Monday, August 11, 2014

Brothers in Arms

"Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed." - James 5:16

This life is hard. Even though we're saved from the penalty of sin, we still await Jesus' return when we will be finally free from the presence of sin in our heart and lives. Until then we fight and make war against our sin. But you don't have to fight alone. 

One of the greatest weapons God has given us in the fight against sin is each other. We were never meant to be on our own in the fight! Someone once said "There's a reason why God saved a bunch of us" - we were meant to have brothers and sisters to walk alongside us, to help us in the fight against sin, to encourage and strengthen us in our weakness, and to remind us of the gospel.

The Scripture is chock-full of exhortations to be in community in the fight against sin:
  • Galatians 6:1-2 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.
  • Hebrews 3:12-14 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.
  • Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
This is war. You cannot do it by yourself: the enemy is too strong, and you have blind spots. You are weak by yourself, but there is strength in numbers. God has given you brothers in arms! You are not alone in the trenches, you have fellow soldiers who are going through the same temptations and struggles you are. Open your eyes and call out for help! Advance on the enemy together, like the Spartans in the movie 300: locked shield to shield, an impenetrable force operating as a single unit. 

What does this look like practically? Consider these applications:
  • Seek Out Brothers: Get involved in a deep community of folks who together are pursuing holiness and maturity in Christ. If you don't have this, GET THIS. You may have to be intentional, even pioneering, and CREATE this community. Share with a brother about your struggle with porn. Share with a sister about your struggle with cutting. Share with a small group about your struggle with anger. Reach out and come into the light (1 John 1:9) there is such freedom in being open! Likewise there is real danger in being a Lone Ranger, so don't go it alone or you'll be a sitting duck. And don't just seek out brothers once in some big display of repentance, but seek out brothers often, maybe even DAILY as you fight temptation and face failure. 
  • Practice Radical Confession and Accountability: What happens when you fail? James 5:16 says we should confess our sins to one another and PRAY for each other so that we can be healed. Confession is not just done to God, but to our brothers. Our sin is made public! Sin thrives in secret, but if we drag it out into the light it loses its power. Confess your sin! Betray it, don't protect it any more in the darkness! And then get accountability. Have brothers followup with you about it, ask them to pray for you every week. Share with them your battlefield of when and where you're most tempted. Ask them to ask YOU about it.Tell them that they have permanent free access to bring up this topic with you every week. Richard Baxter writes, "If less means prevail not, open thy case to some able, faithful friend, and engage them to watch over thee; and tell them when thou art most endangered by the temptation. This will shame thee from the sin, and lay more engagements on thee to forbear it...It would be hard for thee to sin thus if it were but opened."
  • Help Others: Realize this, friend: you are not the only one struggling! Open your eyes to the hurting people around you. They're in the trenches of sin, fighting with all they can, but they're discouraged and tired and lonely JUST LIKE YOU. Reach out to them, ask them how they're doing, and PRAY with them. You will be surprised how encouraging it is to YOU and how much new strength comes into YOUR fight as you pour out into others to help them in THEIR fight. Text someone! Grab a lunch! These are your brothers around you, they need your encouragement and accountability. 
Strength in numbers,
The Relentless Fight