Call to Battle

“Happy is the one who endures testing because when he has proven to be genuine, he will receive the crown of life that God promised to those who love him.  Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted by evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each one is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desires. Then when desire conceives, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is full grown, it gives birth to death. Do not be led astray, my dear brothers and sisters.” –James 1:12-16, NET

This Sunday in children’s church, we looked at the tragic downfall of king David (2Sa 11-12), where a moment of lust leads him down a path of adultery, conspiracy, betrayal, murder. But if we look closely at the details, there is a vivid picture of warning for us all.

In that passage, the writer emphasizes that it was the duty of kings to lead their military in battle, the very reason Israel had demanded to have a king “like all the other nations” (2Sa 8:19-20).
But David “stayed behind” (v.1), merely content to send another (Joab). He was not engaged in the war that was being conducted by the people of God. Rather, he was wandering on the palace roof in the evening (v.2). Then after seeing a woman bathing, allowed his sight to linger until the sight enticed him to take and taste what was not his.

How often are we content not to engage in the war with the enemy (Eph 6:12), but content to send another? The context very much suggests that it was through the neglect of his duties that David fell so easily into temptation. Not to say holiday and leisure are forbidden for the Christ-follower, but if it is not the time appointed for us to enjoy such things, we have departed from the mission, left the side of our Commander, and are vulnerable as prey for the enemy. Idleness will certainly expose our weak points (Ecc 10:18). When we lose focus on our hope (Christ), our pace slows into aimless wander (Heb 6:11-12). When we forsake the business given to us, we find ourselves standing on the roof of our success and pleasure, looking out into the world instead of “seeking things above where Christ is,” (Col 3:1). Darkness will undoubtedly close around us (evening) (Isa 59:1-9), the light of God’s word (Psa 119:105) fading from our sight, leaving us foolishly blind (John 11:10). We then begin meddling in the work and affairs of others (2Th 3:11), quickly becoming a tool of Satan (see Mat 16:23). And once desires have given birth to sin, death inevitably follows (see 2Sa 12:18).

“Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” –Matthew 26:41, ESV

This is why Jesus urges His disciple to remain alert, to “watch” (keep their eyes on King Jesus who leads us into battle and vanquishes the enemy, Rev 19:14-15), and be persistent in “prayer” (engaged in the spiritual battle, Eph 6:18), in order not to fall as David did. This is the time of testing and battle, a fight for victory and the “crown of life”, not some leisure and aimless strolls through life. Be engaged in the battle that wages all around us, and do not allow the enemy to gain a foothold on your heart (Eph 4:27).

“Temptation is not a sin; it is a call to battle,” (Erwin W. Lutzer). 

Billy Neal
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