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God is with you - Part 35

1 Peter 5v8-11

Be self-controlled and alert

23th February 2018

This letter, written to a troubled church, is full of the idea of doing the right thing anyway, whatever is going on, whoever is oppressing you, however hurt you feel, however bewildered you feel, do the right thing anyway, because Christ is our example.

Our passage this week is:

1 Peter 5:8-11
Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Your Enemy the devil was really upset that you became a Christian. He hates that you belong to Jesus. He hates that your sin is forgiven. He hates that you’ve received the Holy Spirit. He hates that you will live in heaven with God, and for the glory of God, for all eternity. He hates it. He can’t stop it, but he can ruin your life.

He wants to suck all the joy, and all the peace, and all the fruitfulness out of you. He’s looking for a Christian whose life on earth he can deeply damage. He wants to suck all the goodness out of you, make you unhappy and unproductive for Jesus.

Be self-controlled and alert. There isn't a Christian on the planet who's not susceptible to this stuff. No matter how well you think you're living for Christ, tomorrow you could fall into sin, addiction, fear or guilt, and it will destroy you, until the day that, by the grace of God, you get pulled out of it. And for some Christians, it can be years or decades before they rediscover the peace, power, and grace of God in their lives. Don’t be one of them.

Be self-controlled and alert.Satan doesn’t mind which of these four things he uses. As long as he ruins you he doesn’t care. He doesn’t mind using sin, or addiction, or fear, or guilt.

Watch out for sin. It lurks at the door. Who knows what will happen tomorrow? Who knows what invitation you might receive from someone to do something thing evil and think for a minute, "Well, I’ve been a bit depressed recently. This might cheer me up" and just do it?

Who knows, if you’ve been having a couple of glasses of wine every night, if tomorrow you’ll have three glasses, and soon four glasses, and before you know it you’ll be caught in addiction? Some addictions happen really quickly. If you take heroin a few times you’ll be addicted just like that. Alcohol takes longer, but once you're addicted your life is ruined.

We can be addicted to many kinds of sin, such as pornography, gossip or negativity. There are people who are always talking about how rotten their life is. If you say to one of these people, "Lovely day!" They'd reply "Yes, but it'll be raining tomorrow".

We can be addicted to envy, and we can try to justify our sin, "Of course I envy him; he's got more than I have". You’ve missed the point. Or "Of course I'm bitter; they treated me unfairly" or "Of course I'm an adulterer, my wife doesn’t love me". It's so easy to do, and we become trapped.

Or we could just watch a bit of TV and see that the programme is really unhelpful, but say to ourselves, "I’ll just watch a few more minutes". And you find you enjoy the programme, and you watch it next week, and the next week and the next week, and you get addicted to another unhelpful TV programme.

Be self-controlled and alert. Understand the danger of indulging in a little bit of sin, a little bit of negativity, a little bit of indulgence. It can catch you, and so much of what you've gained in Christ can be lost. Your salvation won't be lost but your life on earth can become miserable and unproductive.

Fear can ruin us. How many people were called to the mission field, but didn't go because they were afraid? We can be afraid to confront situations, afraid to speak the truth, afraid to love someone because they might be angry with us. We can be afraid to go to work because we get bullied when we go there. We can even be afraid of spiders.

Being afraid of spiders probably won’t ruin your life. But what about being afraid of witnessing? What about being afraid to tithe? What about being afraid of people? If anybody scares you, be self-controlled and alert, and do the right thing anyway.

And guilt. Your enemy will tell you, "15 years ago you said that thing to that person, and they never got over it". The person's probably completely forgotten what you said, but you can get guilted up. Satan will tell you, "15 years ago you could have done that good thing, and you didn't". I know a man who could have helped someone 20 year ago but didn't, and he still worries about it. He's trapped in guilt.

You are justified by faith. Jesus Christ has died for you. All the penalty for your sin is paid, and therefore you have no guilt, apart from those sins you’ve never confessed to God. Confess to God the sin you're committing at the moment, and be free of that guilt, too.

Do not be caught up in guilt. Do not say to yourself, "I'm no good as a Christian. 47 years ago, I said a bad thing to somebody. I can't do anything for God."

Be self-controlled and alert. This teaching is not just for your own sake. It's not just us that the devil is seeking to devour. It's right to focus on yourself, because yours is the life you can most fix, and yours is the life you can most ruin. But what about the people out there who don't know Jesus?

If I get trapped by sin, addiction, fear or guilt, my witness will be impaired, my desire to serve will be less, my passion for the lost will fade. Satan is devouring them. And it's your role and mine to pluck them out of his jaws before it's too late.

Resist the devil. Resist sin, addiction, fear and guilt standing firm in the faith. and always do the right thing whatever the circumstances.

And pray for one another, because we're all vulnerable. The greatest Christian in the land is vulnerable to all this stuff, and the newest Christian is vulnerable to it as well.

Peter says:

1 Peter 5:9c
because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

Whatever you’re going thought right now, you’re not the only one. There are other people going through exactly what you’re going through. God has dealt with it before, and He’ll do so again. Because Jesus loves you, you will be all right. You will be restored sooner or later. It will be OK.

And most of us have many brothers and sisters who are hurting a lot more than we are. Think of our brothers in North Korea, or Iraq, or Syria. Think of those who’ve lost a child, or are going through a divorce, those who are homeless, and those who have been caught by sin or addiction or fear or guilt. Their suffering is probably worse than ours, unless, of course, we are also caught in those things.

It's not that Jesus has stopped loving you. It's just that these things happen. I don’t know who first said it, but bad things do happen to good people.

Paul wrote to Timothy:

1 Timothy 1v18-20
Timothy, my son, I am giving you this command in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by recalling them you may fight the good fight, holding on to faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith. Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme.

It's vitally important that we do not reject faith and a good conscience. If we reject these things, as Hymenaeus and Alexander did, we will shipwreck our faith. Do the right thing at all times.

I don't know who said it first but Arthur Wallis taught me this saying: Sow a thought, reap an action. Sow an action, reap a habit. Sow a habit, reap a character. Sow a character, reap a destiny.

Satan has a very big net, and he'd love to catch you in it. Be self-controlled and alert. Don’t get caught.

Here's God's promise:

1 Peter 5v10-11
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.

All we’ve really got is Jesus. We know he’s 100% loving towards us, 100% good and 100% powerful. And He can fix anything. And when things be going completely wrong, as they often do, Jesus has not abandoned us. This is not the end of the story. There’s always a way back. There’s always restoration. There's always a rediscovery of the love and grace and power of God.

Whatever you've done, whatever you've said, whatever you haven't done, whatever you haven't said, Christ wants to forgive you and restore you. But your enemy wants to tell you that your sin is unforgivable, your addiction is unhealable, your fear is inevitable, and the blood of Christ isn’t enough to pay for your guilt. Your enemy is a liar.

Our confidence is in the Lord, not in ourselves and not in other people. Jesus will restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.

The power to restore our lives, to heal our hurts, to give us fresh direction and anointing, the power to take away our sin, addiction, fear and guilt belong to Him alone.