Yesterday I got involved in an online discussion with some pastors about an issue one of them was dealing with within their congregation. The question that was asked had already had some responses, none of which I read before putting in my two-cents. My answer was simple and to the point.
My answer received a bit of ‘push back,’ which gave me the opportunity to add a bit of depth to my first thoughts. Which, again, generated some response. All of this was very civil and respectful, which is not always the case online and I appreciated the grace that was shared among the conversation partners.
The initial question had to do with a matter of behavior, one that I think the Bible speaks clearly about. The other side of the conversation had to do with situations and circumstances in which the behavioral choice being considered would be acceptable, perhaps even encouraged. While agreeing that there are many situations which are personally challenging, and where we would wish to create a space for acceptable exceptions, as Christians we read our Bibles and seek God’s strength to live in the ways He leads us.
Thinking about this again as I was running this morning I believe that where we often stumble is when we wrestle, consciously or not, with the question asked in Genesis 3:1,
“Did God actually say…”
That question, which unfortunately was not asked last night, lies at the heart of the discussion. It is a question that is relevant time and again for each of us each day, as we confront choice after choice with the option of believing what God says and acting accordingly, or not.
Paul is absolutely correct when he wrote to the Ephesians and said in 6:12:
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”
Sin, our active rebellion against God, is an ever-present reality, driven by a relentless, but, in an eternal sense, an ultimately futile cosmic force.
We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but we do wrestle in situations that are palpably real in their physical and emotional dimensions. And as Paul writes on, in verses 13- 18, God has equipped us for the struggle:
“Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.”
The next time we find ourselves asking “Did God actually say…” let’s remember that He did, and also that he has equipped us to follow Him in obedience, to His glory.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.