Thought for the Week - 23rd JunePastor Gareth Watkins
2 Timothy 1: 9-10
9 who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to
our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began,
10 but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel
Last week, Mark wrote about how the devil can try to obscure our vision of God, much like when we hold up a small coin in front of the sun. He wrote how the devil tries to misrepresent God, our wonderful creator and the sustainer of life. He’s a schemer and a liar, and he brings a mental battle into our minds.
If you’re a believer today, or at any time past, you’ll have encountered that snake that tries to bring down God to your level, who tries to bring in doubts, and brings you to a place where there’s battles within you. The snake is around.
God is bigger than it all. In Timothy above we read an incredible affirmation of what God has done in our lives. God has saved us. God has called each one of us with a Holy calling. God has called us according to His own purposes and plans. God has called according to His grace, through Jesus Christ. God has called us before time began. God has brought us into a life, and a life which contains immortality. That’s an awful lot in one verse!
If you’re a Christian, you’ll have fought battles in your own mind on every single one of those points:
“Has God saved me?”
“Why has God saved me?”
“Is it possible for God to save me, because of my sins?”
“I’m not a bad person, so I don’t need what the bad people need. I’m okay thank you very much”
Right back in the beginning of the Bible we see the snake in the garden, whispering ”that’s not real”, “you don’t need saving”. And so on.
You’ll have fought your battles with that one question. The snake is whispering. We have these mental battles. Paul knows these things and He writes about them. God has called us with a Holy calling. Does God call us to be Holy or to be sinful? Can we do what we like? Is God Holy? Is God calling us to be Holy like He is? Is God changing our sinful life into a Holy life?
These battles can go on. We can think we can’t make it. We can think all sorts of things.
Then we have that God called us to His own purpose. We can wonder why He called us? What purpose has God got with me? There can be mental argument after mental argument. Did God call me before the beginning of time? Was Paul called before the beginning of time? Is that real? Who am I to be thought of by God before the beginning of time?
These battles will come to all Christians. The devil will try to whip you with these things. He’s going to attack you and undermine you, and make you feel low about these things. He’s going to misrepresent the truth of God in all these things. The mistruth is going to come right through the lot and you are going to have to deal with it.
It started in Genesis, continues through the Old Testament, and continues into the New Testament. We’ve all doubted at various times and wondered “is this right?”. But praise God, we are in a battle that we can win.
God has called you and me to live the best possible life that we can on this earth. Without God’s calling, we can’t live that best possible life. We can live in our own way and depend on our own intelligence, connections and finances, but we won’t live that best possible life on this earth without that relationship with God which Paul speaks of.
The good bit is that God’s Grace comes into being when your own natural strength and thoughts disappear. When you come to the end of yourself, that’s when you see God doing the rest. Because He does it. Our natural ability and connections can only take us so far, but the miracle of God begins from that time and takes us on, when He calls us and saves us. He takes us, moulds us, changes our thinking, changes our very conscious into something that becomes His. Without that, we cannot help ourselves. God is the one who takes us from where we are, unto an eternity that belongs to Him.
Paul speaks of it in one small verse. It’s incredible what Paul can speak of that reflects of where we are.
The last few months have been tough few months for a few people in terms of the battles described here. We need to be real about the battle that goes on, and to establish how God has brought your life into a victory over those battles that have been particular to you. That’s the reality: what has happened and what’s the outcome after the battle is finished.
Some have had a bended knee moment. Some have had to pick themselves up and carry on in faith, despite not feeling like it. Some have won the battles. Some still have things to sort out. The battle is in our minds and is very, very real. Some have suffered and have had a tough time. But the blessing will come.
Paul writes more about this sort of thing in 2 Corinthians 10: 3-5:
3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh.
4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds,
5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,
Paul writes about what goes on in terms of these battles. He also shows us how to win these battles, in the way that God would have you win. God hasn’t saved you to fail. God hasn’t meant you to fail in this spiritual walk. He’s meant you to conquer and to be victorious.
Paul, above, writes about weapons, war and arguments that exist in our mind. The arguments are around the list of things we read in Timothy: that God has saved us, called us, that God has things for me etc.
These arguments appear in our minds. For example, we can have high things that we put in priority in our lives over serving God. Yet, God has called us to be His person, to do what we have to do in Him. Not to put our own thoughts, preference and desires above Him. Arguments rage on for all of us.
How do we beat those arguments that come into our minds? How do we pull those high things down? We have to beat these arguments. In natural sense we can’t beat these arguments. In a natural sense we can’t win the battle and we can’t win this war.
When the battle comes saying:
- God can’t save you
- I don’t belong
- I don’t fit in
- I’m doing my own thing
I’m isolating myself
- These are arguments that are not of God.
This is where the war of the snake is. He whispers us into our ear that we can’t cope. Is it normal? Yes it is. Every single one of us will get these arguments and high thoughts coming, where our thoughts and preferences are put on a pedestal.
Why will they continue to come? Because there’s always a devil until God finishes him off. Why is it normal? Because we have unregenerate thoughts – thoughts that don’t belong to God, but come from our sinful past that we need to deal with.
Whilst all that is going on, there’s going to come thoughts, high places and strongholds that we’ve not giving over to God. If we’ve not given them over to God, they’re going to cause troubles in our life.
Can we overcome these battles? Are we given the weapons to win these battles? Yes we are!
What are these weapons going to do? The weapons, we read in verse 4, are for pulling down strongholds. What is a stronghold in your life? It could be other people who cause you to be in bondage to them. It could be thinking in a certain way towards people if people don’t treat you well or unjustly. It could be you thinking you can only do so much due to low self esteem. That is where a stronghold is. You need God to break through that. It needs to be identified, and God needs to break though.
The weapons we’re given will break down strongholds. Verse 5 tells us that these weapons will also break down arguments. Arguments that rage within yourself, from your families and friends. The devil, the whisperer, will come and whisper all sorts of arguments. You need to bring those arguments into obedience in Jesus Christ. That is where you take the practical Word of God. We can’t win the argument or stronghold, so we bring it to God and ask Him to come into it.
We’re given weapons, not as the world would use, but weapons that are mighty in God! They are powerful weapons to break those strongholds that we’ve picked up and carried all our lives.
There are unseen forces that want to break you down in your walk with Jesus Christ.
It’s normal. It’s part of our spiritual life. And it’s part of our experience as a Christian. It’s normal to have these things happening.
How do we use these weapons?
First, we read the Word of God. God speaks through all the books of the Bible. Find the reality of what God says through His Word. The reality of what God says through His Word will be what breaks the power of these strongholds, casting every argument down. Can I be fruitful? Can I have an abundant life? Can I go into eternity? Yes I can! All the arguments you can find can be established in the Word of God and broken in that place.
The second weapon is the weapon of prayer. Where we know this is what God says and we have to pray something into being.
I once had a physical condition that was exceptionally painful and couldn’t be cured. I started to pray. Every day I’d start the day thanking God for healing me despite being still in pain. I found that the pain started going away. I kept thanking God every single day for His healing, until one day it disappeared completely. I continue to thank God for His healing.
Read the Word, find that living Word, and start claiming and thanking God. Pray out those prayers until those strongholds get broken down in your life. Strongholds are there. Arguments are there. They are not from God. We have to break them.
God doesn’t want to see you isolated, or brought down. He wants you as part of His Body. He wants you to break these things and bring them all into captivity under Jesus Christ.
Do you want to live in a light or a half light? Someone can live in a half light, where they only allow so much of God into their life. Why? Because they still want to do my their own thing. They still want to claim their own life. Sometimes, it’s too painful to confront those things that hold you in bondage, so by not dealing with those things you keep yourself in half the light.
Christ has saved us, has kept us, has a plan for our eternity, plans to break all these strongholds and arguments. If you can’t get free yourself and have done as much as you can do but you’re still fighting for freedom, go for ministry – don’t live in the half light. Compromise was never in the Christian book.
God wants us to be free, and the battles won.
Do you want to live in light or semi darkness?Pride is the greatest stronghold of them all. Break the things that bind you. Our weapons are mighty in God for pulling down strongholds and casting down arguments of every high place that exalts itself in our lives above God.
Bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.