Monday, February 12, 2018

Winning the War Within - Its Support

We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone. See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people. 
1 Thess 5:14-15
When asked for sermon topics and concerns last month, one of you wrote: “Any sermons on building stronger Christian relationships and accountability. For example, strong Christians encouraging the weak. Loving people who are marginalized bringing them into the work of the church.  Having eyes for those who worship with us but don’t feel accepted and comfortable. Marks of true discipleship: love, forgiveness, patience, etc, and what this looks like in our Christian friendships. May we have eyes to see all those who need to be talked to...and greeted and sat by, and checked on.  We could grow the church so much if we just could grow those who already are with us to deepen their love, their need for the body of Christ, and their involvement on a personal level.” 
So let’s talk about the church as God’s support group in our war with sin.
These are sermon notes, not written in a polished or finished manuscript form. To see the video of this and other sermons:
To see thumbnails of all posts on this blog:

The War Within
1. Its Nature – Inner Wrestling
2. Its Cause – Competing Desires
3. Its Base – Starting Point
4. Its Schemer – Satan
5. Its Governor – God
6. Its Pivot – Prayer
7. Its Predictability – Process
Most, but not all the material in these lessons is original. Charles Stanley’s book, Winning the War Within, is one source I have used.
Its Support
1 Thess 5:1-22 – Read and highlight the text.
You are not alone as you wrestle with temptation and sin! When you isolate yourself from others, you open yourself to the devil’s attacks. You feel battle-weary, so you withdraw farther, and then you become even more worn-down. It’s a vicious cycle. Stop it! The church is God’s support group, sharing His unlimited resources to help you win this war.
Interview with Jason – November 3, 1999
Entered the reserves.  Basic training summer, 1999, in Fort McClellan, Alabama. Trainees would put on their uniform, pack their equipment, and report. If they forgot something (or left it out on purpose), they would suffer consequences.  Often brought canteen with no water.  Had to go thirsty all day.
If the drill sergeant could get your rifle away from you at any time, day or night, you would have to work out.  Run laps, do pushups, etc., to “earn it back.” At night, Jason would sleep with his rifle inside his sleeping bag!
Others used duct tape to tape their rifles to their legs.  To pull the rifle would also pull the leg and wake the soldier up.
Had to carry some items they thought they might not need.  Some tried to leave them out, to make the backpack lighter and allow more space.  Such items as tent rope, tent pegs, gas masks, magazine for rifle.
Later they would need these things and not have them.
Urban assault training – secure buildings, knock down doors.
That experience – lacking the right equipment at a critical time – would transform their preparation and packing for the next excursion.
Interdependence – Jason and his peers went through 1/4-mile-long sewer tunnel.  Each man held on to the next man as a link in a chain.
Support: “One-Another” Passages
Jn 15:12     Love O/A “as I have loved you.”
Gal 5:13ff   In that love serve. Don’t bite, devour!
Rom 14:19  Seek peace, build up, edify.
Rom 15:14  Counsel, instruct.
Col 3:16      Teach and admonish (singing).
Gal 6:1-2    Restore; bear burdens.
1 Th 4:18    Encourage in bereavement.
Jas 5:16     Confess sins and pray.
Heb 3:13    Exhort “today” re: sin.
We need accountability!
Billy’s mom has been teaching him to resist temptation. Each week she says: “Don’t eat the cookies from the cookie jar!” Each week he tries to obey, but he gives into his desire and has a cookie anyway. She suspects him, but she has no proof, so he gets away with it.
What motivation can she use?
Several. She can talk about her authority. God’s pattern. She can tell him that he’s depriving others of cookies. She can threaten to spank him if she sees him.
Finally, when none of that seems to do the job, she adds one last motivation. She says:
“I have counted the cookies.”
Accountability is making sure that someone else has “counted the cookies” in the area(s) in which you are most often tempted.
Accountability is …
Admitting, sharing, and seeking support for …
Hurts, fears, temptations, doubts, and defeats …
Humbly, honestly, transparently, and openly …
With a trusted and respected friend or group …
That can listen, pray, and sometimes advise …
To help you see sin objectively and repent of it …
And support you in every step of progress …
Patiently, in confidence and privacy …
With only God’s will and your good at heart.
Who, How, When, and Where?
How to proceed?
Informally. No outline, no strict, formal instructions. Outgrowth of a friendship you already have. Golf or exercise friend. Elder, Bible school teacher, etc.
Start young. Before troubles start. Some teenagers find such a person or group in their youth group, family (older brother), or school. They remain partners for life.
Some once a month face-to-face; once a week by phone.
Choose a partner (or group) of the same sex as you …
Choose someone that you enjoy being around and spending time with.
Choose someone that you respect spiritually, who is serious about following the will of God.
Choose someone that will be honest, will build you up, will help you. Not a critical nag.
Aim for a balance of encouragement and exhortation, not 50-50 but more like 75-25. That is, 75% encouragement and 25% exhortation.
Agree never to give unsolicited advice or criticism.
“I have some feedback. It may hurt. Are you open to hearing it?”
No one is a spiritual island.
Prov 18:24 – A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
Look for that friend. Be that friend.
Man Up, God’s Girls, L2L groups, Bible classes, Encouragement Teams, Men’s Breakfasts, Retreats
Barriers to Accountability
Pride. Stubbornness. Denial. Embarrassment.
“This is no one else’s business!” Isolationism.
“No one else would understand.” Isolationism.
“This is not that big a deal.” Minimization.
“I can fix this, cover this up, and/or quit this!”
“No one will ever know.”
“Others do this. They don’t admit it. Hypocrites!”
“People will judge me. I’ll look and feel foolish.”
“Once I admit this, I’ll be expected to change it!”
Who wants to admit secret sins to others?
Who wants to appear weak?
Who wants to invite criticism?
Who wants other people checking up on them?
Who wants to become transparent and vulnerable?
Only those who struggle repeatedly with sin and would find it easier to resist if they knew that someone else had counted the cookies!
True Friends
Prov 27:17 – As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.
Prov 27:5-6 – Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.
Prov 28:23 – He who rebukes a man will in the end gain more favor than he who has a flattering tongue.
Real Before/After Support
2 Cor 2:6 Sufficient for such a one …
(one previously held accountable and disciplined for his sin, perhaps re: 1 Cor 5)
is this punishment which was inflicted by the majority, 7 so that on the contrary you should rather forgive and comfort him, otherwise such a one might be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. 8 Wherefore I urge you to reaffirm your love for him.
Possible hymns:
God’s Family
Blest Be the Tie that Binds
How Sweet, How Heavenly
Bring Christ Your Broken Life

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