Theme: Willing Sacrifices
This week’s lessons teach us about the most quoted psalm in the New Testament.
Scripture: Psalm 110:1-3
To continue yesterday’s discussion of the phrase, “In the midst of your enemies,” we are reminded that Christians are not to attempt to defeat and subdue the devil and the world by means of physical power or weapons. The church has always gotten into deep trouble when it has tried to Christianize society, as if the secular world could be made Christian. From time to time believers suppose that they can impose their idea of a just society on other people by enacting laws and proscribing civil penalties for those who break them. But this is not our calling. Paul pointed out the right way when he wrote to the Corinthians, “Though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds” (2 Cor. 10:3, 4).
What are our weapons? I suggest three things. First, participation. Christians need to participate in secular life rather than merely shoot at secular people and what secular people are doing from the sidelines. This is implied in Paul’s words “though we live in the world” and in the psalm’s equivalent expression “in the midst of your enemies.” Second, persuasion. Persuasion is opposed to coercion. Informed by God’s Word, Christians must endeavor to persuade others of the truth. The verses from 2 Corinthians 10 that I cited above teach this by going on to say, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (vv. 3-5). Third, prayer. We pray, because we know that even with the best of scripturally informed arguments, without God’s specific supernatural intervention the world will neither understand nor heed what we are saying.
Walter Chantry says rightly that the world is “in desperate need of a spiritual church using spiritual weapons to fight a spiritual war, under the spiritual reign of Christ.”1
2. “Your troops will be willing.” And that leads to the final point, which is the willingness of those who are enlisted in Christ’s service. The text points to this specifically when it says, “Your troops will be willing on your day of battle.” There are no mercenaries in this battle, no slaves pressed into the ranks of Jesus’ soldiers. This army is composed entirely of volunteers. True, these soldiers did not begin by being willing. They were once as hostile to Christ and his kingdom as others still are. But they were made willing by that gentle working of Jesus’ grace in their lives. Perceiving his sacrifice of himself for them and loving him for it, they have now made themselves willing sacrifices for him.
Which leads me to ask: Are you willing? Have you presented yourself to Jesus as a living sacrifice? I hope you have. If not, perhaps what you need is a new vision of the exalted Lord Jesus Christ. When Isaiah saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, he heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Who shall I send? And who will go for us?” Isaiah could only answer, “Here am I. Send me” (Isa. 6:1-8)!
1Walter J. Chantry, Praises for the King of Kings (Edinburgh and Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1991), pp. 67, 68.
In trying to deal with evil in the world, what can happen when Christians rely on political tools rather than on the spiritual means God has given?
What are the weapons we have to “demolish strongholds”?
Why are people willing to volunteer to Christ’s service?
Application: Do you use the weapons God has given you? How can you use them better?
Prayer: Ask God to make you ready and willing to stand for him against his enemies.
For Further Study: Knowing that the New Testament makes extensive use of the Psalms in order to explain the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ, having a good understanding of this portion of God’s Word is very important. Order your copy of James Boice’s three-volume paperback set, and take 25% off the regular price.