As Christians, we are well aware of the centrality of the Word of God in our lives. It is breathed out by God and is useful for everything necessary to be equipped for the life God calls us to live. It is the sword of the Spirit—a double edged sword at that! And it can penetrate way down to the level of the heart.
We call it our Scriptures, a word that has “script” in it. A script contains words for us to say to play our roles as the Director desires. But there are a lot of words in that script and not all of them are equally valuable.
I want to offer a suggestion. Stockpile some script to help you when sin comes at you. But not just any words! We all love the ease of “Jesus wept” and that verse is a touching reality, but it does little to fend off my anger as it threatens to overtake me or to provide patience when a situation calls for it. At the same time, long passages are not effective either.
Just consider lines from movies that make their way into common use. “Life is like a box of chocolates—you never know what you’re gonna get!” It is so true and just right for so many situations. One of my favorites is from Princess Bride, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” I have thought that so many times while listening to people talk, usually while chuckling. And of course, “I’ll be back” is really easy to remember and does make an impression!
So what if we could utilize short, memorable phrases from our inspired script as tools to build a better life? We could use them for shorthand reminders or even as powerful defenses against the sin that is always around to taunt us. I want to offer three such phrases that are easy to remember. I like them because they are inspired. I like them because they are actual words that were used in moments of defense. They are dialogue words, meaning they are in quotation marks and they were audibly spoken in texts that were legitimately dangerous settings.
The first is from a powerful scene—the first murder.
God stopped Cain because he knew his heart was angry and he could see that anger on his face. This is God utilizing a time-out to make Cain think about what was making him angry and how this was a very vulnerable time for him. God said in Genesis 4:7
“If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? If you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”
There it is in its simplicity! These are not just the word of God, but these are words of God. That makes them doubly powerful. God is trying to force a pause between stimulus and response so that Cain can think of a better way that he is feeling. Memorize this word and be ready to use it! It takes about 6 seconds to say it and it forces a gap that allows you to think through what to do next.
The second one is from Joseph.
Rather than anger, it is sexual temptation this time. It comes at him over and over again and he finally responds out loud with clarity and with force in Genesis 39:9 .
“How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?”
You could easily quote this inspired word to a temptation that confronts you. It would not take long to memorize or say, but the power of it as a small, wieldable sword is immense, and is the heart of why a sin is a sin.
Finally, from God’s words to Joseph’s words to the words of Jesus himself.
This word is spoken to Peter as he tempts Jesus to do what is easy rather than what is right. God has asked Jesus to come and suffer and Peter wants to discourage such suffering. Jesus knows what God has ordained but he is drawn to what Peter suggests.
So he says out loud, verbally, words to help him root himself in truth.
“Get behind me Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God but the things of men.”
What power could be available to me if I am willing to shout out loud when something is nagging at me, weakening my resolve to be faithful! Jesus was willing to call it what it was. The power in these words helped him to retain his focus when he was so drawn to lower his gaze from the goal. We have that same temptation, but we also have that same power in the words provided right there for us. It would be wise to use them!
I am suggesting that you try this kind of warfare. It doesn’t matter what kind of sin you struggle against, it desires to have you and you must rule over it.
Rule over that sin with words from God!
Rule over that sin with words that have proven effective for people in the past.
You have a script. You have a sword. Now use them!