In May I am beginning a new sermon series titled, “Winning the Mind Wars.” I am going to be preaching on the spiritual warfare that takes place in the mind of believers and unbelievers. In preparation for this sermon series I recently read “Free at Last: Experiencing True Freedom Through Your Identity In Christ.” Here are a couple of my favorite illustrations from his book.
Powerful in Christ (pages 59-61)
The battle is great, but the solution is infinitely greater!
After his intense struggle with indwelling sin, Paul burst forth in praise in Romans 7:25. “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!! You can almost hear the apostle shouting it out in triumph. As powerless as Paul was in himself, he was that much more powerful in Christ (see 2 Corinthians 12:10).
The solution is not found simply in turning to Christ for your help but in turning your life over to Him completely….Here’s an illustration of what I’m saying. If you discovered that pests had infiltrated your kitchen, you could do one of two things. The first solution would be to take off your shoe or grab a flyswatter and to war against the roaches or ants or whatever was crawling across your kitchen floor.
Bam! Whop! You could kill every bug you see. You could stand guard in your kitchen all night, declaring, “I am not going to let these roaches take over my house!”
I’m sure you know that would be a huge waste of time, because just killing the insects you see doesn’t solve your problem. By the time you get one or two, the others have scattered. And besides, that doesn’t deal with the unseen insects in the wall that are producing more insects.
But this is the way a lot of us approach our sin problems. We say, “I’m going to try to get rid of my anger today.” So we wait for a “roach” of anger to show up, and Bam! We give it a good swat. Or we wait for lust to show its ugly face, and Whop! We try to smash it. But the problem keeps coming back because we haven’t gotten to the heart of the problem.
The second solution to a bug problem is to call in a professional. If you have a problem with roaches, you need somebody who has the equipment and chemicals to penetrate the crevice of your house and solve your problem at its source. You don’t need a helper to swat roaches with you. You need somebody with the power to eradicate those bad boys.
Now I don’t know about you, but I have never had a professional exterminator ask me to help him do his job. My only assignment is to get out of the way and let him do his thing. In fact, depending on how bad a bug problem is, the homeowner may even have to leave the house.
If you’ll allow me to apply the illustration this way, we could paraphrase Paul by saying, “O, roach-infested Christian I am! Who will deliver me from this terrible infestation?”
The answer to the infestation of sin is to exchange my life for Christ’s life, to let Him be my life. That means I say, “Lord, I want You to be my life.”
Jesus doesn’t want to be your assistant. He wants to be your life, your identity. He wants to be the sum total of who you are. When He becomes your all, you can cry out in triumph, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ my Lord!” He is the solution to the battle within.
Taking Away the Struggle (pages 164-165)
The story is told that a bulldog and a poodle were arguing one day. The bulldog was making fun of the poodle, calling him a weak little runt who couldn’t do anything.
Then the bulldog said, “I challenge you to a contest. Let’s see who can open the back door of their house the fastest and get inside.” The bulldog was thinking he would turn the doorknob with his powerful jaws and open the door, while the poodle was too small even to reach the knob on his back door.
But to the bulldog’s surprise, the poodle said, “I can get inside my house faster than you can. I accept the challenge.”
So with the poodle watching, the bulldog ran to the back door of his house and jumped up to the doorknob. He got his teeth and paws around the knob and tried to turn it, but he couldn’t get enough of a grip on the knob to turn it. He finally had to quit in exhaustion.
Now it was the poodle’s turn at his back door. “Go ahead, you little runt,” the bulldog growled, trying to soothe his wounded pride. The poodle went to the door and scratched a couple of times. The master not only opened the door, but lovingly picked the poodle up in his arms and carried him inside.
The difference was in the relationship. Some of us are bulldog Christians. It’s all grunting and growling and trying, when Christ wants us to come close to Him.
What is your favorite Tony Evans illustration? What is your favorite sermon illustration?