The Christian’s Greatest Battle Part I
Ex. 4:31 And the people believed: and when they heard that the LORD had visited the children of Israel, and that He had looked upon their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshipped.
After years in the seminary of God, Moses was sent back to Egypt to proclaim the message of deliverance unto a nation that had been in bondage for 400 years. The news of what God was going to do was so encouraging and welcomed that the children of Israel turned to the Lord in thanksgiving and worship but little did they realize the things that would be brought upon them prior to their inheriting the promise of God. They, as so often we the children of God, little expected the great trial of faith which was to come upon them and were taken by surprise by the hard and cruel burdens that were laid upon them after the promise was received. Because the promise was not experienced soon after it was given and the children of Israel had their work load increased, they could not, “hearken unto Moses for anguish of spirit and for cruel bondage.” Ex 6:9. Because the Lord is faithful, He continued to deal with the nation that He had chosen to be His peculiar people and sent warning to Pharaoh, “Israel is my son, even my firstborn: and I say unto thee, Let my son go that he may serve Me…Ex. 4:22, 23. After the Lord brings the plagues upon Egypt, Pharaoh sends the Israelites from his land and their long journey to the promised land begins. From their cruel bondage, hard labors, and harsh taskmasters, God has delivered them and in leaving the Church their history, He has provided us with a picture and type of our Christian walk. Israel, from Pharaoh and Egypt, a type of bondage to sin and satan, has been delivered by the sprinkling of the blood upon their houses and the power of God as He opened the Red Sea and caused them to pass over on dry land. Only the almighty power of God can break the bondage of sin and satan wherein all lost people are bound and from this battle the Lord had told them to, “stand still and see the salvation of the Lord for you.”
Their greatest and longest battle began after they had been delivered from Egypt as it does also in a Christian’s life once the power of God has delivered them from the bondage of sin and satan. It would take but a little time to reflect back in your Christian walk before you realized the truth of this statement. The greatest struggles one must go through is not with other Christians, not even the lost or satan himself, but those battles that begin within, after God has placed the holy seed within the old man. Augustine said, “Lord, deliver me from an evil man, myself.”
Ex. 15:22, 23 “So Moses brought Israel from the Red Sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness, and found no water. And when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they were bitter: therefore the name of it was called Marah.”
When three days without water the children of Israel spot the water at Marah, they think they have found that which will satisfy the thirst of the natural man. They look refreshing and the children of Israel think that this is what they need and will quench their thirst only to find these waters bitter to their taste. To know what they did, you only need to place self in that situation and think how you would react when the old man has been brought to such disappointment. When that is sour to our taste which we thought would be so refreshing, we begin to murmur and complain and find someone to blame. Being as religious as we are, none dare not point the finger at God and accuse Him of doing this to us so we find another outlet for our disappointment. Jesus showed us what thoughts men have of God when the old man does not get his way. Read Luke 11:5-12. Let man’s desires cry out and the Lord not quickly satisfy those, he will begin to complain and have thoughts about God’s character which never should be. The thought of God being unjust, indifferent, heartless, or not being good to His children will arise in the best of Christians if they are not careful. Jesus did not say this was the character of God but it was what men thought of Him when in adverse situations if He did not supply immediate relief. Man has a tendency to forget about the Lord in times of prosperity which brings us to many bitter waters that we might, “seek Him early in our afflictions.” We also get careless about the things that God has placed on Earth to be a help and blessing to us and when the blessings of the Lord become an end in themselves, then you might expect Him to turn them into bitterness. Israel had forgotten that everything on Earth which satisfies must have the blessings of God upon it or it will only be with bitterness that we drink it or it might breed worms. Whether it is bread from heaven, water from the rock, or whatever might satisfy the old man must be blessed of God to that end. It matters not what spiritual nature our duties might take upon them; reading, praying, fasting, or assembling with the saints, if not blessed of God they do not profit us. The rich man promised himself much joy and satisfaction from the blessings of the Lord as he contemplated tearing down his old barns and building larger ones to accommodate his ground which brought forth plentifully. He failed to see God in this and little realized that the Almighty can spoil all dreams, hopes, and whatever might promise satisfaction and pleasure.
After Moses was shown a tree to throw into the waters, they were made to satisfy the thirst of Israel. How often does the Lord bring us to that which is bitter that we might be brought to the bitter tree where Christ our Lord and Savior suffered? When you see His bitterness and soul’s sufferings it will shut your mouth and sweeten your trials. You just think that the water the Lord has led you to is bitter. Think of that which the Son of God had to drink that you might have eternal life; that you might be set free from the bondage of Egypt and Pharaoh. With a tree, the Lord turned the bitter waters into sweet and made them refreshing to His people and then brought them to a grove of palm trees and a place where there was twelve wells of water. EX. 15:27.
One would think that this would forever satisfy and prevent any more doubts or anxieties when the old man was not soon relieved of his burdens. That faith would from that day forward always be exercised when in difficult straits but as you see in Ex. 16 it was only a short time before Israel was complaining again and looking back to the things in Egypt which satisfied them. How could they in so short a time have forgotten about the brick-furnaces, the hard taskmasters, the chains and whips? It seems they remembered nothing except the commodities which nourished the lust of the old man and spiced up the food which he had in Egypt. They even got to the place where they despised the ‘heavenly bread’ and desired the flesh-pots, the onions, garlic, leeks, and cucumbers of Egypt. Could it be that way with you, dear Christian? Has your heart lost its excitement of the divine life that was implanted within you at the new birth? Has the first love you felt for Christ dwindled till now it seems almost gone? Is Christ no longer precious and has His Word and your prayer life lost its sweetness and life and now has become a dull, dry, formal service that you perform? Quite often it does when the old man dwells upon the things in Egypt and how they spiced up his foods.
As already mentioned, the great conflict the Christian faces is not with sin or with the devil but with self and this is brought out in type in EX. 17. The Lord Jesus broke the power of sin and satan by His death and now lives that neither the devil nor sin can have dominion over any of His children. Our war is not now with the wicked one for we can never win by fighting with him. Jesus fought that battle for us and our strength comes in resisting satan and fleeing to Christ but we will forever be engaged with war with our old flesh until we pass from this walk of life. Amalek, the grandson of Esau who sold his birthright for bread and a pottage of lentiles, typifies the old man or our flesh which is forever at war with the new man created within. In Deut. 25:18, you see how Amalek attack Israel when they were faint and weary and from the back attack those that were feeble. So it is with the old man in his attack against anything and everything spiritual about you. How many struggle all their lives and never become of service to God or anyone else because they are so busy serving themselves? Does the old man wherein you abide insist on his own ways, does he prefer dominance and recognition or have you learned mortification of the flesh and death to self? Up until this time, God had fought all the battles for Israel but here they are commanded to fight. Moses told Joshua to, “choose us out men, and go out, fight with Amalek.” To win this battle you are commanded to fight. For you to overcome the flesh, there will be an effort put forth on your part. Rev. 12:11 “and they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.” You see how we overcome the wicked one and sin by the blood of the Lamb, but victory over the flesh comes only as you learn to die to self. Paul tells us that we are to take unto us the whole armor of God, to stand, lay hold of eternal life, and to fight the good fight of faith.
Destruction of Amalek means the crucifying of the old man; his deeds, dreams, desires, ambitions, lust, and everything about him. When the Lord brings us to trying and difficult situations, the natural man must bow to the dictates of God. The old flesh must never be allowed to control neither shall our natural life rule. The old man and the devil will say to you, ‘your rights are being abused, you aren’t being treated fairly, you must stand up for self or no one else will, but we must never bow to his insinuations but follow the Lord wholly. When the disciples told Jesus to call fire down from heaven and destroy those who refused to hear Him, Christ told them that this was not the Spirit of God dictating to them but the old man rising to dictate actions. Our independence and willfulness must not be put above God or His directives nor must we insist on our own way but always putting to death the old man. How often do we label that which is sin incorrectly; calling our independence or rights–holy boldness, our willfulness–taking a stand for Jesus, or our pride–strong Christian character? Do we label these by the wrong name so the old man can remain alive and well?
In the last place consider how the battle was won. By following our Joshua into the battle, putting to death everything about us that is not like Him, fighting pride, obstinance, self-will, our own ambitions, and our own rights, even quit trying to serve God in our own way. Secondly, by keeping our eyes solely upon our Moses who sits in the heavens not with a rod but as the very power of God. When it seems the old man is gaining ground and getting stronger, look to the Mount; there sits a greater than Moses who has promised never to leave or forsake you but to finish the great work which He has begun, even your salvation and complete conformity to His image.
May the almighty and eternal God and our Lord Jesus Christ help all His children gain this most important victory that His Name might be exalted in the midst of His Church. Amen.