs to be gutted, plucked, and its soft flesh carved on the wooden plate of Calvary's cross. That will put thanksgiving in our hearts.

The only access the enemy has to us is through the flesh, and if we deal with it once and for all, the world will have no attraction for us and the devil will have no foothold on us.

It is vital to identify this Judas in our heart. That old nature is nothing more than a cowardly traitor who will cry, "Master, Master," and then betray the Son of man with a kiss. We must so hang Judas by the neck until he "bursts asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gush out." If we do not deal with this enemy, he will be our downfall.

I find that I am forever approached by young men, and occasionally young women, who hang their heads in shame, and confess that they have a "lust" problem. The reaction is interesting when I say, "Who doesn't?" They are relieved to find that they are not alone in the battle against the "lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life." If you don't have any "problem" with lust, then you've got problems. You have more than likely surrendered to it.

Sex-drive is God given, but lust is a flame that will try and generate the heat of unlawful passion as long as we are in this fallen body. In almost every case where scripture specifies distinctive sins, sexual sin is at the top of the list. Sin, especially sexual sin, draws us as a moth to a flame. Scripture speaks of being "hardened through the deceitfulness of sin." The Amplified Bible puts the same verse this way, "hardened through the trickery which the delusive glamour of his sin may play on him." Sin has a delusive glamour to it.

The old saying, "as miserable as sin," just isn't true. The person who said it probably also said, "Crime doesn't pay." Moses chose to suffer affliction with the people of God, rather than enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season. Sin is enjoyable. I have walked the streets of New York and have noticed that porn stores don't have to do too much advertising. All they need is a peep-hole for perverts.

Keep your heart with all diligence. Impure thoughts fill the room of the mind with lethal gas, and all it takes is a spark of opportunity to create a disaster. Sin holds a deep-rooted charm for our sinful nature, but carries the sting of death with it. We were once "deceived, serving different lusts and pleasures," but now, if we are truly converted, our eyes have been opened. We see sin for the sugar-coated venom that it is.

The Backslider In Heart

I find that most "backsliders" begin to reveal their true state, by failing to read the Word. To open the Bible when there is sin in the heart is too convicting. Often they will still fellowship, worship and pray, but that two-edged sword cuts too close to the flesh. Stephen gives us an interesting insight into the workings of a "backslider in heart," in Acts Chapter 8. As this soldier of Christ gives his farewell speech to those who are about to promote him to Headquarters, he spoke of Israel's backsliding in the wilderness, saying,

"But our fathers refused to obey Him. Instead, they rejected him and in their hearts turned back to Egypt. They told Aaron, `Make some gods who will lead the way for us. As for this fellow Moses who led us out of Egypt -- we don't know that has happened to him.' That was the time they made an idol in the form of a calf. They brought sacrifices to it and held a celebration in honor of what their hands had made."

Here we not only have three stages of Israel's backsliding, but we also have three signs of a "backslider in heart," the false convert.

According to Bible typology, Egypt is a type of the world, and Moses is a type of Christ. The first sign of a backslider in heart is "in their hearts" they turn back to Egypt. No one else may know -- but they know, and God knows that deep within the heart is a longing to go back to the world. Like Lot's wife, they are longingly looking back. Scriptures warn that "fellowship with the world is enmity with God." It teaches that whoever "wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God." Therefore those who profess to be in the army of God, but have a desire to go back to the world, are not on our side. How can they be if God's Word says they are the enemy of God?

Second, they said, "As for this Moses fellow who led us out of Egypt -- we don't know what has become of him!" The backslider in heart loses the reality of his walk with Jesus -- "As for this Jesus who led us out of the world -- we don't know what has become of Him." They leave what they said was their first love. To say, "I love you Jesus" sounds trite to them, yet the Bible warns, "If any man loves not our Lord Jesus Christ, let him be cursed."

Third, they make for themselves an idol. They create a god in their own image. They shape a deity to suit their own sins, then worship the work of their own hands. Their god becomes one who is void of reference to sin, righteousness and judgment. There is no need to flee from sin, because their god condones sin. Then it is only a matter of time until they slip down the slippery and sinful path they have chosen -- he who longs for the world may not be in the world, but the world is still in him. Of them, the proverbs are true: "A dog returns to its vomit," and "A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud."

The Distinguishing Mark

What can be done to ensure that we are not part of the great company who fall away, or of the great mass who will cry "Lord, Lord," who will be lined up as deserters and shot from Heaven into Hell? The answer is in Galatians 6:14:

"But God forbid that I should glory, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world."

Revelation of Christ on the cross is the key.

He pours contempt upon the sinful desires that still cling to his flesh. The true convert is crushed by a sense of his own foolishness and yet at the same time, he has inexpressible gratitude for the "unspeakable gift" of the cross. He has seen Jesus Christ evidently set forth and crucified. He says with Paul, "God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified to me, and I to the world." After seeing the sacrifice of the Father, how could he ever go back to the exciting pleasures of sin! To do so, he would have to trample under foot the blood of Jesus Christ. He would have to count the sacrifice of Calvary as nothing. Instead, he willfully crucifies himself to the world, and the world to himself. He whispers with the hymnist: "When I survey the wondrous cross, on which the Prince of Glory died, my richest gain I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride."

The world can attract him no longer. They that are Christ's, have crucified their affections and lusts.

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