Then Peter continued preaching for a long time, strongly urging all his listeners, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation!”
One of the worst feelings in the world is getting your vehicle stuck in the mud. Have you ever gotten into your car, put it in reverse and tried to back up, only to discover that your tires would not turn and you were not moving? You were stuck and helpless. You knew you would have to call someone with a truck or tractor to pull you out. When they finally pulled you out, you were no longer stuck and were free to go, but you still had the residue of mud on your car.
Before you put your faith in Christ, you were stuck in mud (sin). You tried to keep your life running, but you could not gain traction until Jesus pulled you out of the hole of sin and shame and forgave you. After you come to Christ, you are free from the power of sin but still deal with the residue of past attitudes, habits, ways of thinking and feeling, family traditions, and past wounds.
Peter admonished the new believers in Acts 2 to be saved from “this crooked generation.” In other words, the culture’s way of thinking was twisted and confused. Peter wanted the believers to think clearly about who they were in Christ and what their new identity meant regarding the way they lived.
When the Israelites were in bondage to the Egyptians for 400 years, they picked up a lot of ungodly habits and ways of thinking. When Moses led them out of Egypt, they were finally free from the Egyptians; however, although they were out of Egypt, Egypt was not out of them. Even though they were in a different geographical location and free from physical bondage, they still resorted to the old gods they had worshiped in Egypt and the old ways of thinking and doing things. They had to learn how to walk with God and trust Him and His ways.
Now that you’re a Christian, you know that you are in a right relationship with God. Jesus paid the price for your sins, but you likely find yourself still battling temptation. This can often bring great discouragement because you feel like you should be past the struggle. You might think, “I thought this was going to go away once I got saved.” It is true that whenever we put our faith in Christ, we are pulled out of the mud hole of sin, but there is something else to consider.
Remember the term justification? Although we are justified in God’s eyes, technically free of sin’s bondage, we still have some residue on us. Keep in mind that after you get saved, your sanctification process is just beginning. That process is more about realizing who you already are because of Christ and the victory you have in Him than about your effort to become free on your own.
You may be wondering, “What do I do? How do I conquer those temptations that still lure me?” The Bible tells us that we have already overcome the world. We are already victorious, new creatures in Christ. In other words, Jesus already won the war for us. However, although we know how the story ends, we still have daily battles to fight.
Let’s take a look now at some of the battle zones we all face so that you can be prepared to win in every battle that comes your way.
Battle Zone 1: Overcoming Isolation with Relationship
Don’t believe the “I’m the only one” lie. Temptation and sin feed off anonymity and secrecy. A big challenge in our culture is not to become isolated. We all want independence, but we also desperately need relationships. That’s why it’s so important to have a friend to share your heart and struggles with.
We find ourselves in a unique struggle. Though we are the most connected we’ve ever been because of social media, we are, at the same time, the most disconnected we’ve ever been. The Bible says that the enemy prowls about like a lion, looking for people to devour. An African lion will chase a pack of wildebeests until one gets separated from the others. Apart from the pack, one wildebeest is weak, so the lion will go after the isolated one. That’s exactly how the Bible describes our enemy. If he can separate you from other believers, he’s got you. Here at Family Life, Wednesday nights, men’s group and women’s group provide relationship, accountability, and support. If you are not already a part of one of these groups, please consider joining this week. Call the church office at 618-242-2002 to learn of ways to get connected today.
In what ways are you isolated right now? Do you have at least one or two people that you trust who could provide you with support? If so, write down their names. If you can’t think of anyone, where could you begin looking? Think church family.
Battle Zone 2: Overcoming the Guilt and Shame of the Past
Quit reminding yourself of what God has forgotten about! The enemy is referred to as “the accuser.” What do accusers do? They bring accusations of a crime or action committed.
Marriage counselors will tell you that bringing up the past is the quickest way to drive a wedge between you and your spouse. If you use the past as a trump card to win an argument, you are on dangerous ground. Sometimes, as a Christian, your past will be brought to mind, and you’ll be tempted to get discouraged and feel that you’re worthless. When this happens, remind yourself that God doesn’t remember your past. He’s forgiven it, and that’s not who you are anymore. The book of Psalms reminds us that God has removed our sins and doesn’t remember them anymore.
Battle Zone 3: Overcoming Immorality with Purity
The word purity is sometimes defined as “without mixture.” Unfortunately, immorality has permeated our culture and mixed with its values. Every day we are bombarded with images and videos with inappropriate content. If purity means without mixture, then we have to ask ourselves, what are we mixing our lives with on a daily basis? Just as we would never drink a glass of muddy water, we must keep our hearts and minds free from mixture.
Whatever we are exposed to becomes our battlefield. Think of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. The forbidden fruit looked good and probably tasted good, and they believed that it would make them like God. From their example, we can identify three areas of temptation:
- Lust of the eyes: what you see you desire, so go get it. This is why marketing is a multibillion-dollar industry. You see a picture of a steak, and you want one. You see an image of chocolate, and you want it. What you continually look at and desire determines the direction of your life.
- Lust of the flesh: it feels good and right, so do it. Just because something feels good doesn’t mean it’s of God or good for you. Romans 8 actually tells us that a mind controlled by natural desires leads to death. Whoa! A mind controlled by the Spirit of God, however, leads to life and peace. Your choice: death or life.
- Pride of life: sacrifice integrity and identity to gain respect or to get what you want. For example, you’re tempted to lie so you can get promoted, or you measure yourself by your accomplishments or your bank account. Because Adam and Eve didn’t trust God or believe Him, they got mixed up and confused. They began to value other things more than God Himself. The way to overcome this temptation is by agreeing with God. The enemy questioned God’s word to Adam and Eve, which caused them to doubt and led to sin. Agreeing with God will keep your head and heart clear about what is really important.
Battle Zone 4: Overcoming Idolatry with Worship
The Israelites were told to put no other gods (idols) before God Himself. Our culture is typically unfamiliar with the word idol. We understand that people in other cultures worship trees, animals, and even other gods, but we don’t do that here, right? Idolatry is like bad breath: it’s easy to smell in other cultures, but difficult to smell in our own.
Idolatry can be defined as giving something first place in your life or possessing something you feel like you can’t live without. With that definition, anything can become an idol: gardening, TV, hunting, a vehicle, etc. It’s taking a good thing and making it an ultimate thing. For example, sports are good, but they become an ultimate thing when a commitment to sports negatively affects a person’s finances, marriage, or relationship with their kids.
The way to overcome idolatry is with worship. Worship is giving God first place in your life and making important what He considers important.
Battle Zone 5: Overcoming Rebellion with Obedience
Because of sin, we all have a feeling in our heart of “I’m going to do my own thing; I’m going to do life my way, and I don’t care about anyone else.” This is the mistake that Satan made. He said, “I will be like God and sit on my throne.” Basically, he wanted to be God. When we take on that same attitude, our lives begin to spiral downward because we were never meant to be the ones in charge.
Rebellion can look like a lot of things, such as not wanting to obey God or parents, or not treating a boss or supervisor with respect. Obedience overcomes rebellion. When we submit our wills to God and begin to obey Him, we begin to tap in to life itself. We begin to see that our identity and purpose are found, not in achieving self-actualization, but in submission and obedience to the one who created us and loves us.
In which of the areas mentioned above are you struggling? How could you begin to overcome in these areas? Talk about this with an accountability partner.
- The Bondage Breaker by Neil Anderson
- Think Differently Live Differently by Bob Hamp