As the end of summer is nearing and I'll be going back to school in 9 days, I've been reflecting on the summer and what I have learned. Often times a friend at school will ask, "what did God teach you this summer?" So I've been thinking about what He's been teaching me...because, for the Christian, God is always working in our lives...teaching us and shaping us into the image of His Son Jesus Christ.
So, what did (is) God teach (teaching) me this summer? The thing that stands out to me is that God has reaffirmed for me my need to be vigilant in my fight with sin. The pull towards it can be so subtle...a lingering look at something I know I shouldn't be looking at...a thought being entertained that I know is wrong...and before I know it I'm falling into sin...
I have to be vigilant about what I'm feeding my mind, and this means guarding my eyes and ears too.
In this fight of course "the best defense is a good offense." This means that we're renewing our mind with truth from God's Word and praying. When we're meditating on truth from God's Word and allowing those truths to move from our heads to our hearts, this is our offense. We're reclaiming the territory of our mind and fueling our affections for God.
But even when we're doing this, there are those moments in our lives when temptations come...we see those images, our minds begins to be drawn away to chase that idol...we have to have a good defense in that moment. Our first instinct should be to flee...to get away from the temptation before it gets a foothold...but it cannot end there. The next thing I've found that works well for me is that I pray...ask God to help me in that moment to overcome the temptation...but it cannot end there either. Because my sinful flesh is going to pull my mind back to those images, idols. This is when I need to renew my mind with scripture...those thoughts need to be replaced with truth from God's Word. As I meditate on those truths, it pushes out all the garbage.
This is a constant battle that we will fight our entire earthly lives...but our merciful God has not left us alone in this fight...He's given us tools for this battle!
Another tool He has given us is other believers. God never intended for this Christian life to be lived alone. It sounds spiritual to say, "all I need is God" but really this is foolish. God has given us fellow believers to encourage us when we're struggling. They can pray with us, for us, and they can offer advice to help us.
Now, I've made it sound kind of simple, but like I've said, the pull toward sin is very subtle, and we have to be vigilant. We need God's grace...we need His strength to keep fighting, even when it gets REALLY hard.