SPIRITUAL DEFENSE MANEUVERS  


  PROBLEM SOLVING

SPIRITUAL DEFENSE MANEUVERS

God has provided an arsenal of weapons to deal with each and every situation that can be encountered in this life. Whether it is in the moral or spiritual arena, God has supplied us with "everything we need for life (moral living) and worship (spiritual living) through His full knowledge (2 Peter 1:3).

The Christian life is designed to be lived in the sphere of inner peace and joy. Even though we live in an earthly environment that is spiritually, socially and physically Antagonistic to the Christian, the functional believer can experience a fantastic tranquility and contentment regardless of the presence or absence of comfort in those three areas.

Whenever the believer's comfort zones in these three areas come under attack, he is encountering what we call, problems. To restate: problems are attacks on our comfort zones and involve temptations to violate God's righteousness or simply not to trust Him; His character, wisdom and plan.

Failure to handle these problems successfully results in a variety of sinful attitudes (worry, fear, depression, bitterness, anger, frustration), which in turn lead to all kinds of sinful activities. To be tempted in these areas is not sin, but to let any one of these attitudes govern the soul, IS SIN, and will cause a great deal of personal pain and misery for the believer, not to mention the negative effects that will result to others.

God has provided SEVEN specific things so that we can recognize and resist the negative, sinful reactions to the pressure situations in our life. Another pastor has coined the term, "problem solving devices," which has become quite popular among categorical believers. However, these seven things are not really “devices,” but rather, they are seven specific MANEUVERS. So I will call them SPIRITUAL DEFENSE MANEUVERS (SDM). These maneuvers need to be cultivated and engaged in order to handle properly any and every situation in life, and to maintain sinless consistency. There is a little bit of overlap and inter-connectivity within these maneuvers, but they are still quite distinct and separately, invaluable to the believer as he faces the pressures of this antagonistic environment in which we live. Each one brings a different factor to bear on the pressures and decisions that are faced every day we are here on earth.

These SPIRITUAL DEFENSE MANEUVERS are to be utilized by the believer who is IN FELLOWSHIP; not by the believer who is out of fellowship. They are designed to KEEP the believer in fellowship by maintaining sinless consistency. If the believer is out of fellowship with God, the ONLY issue for him is to return to fellowship through confession of sin as per 1 John 1:9, for he cannot adequately solve any difficulties in his life until he has returned to fellowship. If one is talking about solving problems while out of fellowship, then the only real solution is to get back in fellowship.

The first SDM is HUMILITY. This is the attitude that recognizes our place in the universe from the perspective of God's plan. Humility has two sides: submission and function

SUBMISSION

The submission of humility involves three attitudes.
It recognizes that we are under the jurisdiction of God's authority, viewpoint and policy.

We first must recognize AND accept the fact that God is the sovereign entity of the universe (He is the boss). His authority is absolute and His plan governs everything that ever has occurred or ever will occur. True humility accepts that God's sovereignty is in control and is willing to comply with whatever his plan dictates.

Secondly, humility recognizes that God's viewpoint is the absolute and perfect view of everything that goes on in the universe. How HE perceives things is the only right way to perceive things. Accordingly, we learn and then apply HIS viewpoint to every area of our life - every detail that we encounter in the society in which we live. When problems arise, HUMILITY has already determined that God's viewpoint is going to be the arbitrator and the solver. This helps to cut off at the pass, the pseudo solutions that sneak into our playing field, such as emotion, majority opinion, elder influence, religious influence, political influence or environmental influence.

And thirdly, true humility recognizes that God's policy is the only RIGHT way to do things. Many times we are challenged in life about HOW to accomplish a particular task or how to fulfill a particular goal. The world around us dictates its own ideas and promotes solutions that are independent from God and do not recognize either his authority or viewpoint. Humility in our life hits the problem upfront with the established attitude that we are going to do things God's way - no matter what that involves or where it takes us. If we are willing to do it God's way, then we are motivated to learn what God's way is, and are not as likely to accept a compromise that does not honor God's character and plan.

THE FUNCTION of humility

As we learn God's word, letting His viewpoint saturate our souls, we learn to think no less or greater of ourselves than according to the value God has placed upon us. This is spiritual self-esteem that makes decisions based on the responsibility that God has given to each one of us as children of God, members of a holy nation, a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9) and as ambassadors for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20). True humility prevents decisions based on inferiority or superiority complexes and instead keeps our focus on "the things above" (Colossians 3:1), and on the celebrity-ship of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 12:2). The function of humility is based on total submission to God's character and plan as we learn more about it through His word. The function of humility is represented well at 1 Peter 5:5b-6.

"And all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time."

 

The SECOND SDM is love toward God. Love toward God is the attitude that recognizes VALUE in God’s character and plan and desires to “promote” and benefit God’s plan; that is, seek the benefit of God’s plan. Accordingly, love is the motivator for obedience. Jesus said at John 14:15, “if you love me you will keep my commandments.” Of course, it is the keeping of the teachings of Jesus that prevent us from making the wrong decisions in the pressure/problem situations of life.
At John 14:23, “If anyone loves, Me he will keep My word . . . he who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me.”

The believer begins his Christian life with a basic love for God.
This is understood from what Paul wrote at 2 Thessalonians 2:10, which speaks of being saved as receiving “the love of the truth so as to be saved.”
Then, as spiritual growth continues, our love for God will increase, as seen at 1 Timothy 1:5, “But the goal of the instruction is love . . .”
Thus we have exhortations such as at 2 Thessalonians 3:5, “And now may the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God.”
And Paul’s prayer at Philippians 1:9, “that your love may abound still more and more in full knowledge and all discernment.”

And finally, the greater our attitude of love for God becomes, the greater will be its usefulness as a spiritual defense against the various pressures and temptations in life.

 

The THIRD SDM is MORALITY.
Because of the curse on creation, man is subject to an aggressively antagonistic environment. This condition stimulates the sin nature even more in the areas of selfishness and power lust, so that the order and stability of society is affected and freedoms are destroyed.
God instituted the principles of divine morality in order to restrict the dictatorship of the sin nature and to provide for man in his spiritually depraved condition, a system of order and stability.

The principles of divine morality in a very basic degree, are built into the soul of man and provide a natural but still potential restraint on the sin nature. Ec. 7:29; Rom. 2:14-15
Ec. 7:29, “Behold, I have found only this, that God made men morally upright, but they have sought out many rationalizations.”
Romans 2:14-15, “For when the Gentiles who do not have the law do BY NATURE the things of the law, these, not having the law are a law unto themselves, in that they show the work of the law WRITTEN IN THEIR HEARTS their conscience bearing witness, and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them.”
See Topic: Morality

People inherently understand that it is wrong to steal, to lie, to murder, and various other things that directly harm other people.

Also, in various degrees these basic moral principles will be taught and cultivated within society through parental and social influence. To the degree that Divine morality is practiced in human society, to that degree there will be order and stability with maximum freedom for all the citizens.

A new believer may have nothing else in his soul to defend against the pressures and temptations of life except these moral instincts. And yet, they are just as valid for defense and maintaining sinless consistency as the other factors.
In fact, as HUMILITY and LOVE influence the soul, the believer will KNOW that these moral instincts are the right and proper thing to observe, and he will WANT to follow them as an expression of his basic devotion to God.

 

The FOURTH SDM is OCCUPATION with God's word. This means that we have an attitude of seeking and using God's word to deal with every situation in life. At Psalm 1:2-3, we are told that the righteous one will find great happiness (blessed) as he delights in God's word, for when the heat of pressure is encountered, he will have the stability, the strength, and the nourishment to handle it and make the right decisions. At Psalm 119:9, we are told that a young man will keep his way straight, by keeping it according to God's word. And at verse 11, "your word I have stockpiled in my heart, so that I might not sin against You." By learning the standards of God's word, we equip our souls with the wisdom of His viewpoint, and by keeping our minds active in thinking about these truths, we give the Holy Spirit something to bring to our remembrance, and we are able more consistently, to make decisions that are pleasing to Him and beneficial to us.

 

The FIFTH SDM is the FILLING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. This refers to the function of God the Spirit in guiding and influencing the believer through bringing to remembrance the standards of truth that have been taught to him. The Filling of the Spirit revolves around the issue of FELLOWSHIP with God. The believer experiences the STATUS of fellowship with God when there is no sin in the life.
And as that believer actively applies the standards of God in everything he does, he will enjoy the EXPERIENCE of fellowship with God. This is called, walking in the light at 1 John 1:7, and walking in the Spirit at Galatians 5:16 and 25.

At the moment of salvation, the believer receives a total forgiveness of all past and future sins, and is declared perfectly righteous in the eyes of God. Nothing can alter that STATUS of righteousness that God bestowed upon him. However, subsequent to salvation, whenever the believer commits a mental, verbal or overt sin, fellowship with God is broken, and the filling/control of the Holy Spirit is quenched. We need to be very aware of the presence of sin in our life and confess it to the Father as soon as we realize it is present. If we confess our sins, then God is faithful to forgive them (1 John 1:9) and we will be restored to fellowship with God, and the Holy Spirit will once again be exercising His filling/control.

As long as the Holy Spirit is controlling the believer, He is able to lead and influence him in regard to making decisions, but when the believer is not filled with the Spirit; not in fellowship, then The Sin Nature (the flesh) is in control. This is called, walking in the flesh or carnality, and "they who are (walking) in the flesh, cannot please God," (Romans 8:8). When the believer is carnal, he is prone to use human viewpoint and actions to solve problems, and this results in making bad decisions, but when the believer is walking in the Spirit, he will not carry out the desire of the flesh (Galatians 5:16). Instead, the Spirit will bring to our remembrance the truths we have learned, and urge us to apply those truths to our problems and resolve them by using God's viewpoint.

Accordingly, maintaining the filling/control of the Spirit is a key SPIRITUAL DEFENSE MANEUVER when facing the many pressures of this earthly life. However, the believer must HAVE information in the soul in order for the Holy Spirit to bring it to remembrance, so the maneuver of OCCUPATION with the word of God is crucial.

The SIXTH SDM is FAITH REST. Faith rest is the attitude and practice of being totally relaxed and confident in the character and plan of God based on knowledge and trust in His promises. God has provided us with thousands of specific promises to deal with every situation in life. As we learn them, through engaging the SPIRITUAL DEFENSE MANEUVER of occupation with the word, they become part of our conscience; our standards, and we can be sure that the Holy Spirit will bring them to mind in times of need.

In general, faith rest is the application of one specific factor of God's plan which is the wonderful truth of Romans 8:28. "And we know that He works all things together for good, to those who love God." Now, not everything, in and of itself, can be considered "good," but no matter how grievous the situation, no matter how serious the problem, God will work it out for the benefit of the one who loves Him. Accordingly, when we face any pressure situation, we can cast "all your care upon Him because He cares for you," (1 Peter 5:7) and we can claim the promise of Philippians 4:6-7, "Be worrying about nothing, but in everything with prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made know to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all human comprehension, shall guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." We can thus, face any crisis - any problem - and not panic or fall apart, but relax and rest peacefully in God's character and plan.

 

The SEVENTH SDM is BENEFICENT LOVE. Beneficent love is the set of standards by which the believer deals with other members of the human race. Basically, it continually seeks what is best for other people as determined by the divine value system, that is, what GOD determines to be the most important things in life. A great majority of our problems in this life involve other people. It is imperative that we have an absolute standard of divine love that we can apply to people and accordingly, make the right decisions concerning them. The self-centeredness of the sin nature is a constant aggravation when it comes to handling people problems. We so often let pride get in the way that it is difficult to see what the right thing to do is. The character of love needs to be built in our soul through many years of bible study, and even then, there is no guarantee that we will choose the right way when facing a people problem. But the other SPIRITUAL DEFENSE MANEUVERS will help us apply those standards in the time of need.

The specific nature of beneficent love is described in considerable detail for us at 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. Through the 15 virtues of love that are listed there, we can learn about the thoughts and actions that reflect Christ's own character, and use them as a guideline for our life and as a barometer for our progress in spiritual growth. The other Spiritual Defense Maneuvers all work together to guide us in the right direction. But ultimately, it is going to be the degree that our soul becomes conformed to the 15 virtues of love, that will maintain sinless consistency and produce a stable, righteous abundant Christian life, in order to fulfill God's purpose for leaving us here on earth.

For how the spiritual defense maneuvers relate to the armor of God see article:
The Armor of God

ADDENDUM: Comparison with the TEN problem solving devices.

1. The rebound technique.
2. The filling of the Spirit.
3. The faith-rest drill.
4. Grace orientation.   
5. Doctrinal orientation
6. A personal sense of destiny.
7. Personal love for God the Father
8. Impersonal love for all mankind.
9. Plus Happiness
10. Occupation with Christ as the priority solution to life.

The spiritual defense maneuvers are things that are used by the believer WHILE he is in fellowship, in order to handle all the pressures (problems) that are encountered in life.

Rebound is not a spiritual defense maneuver. It is the mechanics for getting into the PLACE where you can now use the SDMs. Rebound is something you do while you are out of fellowship. So - if you are talking about problem solving while out of fellowship - then, there is only ONE - and that is rebound.

HUMILITY involves what you THINK about God and how He relates to you and how you relate to Him and life.

WHO HE IS and WHO YOU ARE within the plan of God.

The PSDs # 4 and 6 are both a humility issue, and do not need to be viewed as a separate item.

4. Grace orientation.    6. A personal sense of destiny.

The PSD #10, Occupation with Christ, is really covered under the maneuver of FAITH REST. The believer rests in the character and plan of God and Christ.

 

The PSD #5, doctrinal orientation is covered under occupation with the Word.

The PSD #9, Plus Happiness, seems to me to have nothing to do with solving problems and handling pressures in this life. Our experience of the abundant life of peace, joy and stability is the RESULT of successful spiritual defense, and not one of the maneuvers for that defense.

 

 
 

Questions and comments are always welcome

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©Ron Wallace, http://www.biblefragrances.com. Anyone is free to reproduce this material and distribute it,
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