Inviting the Devil to Dinner (Part one)
My husband, Scott, and I sit out on our front porch in the mornings. We like to start our day with coffee, a devotion, and prayer. Occasionally I will bring something to eat. Inevitably within seconds, several flies have begun to invade our porch. It amazes us how one moment there wasn’t a fly in sight, then as soon as I bring out my food, they appear seemingly from nowhere.
I did a little research and found that flies can smell with their antennae up to four miles away. Good grief, no wonder! So, the flies are buzzing about doing what flies do, get a whiff and suddenly, I’m under assault.
I didn’t need to invite them or ring a dinner bell. Nope. The scent was their invitation.
The same thing applies to our spiritual lives. Most of us would never invite Satan over for a meal, just like we don’t invite flies. And yet Satan and flies will show up if the environment is conducive.
I’m reminded of a time when my son, Chad, was small. He was supposed to get dressed to go out to dinner. He stood on the landing of the stairs wearing his biggest smile along with his new dress shirt and pants. I squinted my eyes as I approached him because I could see the red shirt he had on earlier, underneath the new, crisp white one he had just put on. I drew even closer, noticing his dirt-streaked face, and chubby fingers with dirt caked under his nails.
“Chad, when I told you to get ready, I meant to wash up and take off your old, dirty clothes before putting on the new ones.”
When it comes to spiritual warfare, many times we are much like my son, attempting to whitewash godliness over the top of our dirty sinful habits, not realizing we’ve just invited Satan to dinner. All that is needed: an environment that’s conducive.
You see, even though the Bible tells us that the moment we become Christians, we are born again (John 3:7 ) and have become new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17), we still have the same sinful nature alive in us along with the Holy Spirit. The two are at war according to Galatians 5:17.
“The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.”
With two forces at work, only one will win.
“Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.” Romans 8:5-6
Which one is controlling you—the sinful nature or the Holy Spirit?
The enemy is well aware of our sinful nature, ugly habits and hang-ups. He loves to exploit our own deficiencies in whatever ways he can. Let me explain.
Ephesians 6:10-18 directs us to put on the armor of God to fight against the enemy and his schemes. One of the pieces of armor listed is the breastplate of righteousness. If I put on an appearance of righteousness over the top of my unrighteous daily lifestyle that is dominated by sin, I’m not really protecting my heart because it’s already hard, sinful.
The only way is to do something about my hard, sinful heart before putting on the armor. But how?
“Throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.” Ephesians 4:22-24
The Bible teaches us to “put off” the things that hold us back, then “put on” the new nature that has the power to makes us more and more like Christ. Christians often fail to experience lasting change because they try to change solely by breaking bad habits.
However, change that lasts can only be experienced by exchanging a bad habit for a godly one (Ephesians 4:22-24 above).
We learn through His Word that God intends Christians to put on biblical alternatives to whatever they are trying to put off. Our sinful tendencies and habits are learned behaviors that must be unlearned by replacing them. If we don’t, we leave ourselves open to discouragement and to the devil’s schemes. God provides for us powerful heavenly weapons for each believer to “put on.”
“Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.” Ephesians 6:13-18
Before we can experience the victory that God intends us to have by putting on this spiritual armor, we must put off anything that may neutralize its effectiveness.
In the same way, I had inadvertently invited the flies on my porch, sin invites the enemy. We cannot merely cover up the sin the way my son put a new shirt over the dirty one.
We will go into more details on the “putting off” and “putting on” process in part two of this lesson next week. Until then, here is step one:
PUT OFF THE OLD WAY
We must seek God fully and ask Him to open our hearts and minds to reveal anything that’s been inviting the devil to dinner.
Prayer: (Go to an uninterrupted and quiet place where you can pray aloud.)
Father God, You are holy, just, merciful, and full of love and grace. Thank you that I am able to come to you now because of what Christ did for me on the cross. I surrender myself to you now, humbly asking you to please soften my heart and open my mind, revealing what ways are not pleasing to you. Create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit and attitude within me. In the name of Jesus, amen.
No matter how far away from God’s righteousness your current lifestyle might be at the moment, don’t be discouraged. For if you have invited Jesus into your heart as your Lord, He will empower you with His righteousness as you put off the old ways in exchange for His.
“The power of the Holy Spirit has made me free from the power of sin and death. This power is mine because I belong to Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:2
If you prayed the prayer above, I encourage you to write down and/or tell someone what the Lord revealed to you. Please feel free to contact me through email or comment below.
Please join me next week for part two of the lesson. Until then, love and blessings!
This post is linked with #LMMlinkup http://www.foreverjoyful.net/?p=1316