This week is our final week of #fantheflame. We’ve started with repentance and examined how a growing Christian is a Christian who is always repenting. It’s not a repenting for constant re-saving (because salvation is a secure thing once you’re born again), but rather it’s a repenting that heals the relationship between us and the Holy Spirit within because we are constantly grieving Him when we choose sin over obedience.
Then we went from repentance to praise. Praise is the cry of a forgiven heart! We praise the One who saved us, forgave us, and sees through his promise to redeem us! Repentance leads to praise – always! If repentance doesn’t produce praise, you should question the integrity of your repentance. A forgiven heart is a grateful heart. A grateful heart is a praising heart. And Jesus said that what’s in the heart always comes out of the mouth (Luke 6:45)!
From praise we moved to living it out, or in one word, mission. Praise that isn’t accompanied or followed by mission, is hollow and lacks substance. Repentance leads to praise that fuels mission. If you sing the praises of God, and elevate Christ with your lips, and invite the Holy Spirit to have his way, to then do nothing, or to then pursue your own selfish ambitions would render your praise to lip service. True praise means that you love and value the one being praised! Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15) Loving Jesus means you’ll be on mission; you’ll be living out what he has commanded.
Lastly, being on mission means you are engaged in a war. You fight! What are you fighting? Primarily, you are fighting yourself. What about hunger? What about social injustice? What about poverty? Those are all important battles, but they are a very distant secondary fight when it comes to the immensity of the fight you have on your hands just with yourself. Your own sin is the primary war that you will fight for your whole life. Social issues will come and go. Relationships, friends and enemies, will shift and evolve. But you? You will be with yourself twenty-four hours a day for the rest of your life. You will be your own constant, worst enemy. No one will ever lie, let down, disappoint, and betray you more than you. Sin will always be at your door, desiring to have you. So the fight against your own sin is the most important fight you face.
What about Satan? Isn’t he our enemy? Doesn’t he enter the fray and fire his arrows at us? This is true, but let me tell you why even he is secondary. The primary way that Satan fights against you is by tempting you to sin. He lays out a trap that will appeal to your sinful nature and waits for you to fall prey. Therefore, if you allow the Gospel to penetrate every area of your life, and keep your sins in check with the Holy Spirit, you take away the primary weapon of the Devil. His traps will then become more elaborate, more stealth, but even then, the discerning man who is walking closely with God won’t spring the trap.
Bottom line: if you are a Christian, there will be a fight. No fight? No light! How can I say that? If you’ve just given yourself over to your sin, stopped fighting, feel no remorse, no conviction, then there is no Holy Spirit within you, and you remain lost in darkness. The apostle John says it this way:
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. (1 John 1:8)
People who don’t see the need for a fight against the flesh, who don’t think they’re all that bad, who believe that they may sin, but God is going to give them a pass, there is no truth within them. There is no light.
No fight? No light!
If you have been born again, if you have the Holy Spirit within, if you love Jesus because he’s forgiven you when you didn’t deserve it, you will have a burning desire to fight the sin in your life! Why? Because God hates it! And if you love God, and His Spirit is within, you will hate the things that he hates! You will war against your sin with a Holy Spirit fueled vengeance! How do we war?
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12)
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)
So we’ve come full circle! Fighting means you’re always at war with sin. Which also means you’re always finding sin in your life to repent from. And it starts the whole process of repent > praise > live > fight afresh. What does this all mean? What does this cycle represent? This is how you continually fan your flame. If your flame is dim or has been reduced to embers, it’s because you somehow got derailed from this process. The awesome thing is that no matter how you derailed, you can always jump back in at repentance and let the Holy Spirit kick start you once again.
Folks, I don’t like formulaic diagrams and easy principles to a super spiritual journey. I guarantee you, this cycle, process, whatever you want to call it, is anything but easy. It involves a daily dying to your sin because you’re actively waging war against it with the weapons the Holy Spirit provides. And in many ways all of these neatly diagramed phases actually run together at the same time. We repent in the midst of living. We fight in the midst of praising. It isn’t neat. It’s one big concurrent, overlapping mess of relationships, decisions, desires, and emotions that scream for our attention all at once. This is why we derail so easily.
Honestly, sometimes the fight is to simply keep fighting.
The good news about our fight is that God has fought for us already, and he has won! To use a boxing metaphor, Christ on the cross and Christ resurrected is the knockout punch so to speak. We’re simply living in the ten-count. You’re not fighting for victory, but from victory! We’re merely spreading the news about the victory of Christ before the ten count it complete! Opposition to spreading that news, the Gospel, whether from within (the flesh) or without (the Devil), is all the fight that is left!
Death? Hell? Grave? Satan? Defeated foes! Fight from that victory! And let the fight further the process of God’s work in your life!