Thursday, February 5, 2009

Grace and Truth Applied

The great deceiver ultimately wants to rob us of the power of grace and truth in our lives. Thus, he attacks our minds and emotions, looking for a place in our lives where he might gain a foothold. For instance, he will pressure us to become proud about certain accomplishments, talents, or physical aspects of our bodies. This pride opens the door to an attack on individual problems and practices that don't please God, such as prejudice, hatred, anger, jealousy, envy, lust, and numerous other things. Because of pride, we refuse to acknowledge the sin, and because of the sin we lose our reputation and perhaps even our careers, marriages, and so forth. It's then people come to me and say, "please fix it!" To "fix it," I have to go back to the bedrock problems that started the whole thing, then lead them to confess their pride, repair their character and make restitution for their sins. For many people, this is difficult to the point that they rail in anger at me, saying there has to be another way. In robbing us of grace and truth, the Evil One uses a bitter heart as easily as he uses as proud one. In 1979, during my first pastorate, I was called to the bedside of an elderly man I'll call Nelson. He claimed to have made a profession of faith as a young man, and he attended all the services of the church. But Nelson had the reputation of being the most bitter man in town. Nelson was dying, and the doctor said he would not live through the night. When I approached his bed in the intensive care unit, he called me over to his side and said, "Let me tell you about my no-good, worthless, rotten brother-in-law. I listened sadly as the story spilled out. "In 1929 I had a brand-new Model A Ford car. Back in those days we did not use antifreeze, we used alcohol. Being in a northern state, it was the fall of that year when we needed it. Alcohol was expensive, so I put water in the radiator until I could afford the alcohol. My brother-in-law wanted to borrow the car. I asked him to drain not only the radiator but also the engine block when he finished driving that night (he was taking the car home), because if it froze it would crack the block. "That worthless, no-good brother-in-law drained the radiator, but he did not drain the block because he was too lazy. It froze that night and cracked the block. He brought that new car back to me with the block leaking, laughed about it, and would not pay to have it welded." His brother-in-law had been unfair and perhaps mean-spirited, but I was astonished that this event, which had happened fifty years earlier, was the cause of all this bitterness. Yet as he told that story, the bitterness recked from him like some just-released poison gas. For fifty years, his hatred and anger had consumed him. At that time, my understanding of warfare was next to nothing. But I did do this: I asked him to please consider forgiving his brother-in-law. He refused, and to the best of my knowledge I don't believe he did before he died. Now you might say, "What does this have to do with warfare?" Answer, bitterness can burn in a person's soul for fifty years. Something that should have been forgiven the day it happened, all over something that cost a few dollars to repair. That vehicle in time went to the junk yard to rust. That vehicle really did not matter in an ultimate sense. But it had become an occasion of bitterness that destroyed the joy of a man's life for fifty years. In warfare, the enemy does not care what it takes to get our focus off of Jesus. He uses whatever works for his evil purpose; in this case all it took was a cracked engine block. I plead with you: If you are bitter toward anyone on earth-forgive that person. Release him or her to the Lord. Ask God to forgive you of your bitterness and unforgiveness. Ask God to take back the ground emu have given to the enemy and allow the Lord Jesus Christ to set you free. It's the only way. God will work a miracle in your soul when you do. Dr. Ken Copley is available for counseling, conferences, and local church meetings.

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