By Evangelist B. N. Wire
How The Holy Conquer
"The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of the strongholds, casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. II Cor. 10:4-5.
I. Guard the Thought Life.
"Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee; because he trusteth in thee." Isa. 26:3. Like begets like is as true in one's thought life as elsewhere. Just as an evil heart generates evil thoughts, a pure heart generates pure thoughts. If a fountain is pure, the stream will be pure. "Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? " Jas. 3:11. But to the pure soul Satan presents and suggests evil from without. Satan can present evil but he cannot force us to think about it. Because the tempter offers evil is no reason why we should receive it and make it our own. "Resist the Devil and he will flee from you." Jas. 4:7. Eve in the garden demonstrated to us that the first step toward falling spiritually is to allow Satan to get one's attention, and hence draw out one's thoughts to the pleasability of sin. The only hope of our conquering is to go to God for a sanctified and reconstructed thought life that "Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report", that we may think on these things.
But here is the biggest battle of the Christian life. The whole world about us is organized to keep God's children from thinking on that that is true, lovely, pure and just. The newspaper, the billboard, sex appeal styles of dress, modern boldness of Satanic evils - all work together to rob the soul of spiritual meditation so essential to holy living. Sometimes when I walk the streets of our wicked cities and see nothing but the workings of sin, selfishness, greed, pleasure, lust and deceit, I return home with a sense that I have been in Satan's swine pen and my soul groans for an hour alone with God to cleanse itself of the polluted atmosphere of a wicked world. Yet God does not want us to be hermetic and monastic to keep clean from the world. Jesus said, "I pray not that thou shouldst take them out of the world, but that thou shouldst keep them from the evil." John 17:15. He cried in the very next breath, "Sanctify them!" This is our need. A holy insulation, a heavenly fumigation that will keep us from contamination. They were to be in the world yet not of the world, either without or within. Yet holiness only insures against contamination in essential and necessary contacts with this worldly atmosphere and people. We must beware of any unnecessary contacts and have no intimate fellowships with the ungodly or the hidden works of darkness. We must everlastingly guard our desire for knowledge that though right and good in itself may lead us into forbidden fields because of offers of novel and new experiences and increased wisdom. Here is where the first Adam was enticed and defeated.
Keep the attention and the imagination from Satan's enticing grip. Keep them fastened only on the good and the lawful. When you see them being drawn aside by anyone or anything, pull them back by the power of your will through prayer. Change your surroundings at once if possible. If that cannot be done go to prayer, read the Word of God or some good book and by all means get your train of thought back on the right track.
II. Watch and Pray.
"Watch and pray lest ye enter into temptation." Matt. 26:41. It is just as essential to watch as it is to pray. God expects us to use our intelligence to detect the schemes and avoid the traps and snares laid for our feet. If we watch we will see Satan placing us in circumstances to break down our resistance to evil. We must flee from such associations and atmospheres. If we trifle or see how far we can go without falling we are certain to fall. Satan will give us all we can bear even if we tend to our own business and keep as far away from the dividing line between the church and the world, and between sin and righteousness as possible. God brought Daniel out of the lion's den, but He would not have done so had Daniel presumed to jump into the lion's den for an experiment, or to show off. One man said he did not comprehend what it meant to "watch and pray" until one night while he was praying with his eyes shut a boy hit him on the head with a rotten egg. After that he said he prayed with his eyes open so that he might dodge, if necessary.
Pray! "The Devil trembles when he sees the weakest saint upon his knees." In a certain consolidated school a little boy was being maltreated by his fellows at the recess hour. As quickly as possible he ran into the next room and told his big brother. When the big brother came on the scene all the trouble makers ran away and he was safe and unafraid. Just so we have a Big Brother to whom we can go. "Greater is He that is within you than he that is within the world." I John 4:4. The hymn writer wrote, "I need thee every hour, stay Thou near by. Temptations lose their power when thou art nigh." How true to Christian experience it is!
III. Use the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.
Jesus met Satan's approach with "It is written." We can follow no better example. David said, "Thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against Thee. Ps. 119:11. Human arguments and wisdom fail us. But the Bible can no more fail than God can lie. We must stick to and have faith in the Word of God. "His truth shall be my shield and buckler." Ps. 91:4. A "Thus saith the Lord" is like a crushing hammer and a piercing spear to drive back the attacks of Satan in the hour of temptation.
IV. Finally, Be steady in your Faith.
Paul cries, "Above all taking the shield of faith that ye may be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked." Eph. 6:16. No artillery in earth or hell has ever been able to pierce the shield of faith. This is always "The victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." I John 5:4. The mighty warriors whose names are in the hall of fame in Hebrews the eleventh chapter, obtained this good report through faith. Consider the following Scripture verses:
Build A Fence Around Your Life!
To preserve the purity of the heart a fence must be built about the life. That simple fence is made up of posts of obedience and rails of faith. Satan is just as anxious to sow the seed of sin again in the soil of the soul of the sanctified as he was to sow this seed of sin in Eve's heart in the beginning. And the possibility of a breakdown may come by the same means that corrupted our first parent.
Remember, the first thing is obedience. Do your duty every day in every thing, little or big, no matter how you feel and at any cost. Drive the posts of obedience deep into your soul with the hammer of your will every day. If you walk in the light and keep your vows and then have faith in God you will never fall. But if you allow the canker worm of neglect or carelessness to eat upon the posts of obedience (neglect your secret prayer life, family altar, Bible reading, tithing, attendance of means of grace, the keeping of any vow) Satan will detect your weak point and break through the fence and sin again will take root in the soil of your soul. I emphasize obedience because we cannot trust when disobedient, and here is where we generally fail first. However, there will be a real fight of faith and we must lay the rails of faith high on the post of obedience if we are to conquer constantly. We are not kept by the power of God through feeling, but through faith. Stick to and look at the unfailing and unchanging facts and not the feelings in the case and you will never get into the dark. Amen and Amen!
P.S. Turn back to chapter one at the end of the second point in the sermon and read the illustration as to how Jesus overcame the temptations of Satan in the wilderness. Since Jesus overcame as a man, there can be no better example of how the holy are tempted and how they overcome.