God's Weapon Delivery System
Just a real simple thought. The point has already been made about the importance of renouncing attitudes and thoughts that are unproductive or un-Christ-like. We’ve already considered the value of identifying those things, whatever they are—the fits of rage, the negative attitudes, the unbelief—and renouncing them. You could categorize that renouncing of un-Christ-like things as a Spiritual weapon. Satan has certain influence or power or a stronghold in our lives. So, you want to apply a weapon to tear down satan’s strongholds. “Weapons of righteousness in the left hand and the right.”
And I was thinking about the fact that, in the art of war, there is something called a weapons delivery system. All of the recent threats about biological warfare and that sort of thing have sort of highlighted that in the news. If a particular country came up with some terrible virus that they wanted to infest another country or a group of their enemy soldiers with, they’d need to find a delivery system. They’d need to find a way to get that virus into the enemy’s water supply or to spread it in the air. With the anthrax stuff that happened almost a year ago, there was a delivery system. It came in the U.S. mail through the post office. And enough of it got airborne that the process infected some people who were in post offices and mailrooms. Then they had to fumigate buildings and do tests. But, the point is, there was a delivery system. How do you get anthrax into somebody’s office if you want to infect them with it? How do you get some biological germ warfare thing into some other country? If you are in country A and you’re trying to get it into country B, how do you do it? Maybe you put it in the tip of a missile and send it up. Then when it hits the ground it spreads. Or does it spread? Maybe it’s not an airborne virus and as soon as it hits the ground it kills all the grass in 30 square feet and that’s the end of it. The delivery system was wrong for that particular kind of virus. Maybe it had to be in the water supply and they needed to find some way to get it into the water supply.
So there’s a delivery system. For a sword, the delivery system is a hand. For a gun, the delivery system for a bullet is to point and pull the trigger. There’s a delivery system for a weapon if you’re going to try to accomplish a purpose. In the first “Indiana Jones” movie, there’s a scene (it’s actually the only scene I can remember out of the whole movie) where this guy is swinging his swords around, preparing to attack Indiana Jones. Indiana Jones decides, “Oh well,” and he just pulls out a gun and shoots him. He used a different delivery system. “Why didn’t I think of that before? I’ve gone through all this trouble and risked getting my arms cut off, and all this danger. All I had to do was pull out my gun and pull the trigger.” This is a different delivery system for a lethal weapon.
The same is true about spiritual things. There’s got to be a delivery system. We know that it’s true when renouncing a temptation, a particular way of thinking, an attitude, or a personal habit. There’s a need to get rid of those things in our lives so that satan doesn’t have the ability to influence us anymore. But the weapons of dealing with these things require a delivery system. That’s why Jesus said, “I will build my church that the gates of hell won’t prevail against.” If person A is having an attitude, person B has got to say to them, “You need to change your attitude, that is unbelief. That is unacceptable, you’re hurting yourself.” There’s a delivery system of truth. “Admonish one another daily, so that none are hardened and deceived by sin.” Does that mean I can make you do the right thing? No, I can’t make you do the right thing and you can’t make me do the right thing. But there’s a delivery system of truth because God knew that by ourselves, we would get confused. By ourselves, we would get caught up in emotions and circumstances and start to justify our attitudes and vindicate ourselves, thinking it’s okay because somebody else said this or that. That other person did “such and such,” so it’s okay. “If they can do it, why can’t I?” We get all this junk going in our heads and we confuse ourselves. The fact is, the scriptures say, Jesus said, and God said, “Thou shalt not.” God said, “Love is not jealous. Love is not proud. Love is not boastful.” Well, we’re going to see those things in our environment. And, it’s important for us, as the people of God, that we help one another as a delivery system for the weapons of righteousness, the weapons of truth. It’s important that we help one another apply these things. “That’s unbelief. You need to stop it.” Now, if we continue to walk in unbelief and whine and complain in our hearts and our minds, we’re committing suicide. It’s as if the missile of the enemy missed its mark, then we decide that we’re going to walk over and jump in the middle of it and see if we can blow ourselves up. We can continue to try and destroy ourselves or we can allow God to use His weapons, His tools, to disarm and destroy the enemy.
The point is that weapons need a delivery system and God’s weapons are the same way. There needs to be a way. It has to do with our personal time with God—separating ourselves and truly applying ourselves to understand the scriptures, to read a verse at a time and think about it and ask God, “How does this apply to me? Now God, what do you want me to do about it? How should I change?” We can set ourselves up to just whine and complain and destroy our lives and waste ourselves away with our own foolishness and our own sin. Or, we can allow God to open us up and change us. We can put ourselves in a situation where we can behold Him, where we can find him, where we can listen to the birds sing, we can listen to the wind through the trees, and we can become worshipers as we turn our face to Him. We can use the opportunities around us to make those choices and to do something about it, instead of being the same person year after year and decade after decade—destroying ourselves and wasting our lives in some anemic, futile, pathetic, disgusting, evil, bad-testimony sort of way. We really don’t have the right to do that.
God’s Word as Authority, Not Information
So, one point that I’m making, is absolutely allow yourself to be a delivery system for the Word of God. There was an e-mail sent out recently that talked about the difference between the scribes and Pharisees and the teachings of Jesus. Jesus taught as one having authority. He wouldn’t have been primarily remembered as someone who taught in a flowery, attractive way that was necessarily better than the scribes and Pharisees. But the main distinction the scriptures make between the teaching of the religious people and the teaching of Jesus is that Jesus taught as one having authority. He applied the Word of God to somebody’s life and they needed to do something about it. We can’t be just some big, dumb club where we pass around concepts. I tell you something you should know. You tell me something I should know. Then we just kind of go our own way and do whatever we please about it. That is not the teaching of Jesus. The weapons of righteousness in the left hand and the right, the delivery system for the power of God to change lives, is that the teaching of Jesus is one that has authority. In other words, you must change. You need to do something about this. This cannot go on. I’m not informing you, I’m commanding you in the name of Jesus, “Stop having that attitude! It is unwelcome in the house of God. It’s a bad testimony. It tears down God’s people. It disgraces the name of Jesus. You were bought for a price. The blood of Jesus washed you. You have no right to continue in that selfishness. You have no right to continue in that pride and that murmuring and grumbling and complaining. It needs to stop. It needs to stop now!”
That is the nature of the delivery system of the Word of God as opposed to religious teaching—it has authority. There are consequences for ignoring the Word of God and continuing in our sin. There are consequences for that. In a religious environment, we just inform one another and cross our fingers. We’ve dispensed our duties as long as we’ve told them what God said about it. We’ve done our good deed for the day and now we can go on. That’s nonsense! That’s not what the Word of God was ever for. That is not the teaching of Jesus. That’s not the nature of the Church. We are not information dispensers. We do not dispense information to each other and then everyone continues to do what is right in their own eyes. There are truths in the Word of God and they need to be responded to as if Jesus Himself were standing in front of you saying, “This needs to change.” As ambassadors of Christ, God is making His appeal through us. “Treasure in earthen vessels,” is what the scriptures say about it. So, really, the delivery systems for the Word of God—which is the power to change people—are the People of God, as well as our own personal desire to find God, separate ourselves towards God, and be vertical with Him.
There’s a delivery system for the weapons of God that changes lives, allows us to behold Him, and allows us to put away the sin that so easily besets. But part of this is a perspective that you are not an information dispenser. You are an ambassador of the Son of God, the Word of God, and the Government of God. And that means that when we hear the Word of God, when we hear the things that God has said, we have to be responsive to them. It’s not a choice. It’s not an option. We’re not our own. We are bought for a price. It is not something we have the right to shrug off, and say, “Oh…yes…alright,” and then just walk away, forgetting what we look like. It’s just not an option in the Kingdom of God. His teaching is not as the scribes and Pharisees, causing us to become a little smarter day by day. Instead, it’s as the teaching of Jesus, with authority behind it. That’s what God said would mark the words of Jesus.
God’s Word Through God’s People
So, change is mandatory. The desire to change is mandatory. The desire to hear and retain and persevere in the Word of God is mandatory. To hear it, retain it, and persevere in it means that we care what God says as if God were making His appeal through others. That’s the delivery system of the Word of God, the Weapon of God, to destroy satan’s stronghold in our lives. We value it that way, as if Jesus were standing in front of us. Paul said, “You received this not as the words of men, but as it actually is, the very words of God.” Paul wasn’t being arrogant when he said that. He was just speaking of the nature of the new covenant. This is the way it is in the new covenant. You will be held accountable for the things that people say to you as they represent Jesus to you. It’s not something you can just blow off on a horizontal level. You can’t just shrug it off and say, “Oh well, not a big deal. Who do they think they are anyway? Everybody has their problems.” You can’t choose just to ignore what they’re saying. Jesus said the good soil, those that will be saved, are the ones that hear it and retain it. That means they desire deeply to understand it and to apply it. They care. And then they persevere in it. That means that it probably isn’t going to work out the first time. It may not work out the second or the third time. But, they persevere in it because it’s Right and it’s True. Perseverance implies a struggle. Perseverance implies time passing. So, there is an absolute mandate to God’s people that we be a delivery system for the Word of God and that we receive it as it actually is—the Word of God. We must hear it, retain it, and persevere in it. Then, with all of the desire to love and please God, we produce a crop 30, 60 and 100-fold in these things.
I just want to stir the pot and remind us a little bit that change is entirely possible. Not only is it possible, it’s the inheritance of God’s people to be able to change. But there is a part that we play as a delivery system for the weapons of God to destroying satan. There’s also a part we play in receiving people into our lives to deliver the Word of God into our lives. Our part is to take it just as seriously as if Jesus appeared bodily in front of us and we deeply desire to obey Him. We’re not going to shrug it off. We’re not going to excuse it. We are going to renounce the things that don’t please Him with energy. We’re going to retain it and persevere in it with the full intention of producing a crop in it.
Someone says to you, “That’s unbelief.” What are you going to do about it? Are you going to shrug it off? Somebody says, “That’s an attitude.” Somebody says, “Jealousy is sin.” Someone says, “Laziness is sin.” Are you going to shrug it off? Are you going to forget about it, walk away? Are you going to turn the tables on them and accuse them? Or, are you going to hear it, receive it, persevere in it over time, renouncing everything that looks like that sin in the future? This process of being disciples of Jesus is that we care about these things. We’re not just religious people that gather information. We’re not just some club that likes to eat together in someone’s back yard. We really do want to be like Him. We want to be like the Son of God. He left us an example so that we could follow in His steps. That’s who we want to be. And there is a delivery system for the weapons of God that allow us to change as we submit ourselves to the Word of God with the right humility of heart, the right perseverance, and the right endurance in applying the Word of God to our lives.
Persevering In God’s Word
As you think about it, how many times does Jesus have to say something before we take it seriously? Does He have to say something to us more than once before we begin to treat it like it’s life and death? Of course we’ll continue to help each other. And of course there’s the process of acting on what we’ve heard. But, from a perspective sake, how do I take what I hear? Is hearing it once enough, or do I have to hear it three times before I begin to take it seriously?
Now I’ll grant you that some challenges are difficult in our lives for any number of different reasons. But, there’s a difference between renouncing the sin and hiding behind it. If you renounce it, that doesn’t mean it’s going to go away instantaneously. To me, it’s good news that Jesus did say that persevering in it is required. It’s good news because if my temptations don’t instantaneously go away, then that doesn’t mean I’m a hardened criminal and there’s no hope for me. Jesus said I would need to persevere in Truth—implying that it wasn’t always going to be easy. That’s fine. The difference between a person that must persevere in it and a person that never really deals with it, while both of them seem to not necessarily be growing all that quickly in a particular area, is that one person is hopeless and the other person is highly honored by Jesus—like the widow with her two mites.
Excusing or Renouncing
Jesus is highly honored by a person whose temptation is not going away but they deal with it violently. They deal with it aggressively. They deal with it as if it is a life and death situation. Even if they are to fall in it again, they get back up one more time than they fall down. And that’s their attitude, that’s the way it is always going to be. Satan will never put me down, because I will always get up one more time than I trip. I will always stand up one more time and brush it off. I will renounce it as the works of the enemy and turn my face back towards Jesus as a worshiper—without shame, without fear, with total hope in my heart that the last time was the last time. And if it happens again, I renounce it with that same energy, that same heart, that same passion, that same hope, and that same confidence.
There’s a difference between persevering in truth, which is highly honored by Jesus, and excusing your sin—listing all sorts of reasons why it’s okay, why you’re different than everybody else, and why it’s so hard for you. Excusing it rather than renouncing it. Both approaches seem to take a while to grow. Both have a process involved. And perhaps, six months later, there may not be that much visible progress in either case. But one is highly honored by Jesus and the other is despised by God as excuse making—the same way that the devil makes excuses. I’d rather be highly honored as one who may not have made huge amounts of progress, but my heart belongs to Him totally. I make no excuses and I do renounce it. I do understand it as sin. I make no excuses for it and I get back up one more time than I fall down. I’m going to go on. Even if I fall down again, I’m getting back up again. I’m going to renounce it again and start over fresh. That kind of attitude, even though it appears to the naked eye to look like some string of failures (how it looks is not an issue) is highly honored by God, like the widow with her two mites. It is excuse making that is dishonoring to God and makes a mockery of the Blood of Jesus. “That’s just the way I am.” Or, “Other people do that, so I can too.” Or, “Well…okay, but he…” “…But she…” That excuse-making stuff is despicable and grotesquely evil in God’s sight. If it’s sin, it’s sin.
But how do you know if it’s sin? Well, Jesus and His apostles pretty clearly taught just about everything you can think of regarding what’s sin. Fits of rage are sin. Lying is sin. Jealousy is sin, etc., etc., etc. Those things are sin. Now you choose to renounce the sin and the attitudes and all the garbage that goes with it. Or you choose to just brush it under the rug and find some reason why it’s okay. “Well I didn’t mean any real harm by it.” “It wasn’t that bad…and other people this and that.” “If somebody was helping me, then it wouldn’t be such a problem.” That’s all nonsense. Renounce it because it crucifies Jesus afresh—end of story! “I renounce that, Jesus. I am sorry, Jesus. I don’t want any part of that, Jesus! I need Your Help!”
Admitting Your Need
I was in somebody’s office not too long ago and they had this little poster that said:
I’ve not lied today, I’ve not been grumpy today, I’ve not been unkind to anyone today. I’ve not had any negative attitudes of any kind today about anything. But I’m going to be getting up in a couple of minutes, so I am going to really need your help from here on!
At least the attitude of humility there is appropriate. Also appropriate is the connectedness to God to say, “Look, I admit I’m weak. I admit that. I’m not proud of that and I wish it weren’t so.” At the same time, I must also refuse to compare myself to others. “I’m weak and other people aren’t, so that makes me terrible.” If I think that way, then I’ll have an attitude about that too. But, I’m not going to do that. I just am who I am. My weaknesses may be different than others. They may be the same as others. That’s not relevant. The fact is I’m going to call sin, “sin” every time it comes up. I’m going to renounce it every time it comes. I’m going to be grateful for the help. I’m going to be humble enough to keep going back to Jesus, to keep going back to others, and starting over again. That honors God.
It’s like the widow with her two mites. She didn’t seem to have much to offer, but Jesus and all the angels applauded her. It wasn’t how rich she was that made her honorable before God. It was her heart and her attitude that made her honorable before God. It wasn’t all the good things she did because she couldn’t do very much good. But her heart and her attitude made her highly honored by God. And that’s where we have to go with all this stuff. It’s not how great we are. It’s what our attitude is when we fall down. It’s what our attitude is when we don’t have much to offer. That’s the time where we can offer the most, because God is looking at our hearts. That’s when the temptations are the greatest and so that’s the greatest gift we can offer Him—when the temptations are the greatest.
And if you fall, and you fail, and you flounder in your convictions and your commitments, don’t be so egocentric and let that be the end of the world. That’s about YOU. If you fail and then you fall apart because you failed, that’s nothing but your own arrogance getting in the way. “Well, I failed again.” That’s just arrogance. Forget that! Tell Him you’re sorry and start over. Hear, retain and persevere. It doesn’t matter if it’s 10,000 times. It doesn’t matter if the widow has two mites, three, or ten million. The issue is what is the attitude of your heart going forward? Is it excuse making? Or, is it a humble, confident, starting again no matter what the cost, no matter what has transpired in the past?
Choosing the Lasting Investment
It gets easy sometimes to get lost in the middle of our little worlds. We’ve got a whole lot of kindling surrounding us right now, in the form of the homes we live in—a lot of kindling. And it’s just too easy to get caught up in that stuff and really forget that the only thing that is going to last is the investment you made in another brother’s or another sister’s life, or the investment you made in an unbeliever’s life to bring them across the line. That’s the only stuff that’s going to matter. That’s the only stuff that’s going to last. These distractions, the other kinds of soil—the cares and worries of the world, the deceitfulness of riches, the dishwashers that aren’t working, the squeaky hinges, the gardens that need tending, the weeds that need to be pulled, and all this kind of stuff—is the wood, hay, and stubble that can keep us doing a bunch of stuff, but never really turning the corner in terms of worshiping, changing, and investing in others’ lives. It’s too easy to forget about what really matters. And, maybe that’s one of the reasons it’s not right or good to forsake the gathering of ourselves together. Maybe it’s because we all need the reminder so we don’t get a little bit too lost in all the props.