The following is an excerpt from Truth and Lies Bible Study, a six-session bible study based on the book The Truth about Lies by Tim Chaddick. Both resources are available to order from lifeway.com/truthandlies.
U. S. snipers are trained to take one shot at a time. In the classroom, they crack open the books to learn about barometric pressure, wind velocity, geometry, and physics. On the range they apply the classroom fundamentals by implementing new tactics and discovering new techniques. They get a feel for each target. They adapt with each scenario. And all of their training is founded upon marksmanship, observation, and the stalk. There are four components of marksmanship a soldier must master before approaching the line of fire—position, aim, breath, and trigger. All must all be controlled, steady, and precise. Training to perfect these skills requires tedious work. Hours turn into days, and days turn into weeks and months. Over time, the elite soldiers apply what they have learned in the classroom so well that it becomes second nature to them. Eventually, all of their work and dedication are bent toward one goal—to kill the enemy before he kills you.
In our own lives, we have an Enemy who has waged war against us. Our Enemy sets out to steal, kill, and destroy us (see John 10:10), using sin as his greatest tool to disconnect us from our Creator. It may not be a battle we can see with our eyes, but there is no denying the pull between sin and righteousness. Infiltrating the Enemy’s territory is dangerous in any battle, so we must find the right way to engage our Enemy within the battlefield of our hearts. We must be prepared, precise, and steady.
We have a Book from which we can learn. There are fundamentals we can apply. We should practice again and again the disciplines that will help us target sin. We can develop an approach in the firing line with great proficiency. We can learn to exercise control in our spiritual lives. Our spiritual journey against sin will require extreme patience. If we are to go on the offensive against our sin, we should examine the ground upon which we walk. We should watch for the Enemy’s disguise and monitor his tactics. Paul wrote to Corinth, “Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong” (1 Cor. 16:13) and even Jesus instructed, “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation” (Matt. 26:41). Paul again says this in Romans 8:
Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.” —Romans 8:12-14
It matters how we view our Enemy and wage war against our sin. We have the power to overcome sin when we surrender ourselves to the process that spiritual discipline requires. Learning how to put in the effort without trusting in our own power will make all the difference.
Consider this hypothetical analogy. There’s a certain young professional basketball player who desires to be the greatest of all time. He has just as much raw talent as NBA all-stars Michael Jordan, Lebron James, or Kobe Bryant. Once drafted, he signs a multi-year, multi-million dollar contract. Then he must choose for himself how he’ll become victorious on game day. He must decide for himself to put in the work to become the greatest of all time.
Every day he shows up to the gym early. When practice is over, he stays late. He develops an appetite for winning. He develops a hatred for losing. He never does this to earn a place on the team, because he’s already on the team! He doesn’t do this to earn more money, because he’s already guaranteed a salary. He pursues this disciplined regimen to rid him of anything that keeps him from being the greatest basketball player of all time. Practice is where his transformation happens.
Our disciplined life with Christ can be seen in a similar fashion. We already have everything it takes to be victorious. We have Jesus Christ cheering us on, advocating for us at the right hand of the Father (see Rom. 8:34), and we have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us. When we became reconciled to God, our identity as God’s children was set in stone. Knowing this, why do we continue pursuing a Spirit-filled, Christ-disciplined life? We don’t work to mature spiritually so we can become His child; we’re already “on His team.” We work hard to learn about and follow God’s Word because, as Christians, we’re called to reflect God to the world. It’s what He created us to do.
The quiet times of solitude, meditation and prayer, worship and confession, fasting and Scripture study—all of these spiritual disciplines are what Christians should do. But they aren’t things we do to earn God’s pleasure or find more grace. Rather, they are the ways in which we learn “the Jesus life.” Through practicing spiritual disciplines, we rid ourselves of everything in our hearts and minds that don’t look like Jesus. It’s how we kill sin.
Excerpted from Tim Chaddick, Truth and Lies Bible Study. © 2015 Lifeway Press. Used by permission.