As school begins, you may think that you need a trendy outfit—one that will make a statement to all your friends that you have undergone some great metamorphosis during the summer. Or maybe some great shoes, a cute purse, or even sunglasses. God calls us, as daughters of the King, to forget about that new purse and focus on Him to fight the good fight of faith.
The next generation is you! You must hear the call of Christ to be a soldier for Him. What does this involve? For the next several issues, we will be looking at our role as women in this fight. We will be applying The Christian in Complete Armor by William Gurnall as we consider our task. I would suggest you find the book and follow along, making notes to pass down to future generations. You may find it in your church or school library, or you can buy it from online bookstores like Amazon, Reformation Heritage Books, or Westminster Bookstore. Also, you can read it online at no cost here: http://www.ccel.org/g/gurnall/armour/home.htm.
Gurnall first addresses what exactly it means to be strong in the Lord, which is a foreign concept for some Christians, and perhaps even among some young ladies today. The text he bases his writings on is Ephesians 6:10: “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.”
Where should we begin? With prayer. Well, that’s easy! But is it? What is involved in our prayers? Gurnall tells us that
“the Christian in prayer
• comes up close to God with a humble boldness of faith
• takes hold of Him
• wrestles with Him
• will not let Him go without a blessing
And all this in the face of his own sins and divine justice.”
The first thing we must do in prayer, at least every day—and every moment of every day—is “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17) and mortify, or kill, our sin (Rom. 8:13; Col. 3:5). Gurnall adapts a great image of this from Genesis 22:2, where Abraham offers up his son, Isaac, as God has commanded him to. To paraphrase, Gurnall says,
Take your lust (you know what it is this moment, and it must be reexamined often), which is the child of your dearest love, . . . the sin which has caused you the most joy and laughter, [the sin that] promises you the greatest pleasure . . . , and if you ever desire to look on My face with comfort, lay hands on it, offer it up, pour out the blood of it before Me; run the sacrificing knife of mortification through the very heart of it.
Gurnall is asking much of his readers—to sacrifice the sin that has brought them the most pleasure if they desire a relationship with God—and it would be easier for us if he stopped there. But Gurnall does not stop. He adds to this an even more difficult task: “And this freely, joyfully, for it is no pleasing sacrifice that is offered with a countenance cast down, and do all this now, before you embrace this sin one more time!”
So what sin is it that you need to fight today? What is your dearest love? Make your King your dearest love, as He is the one who planned your deliverance from that wretched Satan. He is the one who humbled Himself to be that perfect sacrifice for you. He is the one who provides your every breath, your every comfort. He is the one who continually makes intercession for you. He is the one who fights with you! What? Can your dearest love compare to your King? What sin is it that gives you pleasure? Can this pleasure even begin to compare to the eternal pleasure found in your Lord and Savior (Isa. 40:18)?
Gurnall returns to the theme of comfort. How can we look on the Father’s face with comfort, knowing that we are harboring and enjoying sin in our lives, which seems to give us more comfort than He does?
The first question and answer of the Heidelberg Catechism, which you have probably studied by now, has this to say about where we should find our comfort:
Question 1. What is thy only comfort in life and death?
Answer: That I with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Savior Jesus Christ; who, with his precious blood, has fully satisfied for all my sins, and delivered me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation, and therefore, by his Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, and makes me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto him.
Gurnall tells us how to put the one, true King back on the throne once we have recognized our sin: kill the rival king! This may be a one-time action for us, or it may be a continual struggle. How do we kill the sin? We will discuss this in the next article.
God’s call to us is to be soldiers of the cross, a mission that is possible only by the help of the Holy Spirit. Pray that the Lord would effectively work in your heart by His Spirit this year. Lay down your purses, take up the armor of the Lord, and begin being strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.
Kathy Arrick is a wife, mother of six children, and grandmother of fourteen children. She lives with her husband, Stephen Arrick, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where he is pastor of Zeltenreich Reformed Church (URCNA)