Thursday, November 5, 2015

Our Helper Who Fights For Us

Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free. The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? The Lord is on my side as my helper; I shall look in triumph on those who hate me. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. Psalm 118:5-8
I was pushed hard, so that I was falling, but the Lord helped me. The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. Psalm 118:13-14 
When we think of the attributes of God, most of our minds quickly turn to his peaceful, saving attributes. We think of him as our heavenly father, whose steadfast love never ceases and whose mercies never come to an end. He is our Savior who loves us and brings us peace with God. But in Exodus 15:3, we see that God is also a man of war.

Although we cannot see it, we are in the midst of a cosmic battle between God and the forces of darkness. The god of this world is blinding the minds of unbelievers to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel that God is shining into their hearts. The devil is actively scheming against us with lies, accusations, and half-truths in an attempt to persuade us to doubt and disobey God. Satan is in direct opposition to God, and this battle is of eternal significance.

In this battle, our God is a man of war. He does not sit idly by as Satan wreaks havoc on this world. He battles for his people. And the same right hand that brings deliverance to his people brings judgment on his enemies. The Lord is sovereign, and as Pharoah learned in Exodus 15, if you fight against God, you lose. Our God strikes terror into the hearts of his enemies. He overthrows them and will completely and ultimately destroy them.

So when we are in distress, let us call on the Lord. For when we cry out to him, he will answer us. He is the God who saves, and he will be faithful to save us. Not only will he answer us, but he promises to set us free. This does mean not that our circumstances will suddenly change and we will no longer suffer from the temptations and trials of this life. But what it does mean is that our saving God will set us free from the bondage of sin. In this spiritual battle we are fighting, God promises that when we cry out to him for help, he will help us in the midst of our circumstances. He will be our refuge in the storm. As we look to him, he will free us from our anger, our bitterness, our fears and anxieties. He will free us from sin's power over us.

The Lord, the man of war, is on our side! Therefore we have nothing to fear. In this world we will have troubles. Jesus has already warned us of this. But we can take heart, for Jesus has overcome the world. We may suffer persecution or harm from others during this lifetime, but ultimately people can do nothing to us. Their harm is only temporary. God's salvation for us is for all of eternity. Just has God has saved us through the death of Jesus on the cross, he will surely bring us home. Oh what a day that will be! One day Jesus will make all things right for all of eternity and completely and ultimately destroy all who are in opposition to him.

Not only is our God, the man of war, on our side, but he is our helper. What hope that gives us. We are on the winning side, and we have the Lord helping and strengthening us daily to continue the fight. Our fight is not against flesh and blood, so the Lord has given us weapons to wield that have divine power to destroy strongholds. Satan hates us and delights in seeing the power of sin strangle us. But with Jesus on our side, we will look in triumph on him who hates us. Since Satan is fighting in direct opposition to God, when he fights us he is also fighting God. And when someone fights against God, the sovereign man of war, they will lose.

This is our hope. God helps us and gives us his divine power to destroy the strongholds of sin in our lives. When we cry out to God, he answers us and helps us and frees us from the bondage of sin. He frees us from the bondage of fear, envy, anger, gluttony, lust, and anxiety. God frees us from sin's power over us. So now we can look in triumph on him who hates us.

So often as Christians we think of God's saving grace as a moment in time when he saved us from our sins at the cross and brought us into his family. But we forget that we need his continued help and grace every moment of every day. Once we have been redeemed and justified by the blood of Jesus, we often try to continue to sanctify ourselves in our own strength. But as Psalm 118 says, "it is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man." When we trust in ourselves and try to fight against sin in our own strength, we are fighting a spiritual battle with the weapons of the flesh. When we battle this way, we will surely fall. We will find ourselves fighting a losing battle against an enemy who delights in seeing us broken under the bondage of sin.

But thanks be to God, he does not leave us here! In the midst of our brokenness and distress, when we cry out to the Lord, he always answers us. Even as we are pushed so hard that we are falling, he promises that he will help us. He will not leave us to be crushed under the bondage of our sin. He will give us his strength to fight. He will be our salvation! So no matter where we are today, let us call out to the Lord. No matter how defeated we feel in the battle against sin, let us cry out to the Lord in our distress, and he will answer us and set us free!

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