“He will not let your foot slip – he who watches over you will not slumber” (Psalm 121:3)
When I look at my self carefully, I don’t always like what I see. I see a self that constantly wants to do what God in His love forbids. I see a self that relies on its own powers and abilities instead of trusting the Lord. I see a self that is sinful, arrogant, and weak.
I see a self that needs defending.
It’s some comfort to know that I’m not alone in this assessment. In fact, St. Paul came to the same conclusion when he looked at his self: “So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members.” (Romans 7:21-23)
So much for comfort. If St. Paul couldn’t defend his self from the attacks of the world, the Devil, and his own sinful flesh, then I figure I’m pretty much toast. I know Paul called himself the “chief of sinners” and all, but let me you – there are days when I think I could teach him a thing or two about being a sinner (and not in a good way).
It’s fairly evident that if my self is going to be defended against evil, it had better not be left up to me to get the job done. I haven’t the strength to resist even the pettiest temptations and attacks that Satan throws at me. So, who you gonna’ call? “I lift up my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121:1)
St. Paul came to the same conclusion: “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24-25) Thankfully, it isn’t up to ourselves to defend our selves in our spiritual self-defense. My self is protected against all evil by the One who has already rescued me from sin, death, and the power of the Devil.
We may be able to delight in God’s law as we see the inherent goodness and holiness of His will for us, but we could never live up to its requirements, so it brings only death. But through the power of the Gospel, the Law has been fulfilled and we are saved from the dreadful consequences of our failure. God’s love, shown though Jesus’ death and resurrection, not only justifies us before His judgment seat, but it also transforms our hearts through the Holy Spirit, empowering us to live as His children and disciples. And yet our defense doesn’t come from self; it comes from God through Christ Jesus.
In the coming devotions, we will examine many of the individual ways we are attacked spiritually in our walk with God. Praise be to God that through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, we are daily enriched in faith, strengthened in will, and renewed with the drowning of the Old Adam in us so that we can stand firm against the Devil’s assaults as we minister to the world.
And even so, we will stumble; we will fail to live perfectly and will allow many thrusts, jabs, and slashes to get through our defenses. But underneath, we have the ultimate protection – the cloak of Christ’s own righteousness that renders us immune to the accusations of the Evil One. In His incredible mercy and grace, God uses even our failures to testify to His power and goodness through the free forgiveness we have in Christ. Be blessed by this knowledge, and let it defend your self against all evil.
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
Prayer: Heavenly Father, teach me to delight in weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and difficulties. Give me grace to always point to Your love and forgiveness in every situation. Strengthen and defend me against all the attacks of the Devil, that I may always honor You before men; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, my Lord. Amen.