Since we burn wood as our main source of heat and also provide kindling and campfire wood for a local grocery store, I have split a lot of wood over the years. Someday I may have to invest in a wood splitter, but as long as I am physically able I would like to continue splitting, as it is good exercise—and a good way to work out any frustrations! I have learned, as has anyone that splits wood, that there are some secrets to making the job a bit easier. One, of course is selecting wood that splits easily. There are some species of wood that are almost impossible to split unless you let it freeze first. Another secret is to look for a small split somewhere in the grain and begin splitting opposite that split. Usually you will find that the split opens wider and you can get the halves to separate. Once you have split it in half, it is considerably easier to split pieces off of each half. You also need to look to see where the knots are and avoid them. Sometimes on a difficult piece I have to use a splitting wedge, or maybe even two. Once you have a small crack, you can insert the wedge, which provides quite a bit more leverage to split the piece. It also helps, when you are splitting, to continue hitting along one line across the bolt of wood until you develop a crack. If you just strike the wood at random, you probably will not be very successful.
As I was splitting some wood this past week, I thought about how Satan tempts us to listen to him instead of to God and to lead us into sin. He looks for some little crack, some weakness in our life and attempts to gain a foothold there. Sometimes he uses one of his “wedges” to drive into the crack in order to split us open. His goal, of course is to defeat us, to destroy our faith, to rob us of our joy and to ruin our testimony for Christ. If we are a born-again Christian, Satan has lost us for eternity (Jn. 6:35-40; 10:27-30), but he will attempt to make our life miserable so that we don’t lead anyone else to faith in Christ. He looks for an area of our life where we have a weakness and he will try to make an inroad, and if we listen to his lies, he can gain influence and even control.
Satan’s approach to Eve in the Garden of Eden, since she as yet had no inherent weaknesses, was to get her to question God’s goodness and God’s Word. He continues to use that tactic on us, but also, since we have sinful natures, and areas of vulnerability, he looks for those areas and tries to drive a wedge into our walk with God and our Christian testimony for the Lord. For example, in his letter to the believers at Ephesus, Paul wrote: “Be angry, and yet do not sin, do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil and opportunity” (Eph. 4:26). Anger, in itself is not a sin. Jesus, on several occasions, demonstrated anger against sinful behavior such as turning the Temple into a place of money-making, or against the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. But, anger, when not dealt with in an appropriate manner, leads to bitterness and often to aggressive acts against people. It gives the devil an opportunity to have an influence in our lives. Paul lists a number of other possible ways we might give Satan opportunity in our lives. He mentions lying, stealing and unwholesome speech (Eph. 4:25,28,29).
Since each of us is born with a sinful nature (cf Psa. 51:5), we have a bent toward rebellion against God, and, based on our personality, heritage, and environment, it will manifest itself in unique ways. We may be prone to pride, gossip, lying, anger, impure thoughts, retaliation, sexual perversion, laziness, addictions, or any number of other weaknesses that might give the devil an opportunity for influence in our lives. When we trust Christ for eternal life, we become new creations in Him (II Cor. 5:17), but our old, sinful nature will be with us until we receive our new, glorified bodies (I Cor. 15:42-52). Though we are no longer slaves to our old nature, it is still there and will provide the devil opportunities if we “walk in the flesh” instead of “walking in the Spirit” (Read Romans chapters 6 and 7). As believers, we always have a choice. We can listen to our flesh (old nature), or we can listen to and obey God. Paul says, “But I say, walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16). We “walk by the Spirit” when we listen to God’s voice and obey His Word, living in dependence upon Him rather than our own strength. We “walk by the Spirit” when we “…consider ourselves to be dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus” and “…do not let sin reign in our mortal body that we should obey its lusts…and do not go on presenting the members of our body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present ourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and our members as instruments of righteousness to God” (Rom 6:11-13). When we do that, we are submitting to God and thus resisting the devil, and according to the promise in James 4:4, “he will flee from you.”
Since our battle against the adversary, the devil, is a spiritual one, we are admonished by Paul to “Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil” (Eph. 6:11). After listing the armor for us, Paul emphasizes the way we put it on—”…pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert” (v. 18). We need to be in constant communication with God and always “be on the alert, for your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (I Pet. 5: 8). After listing the believer’s armor in Eph. 6, Paul tells us what our offensive weapon is to ward off the devil’s schemes. It is “the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God” (v. 17). Remember when Jesus was tempted by Satan He quoted Scripture to resist him. That is the weapon we need to use. So, it is really important to faithfully spend time in God’s Word, and to memorize verses, especially ones that deal with our area of weaknesses, so we have them available when we are tempted. David said, “Thy word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against Thee” (Psa. 119:11).
If you need help finding verses to deal with your area of weakness, let me know and I can send you—by email—a copy of a book I have published, called Topical Treasury of Bible Verses.
Well, I have a trailer load of wood that needs splitting, so I had best go get at it. Maybe God will teach me some more lessons!