Yesterday's victories won't sustain you

Yesterday's victory won't sustain you through today's trial. Sure, you had a great day. You went to church, you read your Bible, you spoke words of peace, you held your tongue, you served someone in need, you felt the presence of the Holy Spirit. Sure, you kept your sins to a minimum.

Maybe you taught a class or maybe you brought a message before the whole congregation, maybe you said all the right things and found just the perfect Bible verse to share. You felt good yesterday. You were strong yesterday. The Spirit moved yesterday.

That's awesome, but don't expect that high to carry you through the day today. Don't let your guard down. Don't think more highly of yourself than you ought to. You've got to put your armor on.

My dad preached on this idea last Sunday and it stuck with me all week. In Matthew 3, Jesus has a "mountaintop" experience—a spiritual victory. Jesus goes to John the Baptist to be baptized and receives confirmation from God himself.

Imagine hearing the voice of God for the first time in 30 years, since you left heaven to be a man, as he says, "This is my son, in whom I am well pleased." The Bible says the Spirit of God descended on Jesus like a dove and rested on him; how cool would it be to have your faith affirmed by a physical pat on the back from God himself?

But read on, because we find that Jesus' incredible spiritual experience didn't last very long. Chapter 4 says, the next day, Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the Enemy. Notice that the Spirit led Jesus to be tempted. God will never tempt us, but he will often allow us to be tempted.

God will even lead us to the place where he knows we will be tempted. This is why Jesus instructed us to pray, "Lead me not into temptation but deliver me from the evil one." You see, as my dad pointed out, God tests us to trust us, the Enemy tempts us to bust us.

There's a huge difference between trials and temptation. In a trial, we can be vindicated, we can be justified, we can prove ourselves, and we will be refined. You've heard the phrase, 'Trial by fire,' which is the process of proving a man's trustworthiness by putting him through some great ordeal, some difficult task.

Temptations, however, are a whole different ballgame. When someone tempts us they don't do it to prove us, they do it to break us down. God tries us to trust us, Satan tempts us to bust us. See that?

So Jesus has this incredible, worshipful, spiritual experience and then he's led away to be tempted. We all know how the story ends. Jesus models for us exactly how we ought to respond to the Enemy's appeal to our flesh. Jesus responds by quoting Scripture and the Enemy is utterly rebuffed, rebuked, rejected.

You've got to put your armor on. Ephesians 6 says that the Word of God is a sword, our salvation is a helmet to protect us, our faith is a shield for us, the gospel readies our feet, Christ's righteousness guards our belly—it's a breastplate, covering our most tender spot—and I think that's because a righteous man is above reproach.

A righteous man can't be brought down by accusations and the appearances of indiscretion. No one can bring a falsehood against the righteous man. Ephesians 6 says that's because of a "belt of truth" holds all of his armor together.

The full armor of God, our full load-out in combat against the Enemy, is this:

A belt of truth, a breastplate of righteousness, the gospel quickening our feet, a shield of faith, a helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. You've got to put each on every morning. You've got to maintain each in preparation for the Enemy. You've got to spend time with your sword, as warriors spar during peacetime.

Yesterday's victories won't get you through today. The Enemy, weakened by what God did through you yesterday, will attack even more viciously today. He might try to deceive you into thinking your victory yesterday came about by your own power. He might get you thinking you're the man. He might pump you up a bit.

You preached and four people got saved yesterday? You opened the food bank and fed eighteen families? You returned from a mission trip to the remote tribes of Tanzania, where you saw three hundred tribesmen and women profess faith in Christ? You led worship and everyone was raising their hands all at once?!

You might think you did something incredible yesterday and you may very well have (in Christ's power), but today you're being deceived into to prideful arrogance. You've got to put your armor on, Christian. Ready up, believer, the Enemy is at our gates.