Long ago and far away (longer ago than I care to admit!), I trained in karate. I learned many lessons there that translated to the Christian life. The value of Christian discipline is one of the biggest:
Imagine for a moment that you are walking at night down a New York alley. There are no streetlamps lighting your way, and you get jumped by a dude who not only wants your wallet, but fully intends to beat you to a pulp.
Now, if you are habitually a couch potato, I can pretty much guarantee the result: you will get beaten to a pulp.
But if you regularly trained five or ten hours a week in one of the martial arts, you’d have a really good chance of getting away with all your body parts and fluids intact.
The same is true of the Christian life. Satan jumps us when we are at our most vulnerable. If we haven’t been spending time in prayer and in the Word, if we haven’t made a habit of confessing our sin and seeking sanctification, if we aren’t in fellowship with other believers and engaging in worship … in fact, all the Christian disciplines … then we are going to fall, and we’re going to fall hard. We’re going to get beaten up badly.
But if we have been on our knees every day, if we study and meditate on the Word of God, if we consistently seek spiritual growth, if we find our deepest friendships within the Body of Christ, etc., then we are going to 1) recognize Satan’s attack when it comes – whether that is in the form of persecution, deception, or temptation; and 2) know how to respond effectively. We’re going to “Stand firm” as Paul urges in Ephesians 6.
Don’t expect to develop strength and skill when trouble arises. By then, it’s too late. Spend the time and make the effort now … then you’ll always be ready to stand firm, come what may.