Do you have a game plan for spiritual growth? I guarantee your opponent has a game plan to defeat you, and it isn’t pretty. There was a big game on February 13, and it’s really no surprise that the best team won. I mean, I predicted this before the game that there was no way that the Cincinnati Kitty Cats could win. As you all know, cats are Satan’s spawn. And Satan never wins! Amen? (ok, just kiddin' cat people, I have heard there are some good cats out there, I have just never seen them).
In order to be rooted in Christ, you need to know areas of weakness in your life that can uproot your faith. This is so crucial to our walk with Christ that I've written a book on it. We need to be aware of the field we're on. Until we're in heaven, our field is a spiritual battleground that is much more intense than any Super Bowl.
“For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.”Ephesians 6:12
In addition, 2 Corinthians 2:11 warns us to not let the enemy outsmart us with his evil schemes. And we know that God’s opponent comes to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). But here’s the thing … Satan can’t force you to do anything. But he can sure try to devise ways to tempt you with the purpose of defeating you.
Temptation is not an event, it’s a process. If you don’t do anything to keep the weeds of temptation off the field of your life, weeds will just naturally sprout right up. We need to be intentional about tending our crop to keep the weeds, beetles, and bugs out. And let me be clear, asking God to forgive our sins one time, only to immediately return to the offense is not enough to keep tomorrow's weeds from sprouting. We need to continually choose to be on Christ's team, which means confess (agree with God that I was wrong) and repent (stop doing the action), and that leads to a cultivation of our spiritual growth every day. I'm not talking about perfection, but I am talking about making progress.
If we’re going to prevent the enemy from infiltrating our lives, we need to know the difference between difficulties and temptations.
We have to be intentional about cultivating a life that produces a healthy mind and focus in on God’s plan for our lives. We do that by reading His Word and not flirting with evil desires.
Satan starts with the natural desires within you. What we think, becomes what we say, and what we say becomes what we do. A lot of times, we think that temptation is out there, but the truth is that it’s in you. If you don’t have a desire for something, you won’t be tempted. For example, I’ve never been tempted to smoke. I don’t like the smell. It’s that simple for me. Sometimes a Christian will ask me if they're going to Hell for smoking cigarettes. I always say NO ... smoking cigarettes will not send you to Hell... it'll just make you smell like you've been there. The things that tempt me may not be an issue for you, and the things that tempt you may not be an issue for me.
Here’s the thing with desires though; whether it’s drinking, food, sex, sleep, or any other natural desire, the enemy will tempt you to take it to the extreme. Oftentimes, temptation is an attempt to fulfill a legitimate desire in an illegitimate way.
Temptation goes all the way to the Garden of Eden when Satan said, “Did God really say _______.” The enemy’s plan is to get you to doubt God's Word, God's love for you, God’s plan for you, and that God knows better what will make you happy in life.
God’s opponent always replaces God’s truth with lies. The enemy uses the same old strategy again and again. And if he achieves his goal of deceiving us, it always leads to disobedience against God. Once we find ourselves in this scenario, we need to realize that we’ve signed with the wrong team. And the only way back is to confess, repent, and stop it. Sadly, many people are too prideful and tend to justify their actions, which ultimately leads to defeat.
Have you ever heard of National Signing Day? This actually just recently took place on February 2nd. Signing Day is when young High School athletes decide which college they’re going to attend and play their sport. Typically, they’re sitting behind a table with several hats on it. After sharing some words, they make a public profession of faith to a university by putting on a hat claiming loyalty to that University team. Sunday February 13, was National Signing Day for 120 people at Skyline Church. That's a BIG deal! Every one of those people put on what I call the Team Colors. They got baptized and publicly claimed loyalty to Team Jesus.
Here’s the thing, you have free will. It’s a gift from God! We get to choose to do whatever we want in life. We can fall for temptations, give in to urges, and completely ignore God's plan for our lives. But we do not get to choose the consequences after we’ve made our free-will decision. Do you know what team you're on? Have you professed your allegiance to Jesus? And are you continually cultivating your faith every day by making progress in reading and feeding your mind with the truth of God's Word?
If you could know your opponent's game plan, you could have an incredible advantage. Why would anyone join the losing team? Christ's opponent is sneaky, crafty, and devious. We need to be aware of his schemes so that we can grow deeper and deeper roots in our faith in Jesus Christ. If you don't have a Game Plan for Spiritual Growth, I would encourage you to get one! At Skyline Church, I've created seven classes that will transform your spiritual life ... I call it Your Game Plan for Growth.
Let me know if you're interested and we'll get you situated on the winning team.