The Easy Route Won’t Produce Results
When we pick up our cross and are following Jesus, God is intimately involved with our spiritual training program. The cross and the resurrection of Jesus Christ set up this initial beneficial environment. Through Jesus, man can re-establish fellowship with God with a fresh start as new creatures in Christ.
God the Father looks at us through Christ. Christians are sinless in the sight of God the Father through the blood of Jesus shed on the cross, so that we can experience a walk of faith through the situations and circumstances God composes for the believer in this life.
This program of spiritual training is extremely important to God. In the Old Testament, God was constantly fine-tuning, changing, and using the outward political environment to get the Israelites back into a relationship of trust and faith in Him.
The various challenges of invading foreign armies, temporary military occupations of their homeland by surrounding nations, the powerful messages of prophets sent by God, and the Babylonian captivity, constantly re-established the correct environment for trust and faith in God for the Israelites during their long history.
The letters to the churches in the New Testament are designed to keep Christians within the purity of an environment of faith and trust in Jesus Christ.
As always, Lucifer attempts to get Christians off course by subverting and attacking the God-composed environment created for faith and trust to operate. Lucifer’s strategy is a straight-on attack at the very program that God sets up in this physical world designed for the people of faith to discover His love and His care.
If Lucifer incites the Midianites to attack Israel, God responds with the calling of Gideon and the uniquely creative plan of the counter-attack with the 300 Israelite soldiers. This re-established an environment in Israel for active faith in God.
If Lucifer incites the Philistines to invade Israel and defy the God of the Jews through a warrior champion like Goliath, God counters with the raising up…seemingly out of nowhere…of a courageous young man named David.
David kills the giant with one sling-shot stone perfectly aimed into the forehead of Goliath. This starts in motion a process to establish the reign of a godly king in Israel that sets up the environment for the Jewish nation to again exercise trust and reliance upon God.
The scriptures tell us that Lucifer desired to “sift” Peter during the faith-testing period of the arrest and trial of Jesus (Lk. 22:31), to destroy Peter forever in self-incrimination and despair over failing to remain true and faithful to Jesus at the critical moment. Lucifer successfully uses the unfamiliar, intimidating surroundings of the home of Caiaphas the high priest, as an unanticipated and underestimated new environment for Peter, who utterly fails in courage to acknowledge Jesus before a group of people assembled around a fire in the exterior courtyard.
Yet God counters by using this very same crushing defeat in Peter’s life to create a life-changing, positive character transformation in Peter, from previously being foolishly self-confident and self-reliant…to becoming humbly and wisely reliant upon the Holy Spirit for the remainder of his life.
Lucifer attempts to discourage and weaken Paul’s resolve for service by inciting a near-death stoning of Paul by the Jews at Lystra. Lucifer tries to bring disruption and doubt into Paul’s calling, to bring in an element of fear and possibly unforgiving resentment and bitterness toward the Jews into Paul’s God-inspired program of evangelizing the Greco-Roman world.
Instead, this failed attempt by Lucifer to attack the ministry of Paul… probably only created more spiritual freedom in Paul’s outlook.
From that time forward Paul could consider that he was now operating on borrowed time. Paul had looked a horrible death square in the face, and got up and carried on.
If Jesus Christ could raise Paul up from this stoning experience at Lystra, what more could Paul have to fear from opposition to his ministry? Paul could look at each current threat and say to himself that he already experienced far worse and had survived.
But on a deeper level, 1 John 4:18 says: “but perfect love casteth out fear.” This extreme physical attack upon Paul did not dampen his love for his Jewish brethren (Rom. 9:1-3).
Paul exhibits fearless ministry in perfect love (within human limits) throughout his calling to evangelize the first-century world, because Paul stayed faithfully within the rigorous training environment that Jesus Christ set up for him. No matter what was occurring in the natural realm in terms of the deadly malice and hatred of the opposition, Paul remained steadfast.
These are all examples of a great, championship-quality Coach instilling the high standards of character and preparedness that produce victory on the field of play.