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An Anti-inflammatory

"You have inflammation in your knee. That's where the pain is coming from.” The next thing the doctor explains is why you have the inflammation and what to do about it—a new diet, medication, lifestyle changes, or maybe even surgery. Whether it’s in your back or GI tract or on your skin, inflammation has become a dreaded foe.

The devil wants to ignite a flame in your soul. The Bible warns about “the fiery darts of the wicked one” (Eph. 6:16). Ancient soldiers set arrows and spears on fire to do the most damage when they struck. This is a fitting image of how sin begins. Albert Barnes said these flaming arrows are “the temptations of the great adversary, which are like fiery darts; or those furious suggestions of evil, and excitements to sin, which he may throw into the mind like fiery darts.”

Lust inflames the heart. The prophet Hosea said, “They are all adulterers, like an oven heated by a baker” (Hos. 7:4). Paul said some men “burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful” (Rom. 1:27). Marriage is the only lawful place for sex (Heb. 13:4). God gave marriage to prevent fornication (I Cor. 7:1-5). Paul said this about single people who struggle with temptation: “if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion” (I Cor. 7:9). There is a right and a wrong way to deal with these feelings.

When you are online with the world you are a target. Your phone or tablet hurls flaming arrows at you that can burn and burn until the fire destroys your marriage, your family, your job, and your relationship with God. You may need your device for a lot of things, but it’s not a loyal friend. It’s often your most deceptive enemy.

Anger in the heart is like fire. It can be a good thing. God’s anger was kindled many times because of evil (Num. 11:1; Josh. 7:1). But our temper, like fire, can easily get out of control. That’s why the Bible warns, “Be angry, and do not sin: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil” (Eph. 4:26-27). Cain was very angry and killed his brother (Gen. 4:1-8). How many times does a person today fly into a fit of rage and kill someone? But the fire doesn’t have to reach that level to do harm. We lose our temper and say something we shouldn’t. We get aggravated and gripe over nothing. The longer we live the Christian life the more we come to understand these words: “the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:20).

The words we speak can start a fire. The tongue is like a little flame that can burn down a whole forest (James 3:5). Think of it! Just a few words can end a friendship, divide a congregation, or start a war! A gossiping tongue is the match and curious ears are the kindling: “Where there is no wood, the fire goes out; And where there is no talebearer, strife ceases. As charcoal is to burning coals, and wood to fire, so is a contentious man to kindle strife” (Prov. 26:20-21). We warn children not to play with fire. We’re playing with fire when we speak without thinking and criticize without having the facts.

There are many more fiery darts—jealousy, pride, greed, doubt and others. How can you protect yourself against these weapons of the devil? When Paul talked about putting on the armor of God, he said “above all” you must take “the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one” (Eph. 6:16). Faith is your shield. It will quench these flaming arrows of temptation—every one of them. So take up the shield and don’t let it down for a moment. Hold on to it no matter what happens. Build your faith. Pray like the apostles did when they said to the Lord, “Increase our faith” (Luke 17:5). Faith is the anti-inflammatory.

Kerry

West End church of Christ bulletin article for October 8, 2023


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