In Prone to Wander I, we found out that, yes, the Bible and history prove that the true God’s people are prone to wander from Him, and the people of the false gods are prone to stay with them. Focusing on the Church age, in which we live, we will talk about why this is so and what to do about it.
Why are God’s people prone to wander? From the God they love, from Jesus their Savior and from the Holy Spirit their Comforter? Reduced to basics, there are two reasons for this:
1. The people of God, we Christians, still have a sinful nature;
2. Satan is against us.
The sinful nature- most Bible versions use the word “flesh” instead of “sinful nature.” Compare Galatians 5:16, 17 in these two versions:
- New International Version- So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want;
- New King James Version- I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.
- You can see that flesh is used to denote sinfully excessive desires for bodily pleasures, which is better represented by sinful nature. Other expressions are used in various versions of the Bible or in Christian lingo:
Adamic nature (after the first man to have it);
- Fallen nature (because it is a consequence of the Fall);
- Lower nature (in contrast to the higher nature);
- Old man (in contrast to the new man we are in Christ);
- Whatever you call it, it is our enemy within. It is Satan’s fifth column inside our very being. Comparing Ephesians 2:1-3 in the same two versions used above will make this plain:
- New International Version- As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath;
- New King James Version- And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air (a title for Satan), the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. Which brings us to:
Satan is against us-Satan is a fallen archangel. When he was created his name was Lucifer. Isaiah 14:12 “How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations!” Lucifer=Light bearer, shining one, morning star. He rebelled against God and deceived one third of the holy angels to follow him in that rebellion. As Isaiah mentioned, this rebellion was called falling from heaven. After his fall he was known by various names, some of which are listed in Revelation 12:9:
- Great Dragon;
- Serpent of old;
- Deceiver of the whole world. Elsewhere he is called;
- Father of lies;
- The god of this world (system.).
Truly a fearsome enemy! Martin Luther, in A Mighty Fortress Is Our God, speaks thus, “For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe ; his craft and power are great, and armed with cruel hate, on earth is not his equal.”
Satan hates God, and he hates mankind, created in the image of God. He can’t harm God directly, but he rages against God indirectly by attacking mankind, God’s highest creation, which, thanks to Adam, is a fallen race.
Satan’s first goal regarding mankind is to keep mankind in its fallen state. His MO is stated in 2 Corinthians 4:3,4, But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age (Satan) has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.
If he fails in this, and a person is born again into the family of God, Satan goes to Plan B. Though he has lost the battle to keep the person unsaved, he goes all out to render the new Christian at least useless to God, but hopefully counterproductive and a disgrace to God’s family. So let us examine the foundations and details of Satan’s Plan B:
- Satan deceived Eve in the Garden of Eden, Adam went along with the resultant disobedience of God’s command and the two persons comprising mankind were now a fallen race. He was then instrumental in further anti-God activity;
- The first murder occurred when Cain slew his brother, Abel;
- Violence and all unrighteousness brought the judgment of the flood, out of which only Noah and his seven family members survived;
- Soon Nimrod led the post-flood inhabitants of the earth to rebel against God, building the tower of Babel to keep them all in one place instead of repopulating the earth;
- God dispersed them by confusing their language, thus creating multiple nations amongst whom violence and wars broke out;
- All of the above created a world system hostile to God, mankind in general and God’s people in particular. It is described in 1 John 2:15-17, “ Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” This is the foundation of Plan B;
- Satan depends on the sinful (prone to wander) nature still in each Christian plus the temptations offered by his world system to move God’s people into sin and make them too weak to be a threat to his evil kingdom, usually without requiring his or his demons’ active participation;
- But if a Christian shows zeal for God, praying and feasting on God’s Word, Satan will assign one of his demons to harass that Christian, to oppose his/her growth and usefulness to God. A book by C. S. Lewis entitled “The Screwtape Letters” gives a fascinating portrayal of this satanic device. If you are serious about not wandering you really need to read this book;
- A demon assigned to you by Satan can:
- Remind you of old sins and try to lay guilt on you as though those sins had not been forgiven;
- Plant evil thoughts in your mind that seem to “come from nowhere;”
- Though he can’t tempt you directly (James 1:14, But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust), he can often manage to get you faced with the things you might lust after;
- He can find so many ways to distract you when you are reading the Bible or praying;
- He can give you so many reasons why you should not attend church, get there on time, pay tithes and offerings and so forth;
- He is expert at hindering your efforts to witness to the lost;
- And so on ad infinitum-you get the drift.
So what do we do about it? How do we proof ourselves against sinning by wandering from God, our heavenly Father, and Jesus, our Savior, whom we love?
- As an individual, maintain a personal relationship with God in daily devotions, worship Bible study and prayer;
- Join with fellow Christians in corporate worship (including giving of tithes and offerings) and service every Lord’s Day in your local church;
- Put your sinful nature to death daily (details below);
- Resist the devil (details below).
Putting the sinful nature to death is mandated in Colossians 3:5-14 (NIV), “ Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”
Note that the evidence of the presence and work of the sinful nature in a Christian is evil habits. To put to death the sinful nature is to consistently cease the evil habits and replace them by the contrasting good habits: do not lie, but tell the truth; do not use filthy language, but language that uplifts and blesses; do not engage in sexual immorality but keep yourself pure, etc. This is not easy, but as a Christian you have a lot going for you:
- God the Father is your heavenly Father, to Whom you can pray (Matt. 6:9-13, the Lord’s Prayer);
- God the Son, Jesus Christ, is your Savior, is continually praying for you (Heb. 7:25, Therefore He [Jesus] is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them);
- God the Holy Spirit, is your comforter, helper and guide, and actually dwells in your body (1 Cor. 6:19, Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?);
- You have a Guardian Angel, whom God has appointed to protect you (Heb.1:14, Are they [angels] not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?);
- The Bible, God’s holy written Word, your instruction manual for living the Christian life. But, if you are to put to death your sinful nature, you will have to use these assets;
- Read and study the Bible, asking the Holy Spirit to “lead you into all truth” (John 16:13);
- Memorize pertinent Bible verses like Psalm 119:11, “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You!” and Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me;”
- When you first wake up pray, “Lord Jesus, help me from giving in to evil habits today;
- But if an evil habit cries out to be indulged, you cry out “Jesus, help men!”
- Pray, Pray, Pray!
Resist the devil-James 4:6, 7, “But He (the Holy Spirit) gives more grace. Therefore He says: God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil* and he will flee from you.” *Note-the expression “the devil” is not likely to be Satan, the devil himself, but a demon (one of his fellow fallen angels of lesser rank), or some one (or thing) controlled by the devil or his demons-compare with verse 12 in Key Passage below i.e. our putting to death, or fighting, or wrestling, is not against a person, or flesh and blood, but against the evil spiritual powers behind them.
11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
12 For we do not wrestle (fight) against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness,
15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.
17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;
18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.
Be prepared to resist the devil by putting on the whole armor of God each morning by addressing the devil, loud and clear, “Devil, notice that I, by God’s grace, have on the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of the gospel of peace, the helmet of salvation and am carrying the shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit, and will resist you this day praying to almighty God to help me in so doing.”
Then, when subjected to the desires of an evil habit, or detecting the devil injecting an evil thought into your mind, or some other Satanic attack on you occurs, resist him immediately (out loud, if possible, or if that would be indiscreet right then, seek a place where you can boldly say:
- Devil, I recognize you in this matter;
- God is my Father;
- Jesus is my Savior, the One who said “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth” (Matt. 28:18). He is here right now, as He promised “to be with me always” (Matt. 28:20);
- The Holy Spirit dwells in me, the One who is greater than you (1John 4:4);
- How dare you attack the triune God? I resist you and come against you with the mighty name and the mighty blood of Jesus, so you must flee (James 4:7);
- Jesus defeated you by shedding his blood and dying on the cross and by His Resurrection! So BEGONE!
- In conclusion, frequently recite or sing the prayers which are underlined in the song below:
The following repeats the introductory paragraph of Prone to Wander I:
“Come Thou Fount” is a Gospel song well known to many of us old timers. The first two verses exult over what God has done for the believer in Christ who is singing the song. The third verse is uniquely different from the first two verses and most other hymns or Gospel songs. It goes like this:
O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee:
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it;
Seal it for Thy courts above.