15/7/11 Isaiah 22-24; Hebrews 12
S: Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. Hebrews 12:7-8 As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father? If God doesn’t discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children at all.
O: Even though we have been bought with a price, even though we have been crucified with Christ and raised with Him, we still have the temptations of the flesh with us as long as we live in this world. If we don't resist that temptation to sin, God will discipline us as a loving father disciplines his children for their own good.
A: The word "jihad" means "to strive" and many peace-loving Muslims have pointed out that "holy war" is only one possible use of the word. A major use of the word is the striving within ourselves for holiness.
That kind of jihad is not only a Muslim concept, but also a Christian one. Paul talks about the struggle of knowing what is right but having to fight his flesh from doing it in Romans 7:13-25 and to beat his body into submission to Christ 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. James 4:7 tells us to resist the devil, and 1 Corinthians 6:18 tells us to flee sexual immorality.
As some of you know, I often struggle with pornography. Sometimes I wonder why God doesn't punish me, based on Hebrews 12:7-8. Perhaps it is because I am striving against it. I still give in to temptation once in a while, but I'm not just letting it go. I am seeking accountability from brothers in Christ. I repent when I fall and get back up and turn around and follow Christ again. I do thank God that He has given me a wife who doesn't freak out about it.
So I must strive on. The price of freedom is eternal vigilance. This is my personal jihad. I can do this as Christ strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13 -- hmm, is this taking the verse out of context? In context, Paul is not talking about temptation, but rather about how he can endure all sorts of hardship for the cause of Christ because Christ strengthens him.)
P: Father, when I am tempted, remind me of what Your Son has done for me. Give me the resolve to beat my body into submission to You. Help me to always resist the devil and flee sexual immorality. Thank You for the wonderful wife You have given me. I want to be able to say like Paul at the end of my life, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing." (2 Timothy 4:7-8) In Jesus' name, amen.