A couple of months ago I noticed the “maintenance” light come on in my car. That meant the oil and filter needed changing. I thought, Yeah, I’ll do that soon. Right.
About a month went by and I thought: You know, I need to deal with that. I forgot again. It wasn’t until a couple weeks later I finally got it changed. I put it off because I’m a busy guy—and hey, oil and filters can always wait another day.
But then another warning light went off. This one was serious.
Do you have a buffer zone between you and what can harm you? I’m talking about putting a safeguard between you and evil influences that can cause compromise in your walk with Jesus Christ.
Interestingly, this concept of defense didn’t originate in the New Testament. We see an illustration of it throughout Old Testament history in an unusual place.
Between the Philistine plain and the Hill Country where God’s people dwelt lay 10 miles of low rolling hills. This buffer zone was known as the “Shephelah.”
The hills of the Shephelah were a geographical buffer that represented a spiritual barrier. You have a Shephelah in your life as well.
Here’s a lesson on how you can guard it.
The names may not sound like much to us.
Names like Beth Shean, Taanach, Ibleam, Megiddo and Gezer. These were cities whose residents the tribes of Manasseh and Ephraim failed to drive away.
So what? Why not let the inhabitants live in this region since they wanted it so badly?
The Lord knew why.
The failure of the tribes to drive out the inhabitants defied God’s commandments to resist the culture. Instead, God’s people tolerated the culture . . . and then embraced it.
Their example urges us to evaluate God’s commandments in our own lives.
His rules have reasons. (And they are good ones.)
In my previous post, I wrote about a Christian’s struggle with sin and 4 lies we believe about our sin.
Let’s take it a step further.
In addition to taking a defensive mindset against the lies we often believe, we need to take an active approach to sin and temptation.
Here are 4 basic strategies to help you battle the tug of temptation and sin on your heart.
Everybody sins. But when we Christians do it, reactions vary.
The world points to us as hypocrites—and often uses our sins as justification for their own. Other Christians tend to view our sins as reasons to suggest we aren’t even saved.
(Photo by Bigroger27509. Own work. CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)
But the people who offer the most brutal judgment against our sins?
Very often, it’s ourselves.
That’s because Christians struggling with sin tend to believe four lies.
A man in an Arizona circus used to train animals for the movies. Somebody asked him: “Hey, how do you tie down that 6-ton elephant with the same sized stake you use for a baby elephant?”
“That’s easy,” the trainer answered.
“When they’re babies, we stake them down. They pull and tug thousands of times until they figure out they can’t jerk loose. At that point, the elephant’s great memory kicks in, and they remember for the rest of their lives they can’t pull away. So they quit trying.”
I’ve discovered that you and I think a lot like elephants.
Especially when it comes to sin.
I went to a movie with a friend, and he gorged on popcorn, cokes, and candy. As the movie was about to end, he leaned over and whispered: “I don’t feel good. I’ll wait for you in the back.”
As I walked out, I saw him holding his stomach and twisting his face. “You want me to drive?” I offered.
“No, no, I’ll be okay,” he said.
On the way home, he slammed on the brakes, opened his door, and hurled in the street.
“You sure you don’t want me to drive?” I asked again.
“No, no,” he said, breathing heavy. “I—I feel better now.”
We drove another hundred yards, and he slammed the brakes on again! (The seat belt began to hurt my shoulder.)
Later he told me after he got home he spent some time in the bathroom. I can imagine that point in his ordeal—as he leaned over the commode and begin to experience the candy and popcorn for the second time—that he asked himself: Why in the world did I ever eat this?! Talk about regret!
I can think of no better illustration of sin and temptation in our lives than this true story.
In fact, that’s what happened to a man named Lot.
Everybody faces temptation.
And on some level, everybody has fallen to it. Everybody but Jesus.
I have walked in the wilderness where Satan tempted Jesus.
Good grief, what a place. As far as my eye could see, it was empty, dry, and depressing. I tried to imagine the solitude and struggle Jesus would have endured for over a month. But I could not.
How did Jesus resist temptation here?
Freedom from anything begins by knowing you are free.
Juneteenth—a short version of “June 19th”—remains a state holiday in Texas. It remembers the day good news arrived.
(Photo: Monkey Business Images, via Vivozoom)
But before this date in 1865, freedom had been a secret for two and a half years.
For many Christians, spiritual freedom is still a secret.