If there is a perpetual resolution every born-again believer ought to have every year, it is the mortification of sin. Spiritual self-development ought to be at the forefront of all our earthly plans. But you have a real enemy who is bent on ensuring you remain in the mire of sin. We are told in James 4:7 that when we submit to God and resist the devil, he will flee from us. Satan flees from a believer who opposes him. But the prerequisite to effective opposition of Satan, according to James 4:7, lies in first submitting to God. How then do we submit to God?
In all of Jesus’ temptations in Matthew 4:1-11, our LORD resisted sin and overcame. However, this was preceded by submission to the Father. His response to the wiles of the devil started off the same way; “It is written.” Jesus’ first line of attack is quoting the word of God. Submission to the scriptures is submission to God. Christ knew this; He did it and He triumphed over temptation. The believer who is constantly failing under temptation must make the scriptures his or her magnificent obsession. Allow the word to edit your life. If you do not allow the word of God to offend your lifestyle to submission, your resistance to Satan will be a mere meow in a world of roaring overcoming believers. How personally invested are you in the scriptures? Here are a few ways in which believers fail to invest their lives in the scriptures, and so fail to submit to God, and hence fall into temptation.
We demote the scriptures to mere opinion
One of the key lessons that new believers ought to learn early on is that the scriptures are the authoritative words of the Creator. They are not in league with the popular opinions of talk show hosts and celebrities. The word of God isn’t another voice to the many tweets we have. The LORD Himself affirms this (See Proverbs 30:5-6, Numbers 23:19, Psalm 12:6). When we are unaware of the supremacy of the scriptures, we fail to submit to them. Believers who think the scriptures to be open for debate and change are akin to the secretary who ignores and mistreats the guest who walked into the office, unaware that he owns the very company that employs her. Everything in the universe is under the employ of God the Creator. And God the Creator has made His will known to us in the scriptures. Realise the supremacy of the scriptures; if you do, you will hang onto every word He says. It’s not another opinion; it’s the righteous decree of the King of Heaven. Every other book can inform you; only the Bible can transform you.
We do not engage the scriptures
The second tragedy that brings about the domino effect whose end result is succumbing into temptation is not engaging the word of God. Being upset that God’s help is not available to you when your Bible is closed is similar to complaining that friends don’t call you when your phone is off. You cannot be transformed by the scripture you haven’t read (Revelation 1:3), heard (Romans 10:17), studied (Acts 17:11), memorized (Psalm 119:9-11) and meditated on (Joshua 1:8). I dare say you cannot even practise (John 13:17) a scripture you haven’t engaged. I often hear believers who lament something sort of this: “What’s the point of all that scripture memory if you don’t practise it? I would rather practise it than memorise it?” It is true that it is a most pointless venture to engage the scriptures and not practise it. But to say that you would rather practise it than memorise it would be to prefer driving a car to fueling it. It is a most absurd thing to pit the two actions against each other; they are not mutually exclusive but rather, they are complementary. To go for a drive, you must fuel the car. Yet we have a generation of believers who think they will drive spiritual cars without spiritual fuel. No wonder the spiritual sickness and soul maladies in the church today. We have several believers pushing their vehicles to the nearest gas station as they faint and fall in the scorching sun of the world. But when we engage the scriptures, we are refueled over and over and we can wait on the LORD and not faint or grow weary (Isaiah 40:31).
The Centre for Bible Engagement conducted a research on 40,000 believers who engaged their bibles at different number of times in a week. The believers were between the ages 8-80 years. They came from 24 different countries. They came from more than 75 different denominations. The results showed that believers who engaged their Bibles between 0-3 times had negligible changes in their lives. The survey says this: “In fact, the lives of Christians who do not engage the Bible most days of the week are statistically the same as the lives of non-believers.” Imagine that! One would think that clocking 3 days a week of Bible reading would have a significant change in one’s life. It didn’t. However, the magic begins at number 4. Believers who engaged their bibles 4 to more times a week experienced a spike in the graph. Over a consistent period of time, these 4 plus believers had the following results:
- Loneliness dropped 30%
- Anger dropped 32%
- Bitterness dropped 40%
- Alcohol consumption dropped 57%
- Feeling spiritually stagnant dropped 60%
- Viewing pornography dropped 61%
- Likelihood to memorise scripture increased 407% (wow!)
- Confidence to share one’s faith increased 228%
- Desire to disciple others increased 230%
Just look at that! When we sang the Sunday school song, “Read your bible and pray everyday,” we were dealing with a spiritual nuke and we did not even know it.
We do not worship in Spirit and in truth
We can manipulate men but we cannot manipulate God. He is not an algorithm. When we are not sincere about obeying God, we only lie to ourselves. A friend of mine posted this on Facebook sometime back. He said: Men can read the bible and teach you, men can pray for you but none can worship Him for you because intimacy is not and cannot be delegated. You can never delegate a humble heart, a contrite spirit and a trembling at God’s word to someone else (See Isaiah 66:2). You may fellowship in community but you will stand judged in eternity as an individual. God cannot be mocked (See Galatians 6:7). If we love our sin, then we hate our LORD (Luke 6:46). If we hold no desire to repent, to obey and to be like the LORD Jesus, we must evaluate our justification (See 2 Corinthians 13:5).
If you are a regenerate Christian and you are struggling, be encouraged that God the Father will never give up on the believer. The believer may give up on themselves but the Father will remain faithful to the very end. He says in 2 Timothy 2:13 “If we are faithless, He remains faithful for He cannot deny himself.” The Father would be in contradiction to His own character to be unfaithful to the believer. This is your confidence, believer. You may be done with yourself but God is not done with you. Think about it; when will God the Father ever give up on Christ Jesus? Never, right? God will only give up on the born again believer the day He will give up on Jesus. And since He will never give up on the Son of God, He will never give up on the sons of God. Why? Because Christ dwells in the believer. Because the righteousness of the Son of God has been imputed on those that believe. Because the imperishable inheritance of the saints has been sealed. The Son of God became a man so that men could become sons of God. We not only receive His righteousness but also His untainted status before the heavenly Father. Since we have this confidence, we submit to His word, not to receive righteousness, but out of an abundance of the righteousness that dwells inside of us because of grace.