Friday, November 14, 2008

Pilgrim's Progress: how to become a giant slayer

In this combat no man can imagine, unless he had seen and heard, as I did, what yelling and hideous roaring Apollyon made all the time of the fight; he spake like a dragon: and on the other side, what sighs and groans burst from Christian’s heart.
Do you think of yourself as a warrior? Have you realised this is exactly what God wants you to be? Every day, God calls you and me to a battle against sin, the world, and Satan. He calls us to fight the good fight, demolish falsehood, take every thought captive, stand our ground, resist the devil, overcome the world, guard ourselves and the gospel, battle our sinful desires, even shed our blood (1 Tim. 6:2; 2 Cor. 10:5; Eph. 6:13; Jam. 4:7; 1 Jn. 5:4-5; Lk. 12:15; 2 Tim. 1:14; Jam. 4:1; Heb. 12:4). Here is his charge: "Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be [wo]men of courage; be strong" (1 Cor. 16:3).

There are many battles I fight daily. I battle sinful desires: gossip and bitterness, gluttony and covetousness, anger and complaining, laziness and self-absorption, anxiety and discouragement. I battle the world: magazines which produce dissatisfaction, advertising which tempts to over-spending, TV shows which promote life free from restrictive morals. I battle Satan: his whispered thoughts of temptation, worry, doubt and despair. Sometimes I win a decisive battle, only to have to take up my weapons again. ...

May we ... use well the weapons God has given us:
  • remember God is on our side, mightier than the most powerful and numerous enemy
  • stand our ground and keep fighting, however long the battle and whatever the cost
  • pray (Eph. 6:18) - it's not noticeable, but prayer is essential to every victory in Pilgrim's Progress. The children's versions usually leave it out, so add it back in if you're reading to a child!
  • put on our armour - truth, righteousness, readiness, salvation (Eph. 6:10-20)
  • carry our shield, answering all Satan's accusations with the death of Christ (Eph. 6:16)
  • wield our sword (Eph. 6:17) - read, reflect on, remember, and recall the Bible
  • hide the key of promise in our heart - memorise the Bible (Ps. 119:11)
  • seek the companionship and encouragement of other Christians
  • use the world - exercise, rest, healthy eating, the beauty of creation - to battle discouragement
  • when all else fails, pray, trust, keep doing our duty, and wait for the day God will restore his light
With such great weapons at our disposal, let's not give up in the day of battle! Let’s wake each morning, put on our armour, polish our shield, sharpen our sword, and hide the key of promise in our pocket. Let's get ready for the fight, and battle on through the long days and nights, confident that we can overcome through him who gives us strength.

Read the rest at EQUIP book club today.

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