I don't like confrontation. I don't like tension. I don't like resistance. I don't like hard. Instead, I prefer harmony. I prefer compliance. I prefer the path of least resistance. I prefer easy. Yet, again and again, I'm confronted with the truth that this life on the narrow path is a fight. The battle is won, yes. Christ conquered the grave, and we can absolutely find hope in His life, death, and resurrection. But the Christian life is an active fight – not against anyone but against sin. Though Christ has paid the penalty of our sins, the presence of sin remains in our lives. So we have to ask ourselves: how are we fighting the sin in our lives today?
Each of us has different sin patterns that we can identify in our lives. While one person may wrestle with lust, another person may wrestle with unrighteous anger. While one person may wrestle with alcoholism, another person may wrestle with idleness. It's futile to try to "rank" our sins because the more important matter is the eternally significant truth that sin is sin. The presence of sin in our lives doesn't magically vanish when we put our faith in Christ. However, one mark of a true believer is his or her desire to make war against the very real sins in his or her life. And good news: we are not left to ourselves in this war!
Though the presence of sin remains, we have the power to fight it because have the indwelling Spirit.
Though the presence of sin remains, the power of sin over us is broken. Believers do not have to have a defeatist mindset! The indwelling Spirit empowers us to resist temptations and overcome strongholds. We may get knocked down, but the Spirit compels us to get back up and continue our pursuit of holiness. Like Jesus who endured the cross by considering the joy set before Him (Hebrews 12:2), we can fix our eyes on our future glory. When we begin to behold lesser things, the Spirit convict us. Part of our fight is to choose to yield to the Spirit an act in obedience to His leading.
Though the presence of sin remains, we have the Word of God that enables us to fight the fight of faith with joy.
Though the presence of sin remains, we are equipped with the Word of God for the battle. The Word of God is nourishment to our souls. It is our sustenance. We cannot fight the fight of faith without it. It is our only weapon of offense – "the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God" is an indispensable part of the armor we must put on every day (Ephesians 6:17). We have to make the decision to suit up appropriately for the war at hand; we have to decide to read, study, memorize, and meditate on Scripture. Though this takes effort, we are not alone. We have the Spirit's help as we read and study Scripture. He transforms our minds. And as our minds are transformed, our appetites are changed. By His grace, as we "taste and see that the Lord is good", we realize that our sins are distasteful. We will only be able to kill the sin in our lives when we find God more satisfying. This is the expulsive power of a superior affection (read the original sermon of a similar title from Thomas Chalmers here). When Christ is our greatest desire and we experience intimacy with Him, we will also experience fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11).
Though the presence of sin remains, we have the body of believers to spur us on.
Though the presence of sin remains, we make war with our arms linked with fellow believers. We do not have to fight our personal sins on our own. God designed us to be dependent on Him and to be dependent on other members of the body of Christ. We need each other on our faith journeys – to study Scripture together; to identify blind spots; to proclaim the gospel; to meet tangible needs; to spur one another on toward love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24). We are to confess our sins to one another and to pray for one another (James 5:16). Bringing our sin struggles out into the light greatly weakens its hold on us. As believers should value and pursue mutual honesty and help. This is how we partner together in our spiritual struggles against our flesh, the world, and the devil.
Are you at war against the sin in your life? Are you fighting effectively? Don't forget to check your armor (Ephesians 6:10-20). Don't forget to check in with your battle buddies. Together, keep the promised victory ever before you as you press on!