The Plan of Attack: an Inside Job

The Gospel’s plan of attack is an inside job; but in a sense, so is the dark side’s.

My morning’s time with the Lord started with 1 Peter 5:8-9. Those are the verses that warn us, “The devil is your enemy, and he goes around like a roaring lion looking for someone to attack and devour.” Tricia Goyer writes about a safari she went on, where she witnessed lions beginning the hunt. The big cats weren’t roaring – yet. They were maneuvering in stealth, patiently closing in on their prey, spying out the weak and wandering. When they were heard, it was too late. For some poor creature.

A classic example of ‘us and them’. Some would say, humankind is no different. That we’re basically animals. It’s in our nature to kill or be killed. If the #1 question is whether the force that created us has a personality and purpose, then this has to be one of the next: what is it that separates us from all other species? (A: it has to be either nothing or something.)

I say it is our ability to rise above our instincts. For example, my son is a vegetarian; my daughter a vegan. Clearly, they have both made a conscious choice that goes completely against what their parents (and ancestors) taught as one of our foundational needs: what to eat. (We ain’t bred to eat just bread?)

‘How we shall live’ covers quite a lot of behaviors, obviously. But I think that ignoring our spiritual side is most dangerous to our survival. On the whole. As the ‘animals’ that people this earth. IOW, we need to think upon – to consider – what created us. To decide what we believe. To choose. And then live from where this belief starts us. The beauty of it is, even if one doesn’t agree there’s a purpose-driven creator, humans are still faced with rising above – if only to live peacefully together. (Of course, I’m assuming – again – that that is what we all want.)

Tricia continues:

“…in God’s Word, we are told to stand firm. …we have Jesus standing up for us. And even when our enemy roars, our Lord stands stronger. No one is immune from the attack, but all believers have a shield of protection in Jesus Christ.”

In short, there is a way to get above our impulses, our needs-driven, me-against-the world urges. It’s something that can be followed and learned. Studied. By hitting ‘the books’.

Moving on, Men of Integrity continued with excerpts from this week’s book, Recovering Redemption (I think I will definitely get this and read the whole thing), by Chandler and Snetzer. From 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold the new has come.” Ephesians 4:17-32 were the “dig deeper” verses:

“…don’t continue living like those who don’t believe… leave your old self… stop living the evil way you lived before… be that new person who was made to be like God…”

Certainly, this a clear indication we are able – and even expected – to change. To grow. To grow up. Upwards. That spiritual formation and development is a vital part of life.

I want to point out something very important about the New Testament, summarized in Ephesians 4:17. “Don’t continue living like those who don’t believe.” Nowhere does it say “kill the unbelievers” or “force them to convert” or especially even “hate them.” It implies continuing to live beside them, and directly states to not live like them. Hate the sin, yes; but love the sinner. Because, ultimately, salvation is only in the sinner’s personal relationship with his/her creator. Nothing external does that work. Believers can only be an example – not a standard – in our deeds (primarily) and our words. It’s how we deal with live – which will have troubles – that shows we have something better. Something to want.

From Recovering Redemption:

“Religion is always outside-in, but the Gospel goes from the inside out.”

The Gospel’s plan of attack is an inside job. Christianity is all – and only – about – in a word – self-improvement. Self-discipline. Self-discipling. (Learning. Studying. Growing.)

“…these things still require a battle of self-discipline, since we remain in the process of learning how to quiet those lazy, deceptive voices inside ourselves. But we’re not seeking God to get [accolades]. We’re seeking him to enjoy even greater intimacy with him, [and] to open more and more of those inner closets we’ve tried to restrict [him from accessing], thinking he might reject us if he knew…
“…we study his Word …attack our sin, share generously… serve the people around us… because [God] wants us to dig even deeper into the treasury of his blessings, into the joy and sweetness and abundant living his Gospel unlocks for us.”

Sure, we still have an instinct to attack. But the correct target is only our own old lesser self. The me of yesterday. What can I do today that makes me better? At living with people.

I started off by saying the ‘dark side’ also uses a plan of attack from the inside. To elaborate this, the example of the wolf in sheep’s clothing is more appropriate. Lions quietly sneak up on and deploy themselves for the sudden roaring charge. Wolves quietly insert themselves into the herd of “us” and assassinate one by one. They stir “us” up against a perceived external attacker (“them”), all the while they are the divisive enemy.

Note: I write this the morning after Nice. And I’m really wondering if we are called to … preserve… the peace and safety and security that civilized community requires. Spiritual formation is best done under these conditions?

Only What Is (And Has Been) Foretold

I feel it necessary to make a correction to Scripture. Indeed.

2 Timothy 3

:1 Remember this: There are some terrible times coming in the last days.
:2 People We will love only themselves ourselves and money. They We will be proud and boast only about themselves ourselves. (Note: see my post’s first line.) They We will abuse each other with politically incorrect, sarcastic-yet-hurtful, intended as humorous except when delivered with real anger and unfortunately received by the now super thin-skinned insults. They We will not obey their our parents ancesters and their wise “people-who-forget-history-are-doomed-to-repeat-it” advice. They We will be ungrateful and against all that is pleasing to God, our Creator, who, being The Creator, so obviously knows what is and what will be, and told us so in writing.
:3 They We will have no love for others and will refuse to forgive anyone, especially those who insult us (see verse 2)They We will be cruel and hate what is good, and especially hate to admit when we are wrong and, therefore, we will not make prompt amends, if at all.
:4 People We will turn against their our friends and fellow, equal under the “law” but not in actual practice citizens. They We will do foolish and impractical, silly, ridiculous, ironic things to our own selves without thinking and yet still will be so proud of themselves ourselves. Instead of loving God, The Creator, from whom all GOOD comes, they we will love pleasure, and our own “security, significance, satisfaction, (our own version of) justice, belonging, comfort, (and fulfillment of our own) physical needs, etc” instead of intentionally watching out and caring for others, any others, our others, all others. (Quote from Jim Johnston)
:5 They We will go on pretending to be devoted to God, or, if we’ve given up believing, to some ideal of “good without God”, but they we will refuse to let that “devotion” change the way they we live. And, oh so sadly and unfortunately, it will never again be possible to stay away from these people in this lifeFrom us. Each and every one of us. Any one of us. Because there is only us. Human beings, under God, our Creator. The only “them” is from and of Satan. Evil. Separation from God. The “Ruler of this world.”

Ephesians 6:12 Our fight is not against people of earth. We are fighting against the rulers and authorities and the powers of this world’s darkness. We are fighting against the spiritual powers of evil in the heavenly places. There is a conspiracy. A conspiracy of evilness and its unholy desires.

2 Corinthians 4:4 The ruler of this world has blinded the minds of those us/we who don’t believe and even us/we who still try to believe. They We cannot see -or even slightly comprehend – the light of the Good News – the message about the divine greatness of Christ. Christ is the one who is exactly like God.

1 Corinthians 2:6 We each, but certainly not 100% of the time, in our actions or our words, try to teach wisdom to people who are mature – but so little of the time we are mature – but the wisdom we teach is not from this world. It is not the wisdom of the rulers of this world, who are losing their power, and are losing control, as civilizations continues its descent into evil and anarchy.

This has all been prophesied. Why will we not see? We can not see, as part of the purpose – part of the hard way to a repaired, redeemed, and restored creation.