On The Winning Side


Jesus answered,"I am the way and the truth and the life." John 14:6


The truth will set you free. John 8:32


If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36

Power to Cope

Four part guide for handling stress, using Biblical principles

Part III - On The Winning Side

The battle continues, doesn't it? You know you don't have to worry about the past anymore - your guilt has been taken care of by Christ. You accepted peace of mind about it, and you are practicing the habit of praise to God. There are so many things you're remembering to be thankful for, including the gift of life itself. But there are lots of aggravations. Has anything changed just because you are accepting God's promises?
Not if the Bible is just another book. But if it is God's Word to you (and you are choosing to believe this as you study and pray), there is a power coming into your life that you've never had before, because God promises it.

Participation in the Divine Nature

This divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own gloryand goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. 2 Peter 1:3, 4

This passage says God is enough, that He has given us everything we need. It also promises that we will escape the corruption of the world. So why is life such a battle, filled with temptations that cause us so much stress? How does God help us?

How Does God Help Us?

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. 1 Corinthians 10:13

Stress-causing temptations sometimes can be translated "provings," "trials," or "tests." These are situations that confront a person as tests of character, and are used by God to strengthen us.

There are other times, however, when stress-causing temptations come to us as "enticements." Frequently in the New Testament, that meaning is used to describe any experience that comes to us to try to weaken our hold on God. But with God's power to cope available to us, these, too, can work out for our good:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

Who or what works to try to weaken our hold on God, to entice us? In the Scriptures we find three main avenues of these types of stress-causing temptations:

One Source

The first comes from within ourselves:

Each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. James 1:14

Our old inner urges drag us into the patterns and lifestyles we thought we had left when we turned to the Bible promises and accepted Christ's death for us. Then that divine nature that God planted within, that we can "participate in," tugs at us to draw us back to God and to place our power of choice - our will - under God's direction again for peace of mind:

It is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. Philippians 2:13

So, then, just when it seems we'll never escape the old ways, God's love draws us back to a path of strength and power.

Now, that's a struggle! That's stress! Will we ever have the strength to resist those old urges? Yes! As we choose to take time to ask for God's control and keep our eyes on Christ, we'll find this powerful promise true:

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. 2 Corinthians 12:9

Our Solution to the One Source

How do you keep from giving in? Just like you do anything else in this stressful battle - you ask for help, because Jesus says:

Apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5

A Second Source

Another source of our stress causing enticements is right from the world around us.

As Solomon warns:

My son, if sinners entice you, do not give in to them. Proverbs 1:10

If you choose God's control, listen to His promises, and accept participation in the divine nature, you'll find His help always the strongest force:

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. John 15:7

Your situation, no matter how difficult, is not too complicated for our God.

Our Solution to the Second Source

What is impossible with men is possible with God. Luke 18:27

With God working in and through us, we'll find that, more and more, we aren't giving in to the pressures put on us by those around us. The battle is heavy, but the strength we receive from God will clearly amaze us more and more each day.

A Third Source

There is one other basic source of all our stress-causing enticements: it's a person. That's right. The same supernatural being who hated and tempted Christ attacks us. Mark 1:13 recounts a time when Jesus was in a desert area and for nearly six weeks He was "being tempted by Satan." Another time we are warned:

But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short. Revelation 12:12

For this third source of enticement, too, we go to God for help. He is our defense against an enemy battling for the control of our minds and bodies. We can trust God!

Our Solution to the Third Source

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be self controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. I Peter 5:7, 8

Christ's enemy is our enemy, and the only way to be truly self-controlled is to ask God for freedom from the enemy's power. In John 14:6, Christ calls Himself "the way and the truth and the life." He also said:

If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. John 8:31, 32

The Real Battle

It is obvious we need to be alert. But the real struggle is between two supernatural forces: God's government (His authority to rule as Creator of the universe), and a being who had been a leader among the angels. This being, Lucifer (later called Satan), rebelled because he could not be equal with God. Let's read a few passages about him:

How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God . . . I will ascend above the heights of the clouds: I will be like the most High. Isaiah 14:12-14 (KJV)

Notice how his thoughts were all on himself ("I . . . I . . . I . . ."). Here is another account:

And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he [Satan] was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down - that ancient serpent called the devil or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: "Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. "They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony." Revelation 12:7-11

And the "Lamb" is what John calls Jesus. Christ's death on the cross condemned Satan and showed the universe that if Satan were to rule, it would be a reign of cruelty and death. God in Christ showed that while His government and His law demanded obedience, His love was in both. He knows what is best, and He loves people so much that He gave us a law of love, then died in our behalf when we chose to disobey.

On earth, mankind had joined the devil in his rebellion against their Creator. Satan, in so many words, had told Eve that God's word could not be trusted:

"Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?" . . . "You will not surely die. . . . For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God. Genesis 3:1-4

But Satan himself, according to Jesus, is "a liar and the father of lies." John 8:44

He attacks God's commands, His authority as Creator, His government of fairness. And Satan lies to us. He either tells us we are in a hopeless condition, or that it doesn't matter. He tells us we don't really want to follow God anyway. He tells us that God can be depended on only to a point, and that we really have to do things on our own. He wants us to be separated from Christ, because he knows that only then are we defeated. Sometimes he attempts to allure us through pleasurable sensations, through those dearest to us, through all types of pressure-filled experiences, to destroy our confidence in God.

We Have Power Over Satan

Why does Satan attack us? Because we have chosen to accept God's rule, His promises, the life that Christ offers in place of eternal death. He knows we have power over him - over every temptation, enticement, and aggravation, as we walk close to Christ. He knows God has given us power to cope with supernatural forces through the blood of Jesus. Christ's death spelled Satan's defeat and our victory.

It is only in the mighty power and promises of Christ that we are free, because Christ is Truth!

Jesus answered,"I am the way and the truth and the life." John 14:6

The truth will set you free. John 8:32

If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36

So, we do have power to cope, because in Christ we are freed from every controlling problem and every battle that would overwhelm us.

With Christ

We have power to cope with the battle going on all around us, in difficult situations such as these:

the loss of someone we love
the consuming power of drugs, alcohol, or any other destructive habit
the discouragement in sickness and pain
the loss of a job
the stress surrounding any unexpected occurrence.
First to last, Christ invites us:

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

The choice is ours: To be freed through the love of Christ by choosing to come under God's authority - or to be in rebellion against the Creator and go to the side of His enemy, who himself is already defeated. Satan delights in defeating us, because in this way he hurts Christ, who loves us.

It is a daily battle. The question is, How do I choose?

Powerful Promises for Our Defense

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