The Hidden Battles of a Man (or Woman) of God

by Andy Wood on September 29, 2008

in Enlarging Your Capacity, LV Cycle

Job sites can be noisy places.  The clanging of tools, the heaving groans of loud masculine voices, and the hacking or high-pitched grinding of cutting instruments all suggest that something is being built with earnest.

There is another kind of construction, however, that makes precious little noise.  But the effects are powerful and completely necessary.  In the Day of the Second House, none of us can move forward without it.  I’m talking about the inner construction – the molding and shaping of character and spiritual power.

It does no good to rebuild the outward structures without taking a tough look at the inner priorities and attitudes of the heart.  That’s what’s so ridiculous about somebody facing a crisis (remember the Sunday after September 11, 2001?) by scurrying off to a church building they haven’t darkened in months.  The building or setting is meaningless unless it’s occupied by a transformed heart.

So while our friend Zerubbabel was busy governing and building a temple, his partner, Joshua, was facing some building of his own.  But this high priest was facing down his own broken walls, burned gates, and impossible mission.  Joshua was engaged in a battle for his heart, and for the soul of his nation.  Here’s how the prophet Zechariah described this internal battle:

Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. The Lord said to Satan, “ The Lord rebuke you, Satan! Indeed, the Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?” Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments and standing before the angel. He spoke and said to those who were standing before him, saying, ” Remove the filthy garments from him.” Again he said to him, “See, I have taken your iniquity away from you and will clothe you with festal robes.” Then I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments, while the angel of the Lord was standing by. (Zechariah 3:1-5)

Every man or woman who is serious about spiritual life and victory faces similar battles.  Our destinies, as well as the destinies of others, hang in the balance.  Here are five inner battle zones:

1.  The enemy who accuses you
Like Joshua, you and I have an enemy who “stands at our right hand” accusing us.  I usually think of Satan accusing us because of past failures or current weaknesses.  But the “right hand” is the hand of power, or authority.  Satan will accuse you at the place of your greatest strength or your faith.

2.  The mission that calls you.
Joshua was referred to as a “brand plucked from the fire.”  The brand was a tool – usually a crooked stick – used to stir a fire.  In Joshua’s case, he represented a tainted priesthood and a nearly-destroyed nation.  Yet God had “pulled him from the fire,” not randomly, but with a distinct purpose.  The same is true of you.  Your life is largely defined by your mission.  You may have a love-hate relationship with that mission – I sure do.  But that mission continues to help challenge, define, and call you out.

3.  The fire that refines you
What you’ve been calling frustrations, problems, or impossible situations, may just be defining refining moments for you.  Fire is often used as a symbol of refining.  And the firebrand was the tool for stoking the flame.  I’m sure if the brand had the ability to feel and talk, it would be hollering something to the effect of, “Get me the heck out of this fire!”  But the brand was only as useful as its nearness to the heat.  The same can be said of you.  The classic hymn explains it this way:

When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.

4.  The past that defiles you.
You got some dirty laundry?  Joshua sure did.  Dirty garments, Zechariah called them.  And the failures of our past tend to haunt us and accuse us and paralyze us.  After all, who are you to think you have anything to offer God?  But here’s the good news – Joshua found a place in God’s presence to have those dirty garments removed.  You can, too.  Your future doesn’t have to be determined by the failures of your past.

5.  The identity that defines you.
The Lord clothed Joshua with a new identity.  Didn’t matter about his past.  Didn’t matter how little influence he may have had.  All that mattered was what God said about who he was.  The same is true for you.  Your biggest challenge is living like a forgiven man/woman – an image-bearer of the God whose child you are.

There is a difference between the job sites of men and those of God.  People build monuments; God builds men.  People build houses; God builds hearts.  People build temples of bricks and sticks; God builds temples with hearts of flesh.

You are God’s building.  Your heart.  Your mission.  Your relationships.  His protection.  His purpose.  His identity.

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