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Marching Orders

by J. L. Thompson

Root Canal Faith
Did you really think this Christian gig would be a walk in the park? Nobody promised that following Christ would be a piece of cake, and now in this post-Christian age, living for him is about as popular as getting a root canal. Apostle Peter made the possibility of taking flack for Christ perfectly clear: 1 Peter 3:13-17 ESV (13) Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? (14) But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, (15) but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, (16) having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. (17) For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, than for doing evil. Peter addressed the church’s most pressing need, as the saints in those days could see persecution’s dark clouds on the horizon. Between this, and Jesus’ command to acknowledge him before men, we have our marching orders. Matthew 10:27-33 ESV (27) What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. (28) And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. (29) Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. (30) But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. (31) Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. (32) So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, (33) but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven. The New Testament consistently warns us about the danger of openly proclaiming our allegiance to Christ, but even more, the danger of denying him in the face of adversity. Yet, God’s word does not leave us defenseless: Ephesians 6:10-18 ESV (10) Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. (11) Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. (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. (13) Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the

but to think with sober judgment. which is the word of God. Most of us hold our swords only when going to church. they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. or impotent from fear. having fastened on the belt of truth. impurity. and they are legion. making supplication for all the saints. and things like these. (16) In all circumstances take up the shield of faith. Though the terms are symbolic. rivalries. dissensions. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh. enmity. sensuality. with God’s armor in place and his gifts fully engaged. (15) and. jealousy." 1 Peter 2:16 ESV Live as people who are free. that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. the brethren. while that list seems fairly comprehensive. (18) For. with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one. (14) For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (Romans 12:3 ESV) One of the first things we learn when we come to the Lord is about our liberty in Christ. Galatians 5:19-21 ESV Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality. For whatever overcomes a person. speaking loud boasts of folly. we don’t even know our true enemies. any reasonably resourceful scum-bag is able to legally circumvent it. (19) They promise them freedom. with all prayer and supplication. Given a rule. but living as servants of God. drunkenness. 2 Peter 2:17-19 ESV (speaking of false teachers—televangelists?) These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. sorcery. and having done all. Galatians 5:13-14 ESV For you were called to freedom. it certainly is not intended to be used as a rule book of specific “no-nos” in . read but a few verses a day in some canned devotional. Speaking of enemies. and having put on the breastplate of righteousness. (18) praying at all times in the Spirit. not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil. and couldn’t answer a hostile challenge to our faith if our lives depended upon it. We face warfare of unprecedented intensity. Our freedom in Christ is a wonderful thing. to that he is enslaved. What’s worse. as I warned you before. fits of anger. to stand firm. having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. For them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved. (20) idolatry. but through love serve one another. but despite their careful explanations. Our only way to meet and overcome our enemies is to face them in the power of God’s Holy Spirit. (21) envy. but they themselves are slaves of corruption. as shoes for your feet. Both Paul and Peter made that fact perfectly clear throughout their letters to the churches. To that end keep alert with all perseverance. brothers. (14) Stand therefore. Know Your Enemy The church is about as ready for battle as a battalion of toy soldiers. the greatest threat we face is the one we see in a mirror. divisions. I warn you. (17) and take the helmet of salvation. and the sword of the Spirit. For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think. each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. both then and now. we can easily become over confident from conceit. but it doesn’t include permission to pursue the works of the flesh. strife. So. the danger isn’t. When we view ourselves in any way but through the eyes of faith.evil day. have always tried to spin that teaching to satisfy the flesh. orgies.

even “Geraldine” could do it. The devil can’t “make” anyone do wrong. and treats the perpetual battle between good and evil as a struggle between Satan and God’s Son Jesus. but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape. Those who want badly enough to live for Christ have no excuse to sin. if there is anything worthy of praise. if there is any excellence. envy. "What comes out of a person is what defiles him. or persecution. murder. theft. whatever is lovely. or nakedness. . the “liberated” entertainment media now makes Flip’s routines seem like a Sunday school quarterly. What follows is the truth of the matter. we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered. adultery. whatever is honorable. whatever is true. Romans 8:35-39 ESV (35) Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation. and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability. God is faithful. out of the heart of man. as though the two are equal combatants and the outcome teeters in the balance. pride. (39) nor height nor depth. (38) For I am sure that neither death nor life. that you may be able to endure it. Instead. whatever is pure. is to keep God’s armor in place. deceit. and they defile a person. nor angels nor rulers. slander.” And our best defense against the enemy. in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. whatever is commendable. foolishness. (Philippians 4:8 ESV) Our marching orders have always been to “stand firm. But God’s word shoots down that weak-kneed theory. or distress. think about these things. brothers.” It’s so simple. countless Christians buy into the same lie today. sexual immorality. nor things present nor things to come. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. nor anything else in all creation. “The Devil Made Me Do It” Though Flip Wilson popularized his “Geraldine” routine a generation ago. in all his manifestations. Mark 7:20-23 ESV (20) And he said. will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (22) coveting. a list of principles that our love for Christ and his blood-bought ones will keep us from violating. or danger.the church. or famine." (37) No. you are from God and have overcome them(those who speak for the spirit of the antichrist). for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world." Pop Christianity identifies our enemy as Satan. (1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV) What is that way? Finally. or sword? (36) As it is written. we must view it as the very tip of an iceberg of fleshly works. nor powers. In their attack on traditional morality. 1 John 4:4 ESV Little children. (23) All these evil things come from within. come evil thoughts. sensuality. and “think on these things. (21) For from within. wickedness. whatever is just. "For your sake we are being killed all the day long.