My church does not yet have a building of its own, temporarily renting from a local elementary school. Because of that, logistics keep us from having a formal evening service. Until that changes, a number of us get together at the end of each Lord’s Day to devote ourselves to the word of God, prayer, and singing.
It struck me, leaving that meeting last night, that everything I’d taught from Romans 8 was more or less what my college minister had taught me years ago. Thousands of dollars into seminary studies, and I’m still teaching the stuff I got for free. And it doesn’t stop there. How do I teach the practicals of prayer? The Lord’s Prayer and Acts, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication (ACTS), exactly what a sophomore, who’s now ministering in South Asia, had drilled into me when I was a freshman.
Tonight, the same pattern, that of sticking to the free stuff, no matter what highfalutin letters I’ve pursued, showed itself again. I was talking with a brother about pursuing broader victory in the surrounding, pagan culture by focusing fundamentally on personal holiness and holiness in the local church. In the war for personal holiness, you have to know your enemy, and know when and how he’s going to come at you the hardest. Well, the way I think that through isn’t based on some excellent book by a Puritan. It’s based on a corny talk a sophomore gave me and the fellas our second semester at school, sitting in an empty room in the science building, Gottwald.
He said that our enemy, the devil, is going to HIT us hardest when we’re Hungry, Isolated, and Tired. Apart from adding a second “I”, I expect to be telling my sons and grandsons the same thing that sophomore told me.
If you are Hungry, if you’re not regularly feeding in prayerful time in the word, if you’re not daily reading your Bible, expect temptation to be fierce and expect to succumb to it.
If you’re Isolated, not regularly attending church, paying attention in church, gratefully receiving the Lord’s Supper with faith, meeting with brothers, speaking of the things of the Lord with them, confessing sin to them, then expect sin to be compounded in your life.
If you’re Idle, the second “I”, expect the same thing. What does the Good Book say? Idle hands are soft like a little girl’s? No, that’s not it. “He also that is slothful in his work is brother to him that is a great waster.” It’s not that idle hands do nothing, but that idle hands are free to work destruction and sin.
If you’re Tired, look out. If you’re not sleeping enough, for good reasons, your energy reserves are depleted for resisting temptation and fighting sin. If you’re not sleeping enough for lame reasons or no reason at all, know that wickedness loves the dark. It is photosensitive. If you’re undisciplined in your sleeping habits and therefore up late into the night, know that you are in heightened danger.
Want to play a good defense against the wiles of your enemy? Read the Bible every day. Prayerfully think about what you’ve read. Memorize from what you’ve read. The young man keeps his ways pure by hiding God’s word in his heart. Be an involved member of your local church. Sweat a lot. Do a lot of hard work. Enter each day with goals to pursue. Have a plan and don’t be lazy. And sleep. For the Lord upholds the universe even when you’re not awake.
Brethren, may our Father bless us richly, to see ourselves grow in holiness, our families and churches grow in holiness, and Christ’s enemies defeated throughout the land.