Now I know you’re eager to hitch up your horse and go out on the range for Jesus, but you better read this here real careful, or you’re liable to get bushwhacked when you least expect it. There’s been a whole lot of Christians that aimed to ride long & hard, tall in the saddle, that’s been cut down— so don’t think it can’t happen to you! But you don’t have to be feared of it if you listen close…
“Well where are those no-good, low-down, weasels? I’ll fight ‘em off!”
Whoa, there, pilgrim, before you go off looking for demons behind every rock, let’s take a look at a few verses in the Good Book:
But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. (James 2:14-15)
What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? (James 4:1)
For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing… but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. (Romans 7:19,23)
Before you go blaming all yer sinnin’ on the devil, you better take a look in the mirror! Certainly there is supernatural evil and certainly we live in an evil environment, but God hits us straight between the eyes with who we really got to look out for—and it’s us! It is our thoughts that will lead us into sin and ruin. If we lose the battle with our thoughts, then sin is inevitable. On the other hand, if we nip those sinful thoughts in the bud, we will not need to clean up a mess of sin in our lives.
“Well, then, what kind of varmints do I have to watch out for in my mind & heart?”
For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person. (Mark 7:21-23)
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)
Yes, there’s all kinds of varmints ready to cause trouble still lurking around even in the heart of the most faithful Christian— so you always got to keep a keen eye peeled out for them!
“Now that I know what I’m up against, what kind of firepower do I got to use?”
For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, (2 Corinthians 10:4-5)
God don’t expect you to fight with your fists, pilgrim— He’s given you some powerful spiritual weapons to use.
“Well, what else do I need to know?”
Glad you asked! Here’s some more ol’ tried and true advice for any righteous wrangler:
#1 Load Up On Ammo!
When you’re out riding on the range and get ambushed, it’s too late to head back to the fort for ammo. You better have plenty in your saddlebag every morning before you head out!
How can a young man keep his way pure?
By guarding it according to your word.
I have stored up your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you.
I have stored up your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you. (Psalm 119:9,11,15)
In other words, you need to get “loaded for bear” every day with plenty of:
And be sure to make it EVERY day, pilgrim!
#2 Don’t go asking for trouble!
Don’t head into a blind canyon! If you or another pilgrim has had a run-in with some varmints in some mountain pass, don’t go near there! Old sheriff Paul told deputy Timothy to “flee youthful lusts” (2 Timothy 2:22)– and that’s plenty good advice for you, too! Don’t go near something that’s going to tempt you or put a wrong thought in your head— don’t go asking for trouble!
#3 Always keep your eye peeled no matter how safe the territory looks!
Those varmints are sneaky, and they can come up when you least expect it. Your best bet is always to be looking so they can’t get the drop on you! That’s why sheriff Paul said, “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” (1 Corinthians 10:12)
#4 As soon as you spot ‘em, let ‘em have both barrels and high tail it out of there!
Don’t say “maybe I’ll let ‘em stay awhile and see if they’re friendly”— don’t give them a chance to shoot you down! When an ungodly thought comes into your head, just throw a bible verse and a prayer at it and get out of there.
#5 If they’ve got you pinned down, call for the calvary!
Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:1-2)
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. (James 5:16)
You’re not the lone ranger, pilgrim, and God doesn’t want you to be. Don’t try to be a hero and fight a whole army by yourself—if you get pinned down by a sin, what God wants you to do is to call for help–brothers & sisters in Christ who can pray for you and help you.
Well, there it is, pilgrim. Now you’re all ready to saddle up and ride for Jesus!