Monday, December 24, 2012

Playing nerf ball with the devil

I am old enough to remember when Nerf Ball was introduced to the world. Hasbro Toymakers had created a foam ball which soon was accompanied by a gun. When shot, Nerf guns emitted foam balls that hit a target but destroyed nothing. Millions of Huck Finns and Dennis the Menaces thanked Hasbro that no more windows and vases got broken. The foam ball would only bounce harmlessly off and nothing was destroyed inside the house or outside it.

It was 1970 and the Nerf ball was introduced as the "world's first official indoor ball". Marketing slogans promised that one can "Throw it indoors; you can't damage lamps or break windows. You can't hurt babies or old people." By the end of the first year a million had been sold.


Hold that thought, about the Nerf ball.

We are under spiritual attack. Every Christian is a potential target for satan and his legion of minions. Satan lobs his own fiery darts at us. (Ephesians 6:16). He hates God and so he hates God in us. So he attacks. We are in a battle and cannot let down our guard for one moment. We have to "be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour," as 1 Peter 5:8 warns.

One of the ways we engage in the war is that when we are sober and watchful we guard our thought life. The weapons in our war are not physical. We don't go forth with sword and shield like a gladiator and smite people.

In actuality WE are the weapon. If we remain vigilant and sober, stay in prayer, walk in His ways, and delve into the Word, we become sharp, internally. It is an internal thought-battle. We capture every thought---

"For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ", (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).

The main weapon we use against satan is God's word (as a sword) and the main weapon satan uses against us is a twisted version of God's word (as fiery darts). If we are internally honed as God's weapon, when we speak of Him or share His word, being submitted to the indwelling Holy Spirit and being steadily regenerated in His image, then when we do speak Christ, the words are sharp.

The ultimate example of that, of course, is Jesus. Look what happened when He spoke:

"When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath." (Luke 4:30)

"But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant," (Matthew 21:15). The word 'indignant' here in Greek means 'to grieve much.'

"When the soldiers approached Jesus that night in the Garden of Gethsemane and asked if He was Jesus, Jesus answered "When Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground." (John 18:6).

And there are many other examples from the life of Jesus to illustrate the point. After His ascension, His word was powerful in the mouths of His disciples. Think of the wrath of the crowd when Stephen preached to the Pharisees and was killed. The wrath of the crowd at Iconium when Paul was stoned. The word of God is a sword that riles up wrath in the unrepentant.

But! It is also a sharp sword that pierces strongholds!

"For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart." (Hebrews 4:12).

"Is not my word like fire," declares the LORD, "and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?" (Jeremiah 23:29).

Since the Christian life is a metaphor of an internal and unseen war, and the word of God is a metaphor for a sword as our weapon in that war (Ephesians 6:17), then here is a picture illustrating that.

When the Word goes out from a finely honed, disciplined, thought-guarded Christian warrior, the word will pierce the strongest armor, the meanest heart, the loftiest stronghold!

GraceLife Pastor Phil Johnson said in his sermon "Wisdom Guards the Heart," to-
"control your thoughts. This is the whole point, and this is the area where the virtue of self-control is most important. This is the one area where your battle for self-control will be won or lost: your thought life. If you willingly and deliberately allow yourself to indulge in evil thoughts or wicked fantasies, what this verse says (Proverbs 4:23) is you’re filling the wellspring of your life with poison—and nothing is more self-destructive!"

Pastor Johnson continued, "One of the key verses in the New Testament is Mark 7:20-23, where Jesus said this, “That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man; for from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, and foolishness.” Jesus said, “All these things come from within and defile the man.” He was answering people who had charged His disciples with eating with unwashed hands, and He was saying, you know, “It’s not what goes into you that defiles you, but what comes out of your heart.” You cannot entertain wicked thoughts without being utterly defiled by them. In fact, that is, is it not, the very principle our verse is teaching? “A corrupt tree cannot bring forth good fruit,” Matthew 7:18, “A contaminated well is unhealthy.” So, it’s vital to guard your heart and keep it from every kind of defilement."

The more defiled you get, the less sharp the Word is from your mouth.

Just as the battle is internal, if you study up, guard up, pray up, and walk rightly, you will not be defiled. But if you're polluted inside, what comes out of you will be ineffectual for God. Though you think you are holding a wicked crossbow and aiming squarely at satan, all satan sees is this:


He sees a child holding a Nerf gun. He says "Oh really?" and laughs because what comes out of the Nerf gun will only bounce harmlessly off him and roll away. Due to your polluted thoughts and defiled heart, your weapon has gone from this:

To this:

Except you didn't realize how far you'd gone and how exposed you were when you waged into the battle. Guard your thought-life. Going from sharp word to harmless Nerf happens fast, my friends. Be vigilant, and repentant. Phil Johnson again,

"Scripture is full of this truth. God sees our hearts. If you would blush to have the secret thoughts of your heart made manifest for everyone in this room to see, you ought to tremble at the reality that God already sees those thoughts and knows them altogether. Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Hebrews 12:14 adds this: “Without holiness, no man shall see the Lord.” So, this is a vitally important matter. It underscores the desirability of guarding our hearts. An impure heart can ruin us for life and all eternity. There’s no advantage, frankly, to poisoning the wellspring of your heart. So, where do we go for a pure heart? I’ve already spoken of the utter impossibility of cleansing your own heart. What do we do with defiled hearts? Well, first and most obviously, we have to repent of the impurity..."

Repent. Guard. Resist. Flee. Because you don't want to play Nerf ball with the devil.

4 comments:

  1. Great post today, just what I needed to read.
    Have a great Christmas.
    -Vincent

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Vincent. Merry Christmas to you as well!!

      Delete
  2. This Has To Be Your Most Inspirational Post Yet! Just what we all need in this present time to keep us/get us back on track if we have slipped, which in the run up to Christmas, is easy to do the latter.! I so needed to read this right now.
    Bless you Elizabeth, God has a Very Tuned In Servant with You.
    Rebecca Bonnell x

    ReplyDelete
  3. A good exploration in nature would be more better if they play outside.

    ReplyDelete

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