There's a popular notion around these days that true Christianity is really only for wimps... those who need a crutch in order to get through life. And no doubt this is why pride and self-sufficiency are the two greatest obstacles to men and women seeking the Lord.
But of course it takes real courage to live as a true follower of Jesus. Life is no picnic, more a battlefield, where our enemies, the world, the flesh and the devil are pre-eminent. So there's no room for complacency, we must engage in spiritual warfare every day.
So what shape does this warfare take? Well, in an article for the San Francisco Chronicle, Herb Caen offers some helpful insight through the following...
'Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must outrun
the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a lion wakes up.
It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death.
It doesn't matter whether you're a lion or a gazelle;
when the sun comes up, you'd better be running.'
And the thrust of this is bluntly emphasised by CH Spurgeon when he wrote...
'If you are not seeking the Lord, the devil is seeking you.'
...with Scripture warning those of us who are already Christians...
'Your enemy (the enemy of our souls) the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.'
1 Peter 5:8
Now if you know anything about zoology you'll realise that a 'roaring' lion never caught a thing! But it's not as simple as that. Lions are clever and cunning, as is the devil. The older ones do the prowling and roaring, seeking to frighten their targeted prey towards the younger ones who do the chasing and killing. All then share in the resultant feast.
But just as lions have developed such an effective survival strategy, so must we if we're to combat and prevail against our enemy's malevolent advances. Thankfully the Lord well knows our vulnerability, especially when we're being tempted to rely on our own ingenuity and willpower. In which case, He has graciously provided a strategy for our protection.
Firstly, He calls us to stand firm... to be strong in Him, not in ourselves. To be self-controlled and alert... ready to resist our enemy when we become aware of what is often the subtlety of his temptations...
'For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realm.'
Secondly, He instructs us to put on spiritual 'armour'... and with prayer on all occasions...
'...the belt of truth,,, the breastplate of righteousness... feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace...the shield of faith... the helmet of salvation and
the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God.'
Thirdly, when tempted, we must be ready to identify and then take His 'way of escape'...
'...God is faithful: he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.
But when you are tempted he will also provide a way out
so that you can stand up under it.'
1 Corinthians 10:13
So let's beware, these are dangerous days. But if up until now you've been unaware of all this then look out... your enemy, the devil, may already have you where he wants you!