How come we need Jesus Christ to be strong and ready to live?
The answer is partly because of the battle that’s going on. We’re living in God’s world, but there’s an undercurrent that says you can stay in charge by assuming people and the environment are all there is.
I’ve shown what can happen when we think we’re only dealing with what we can see. Life can become a cycle of blame shifting and discontent. The anger we see and feel gets out of control.
In fact, our problem is Satan—because he’s messed with us relating to God.
It’s Jesus who makes the real breakthrough.
So, let’s look at how he—in this world—goes about being the one who is strong. We need to know this, and know him, if we are going to trust him with our life.
We may have the impression that Jesus is always being ’nice’ to people, but if you read the story of his life—the four Gospels—it’s clear that he’s not just someone who responds to need. He takes the initiative to make sure we deal with life’s real issues—not just circumstances.
Jesus doesn’t begin with us! His first job is to go to a desert, alone, and there wrestle with Satan—for over a month (Luke 4:1).
In the place where the first man—Adam—gets everything wrong, this second Man gets it right. He knows the real enemy. And he knows that his only defence against Satan’s cunning is what God says. He sends his enemy off unheeded! And he begins his ministry in the power of the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:13-14). Notice, he is strong—in his Father God.
He continues by showing he is stronger than the devil (Matthew 12:28-29). He isn’t just healing people. He is pushing back against the inroads of the devil.
When it comes time for Jesus to die, he says, ‘Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out’ (John 12:31). Notice, he’s called Satan this world’s prince. Drifting along with the world isn’t all it seems! There’s unseen powers behind what we are experiencing.
Jesus says his death will throw Satan down—unable to achieve his goals anymore (John 14:30). And as he dies, he says, ‘It is finished’ (John 19:30).
But now we come to why we can be ‘strong in the Lord’.
God raises Jesus—our Saviour—from death. He does this to demonstrate his great power, not just in Jesus, but for us (1:18-23).
Our collaboration with the enemy, our sharing of his rebellion and God’s judgement on it, have all been worn by a loving Saviour. We have forgiveness through his blood. And God raises him from the dead to show that this rebellion doesn’t have a future!
Satan no longer has us on his team. By trusting Christ, you can be strong and ready to live.
Now, anger with one another doesn’t need to rule us. We will deal with antagonisms, but they won’t be the main game. Rather, we will wrestle against ‘spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms’—in the space God has created for us to relate to him. ‘Resist the devil and he will flee from you’ (James 4:7). There lots of ways this happens and Paul is going to show us how to ‘take up’ and ‘put on’ this strength of Jesus Christ.