I’ve been thinking about 1 Corinthians 10:11-13. “All these things happened to them as examples—as object lessons to us—to warn us against doing the same things; they were written down so that we could read about them and learn from them in these last days as the world nears its end. So be careful. If you are thinking, “Oh, I would never behave like that”—let this be a warning to you. For you too may fall into sin. But remember this—the wrong desires that come into your life aren’t anything new and different. Many others have faced exactly the same problems before you. And no temptation is irresistible. You can trust God to keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can’t stand up against it, for he has promised this and will do what he says. He will show you how to escape temptation’s power so that you can bear up patiently against it.”
The Lord has recently brought something to the forefront of my understanding. “Beware of thinking that the areas I have experienced victory in my life in the past are now the least likely to trip me up.”
Have you ever said, “I’ve learned my lesson. I’m never doing that again!?”
That sounds great in theory, but unless we keep our eyes so focused on Christ and his keeping power, we are likely to repeat the same mistakes all over again. Just like the ocean, there can be a mighty undercurrent, unseen by our eyes, yet there, ready to sweep us away if we let down our guard.
Oswald Chambers says, “it is the least likely thing that is the real danger.”
There’s a scene in the first Lord of the Rings movie, “The Fellowship of the Ring”, Balrog vs. Gandalf. (You can click “here” to view the short video.) The rest of the Fellowship group has passed to the other side of a stone bridge to safety. Gandalf is behind them but hasn’t crossed over yet. The evil Balrog is after them and lunges for Gandalf repeatedly, trying to overtake him. Gandalf clearly has power over the evil. He slams his powerful staff down into the stone crossing and declares to Balrog, “you shall NOT pass!” This causes the stone bridge to crack and break apart, leaving the Fellowship in safety, but Gandalf on the broken side next to Balrog. With the bridge falling away from beneath Balrog he begins to descend into the darkness below. Gandalf, clearly relieved that he had won the battle, turns away from the scene and faces the Fellowship. Just at that second, Balrog rises up out of the dark abyss below and lashes at Gandalf with his fiery whip, catching him by the foot and pulling him down. All in the Fellowship are devastated at losing Gandalf to this terrible evil. Just before Gandalf is pulled into the darkness he tells the Fellowship, “fly you fools!”
I see several spiritual lessons in this, but I will focus on only a couple. First, Gandalf had the power. He had the victory! But he let his guard down just for a moment and when he did he was overtaken. As Christians we must put on and wear the armor of God. Then we won’t be harmed by the arrows that fly by day and the terror by night, as God fights the battle in his power and strength. We must beware of thinking that since we got the victory once in a certain area that we have learned our lesson and are no longer so easily tempted and led astray in that same area. Evil will attack on any side at any moment and we must be aware and ready in the power of God.
Secondly, Gandalf tells his friends to go on. He knew they were in a dangerous place and he wanted them to keep going and get to safety. Simply put he was saying, “don’t waste precious time waiting for me.”
We know that Christians are soldiers of God and if possible, any good soldier is going to pick up his wounded friend from the battle field and take him with him as he seeks a safer place. But that is not always possible. We must remember that we have to keep walking. We have to keep going. We have to “fly you fools”, like Gandalf told his friends.
“A thousand shall fall at your side, and ten thousand at thy right hand, but it will not come nigh thee.” Psalm 91:7
We must remember to keep our eyes focused on Christ, not on evil; not on our friends and family. We must keep our eyes on the prize. The bible is full of scriptures that tell us to “gird up our loins”. Jeremiah 1:17, Luke 12:35, 1 Kings 18:46 are just a few.
Let us give all of ourselves to Jesus Christ and his keeping power, letting him lead and guide us, keeping our loins girded and our feet on the path of righteousness. For his name sake. Amen.