How To Win The Day After A Fall

“When you fall into the mire, be ashamed and be humbled, but return and wash in the open fountain, and return and beg for new strength to walk more surely. Learn to trust yourself less and God more, and take action against your enemies.. . ..Do not imagine that your little is enough, or despair because you cannot do more, but ‘press on toward the goal to win the prize.’ Do not think everything is lost because you are presently foiled. The experienced soldier knows that he will often win the day after a fall or the day after he has been wounded. Be assured of this, after a short battle follows an eternity of triumph.”

–Robert Leighton, Commentary on 1 Peter

I Thought I Could Do It Alone

I thought I could do it alone, but I found out I cannot do it at all. Every time I fell I would get up and promise myself it was the last time. I would find the point of weakness, put a fence around it, and promise to stay away, but the fences had holes. A little more will power, a few new strategies, or a new ascetic practice, none of it was of any value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.

It was like trying to strangle myself with the power of my own two hands: it couldn’t be done. Either self-preservation would kick in and I would stop, or if I managed to make any progress, as the strength of my flesh would start to die, so would the very strength I needed to finish the job. You cannot subdue the flesh by operating in its power.

Someone else must do it, and there is only one who can transfer us from the domain of darkness into the Kingdom of light. He has to be someone who was able to stand against every temptation that came His way. He then, not deserving of any punishment himself, must have been willing to lay His life down to bear our curse, and even that would not be enough. He also needs to be able to take his life up again, for death is the enemy that needs to be overcome, and that same resurrection power is needed to give new life to our spiritually dead hearts.

There is only one who is able to do that, and it is Jesus Christ. For those who have faith in Him, He has made us alive together with Him, having forgiven our trespasses, by cancelling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This He set aside nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities, and put them to open shame by triumphing over them (Col. 2:13:15).

There is only one who has the power to deliver us: to overcome our sinful nature and the wrath it deserves. It is only by Jesus that we can be saved. I will then trust in Him, and the means He has provided for our growth. He has promised to conform me to His image. I cannot do it alone, I cannot do it at all, but with God all things are possible.

D. Eaton

The Problem with Temptation is Us

She stopped by again today and gave me one of those looks. The beauty of her face set against the backdrop of the tumultuous sky promised me peace. It was soft and gentle. It was like she was telling me, “I know you are hurting, and I can help.” There was a grace in the whole thing that spun my world with confusion.

The power she wielded over me was devastating. She continued to promise relief, but I have spent time with her on more than one occasion. She keeps telling me to trust her, that she can sooth the pain I am feeling. I reminded her that every time previously, her relief has only been temporary and that she always leaves me more troubled than before. Her response to this has always been the same, “Just one more time and you will be satisfied.”

Either I go with her and enter the vicious cycle once again, or I resist and find myself with an unquenched thirst that still leaves me feeling worse than before she showed up.  When I resist her, she plays upon my fears: as if somehow I am missing out, or failing to take care of myself. Many times she has told me “this is what life is about about, and you are not living it to the fullest.”

She appears in different forms to everyone. Usually, when I hear them talk about her, most people put all the blame on her. In exasperation, they conclude, “If she were not always around, I wouldn’t have this problem,” or “If society didn’t endorse her so much, I would be safe.” The reality is the problem with temptation is us, and even without her our hearts naturally try to find fulfillment apart from our Creator. This, of course, is why we often go out to look for her.

The only reason she has so much power over me is because deep down I desire what she offers whether she is present or not, and these are the desires that war against my soul. If this were not the case, I could easily send her on her way without a problem. John Owen once wrote, “Temptations and occasions put nothing into a man, but only draw out what was in him before,” and he was working from a truth he had read in Scripture which says, “each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire” (James 1:14).

I am always amazed at how much influence she has over me, or should I say how much power I have given her. There is only one remedy, and that is to abide in Christ who offers the real fulfillment I am seeking. There must be a change in me for her to lose her power, and that change has already begun. I know this because never before have I been so aware of the deceit that lies behind her smile, but being aware and resisting are two different things. There is so much more to say about her, and even more to say about our great deliverer, but she is here now giving me that look.

D. Eaton

 

Death: A Gaping Hole in the Old Testament Priesthood

The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he [Jesus] holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. – Hebrews 7:23-24

There is a depth to these verses that is often missed. The basic truth is clear, under the old covenant, though there was only one high priest at a time, there had to be many of them because they were prevented from continuing in the office by death, but think about this a little deeper.

The priesthood under the old covenant was a wonderful picture or shadow of the reality that Christ would fulfill. Some people, including the original readers of the book of Hebrews were tempted to go back to the old system for several reasons, but one of the benefits was that it was tangible. You could see the sacrificed animal, you could smell the incense burning, and hear the priest make intercession for you. This was undoubtedly a comfort, but in this picture of our true salvation in Christ there was a gaping hole. The priests kept dying.

The role of the priest was to mediate between God and man, and they would illustrate atonement from sin, but the wages of sin is death and even the priests continued to die. If you are in desperate need of salvation and you understand that death is part of what you need to be saved from, how much hope could you receive from priests who continue to die? You could only gain hope if you understood that it typified something greater that God was going to provide.

Every one of us, unless Christ returns, is going to face death. Some of us may already be feeling its effects. We are unable to do many of the things we used to do, and the older we get the more illness and health issues we have to deal with. When death becomes more of a reality for us, to whom are we going to turn and place our hope? To priests who still die? Your own goodness or heath regimens? Since none of these have defeated the enemy of death, there must be something greater in which we can place our trust.

V. 24 But he [Jesus] holds His priesthood permanently. He will never stop being our high priest because he continues forever. He has defeated death, even after tasting it on our behalf! So when your body starts to break down, when your work hours begin to outlast your physical strength, when you begin to see the doctors more frequently, you will know you have the correct High Priest if he has defeated death and continues forever. No other priest will ever truly be able to mediate between God and man and make atonement for sin and its wages. Never shrink back from Christ, and never lean on any substitute, for Christ and Christ alone is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through Him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

For those who have faith, we have peace with God. He bore our wrath and His righteousness is accounted as ours so we can be co-heirs with Him, and since He lives forever, exalted with the Father, His work as our mediator is an ever present reality in the true tabernacle. In Christ, because of His priestly work, all of God’s actions toward you are grace, and none of it wrath. Even His chastening hand is moved by love.

Draw near to Christ today, approach the throne of grace with confidence, and if you are feeling the effects of a body tainted by sin, let it drive you to your Savior’s side, for all those who are in Christ will live with him forever. Though we are sown in weakness we will be raised in power, and though we are sown perishable we will be raise imperishable.

D. Eaton

When Pressing On Means Giving Up

I could hear the voices whispering, “Persevere, Don’t give up, You need to press on.” The only problem was I was fairly certain these were the voices of the enemy. I was torn because persistence is something to honor. A sense of despondency and joy burned within me at the thought of giving up several lifelong pursuits.

I knew it was the right thing to do. I needed to say goodbye to what I loved, because what I loved was toxic. It was like a destructive friendship. Friendships are to be cherished, and it always seems wrong to dissolve them, but when they are harmful, the appropriate thing to do is to bring them to an end.

I realized I had a long and unhealthy relationship with the world.  I loved it and was attempting to stake my claim and find my refuge in its kingdom. The revelation that these dark skies have open to me is that the things of the world can neither protect nor satisfy.

Faith has been awakened, and it is pointing my mind to things above.  I know at this point the way to press on is to bring all these worldly pursuits to a close.  I must say goodbye to these lifelong loves, and deep inside I can feel the heartache that will ensue. If left to myself, I will not have the strength to do it.  I will run back into their arms like a lonely man returning to an abusive lover.

I will persevere though, not because I have it in me, but because I am starting to realize that true perseverance in the things of God is not of myself.  I am, as Peter once said, being kept by the power of God through faith.  Christ Jesus has begun a work He has promised to complete. I know my old nature will not give up easily, and it may win a few battles as I am being conformed to His image, but I will press on, because He has promised to never lose His child.

Do not love the world or the things in the world. – 1 John 2:15

D. Eaton

The Fight of Faith

Fight of Faith Logo

The sky has turned dark.  It has not always been this way, but now it is frightening.  Not long ago it was bright and sunny as was the disposition of my heart, but now the thunder crashes are similar to the war drums of an enemy telling me that I will never survive. When the skies were clear, I always imagined that I had the strength to handle whatever would come my way, but now as I stand here, I realize how weak I am compared to the power of this storm.

Somehow the darkness that has surrounded me has begun to make its way into my soul. The doubts, confusions, and fears continue to whisper to me, and they seem to be penetrating deep into my heart. It even has a way of making the easiest tasks of the day seem burdensome. Deep inside me, it has revealed the truth that I am no match for what I am facing, and to crown its victory, it declares my sinfulness by reminding me of my many failures.

That is not all that is being revealed, something deeper still has begun to stir. Something that is turning my eyes away from the ephemeral and started to focus my attention on what endures. I realize that it was there even before the skies turned, but I am only now beginning to see its power. It has gripped me and will not let go. It is something that was born within by a power not my own, which is what gives it a life of its own. It has been said that those born in this way will overcome the world, and what is this victory that overcomes the world – our faith.

It often takes a storm more powerful than I am before I reach out for the Hand that is more powerful than the storm, and though the tempest remembers my transgressions, the Hands that hold me are scarred from nail piercings that declare my forgiveness.  I still tremble, and sometimes it is difficult to tell whether it is out of fear or out of faith, but what I am beginning to see is that there is something, or should I say, Someone, greater within me than what is in the world.

One day it will all be put right, but the sky is still dark, and the storm is still raging, and when I see the things of this world which my heart still loves slipping from my grasp, the tears still sometimes well up in my eyes. Although, I’ve learned that the One who holds me is also directing the storm, so I have nothing to fear. You may not always see me holding it together, but know this, deep inside there is a battle raging to set me free from the things that still hold me captive. That battle is the fight of faith, and that battle will not be lost.

D. Eaton

The Haunting Effects of Sin

David thought it was over. His sin had been exposed, he had sought the Lord’s forgiveness, and it had been granted. A right spirit had been renewed, and a clean heart had been created. Then came the news that his child was gravely ill. As David was thrown to the floor in anguish, thoughts of his sin filled his mind. Months had passed, but now his sin had come out from hiding to remind him of his treachery against the God of the universe.

Years later another son of his rebels, and once again David is reminded of the sword that has been driven into his family because of what he had done. Another brutal reminder that he, at one point, actually thought he knew better than Lord of all creation. In his sinful nature, he desired something that the Lord had forbidden, but David ignored the law because he thought it would be better if things were done his way. Oh, but how that sin has haunted him. How many times he thought he was done with it. He had repented, he had been forgiven, but regardless of all that, it seemed to pursue him. Though it had no hold on his life, and there was no possibility that his sin could exact its wages from him, due to the redemptive plan and work of God, it was not going to let him forget.

It seemed to sit in silence for extended periods of time just to make David comfortable. Then as he would be going about his day, there would be those moments when something, whether it was something he saw or something he heard, gave his sin an opportunity to spring up on him and cloak his day with darkness by taunting him of his failures and reminding him of his foolishness.

You see, one or two moments of sin do not simply last for a season. Many times they have a way of coming back in little reminders which sink your spirits every now and again, and the fact that it comes on when you least expect it is what makes it all the more difficult. After it happens a few times, it can also cause you to begin to look over your shoulder in preparation for it to happen again, until you feel it trying to stifle you in your work for the Lord. It can even cause a hesitancy to step out into new areas in life because of what it might do when you reach the new territory.

As it did with David, sin has a way of robbing us of peace and joy. It can weaken, embarrass, and grieve us years after the indiscretion. On top of all that, as the enemies of God find out, they begin to rejoice, mocking the God we love because of what we have done. If you are toying with sin or considering spurning God’s loving standards to feed your flesh, you might want to think twice because what you do could linger for years to come.

Now if this warning comes a bit too late and you already know from experience that all of this is true, you must remember that the haunting cannot ultimately hurt you. Bear in mind that our sovereign God, who has taken your sin and bore its wages on the cross, has promised never to lose His child, and has promised that all things will work together for the good of those that who love Him: even the haunting effects of sin. Though they can be troubling and painful, He is using all things to accomplish His purposes in your life. His plans are to prosper and not to harm you. He will finish the work he has started in you, and with a little wrestling, He can change your name from Jacob, the heel-catcher, and deceiver, to Israel; the prince of God.

Ultimately, David never forgot his sin, but that did not stop God from calling him “a man after His own heart.” As king of Israel, the Lord has used his example to show the world His love and forgiveness, and that the Lord can use anyone in a powerful way, even those with serious failures in their past. Sin can haunt the repentant believer all it wants, but ultimately it cannot separate them from God’s love. Even though the enemy naively believes that he is going to stifle them by it, the sovereign God is using it to conform them to the image of His Son. Let us never forget that it was the haunting effects of sin that the Lord used in David life, which caused him to draw up under the wing of his Lord, and through it birthed several of his Psalms which were inspired by the Holy Spirit and considered the very Words of God.

In a fascinating way, the Lord uses the haunting effects of sin to bring his child to the point where we will no longer be able to be haunted by them. By using them to conform us to His image, not only will we avoid sin in the future, but when the accuser rears his head, we will understand that all his work is in vain and the more he tries to afflict us, the more we will grow. Then, before long, Satan will be looking over his shoulder, because greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world.

-D. Eaton

The Benefits of Adversity

The Prayer
The daily battles never cease. Adversity is a companion I know too well. My strength is gone, and despair brings me low. I ask again for release from this, for I fear it will be the end of me. The enemy gathers to devour me, and their strength seems overwhelming. Lord, if it be your will, end this suffering.

The Response

Then your word rings clear. “My Grace is sufficient for you”. Three times you’ve cried for relief, because you believe this is holding you back. What you don’t see my child, is that this thorn you so much dread is one of my precious blessings which is not killing or holding you back, but spurring you on and giving you strength.

The death that you feel is the old nature dying, and though you feel held back you’re actually moving more swiftly because your focus is clear and your resolve is set on Me. Without this you would be easily distracted. Without this you would stumble in your own strength, and though Satan thinks he buffets, and your faith is being tested, I am crowning you with perseverance, character and hope.

Humility is another gift that is given though this and the broken and contrite I will never turn away. So walk on and know that I am sovereign, and embrace the benefits of this adversity. For I alone am God, and I know my children well. You will never be tested more than you can handle, and I will bring you home.

My Grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness. 2 Cor. 12:9

-D. Eaton-

The Pain of Discontentment

We have hearts that long after fulfillment, but far too often we seek that fulfillment in things that fail to deliver. As we long for them we find that our hearts begin to ache. If the desire is strong enough and what we want is out of our reach, it can even lead to depression and anxiety. What is it about desiring things in this way that causes this kind of heartache?

It all seems to stem from the fact that when we want something we cannot have, a gloom begins to cover all the other wonderful blessings the Lord has already given us. As our flesh longs after these things, we hear the sirens singing to us, telling us that we need this in order to be complete.  The problem is, that is not the only song that is sung.  It always travels with another tiding that declares, all these other blessings you already have are not enough; they will always leave you empty.

This is why we can find ourselves surrounded by a multitude of blessings asking, “why am I so miserable?”  If you find yourself in this position, ask yourself what it is that is promising you fulfillment and causing to despise what you already have?  If it is not of God, remember what William Plummer once said, “Are you ambitious for the things of this world? Then you are your own tormentor!”

This leaves us asking how to end this self-torture. Removing desires that war against our soul is no easy task. The only way this can be done is by turning our minds away from the things of the world and setting them on things above where Christ is seated (Col. 3:1).  In other words, we need to set our minds on Christ, the only One who can deliver what He has promised.  This will be a lifelong war and we may lose some battles, but it is one of the primary fronts in the fight of faith.

Now godliness with contentment is great gain. – 1 Timothy 6:6

-D. Eaton

The Gospel As Seen in the Sacrifice of Isaac

storm-sunset-cross-black-waters-as-sun-sets-over-sea-45353570And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.” – Genesis 22-13

As Isaac watched the knife which was lifted by his father be plunged into the ram that had been caught in the thicket, what could have been going through his mind? As he watched as the altar was set ablaze to finish the burnt offering, the thought of his replacement must have astonished him.

Only moments early he had been bound and laying on the altar. Not only him but the future existence of the children of God. As Isaac watched his replacement, he watched for us all as God shows him that there is one who will come to bear our scorn.

The ram obviously being a shadow of Christ who was to come, finds us bound upon the altar of the wrath of God, bound in the sense that we loved our sin, and wanted to continue in it. As it is with all those who are under the law, the dagger of God’s justice was raised above us, waiting until His sovereign and unstoppable hand plunged it down.

But while we were still sinners, fighting against His authority and grace, He began to untie us. Our hearts of stone He began to soften as we lay in defiance of Him. With the hammer of His word, He then destroyed the bonds of false philosophies and empty arguments which held us captive, and He continued His work until we, being freed, crawled off the altar. As we stood in astonishment, God Himself in Christ crawled upon the altar freely without bonds. He lay there perfectly still, as God the Father plunged the dagger of His justice upon His only Son.

By faith the children of God, look on in amazement as we claim the merits of His blood, completely undone by the fact that all of this has been done for us. Had God left us upon the altar to strike us with His justice, He would have been perfect in His holiness and impeccable in His goodness. But He did not do it, not because we were worthy but because He loves us as the Father loves the Son; eternally without beginning and without end.

-D. Eaton