Sunday Leftovers: Your strength

DavePattonA number of years ago, Sports Illustrated profiled arm wrestler Dave Patton.  At the time, he hadn’t lost an arm wrestling match in 12 years, even though he only weighed 160 pounds.

His secret was his training.  He would train up to four hours each day, including 756 bicep curls during each session.  Though often combating men up to twice his weight, Patton typically dispatched them with ease and won more than 35 arm wrestling titles.

While his strength and power were impressive, what he possessed is of no comparison to the power and strength of the believer in Christ.  For already Dave Patton’s strength is now diminished.  While he dominated the arm wrestling circuit for more than a decade, his time is now long past. But the strength of the believer will carry him into eternity.  And the strength of the believer is over spiritual forces and temptation that is far stronger than a mere physical imposition.

John says even of young believers, “I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one” (1 Jn. 2:13). The evil one is the Devil — the accuser of the brethren, the roaring lion who is injurious, destructive, and vicious.  And he is defeated by the resistance and obedience of believers.

How is it that the believer can defeat this evil opponent?  John also says in the same passage, “I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one” (1 Jn. 2:14).

The source of strength for the believer is not himself, but the Word of God that lives in him.  His source of strength is Christ living in him, and his source of strength is Christ’s Word living in him.

Earlier in this same section,  John has said that the believer will obey Christ (vv. 3-5), live like Christ (v. 6) and abiding in the Light (Christ) and love others (vv. 7-11).  But the only way to do that is to live for the Word of God to abide in us.  A man cannot abide (live in, fellowship with) in Christ without having Christ’s Word abide in (live in and fellowship with) Him.

As one writer has said, “Victory over sin is directly related to a true knowledge of the Word of God.”

And the rest of the Scriptures also affirm that real spiritual strength comes from God’s Word.  Consider, for example, the following passages:

  • This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. (Josh. 1:8)
  • For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the LORD and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel. (Ezra 7:10)
  • The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul;
    The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.
    The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart;
    The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.
    The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever;
    The judgments of the LORD are true; they are righteous altogether. (Ps. 19:7-9)
  • How can a young man keep his way pure?
    By keeping it according to Your word.
    With all my heart I have sought You;
    Do not let me wander from Your commandments.
    Your word I have treasured in my heart,
    That I may not sin against You. (Ps. 119:9-11)
  • And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Eph. 6:17)
  • For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Heb. 4:12)
  • But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does. (Js. 1:22-25)

Paul will say something similar in Col. 3:16 — “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God” — which makes one ask, is the Word of God living richly or in poverty in me?  Is the Word of God living in power or weakness in me?  We can stand against sin and we can live victoriously — but our ability to stand is dependent on living (abiding) in our Bible.  That doesn’t mean just “read your Bible,” but live and apply your Bible.  It’s our only source of strength in the battle against sin and Satan.

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