LUKE 12:49-53 – “I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! 50 I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished! 51 Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. 52 For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. 53 They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”
THEME OF THE DAY. A DIFFERENT KIND OF DIVISION. Today’s scripture is our Lord Jesus informing us that there is a cost to be paid in following Him. It is division and of that kind that potentially pits the closest of human relationships against one another – family members. This is not comfortable, but Jesus didn’t come to make following Him comfortable but comprehensive. We must be “all in” with Jesus. And it will be true, if there is unequally yoked members in a family – saved and unsaved, unrighteous and righteous, we should expect tension and division. Not in an arrogant harsh way, but in a loving humble way because the follower of Christ must put love for Him above human relationships, even the closest; even if it causes division. To attempt to avoid the inevitable conflict and division between righteousness and unrighteousness would be to start down the road of spiritual compromise by the believer.
But there is another type of division the Christian faces. It is not among people or external. It is internal and intense. It is the daily war believers fight within themselves between God’s Spirit and our remaining sinful flesh. The Apostle Paul addresses this war of wars in a portion of scripture that is his personal testimony and that of every true Christian – “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me” (Romans 7:15-20). Yes, this is the Christian life so don’t be surprised at the division we feel deep in our very beings. And by way of encouragement, take time to ponder the following words by J.C. Philpot, a 19th century English Particular Baptist minister, who insightfully describes this kind of division in the Christian life.
Are you not often a mystery to yourself? Warm one moment—cold the next! Abasing yourself one hour—exalting yourself the following! Loving the world, full of it, steeped up to your head in it today—crying, groaning, and sighing for a sweet manifestation of the love of God tomorrow! Brought down to nothingness, covered with shame and confusion, on your knees before you leave your room—filled with pride and self-importance before you have got down stairs! Despising the world, and willing to give it all up for one taste of the love of Jesus when in solitude—trying to grasp it with both hands when in business! What a mystery are you! Touched by love—and stung with hatred! Possessing a little wisdom—and a great deal of folly! Earthly-minded—and yet having the affections in heaven! Pressing forward—and lagging behind! Full of sloth—and yet taking the kingdom with violence! And thus the Spirit, by a process which we may feel but cannot adequately describe—leads us into the mystery of the two natures perpetually struggling and striving against each other in the same bosom—so that one man cannot more differ from another, than the same man differs from himself. But the mystery of the kingdom of heaven is this—that our carnal mind undergoes no alteration, but maintains a perpetual war with grace. And thus, the deeper we sink in self-abasement under a sense of our vileness, the higher we rise in a knowledge of Christ, and the blacker we are in our own view—the more lovely does Jesus appear.
What words of comfort and motivation for us as we fight daily, not only division without, but the division of spiritual conflict within us!
PRAYER: “Father, I praise You for making me a new creature in Your Son and an evidence is this inward conflict I fight.”
QUOTE: “Spiritual warfare is primarily internal and always marked by opposition against the Lordship of Christ.”