Basic Training: Learning How to Fight
· Training to be good soldiers… Our theme verse once again is , which gives us the standard that we are to live by if we want to be good soldiers. “3 You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 4 No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.” We are training to be good soldiers of Jesus Christ so we can guard ourselves from being entangled in the affairs of this life and so we can please God as we face please our Commander as we face the temptations and hardships that our adversary brings.
· Whenever soldiers got through basic training, one of the obvious things that they need to learn is how to fight in battle. They must learn how to fight so they can have confidence when they go out onto the battlefield. They need to know that when they go out that they have a fighting chance… and that they have been equipped with everything they need to conquer the enemy.
· This is important for us as soldiers of Christ! Our spiritual lives are on the line… If we do not want to fall in battle by giving into temptation, we need to learn how to fight.
KILL THE EXCUSES
· We will never be good soldiers of Jesus Christ if we are making excuses for sin in our lives. Unless we kill the excuses, we will not be able to properly fight the battles that we face each day… Excuses make giving in to temptation so much easier. Here are some examples that we can commonly be guilty of using:
· I am only human – Being human is not an excuse to commit sin… You are a human, but as a Christian, you are so much more! You are a child of God that has been forgiven of your sin, has been given God’s Spirit, and is being remade in the image of Christ… You are a human with God on your side… You are a human who has been given high expectations by God.
· This is my personality… I am just an impatient person or I tend to be proud, angry, or arrogant… or just name the sin… Just because you feel like you are easily tempted because of your personality or that a certain sin is just part of who you are does not mean it is something that you should not change. If you met me 10-15 years ago, you would have thought I was very shy and an introvert. These things were true for me much of my childhood and teenage years, but once I became a Christian, I could not use this as an excuse not to seek to build relationships, to open up with people about my struggles or sins, or to share the Gospel with people… We have to overcome tendencies that we have that lead us to neglect what God wants us to do or lead us to be tempted to sin…
· It is _____________’s fault (spouse, kids, siblings, Satan’s, etc)… You have NO ONE to blame for your sinful thinking and actions but YOURSELF! James says in , “…each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. 15 Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.”
· I am unable to fight… my flesh is so weak… I can’t do it! Jesus knows that the flesh is weak… He says so to His disciples in the garden of gethsemane… But He also tells them to prepare for the temptations that would come by prayer…
· God will forgive me, right?... This one is terrible. Have you ever used God’s grace and willingness to forgive as an excuse to sin…? Just taking His forgiveness for granted… It is true that God is gracious and is willing to forgive, but don’t use His kindness as an excuse to rebel against Him and to live however you want… Don’t be presumptuous and just assume God will forgive you… and don’t assume that if you commit sin with this kind of motivation that your heart will not be affected or hardened…
· I am sure I have missed some excuses, but I share these with you to tell you this: THERE IS NO EXCUSE TO NOT FIGHT TEMPTATION. There is no excuse to sin that is acceptable. We must kill the excuses. Then after we have done this, we will be able to fight as we should.
· And the first part of beginning the fight is putting up a resistance…
RESIST THE ENEMY
· “‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’  Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” ( ESV)
· Satan is powerful… But don’t think that just because Satan is tempting you that you are already a goner… don’t assume the battle is already lost…. And don’t think that you cannot put up a fight… We must resist the enemy… And we are told exactly how to do this by James. Be humble enough to see that you can’t fight on your own. Be humble enough to see that you need God’s help… You and I, no matter how hard it may be to resist falling into temptation, CAN DO IT with the Lord’s help. He can empower us to do it! You have the Lord on your side who is powerful enough to help you conquer!
· We must, whenever we are tempted, seek the Lord… we must draw near to Him. We do this first by prayer…
· “Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.  For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.  Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (ESV)
o This is such an encouraging text to think about in regards to our temptations… We are approaching the throne of God in prayer, and as we do so, we are approaching one who is 100% able to understand the battle we are facing… Jesus has gone through what we are going through… and he was victorious. Because of this, He not only shows us that the enemy can be defeated, but also that He is able to help us when we are in need of strength.
REMEMBER GOD’S WORD
· Our soldier’s manual – God’s word – can equip us to overcome any sin we can be tempted to commit… God’s Spirit uses the word that He gave us to strengthen us and to help us to overcome sin. There is a good reason why we have talked about the word of God so much already in this series. It is the most important tool that we have. It helps us to be victorious in our spiritual battles. If we are not spending enough time in the pages of God’s word, it will affect us spiritually. We will grow weaker… We won’t be able to fight temptation as well. There is almost always a correlation between the amount of time someone is spending in Bible study and prayer and how they are approaching sin in their life…
· Whenever we are tempted, we need to remember what God’s word says about the sin we are being tempted to commit.
· This is exactly what Jesus did! In the account given in Matthew Chapter 4, verse 1 through 11, Jesus faced and conquered every temptation by the use of God's Word. In each instance, he said, "It is written!" He found His strength in scripture… It was His lifeline in defeating the adversary and overcoming when He was tempted…
· Jesus gives us a great example to follow here! When we fortify ourselves with a knowledge of God's Word, we have built the best defense against temptation. I would encourage you to look back over the past few weeks and to write down the sins that you were tempted to commit. We know what sins we are guilty of committing the most and what Satan uses to attack us… Once you make your list, find every single passage you can that talks about those sins, and write them down and memorize them. Whenever you are tempted, remember those passages. Recite them. You will be amazed how you can resist the temptation whenever you do this accompanied with prayer.
· In , verse 11, the psalmist said, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” ()
· Memorizing passages that deal with your temptations have a way of helping you rightly think about what you are being tempted to do… You learn to see that specific sin as sin – as rebellion to God – and you learn to hate it and grow in your desire to overcome it. The scriptures give us the strength that we need.
CALL IN REINFORCEMENTS
· Get help. Remember that you are not alone in this fight. Of course, we have the Lord. But the Lord also gives us fellow soldiers to fight alongside.
· We need each other’s help in overcoming temptation… Sometimes we so often fail in fighting temptation and sin because we try to do it on our own, without seeking one another’s help.
o We often need help and accountability, especially when we are dealing with sins we have been stuck in for long periods of time… We need to open up with one another, confess sin to one another as we are commanded to in . “16 …confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” It is amazing how many Christians just do not do this… whether it be because of pride or just fear of what someone may think of you if you confess a sin… But this passage shows us that we need confession because it gets our brothers and sisters involved in the process of helping us overcome sin… It can bring healing…
o And the fact that others know that you are struggling with a specific sin can be such a good thing because you have someone who can not only be praying for you often, but also can follow up with you often to see how you are doing in overcoming the sin…
· There are brethren here that care about you and want to see you make it to heaven to be with the Lord! If there is any way that we can help you, I think I can speak for everyone here in saying, don’t be ashamed or afraid to ask for help. If you are willing to confess a sin to me, I am not going to think less of you… I will be appreciative of your faithfulness to Christ in obeying passages like and … Faithful Christians humbly confess sin to one another… If you need help, take a brother or sister off to the side and ask for help. Ask for them to help hold you accountable and ask them for prayers…
· God has given you everything that you need to win the battles you go through.
o “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” ()
· There is always a way of escape when you are tempted… We have talked about many of those ways today… Kill the excuses… Draw near to God by remembering His word and gong before His throne in prayer. And get your fellow soldiers involved in helping you to win your daily battles through confession, prayer, and accountability…
· Is there anything we can do for you today to help you to overcome a sin in your life or to help you become a disciple of Christ today? You certainly do not have to do it publicly… But we do extend the invitation to you if you would like to make your need known to the church here today… Why don’ you make your need known as together we stand and sing.