Friday, February 3, 2012

Fight or Flight?

Did you know God prepared your body -- and your spirit -- to overcome trouble by fight or flight? In medical terms, the sympathetic nervous system is that part of the involuntary nervous system, beyond our voluntary control, that helps us get out of trouble. It’s sometimes called the “Fight or Flight” response because it’s designed to help us fight – i.e. to resist an attacker, or to take flight. – i.e. to run away if we sense that the enemy is too powerful and that we’d be better off escaping than trying to fight back.

Whether our best response to trouble is to fight or to flee, God designed our bodies to be able to respond physically to either challenge – and a brilliant design it is! (Psalm 139:14)

But as Christians, our main battles are not in the physical realm, but in the spiritual (Ephesians 6:12). Just as God designed us with a built-in mechanism to protect our physical body from attack, He also gave us a spiritual “fight or flight” mechanism to help us resist spiritual attack, as explained in His Word.

The three enemies of our spirit are the devil, the flesh, and the world. The Bible tells us to fight or resist the devil (James 4:6-8; 1 Peter 5:6-9), to flee temptation that would cause us to yield to our fleshly desires (1 Corinthians 10:1-14; James 4:4), and to separate ourselves from the world, loving God instead of worldly pleasures and powers (1 John 2:15-17; Ephesians 2:1-9).

Although we must resist, or fight against, the devil, we must flee temptation. Specific evils the Bible warns us to flee from are fornication (1 Corinthians 6:18), idolatry (1 Corinthians 10:14), greed or love of money (1 Timothy 6:10), and envy and arguments (1 Timothy 6:4-5).

The Bible has numerous examples of people who gave in to these evils rather than fleeing from them, with disastrous results. Nonetheless, we can thank God that these are recorded in His Word, both as a warning to us and as a reassurance that we are not alone in facing these struggles. Temptation in general, and these specific temptations, are common to the fallen human condition because of our sin nature. But God promises us an escape from every temptation:

1 Corinthians 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

Paul often uses the metaphor of the Christian life being like a fight or warfare of the soldier going into battle (1 Timothy 6:12; 2 Timothy 4:7), as in the hymn “Onward Christian soldiers.” Our sin nature is still a force we must do battle with even after we are saved. That sinful spirit is still there, creating lust, which causes us to want more than we need and should have. In turn, that lust causes us to envy those who we think have more than we do, which leads to fighting and war (James 4: 5-6). Only by the grace of God, Who indwelled us with His Holy Spirit when we were saved, can we restrain our sin nature and break this vicious circle.

Resisting the devil involves drawing close to God and humbly recognizing that in our own "strength" we are nothing, but that He has already won the battle for us (1 Samuel 17:47; Jeremiah 17:5-8; Psalm 44, 4-8; Psalm 55: 22).

Satan tries to attack us through the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life (Genesis 3:6). If we have pride in and confidence in our own flesh, that pride is misplaced and foolish, and we are bound to fail because God will only make His power available to us when we yield to Him completely and humbly (Ephesians 6:10:10; 1 John 4:4)

To resist the devil, we must also put on the whole defensive armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18) and use the sword of the Lord -- His Holy Word -- to fight the devil and watch him flee! (Matthew. 4:5-11; James 2:19; 1 John 4:4). The secret to successful combat with Satan and his minions is to grab hold of God and refuse to let Him go! If we seek God in earnest, fervent prayer, He will bless us richly!

Prayer is the safest method of replying to words of hatred. The Psalmist prayed in no cold-hearted manner, he gave himself to the exercise—threw his whole soul and heart into it—straining every sinew and muscle, as Jacob did when wrestling with the angel. Thus, and thus only, shall any of us speed at the throne of grace. Charles Spurgeon: Evening by Evening, January 15.

Praise God that He provides us with an escape from every temptation and with armor to withstand every one of Satan’s attacks! May we realize that the battle is the Lord’s, and put our trust in Him alone!

32 comments:

  1. A very thoughtful, well prepared article.
    The glands responsible for "Fight or Fight" are the Adrenal Glands, one on top of each kidney.
    On the spiritual side, saying "No" to fornication, or to any sinful act may be relatively easy. To lust, envy or covet - sins of the heart - may be a little more difficult to resist. Only the Holy Spirit within us can overcome such temptations.

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  2. Thanks, Frank! I agree that most believers in Christ are able to refrain from sinful actions most of the time. Controlling the tongue from sinning through anger, gossip, and "idle words" is more difficult, and controlling sins of the heart is most difficult of all. With our sin nature this is impossible, but with God indwelling us, all things are possible.
    Blessings to you,
    Laurie

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  3. Thanks for your comment, Denise! May you have a blessed week in Him.
    Laurie

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  4. Standing against a single attack, even a strong one is relatively easy. When attacked from all sides, however it is better to retreat to where we cannot be surrounded. Even weak attacks can destroy us when we are distracted by other things.

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  5. Excellent point, dfish. Satan is the master of distraction, of catching us off guard, and of knowing our weaknesses. Praise God that He Who is in me is greater than he who is in gthe world.
    God bless,
    Laurie

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  6. yes..it is a constant battle!!

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  7. I think God is trying to reinforce a few things in me this week! I keep reading posts about the Armor of God and being prepared for battle. Interestingly enough, I had my own battle this week! Fortunately, I put up the shield of faith and then drew the sword of the Spirit! Our God is strong! There is no temptation or enemy that He cannot help us to defeat. With Him, we have victory! Blessings, Joan

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  8. Thanks, momto8 and Debbie! Blessings to you both!

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  9. Dear Joan,
    The ladies in my Bible study class always pray for me when I am teaching about spiritual warfare, for that is when Satan is likely to attack!
    Praise God that the battle is the Lord's, and that He who is in me is greater than he who is in the world!
    Love to you and God bless,
    Laurie

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  10. I love how God prepares us and then encourages us through His word. And He plainly allows us to see what happens we we choose Him to go before us and we when we do not. may we not neglect to put on His armor.

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  11. Amen, Jen! He gave us free will to choose and His Word to warn us of the consequences of our choices. May we be Spirit-led to make the right choices.
    Love and blessings,
    Laurie

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  12. This: "Resisting the devil involves drawing close to God and humbly recognizing that in our own "strength" we are nothing..."

    Surrender is such the way of a life well-lived, isn't it? Lovely, Laurie. A good word for sure.

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  13. Dear Laura,
    Thanks as always for being a blessing and an encourager. Surrender truly is key -- needed for salvation, for a Spirit-filled life, for a blessed marriage, and so much more.
    Love to you,
    Laurie

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  14. Thanks, Denise! May God bless you and your ministry too.
    Laurie

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  15. Love your explanation here - so insightful. It's amazing how applicable God's word is to every situation and how it relates to every area of our lives. I've been reading about our armor this week and it has made me realize more than ever that we must have it to survive. Also, it is a conscious decision we make to put it on daily. We must do our part to prepare. Thanks!

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  16. Thanks, Deidra, for your encouraging comment and for following! You're right, we're helpless in spiritual warfare unless we prayerfully suit up with the whole armor of God. Here's a link to a post I wrote about that in September:
    http://savedbygracebiblestudy.blogspot.com/2011/09/are-you-suited-up.html
    Blessings to you,
    Laurie

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  17. Wonderful study -- I remain under His wings ... Maybe that's hiding but a good place to be!

    http://theemptynestexpress.com

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  18. I've heard of the fight or flight idea for many years but don't remember ever hearing it applied to the spiritual life. This is good. Thank you for sharing these thoughts.
    Thank you for sharing on Spiritual Sundays.
    Blessings,
    Charlotte

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  19. Hi Laurie - I loved this post. So well put out and practical. I especially love the bit "Resisting the devil involves drawing close to God and humbly recognizing that in our own "strength" we are nothing, but that He has already won the battle for us" Its all about drawing nearer to God. Thank you for linking up. I am so blessed by your being there.
    God bless
    Tracy

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  20. Thanks, Ms. Kathleen! Under the shelter of His wings and raised up on wings of eagles -- either way He has us covered!

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  21. Thanks so much, Charlotte, for your comment and encouragement, and for hosting Spiritual Sundays!
    May you be richly blessed in Him,
    Laurie

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  22. Dear Tracy,
    Praise God that the battle belongs to Him! May we learn to draw closer to Him daily. You and your writing are a blessing to me.
    Love in Him,
    Laurie

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    1. Ah thank you Laurie - right back at you! :)

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  23. Laurie, I just love your heart and mind for the Lord. When I am done with the Glimpse if Glory series I am going to do a series about God revealing Himself through creation. Would you want to use your nuerology expertise and guest post? Please email me @ Laura.krokos@uscm.org

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  24. Thanks so much, Laura! I would be honored.
    God bless,
    Laurie

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  25. Laurie - your posts are always so insightful. As Christians, we must always be on guard against the enemy and remember to put on that full armor each day.

    Blessings,
    Joan

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  26. Thanks so much for the kind words, Joan! Satan is like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour, and the only way to fight him off is by prayerfully applying the whole armor of God.
    Have a blessed week!
    Laurie

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  27. Laurie,
    So impressed with how well rounded you are from reading your profile. I also love dancing but never dabbled in ballroom. Maybe one day. Your words are so true on the enemy. Blessings, Mari
    www.inspiredbyfamilymag.acom

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  28. Thanks, Mari -- I appreciate your encouragement, and thanks so much for visiting and commenting! You should try ballroom -- it's great fun and great exercise!
    Blessings to you,
    Laurie

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