This article was written by John Dorsey and published by CRU
As a young boy, I loved to play pretend. I would clothe myself in a warrior’s armor — usually made from my dad’s oversized sweatshirts and hats — and valiantly face an imaginary foe. Something in my heart longed to be a soldier, bravely marching into battle.
The action movies popular with men today suggest we retain this innate longing to fight with honor for a noble cause or king. Yet many Christian men forget that they are fighting in a war as they live in this fallen world every day. In Ephesians 6, Paul urges Christian men to put on the armor of God, reminding them that they face a real spiritual enemy, the devil.
To equip yourself for battle, you need to know the enemy you’re up against.
Men, you face formidable challenges to living out your faith. To equip yourself for battle, you need to know the enemy you’re up against.
Here are three of the most common challenges facing nearly every man today.
When I was a freshman in college, I volunteered to serve after our weekly Cru meetings by picking up leftover flyers and pencils from under the seats of the large lecture hall. I soon realized I was keenly aware of the appreciative glances and comments of others. I began to feel a sense of pride and desired the attention and admiration of others. Thankfully, the Lord convicted me of my prideful motives.
But then, as I served, I thought about how I didn’t want others to notice me and how humble I now was because I wanted to serve without being seen. Yet this “humility” was no better than the pride I had at first since my focus remained entirely on me.
In “Mere Christianity,” C.S. Lewis writes, “Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be … always telling you that, of course, he is nobody. Probably all you will think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intelligent chap who took a real interest in what you said to him. … He will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all.”
Men, in your flesh you have an innate, destructive desire to see yourself (and be seen by others) as better than those around you. Pride is a sneaky, devious enemy: it may show up in looking down on others, but it may also be found in thinking of yourself as lowly — yet still only thinking about yourself. Do you want to fight pride? Start by recognizing that you are proud. And then pray to forget yourself altogether.
Not only are you attacked from within by your pride, but you are constantly being bombarded from the outside; the devil is seeking to destroy you through your sense of sight. Specifically, pornography is likely the greatest challenge to faith that Christian men face today. It is an epidemic that is causing men to lose faith in God, to be disqualified from ministry, and to flee from real relationships.
Are you stuck in an addictive cycle of falling into sin, feeling shame and discouragement because of your sin, and numbing those feelings with more sin? Do you feel like you’ve tried everything, but haven’t found freedom?
Finally, men struggle with passivity. Passivity is a blind acceptance of whatever happens without an active response. It is a lazy indifference to responsibility. In the Bible’s story of humanity’s fall into sin in Genesis 3, the first man, Adam, demonstrates this passivity. Verse 6 notes that Adam was with his wife, Eve, as the serpent tempted her. He stood by silently while Eve ate the forbidden fruit, then he ate some himself despite knowing God’s command not to eat it. In verse 12, Adam shifts the blame to Eve when God confronts him about his sin. He doesn’t embrace the responsibility God gave him.
This same passivity infects the character of men today. You want to grow deeper in your relationship with God, but are you willing to discipline yourself for godliness, or do you prefer the safety and ease of relaxing in the shallow end of the pool? Spend some time considering these two questions:
- What habits do mature Christian men have that you do not yet have?
- What habits do mature Christian men not have that you still have?
These habits will not magically change when you get married or turn a certain age. You must intentionally pursue growth through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Pick up your armor, soldier. You will face many challenges, but the Commander of the army is faithful, strong and good. So stand strong in Him, take courage, and fight.