WATCH AND PRAY

Could you not stay awake one hour?  Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation.  The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. (Mark 14:27-28)

These are Jesus’ words to Peter just before Judas betrayed Him.  I think Jesus’ words to Peter could easily apply to me.  Before I go there, we must remember what happens after this.  Judas betrays Jesus and He is arrested.  He is taken before the Jewish Council with the high priest presiding.  False witnesses bear testimony against Him; but none holds up.  The high priest asks Him, “Are you the Christ, the son of the Blessed?”  Jesus answered, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming with the clouds of heaven.”  That was all it took in the councils’ mind.  They condemned Him as deserving death.  Some began to spit on Him.  They covered His head and began to strike Him.  The guards intervened and took Him with blows.  And where was Peter?  At a distance in the courtyard of the high priest, where he denied Jesus three times.   Why would he do this?

The real question is why have I done this on all too many occasions?  The words of Jesus to Peter help me get a better understanding.

“Could you not stay awake one hour?”  Really, Jesus was not asking much.  Stay awake.  Stay on the alert.  Be aware; we are in dangerous enemy territory.

“Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation.”  What interesting words.  What temptation is Jesus talking about here?  It seems reasonable that the temptation was falling away from Jesus, staying at a distance and even denying Him.  On this occasion Jesus had told Peter earlier to be aware because Satan was after him.  “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail.  And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:31).  Good old Peter said, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.”  Jesus responded to him, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me.”

The Lord Jesus  had warned Peter.  At the most critical time, He said to him, “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation.”  But Peter failed and fell into temptation and denied His Lord.

Well, I am no different from Peter.  Satan desires to have me and to sift me like wheat.  I am most vulnerable in times of stress.  Like Peter my spirit is willing, but my flesh is weak, too weak, dreadfully weak at times.  Jesus is telling me to watch and pray.  When God is in the process of doing a new thing in me, I am most vulnerable.  Satan hates it.  He wants to have me, to sift me like wheat.  “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation.”  Jesus is warning me.

What must I do?  The Scripture tells me:

Submit yourselves therefore to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. (James 4:7-8a)

Submit to God. Resist the devil.  Draw near to God.  “Watch and pray.” And give no opportunity to the devil (Ephesians 4:27).  Be careful!  Don’t leave any cracks in the windows and doors of your life.  Do not give any opportunity to Satan.  Crack the door and he will slip into your life.  “Watch and pray.”

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.  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.  Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. (Ephesians 6:10-13)

Be strong in the Lord.  Rely on the strength of HIs might.  Only God can defeat Satan.  Armor up with the spiritual armor God has prepared for us (Ephesians 6:14-17).  Be aware of the power and forces of the evil one.  Look out for his minions.  The battle is fierce.  I must take up the whole armor of God so that I can withstand his attacks that take place in this evil day.  “Watch and pray!”

Be sober minded; be watchful.  Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being accomplished by your brotherhood throughout the world. (I Peter 5:8-9)

Stay sober minded.  Be watchful.  Satan lurks at every turn.  He wants to devour us; not just sift us.  All of us are in danger.  “Watch and pray!”

For the weapons of our warfare are not flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.  We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ. (II Corinthians 10:4-5)

Our weapons against the schemes of the devil and his fiery darts are not of our flesh; but are those from God for the purpose of destroying Satan’s strongholds.

So much of the battle occurs in our minds, those arguments and lofty opinions raised against the true knowledge of God.  It is for this reason that we must take every thought captive to obey Christ.  Every thought!  When we leave our minds vulnerable, Satan creeps in.  When we allow our thoughts to enter into sinful areas, we are wide open to Satan’s assaults.  We must:

…By the mercies of God, present our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is our spiritual worship.  We must not be conformed to this world, but we must be transformed by the renewal of our minds, that by testing we may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (a paraphrase of Romans 12:1-2)

There it is.  We must present our bodies, which are the temple of God, as living sacrifices.  We must not feed the flesh, but constantly offer our bodies to God as spiritual sacrifices to Him.  This offering of our bodies is our act of spiritual worship.  We must consider our bodies dead to sin but alive to God.  We were buried with Christ in His death, but were raised with Him in His resurrection.

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?  We we’re buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.  For if we have been united with Him in a death like His, we shall certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His.  We know that our old self was crucified with Him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin…So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Jesus Christ.  Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions.  Do not present your members to sin as  instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments to righteousness. (Romans 6:3-6, 11-13)

We also must not be conformed to this world.  The draw of the world is so great.  It seeks to conform us to its image.  It draws us in, seduces us to all the evil it represents.  It is the great harlot, Babylon the great in all its systems and philosophies that stand in opposition to God (Revelation 17).

Do not love the world or the things in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world — the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions — is not from the Father but is from the world.  And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. (I John 2:15-17)

Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great.  She has become a dwelling place for demons, a haunt for every unclean spirit, a haunt for every unclean bird, a haunt for every unclean and detestable beast…Come out of her my people, lest you take part in her, lest you share in her plagues; for her sins are heaped as high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities. (Revelation 18:2- 4-5)

We must be transformed by the renewal of our minds.  We must study the Scriptures, meditate upon them, have our hearts illuminated to their words by the Holy Spirit.  We do this in order to discern what the will of God is, to know what is good and acceptable and perfect.

CanI not stay awake one hour?  I must watch and pray that I may not enter into temptation.  My spirit is willing, but my flesh is weak.  Watch and pray, O my soul.

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