The Battle in Me
Sunday, March 22, 2015
Do you ever struggle to know and do what is right? You want to live for the Lord, but then there is this other part of you that seems to have a mind of its own sometimes.
When we go through these struggles we sometimes question whether or not we are Christians. We question whether or not God really loves us. Especially when we are just starting out in our Christian walk or if we have not learned how to deal with these spiritual battles that seem to defeat us so often.
Take heart. You are not alone. We all face these struggles. Listen to what Paul had to say about this in his letter to the congregation at Rome.
7:14 For we know that the Law is spiritual; but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. 15 For that which I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. 16 But if I do the very thing I do not wish to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that it is good. 17 So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which indwells me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the wishing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. 19 For the good that I wish, I do not do; but I practice the very evil that I do not wish. 20 But if I am doing the very thing I do not wish, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. 21 I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wishes to do good. 22 For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, 23 but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind, and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?
Do those words of Paul describe you and the struggles you have in trying to do what you know is right? You want to do good, but there is something in you that resists. There is a part of you that pulls back from following what you know to be the right path. Take heart there is hope for you.
Let us read further. Pick up with verse 24 again
24 Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?
25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.
Paul is describing a battle that mankind faces. The answer to this dilemma is found in our relationship to God through Jesus Christ. The first step in winning this battle is to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior. Invite God the Father, Jesus the Son, the Holy Spirit into your life if you have not yet done so. You cannot do what you need to do without the help of God. You were not intended to live without Him. Jesus told John in Revelation 3:20 that He stands at the door of each heart and seeks to come in and fellowship with us. He loves us and wants to have a relationship with us.
He has been speaking to your heart and without Him it is impossible to live as we are supposed to live. He must be Lord. We must put our trust in Him to save us from the destruction that will come to those who refuse Him. We must accept Him as Lord and Savior.
But the battle does not end there. We still have within us the old nature. We have an enemy, or enemies. The world's way of thinking and living, society, will lead us away from God. The Devil will try to influence us to reject God and to put our trust in anything but God. And there is the flesh. The part of us that wants to be in control, to go our own way.
Jesus is the answer. God defeated our enemies when He sent His Only Begotten Son into the world to prove to us that He loves us and allowed His Son to die in our place. Trust Him to forgive you for living without Him. Trust Him to fogive you for rejecting Him up to now. Live as if you are loved and forgiven. Paul continues in the first verse of chapter 8:
8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. 3 For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, 7 because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so; 8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
There are two laws at work in our lives. The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus and the law of sin and of death. When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, when we invite Him to come and live in our hearts we have made a decision that we choose to follow Him and be His family, His servants, His army, His body. We accept Him as Savior and Lord.
Now we must live out that decision each day of our lives. The battle is not over. With each decision we make we either choose to listen to the voice of God, or the voice of those enemies.
On our own, we cannot win the battle. When we try to we move away from our initial commitment to live as if we are loved and forgiven. We, in the decisions we make where we have set our minds on the flesh, are not living out the decision we made when we first believed. We leave our first love. We must repent and surrender once again to the love and grace of God and set our minds on the Spirit to lead us and to love us.
Paul says the mind set on the flesh is death. The mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God, it does not subject itself to the love and lordship of God, it does not subject itself to the law of God, it is not even able to do so. The victory only comes as we surrender to God and learn to live out our commitment to love Him with all our mind, soul, heart and strength, with every fiber of our being. Love Him as the Savior who loves us and love Him as the Lord who must lead us if we are to please Him.
We cannot win this battle through our own will power. We cannot win this battle by learning more about God. We cannot win this battle if we try to do it ourselves. It is as we surrender to the truth that it is God in us that wins the battle. His will, His strength, His presence, His life giving sap. His living water that springs from a heart surrendered to Him.
If you think you can win this battle alone Paul warned us in 1 Cor 10:12-13
12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it. NASB
God will make a way of escape. God with us is the way of escape. Look to Jesus. Look to the Spirit to speak peace to your heart. Believe the Father loves you and will not give up on you, as long as you do not give up on Him. Do not think you can do this on your own. If you try, you are missing the point of what faith in God is all about. Faith in God is not just an intellectual assent to the truth that there is a God. It is a decision to believe that God loves you and wants to be part of every moment you live. The more you set your mind on the Spirit, the more you are living out this life of faith. When you surrender to the flesh, the self life, the part of you that says I can do this on my own, you are losing the battle.
Psalm 36:1-4 gives us a picture of one who is losing the battle within. David wrote:
1 Transgression speaks to the ungodly within his heart; There is no fear of God before his eyes.
2 For it flatters him in his own eyes, Concerning the discovery of his iniquity and the hatred of it.
3 The words of his mouth are wickedness and deceit; He has ceased to be wise and to do good.
4 He plans wickedness upon his bed; He sets himself on a path that is not good;
He does not despise evil. NASB
David spoke of fear of God. He was talking about a reverence for the Lord of All Things. When we turn our backs on God we begin flattering ourselves and deceiving ourselves into thinking first of ME and then of anything else. We must put God first in our thinking and living. We must set our minds on the Spirit and turn away from the evil that leads away from our Loving Heavenly Father.
The mind set on the flesh leads to self absorption. It leads us to turn away from God. It leads to death. It leads us to believe we are wise and good within ourselves, but we are not. We were created to live in fellowship with God. There, in Him, we find the fulfillment and love we so long for.
When we focus on our need, we get our eyes off what we really need. When we are spending our time trying to get better, we often miss what will make us better. Looking at my problems, I take my eyes off of the source of my healing.
Do you want to be lifted out of your despair? Praise God. That is a command. Exalt God. Worship God and serve Him and love Him supremely. He will lead you to love others. Do you know what you will find? That you are loved.
Look for love for you and do you know what you will find? You will find that you miss what you need the most.
Set your mind on God. Decide to love Him and live for Him. Decide to follow Him as He leads you to love others and you will find you are loved.
This is the narrow way that is so easily missed. The broad way that most are taking leads to a focus on what you need, not on what God wants for you.
God loves you and it is the greatest thing in the world that He is Lord.
Do you believe that He loves you and has a marvelous plan for your life?
Are you having trouble accepting that truth? Are you struggling to do what is right? Are you struggling to meet your own needs?
Relax. Take a deep breath. God does love you. You can count on that, Decide to give Him the reverence He deserves. Worship Him. Tell everyone you meet that God loves them too.
There is a battle raging for the souls of people all around you. The battle field is in us. Surrender to the One who will ultimately win the battle. Join the side that wins.
Trust Him. Love Him. Worship and Praise Him. Set your mind on Him and trust that He will give you what you need most. What you need most is Him.
He will give you so much more, but what you need most is Him! Trust Him today. Accept Him as Lord and Savior and begin living each day as if He loves you, as if He really is Lord of your life.
The victory for the battle in me was won before time began. It was demonstrated for us when God went and sought out Adam and Eve and covered their shame. It was demonstrated for us when God became a man and died in our place, when He was buried and rose again on the third day. It is demonstrated for us when the Spirit of God speaks to us in His still small voice and calls us to follow Him.
Win the battle in you by surrendering to Him.