As we begin this final lesson, let us say to you, “Well done!”
You have diligently worked through this course material—some of which may have been completely new to you. You are well on your way in your new walk with God. Now we want to give you some final thoughts on how you can live a victorious Christian life.
As we have already said, every person alive has been created for a God-given purpose.
“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we
can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (Ephesians 2:10 NLT).
God’s plan for your life is for your good—and through you, to do good things for others.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11 NLT).
As you put into practice the things you have learned in this course and begin learning from pastors, mentors, and godly leaders, you will begin to discover the gifts and talents God has placed within you that will enable you to accomplish the plan He has for your life.
Once you discover God’s plan—some would say this is your calling in life—then you can begin to develop these gifts and talents. This process will include learning the principles of Christian life found in the Bible. It will include character development and what it means to grow in Christian maturity. This development may include years of study, both in Scripture and in a certain profession. Finally, it will include learning to hear God’s voice and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit.
After you discover and develop your gifts and talents, then it is time to deploy them into the area of service, career, or ministry that God has called you to fulfill.
While it is exciting to reach this place of deployment, it’s important for the believer to remember that Jesus is our Lord, so there may be times and seasons in life where our calling is further defined—or where it is changed and adjusted to fit God’s ongoing purpose. There may be a season for one aspect of your life’s calling, but that season may come to an eventual end. Then it will be important and necessary to listen for the leading of the Holy Spirit as He leads you into the next season of life.
More Blessed to Give
As you continue in your walk with Christ, you will see that part of the Christian lifestyle includes giving to others from the spiritual gifts and natural talents you have received from God. The apostle Paul declared: “You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’” (Acts 20:35 NLT).
Jesus also taught his disciples:
“Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in
full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more,
running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give
will determine the amount you get back” (Luke 6:38 NLT).
This is called the principle of “seedtime and harvest,” or “sowing and reaping.”
This spiritual sowing and reaping is just as real as natural sowing and reaping. If a farmer takes a seed and plants it in good soil, making sure it receives enough sunlight and water, that seed will sprout and grow into a plant. Then at harvest time, that plant will bring forth abundant fruit filled with hundreds, and possibly even thousands, of seeds.
It’s the same in the spiritual realm. We can plant seeds into God’s kingdom soil in many ways: through our time, our talents, our prayers, and our finances.
The Bible speaks of bringing our “tithes” into the kingdom storehouses, “that there may be food in my house” (Malachi 3:10). The word tithe means ten percent—so to bring your tithe into the storehouse is to give ten percent of your income to God’s work. Just like any organization, a church or ministry requires money in order to do the work that God has called it to do to help people and to share God’s love. One of the important ways that a church or a ministry is funded—as the Bible says, “that there may be food in my house”—is through people giving of their tithes and offerings.
Through this passage in Malachi, God actually gives a challenge to His people regarding their giving:
“Test Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “if I will not open
for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing
until it overflows” (Malachi 3:10 NASB).
As we give our tithes and offerings to our local church and to other worthy ministries, God promises that He will pour out a blessing in our lives.
Our decision to give or not to give can be compared to the two great bodies of water spoken of in the Bible and in modern Israel—the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea. The Sea of Galilee receives an ongoing supply of fresh water from the mountains of the Golan Heights, flowing down as the Jordan River. The Jordan River flows into the Sea of Galilee in the north, and then it flows out of that beautiful body of water as it moves south. As a result of this water flowing in and out, the Sea of Galilee is alive with fish and plant life. It provides nourishment for people and animals alike.
The Dead Sea, on the other hand, only receives from the Jordan River in the north, but the water ends at the southern border. In other words, the Dead Sea only receives, but it never gives. As a result, no creature can live in its hyper-salty water. The Dead Sea is truly dead.
This example can be applied to our lives as well. We need to remember that God is the source of everything we have, so He is like the Jordan River flowing into our lives. You can release God’s blessings to others and thrive like the Sea of Galilee, or you can just receive and refuse to give and become barren like the Dead Sea. The choice is yours.
But when we give in God’s economy, he multiplies our gift, bringing abundant fruit into our lives. We don’t give to receive, but instead we give to honor God, to be a blessing to others, and to be a reflection of God’s love. It is like planting an acorn. When that acorn sprouts it becomes a tree—and from that tree, literally thousands, if not millions, of acorns are produced.
So in God’s economy, we don’t just ask “how many acorns are in the forest?” but we can ask in faith, “how many forests are in the acorn?”
Overcoming the Enemy
As you set out on this spiritual adventure with Jesus, it’s important to understand that we are God’s children, and He loves and protects us. It’s also important to know that we have a spiritual enemy, the one the Bible calls the devil or Satan. The apostle Peter gives us this warning:
“Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around
like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8 NLT).
Jesus calls Satan a “liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44 NLT). He warned, “the thief [Satan] comes only to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10a). But then He immediately gave this wonderful promise: “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10b NASB).
Earlier we spoke of the Bible being the Sword of the Spirit. Paul mentions this in his teaching about spiritual warfare. He writes:
“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:11-12 ESV).
We are in a spiritual battle with God’s enemy, the devil. To defend ourselves and to fight the enemy, he instructs us to take up the full armor of God “to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm” (Ephesians 6:13 ESV). So what is this armor and how do we “take it up”?
The Belt of Truth
Paul begins by saying, “Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth” (v. 14a). Jesus said of Himself, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6 ESV). The way to fasten on the belt of truth is to learn the principles of God’s Word and grow in your daily relationship with Jesus through prayer, Bible reading, Scripture meditation, and worship.
The Breastplate of Righteousness
Next Paul instructs us to “put on the breastplate of righteousness” (v. 14b). To be righteous is to be without sin. As we have already shown, when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, His blood washes away our sin. So to put on the breastplate of righteousness you are declaring, “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation—the old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV). Being righteous is also to quickly repent when we do something that we know is displeasing to God. When we do this, “He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9 NASB).
The Shoes of the Gospel
Next we put on “shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace” (v. 15). When we put on the shoes of the Gospel of peace, then we can walk in God’s peace as we walk in His ways. We can also run to share the Gospel with those who haven’t heard the Good News of this wonderful life in Christ.
The Shield of Faith
An important defensive weapon in the armor is the shield of faith. “In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one” (v. 16 ESV). The world, the devil, and even our own fears and discouragement may cause us to stumble from time to time, and that is part of being human. But God has given us the shield of faith to help protect us against the enemy’s attacks. The Bible says of faith: “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17 ESV). We grow strong in our faith by reading and studying the Word of God. So when the enemy tries to deceive you with His lies, you can raise your shield to block his attacks.
The Sword of the Spirit
As we mentioned in the lesson on Bible reading, Scripture is our spiritual weapon of warfare. When the enemy comes at you with His lies and accusations, you respond by using your sword, the Word of God. There is a powerful example of this in the Old and New Testament contrast between what the Bible calls “the first Adam” and “the last Adam.” The apostle Paul contrasts the two “sons of God”—men born with God as their father, Adam of the Garden of Eden and Jesus:
“Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the
last Adam became a life-giving spirit” (1 Corinthians 15:45 ESV).
Both the first and the last Adam were tempted three times by the devil. Their response to this temptation made all the difference. The apostle John identifies these three temptations:
“For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world” (1 John 2:16 ESV).
In his seduction of Adam and Eve, Satan used these three temptations in Genesis 3:6 (ESV):
- The desires of the flesh—“the tree was good for food” even though they had been forbidden to eat from it.
- The desires of the eyes—“it was a delight to the eyes.”
- The pride of life—it “was to be desired to make one wise.”
Adam and Eve understood God’s word regarding the tree of the knowledge of good and evil:
“And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely
eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge
of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat
of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:16 ESV).
Yet despite knowing the Word of God regarding this fateful tree, Adam and Eve did nothing to resist the temptation of the enemy, and they fell into sin.
We can contrast Adam’s failure with Jesus’ triumph over the devil. The Bible says Jesus was led into the desert by the Holy Spirit where he fasted for forty days. During this time, Satan appeared to Jesus when he was hungry and weary. Jesus, the “Last Adam,” was seduced with the same three temptations in the desert though in a different order in Matthew 4 (ESV).
- The desires of the flesh—“If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread” (v. 3).
- The pride of life—“Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “He will command his angels concerning you,” and “On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone”’” (vs. 5-6).
- The desires of the eyes—“The devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, ‘All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me’” (v. 9).
To each of these temptations, Jesus responded by wielding the Sword of the Spirit—quoting the Word of God.
- The desires of the flesh—“But he answered, ‘It is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God”’” (v. 4).
- The pride of life—“Jesus said to him, ‘Again it is written, “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test”’” (v. 7).
- The desires of the eyes—“Then Jesus said to him, ‘Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve”’” (v. 10).
Unlike the first Adam, Jesus, the Last Adam, responded to Satan’s temptations every time with the Sword of the Spirit, declaring: “It is written … It is written … It is written.”
Jesus is our example in spiritual warfare. So when the devil comes at you with his lies, you, too, can wield the Sword of the Spirit, standing boldly in faith and declaring, “It is written”!
There is one more lesson from this passage. You will notice in the second temptation that Satan actually quotes Scripture to Jesus. Because he is a “liar, and the father of lies” (John 8:44 ESV), he twists this Bible passage to try to trick Jesus into disobeying God’s plan for His life. This is a common scheme of the enemy, and one for which we must be on guard.
That is why we must follow Paul’s admonition to his disciple Timothy to accurately handle the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15). That way, when the enemy comes at you with his lies, accusations, and temptations—even twisting Scripture in his deceit—you can resist him boldly, declaring like Jesus: “It is written.”
Be encouraged in the fight! The Bible gives you this promise as you do spiritual warfare with the devil: “So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7 NLT).
Remember, the Holy Spirit is within you, so you are fighting the enemy with God on your side. So stand with this reassurance from Scripture: “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8 ESV).
Read to the End of the Book
In the book of Revelation, the final book of the Bible, we see that in the end Christ Jesus will return to earth and destroy the works of the devil, save His people, and set up His everlasting Kingdom. He will ultimately answer our prayer, “Your Kingdom come” (Matthew 6:10 ESV). Scripture promises that in Christ, we will overcome Satan and his evil forces.
“And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death” (Revelation 12:11 NASB).
In the end, this is the glorious life that awaits us after Christ’s return:
“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling
place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his
people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe
away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither
shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former
things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said,
“Behold, I am making all things new” (Revelation 21:3-5 ESV).
The Greatest is Love
In conclusion, as you begin this spiritual journey, it’s important to remember that our walk with God is all about love. Probably the most famous passage in Scripture is John 3:16 (ESV): “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
Just as we said at the beginning of this teaching, it comes back around to the first and second commandments: “love the Lord your God,” and “love your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27 NIV). The apostle John gives us an excellent definition of love:
“We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also
ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters” (1 John 3:16 NLT).
The apostle Paul encourages us to “let love be your highest goal!” (1 Corinthians 14:1 NLT). So love becomes our litmus test. We are filled with love when we are filled with His Holy Spirit.
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever
loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not
love does not know God, because God is love. … Beloved, if God so
loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:7-8, 11 ESV).
Jesus’ final message to His disciples before going to the cross was this:
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another:
just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this
all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love
for one another” (John 13:34-35 ESV).
God loves you more than you will ever know because, as John points out, God is love. That love now dwells inside of you because His Spirit lives within you. Now He wants you to shine that light to others, telling them the Good News that God loves them, too!
“Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20 NLT).
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May God richly bless you as you continue to walk in His ways and follow the leading of His Holy Spirit.