~ Step 7: Accept Your Life-Long War ~
NOTE: This Discipleship Model is a special 7-part series showing a clear path to spiritual victory. One step will be posted each day for a calendar week. After completion of this series Abundant Life Now will “resume regular programming.”
The first six steps of this Discipleship Model are similar to boot camp. You have trained yourself, with God’s help, in the skills that are necessary. Now you are entering the war as a career, life-long, soldier of the Cross. There is only one war—but there are many battles along the way.
The key is to stay involved. “O man of God… pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses” (1 Timothy 6:11-12).
We fight this “good fight of faith” with the resources He has given us. He has provided a list of our resources in Ephesians 6:10-20. The interesting thing about the list is that all the word pictures of warfare provisions are defensive except for one offensive weapon—the Word of God! “The sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God” (verse 17b). The Word works on our thinking (which changes our attitudes, etc.).
The passage continues, “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:18a). Time in the Word of God will lead to sincere prayer by the soldier of Jesus Christ. Think of this as our time to interact with our Commander-In-Chief for instructions regarding both the individual battles along the way and the overall war strategy.
We can follow Biblical teachings and lessons and win the spiritual war or we can do things our own way and lose the spiritual war. (Note: All of us will at times lose individual battles—but we should be winning the war!)
Biblical Example 1 (Judges) ~ Someone has documented what happens when God’s people do not continue the fight in God’s way. Rather than a Discipleship Model they chose a Sin Cycle. It is also a never-ending circular process. They showed how this cycle reoccurs seven times in the book of Judges alone. The Sin Cycle is described this way; Sin progresses to Servitude to Supplication to Salvation to Silence, and then the pattern starts over with Sin.
Biblical Example 2 (2 Kings 22-25) ~ The good king Josiah makes a last desperate attempt to turn the nation (Southern Kingdom—Judah) back to God. He locates the long lost book of the Law, and institutes sweeping reforms. But though he can impose a change of actions on the people, only wholehearted repentance can change the attitudes of godlessness and self-indulgence that are the root of the problem. As a result, when Josiah dies, his successors revert to their pagan patterns and practices. Finally, God brings down the curtain on the Southern Kingdom as Babylonian soldiers topple the walls, homes, and temple of once-mighty Jerusalem.
Biblical Example 3 (1 Kings 11:1-13) ~ King Solomon developed wrong attitudes: “As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other Gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to his God” (verse 4). “So Solomon did evil... he did not follow the Lord completely” (verse 6). “The Lord became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the Lord” (verse 9). “The Lord said to Solomon, ‘Since this is your attitude (and you have not kept my covenant and my decrees, which I have commanded you,) I will most certainly tear the kingdom away from you’” (verse 11a, emphasis added).
Biblical Example 4 (Ezra 3:1-6) ~ In our role as soldiers of the Cross, worship must precede work. In Ezra we see that the Israelites finally figured this out. They had been charged with rebuilding the temple in Jerusalem—an event prophesied 200 years before (Isaiah 44:28). 50,000 Jews became a part of the caravan covering 900 miles from Babylon to Jerusalem. Totally worn-out with sore feet they finally arrive eager to do the task set before them.
What do they do first? Draw up blueprints? Hire architects? Order building materials? Rebuild their own houses? Eventually they did all these things, but their first thoughts were for God (Ezra 3:1-6). They knew that the success of their building venture depended on their heart attitude toward Him. And so before they began to work, they began to worship. This is back to our opening paradox. Realize while we are responsible before God we are also totally dependent upon God.
Summary ~ Embrace the Paradox >>> Correct Thinking >>> Divine Attitudes >>> Controlled Motivations >>> Godly Lifestyle >>> Spiritual Victory >>> Keep Fighting >>> (Continually repeat this Discipleship Model cycle.)
A simple question. Do you love God? Really Love God? Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German pastor martyred in a Nazi concentration camp, wrote: “Only he who believes is obedient; only he who is obedient believes.” Do you really believe God? Do you believe to the point of changing your actions? Do you really love God? “Whoever has My commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves Me” (John 14:21a).
Jesus said, “If ye continue in My Word, then are ye My disciples indeed” (John 8:31). This is the definition of a disciple. Are you His disciple? If not, why not?
a final thought: “There is no discharge in this war” (Ecclesiastes 8:8). Don’t go AWOL!
Step 1: Paradox ~ Understand your partnership with God.
Step 2: Thinking ~ Choose to control your thoughts!
Step 3: Attitude ~ Increasingly rely on properly cultivated attitudes.
Step 4: Motivation ~ Be motivated predominately by yourself, rather than by external factors.
Step 5: Lifestyle ~ Continue to practice the fundamentals.
Step 6: Victory ~ Guard your new lifestyle.
Step 7: Continue ~ Be a good soldier for Christ—never go AWOL.
~ Robert Lloyd Russell, ABUNDANT LIFE NOW