One of Satan’s Subtlest Strategies

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From Dr. Jim Denison:

One of Satan’s subtlest strategies

Reflecting on Christmas, Oswald Chambers asked: “Have I allowed my personal life to become a ‘Bethlehem’ for the Son of God?” Then he noted: “The characteristic of the new birth is that I yield myself so completely to God that Christ is formed in me. Immediately Christ is formed in me, His nature begins to work through me.”

Chambers concluded: “God manifest in the flesh—that is what is made profoundly possible for you and me by the Redemption.”

Here’s the point: we cannot be like Christ without the help of Christ.

God’s ambition for us is not that we would try harder to avoid sin and imitate Christ. The character of Jesus—”love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control”—is the “fruit of the Spirit” and thus made possible by the power of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22–23).

It is only when we “walk by the Spirit” that we “will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (v. 16). As Chambers notes, “To walk in the light means that everything that is of the darkness drives me closer into the center of the light.”

One of Satan’s subtlest strategies is tempting us to resist his temptations in our strength. In this way, he uses our desire to be godly against us. The more we resolve to do better, the less we depend on the only Power that can truly make us better.

Then Christianity becomes just another religion—another attempt by humans to reach up to God—instead of a relationship in which our Father transforms us to “become like his Son” (Romans 8:29 NLT).

“The central miracle asserted by Christians”

How can we be certain that our Father can do this? Because of the reality of Christmas.

C. S. Lewis: “The central miracle asserted by Christians is the Incarnation. They say that God became Man. Every other miracle prepares for this, or exhibits this, or results from this.”

Lewis explains: “Every natural event is the manifestation at a particular place and moment of Nature’s total character”—i.e., gravity, three-dimensionality, the laws of physics, etc. In the same way, “every particular Christian miracle manifests at a particular place and moment the character and significance of the Incarnation”—i.e., the fact that God can enter nature and do in it what he wishes.

If he could enter human flesh, he can heal human flesh. If he could feel physical pain, he can help us with physical pain. If he could withstand temptation, he can empower us to withstand temptation.

In short, if God could become one of us, he can make us one with himself.

What Kirk Douglas told Johnny Carson

A number of years ago, the actor Kirk Douglas was a guest on Johnny Carson’s late-night television show. The two celebrities discussed the experience of being recognized everywhere they went, with people pestering them because of their fame.

Then Douglas told about the time he was driving his car and stopped to pick up a hitchhiking sailor. When the sailor opened the door, looked in and saw the famous actor, his jaw dropped and he exclaimed, “Do you know who you are?”

Douglas said that it was a good question, one he’d been thinking about ever since.

Christmas tells us who God thinks you can be. Do you agree?

NOTE: Today, it’s challenging not to think about what 2020 may hold, but I know one fact will remain true: “God reigns over the nations; God sits on his holy throne” (Psalm 47:8). Because he is in control, we can confidently yet compassionately seek to change the culture for his glory and our culture’s good. When you join our movement of building culture-changing Christians by giving today to the Denison Forum, your donation will be DOUBLED (up to $175,000) by a generous matching grant. So, please join the movement today.

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