I don't know about you, but I find that my walk with God can waver at this point of the year. It can be easy to start the new year with a burst of motivation to be faithful to God and consistent in Spiritual disciplines. But when troubling circumstances arise and motivation fades, it can be hard to feel strong in my faith. Once I picked up my Bible with delight, but now it can feel as if my feet are pressing against a fierce wind as I try to move toward God's Word. Once I came to God in prayer with ease, but now I have to fight against my thoughts as they pull me in all sorts of directions. In these moments, I feel tempted to throw in the towel and give up.
Maybe you are experiencing this difficulty as well. Maybe you find yourself battling against doubt or feelings of shame for not being as faithful to God as you'd like. From the very beginning, I want you to know this truth: every Christian struggles in their faith. Why? Because the Christian life is a fight.
Paul writes in 1 Timothy 6:12, "Fight the good fight of the faith." As believers, the Christian life is a fight for two reasons. First, it is a fight because we face a real enemy. Satan seeks to tempt us, fill our minds with doubt, and lead us astray. Because we are in Christ, Satan can never cause us to abandon our faith, but that doesn't mean he won't try to make our faith difficult. This is why Paul continuously calls believers to stand firm against the enemy. He tells us in Ephesians 6:11 to "Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the schemes of the devil." Even though we fight against a real enemy, we are fully equipped by God to stand firm. God has given us His armor which involves daily resting in His peace, filling our minds with the truth of the gospel, and using God's Word to slay against the enemy's lies.
While it can be a struggle to put on the armor of God, we are not without help. Before Paul calls believers to put on the armor of God, he says to "be strengthened by the Lord and by his vast strength" (Ephesians 6:10). When we feel too weak to fight the good fight, God gives us His strength. In the moments when the enemy's attack is strong and our power to resist feels small, we can come to the Lord in prayer and be fueled with His strength.
Second, the Christian life is also a fight because we have sinful flesh. If we are in Christ, Jesus's grace has forgiven our sin. However, we still experience the tension between having a redeemed heart and sinful flesh. The difficulty we can feel to remain faithful to God comes from having a flesh that naturally fights against obedience to Him. Paul describes this tension in Galatians 5:17 when he says, "For the flesh desires what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you don't do what you want."
It feels much easier to fulfill the desires of our flesh than the desires of the Spirit. But even still, we have the Holy Spirit who helps us fight against our flesh. Paul gives us this hope in Galatians 5:16, "I say, then, walk by the Spirit and you will certainly not carry out the desire of the flesh." We are not alone in the good fight. As we daily walk with the Spirit and rest in His power, we are given the strength we need to fight against the flesh and remain firm in our faith.
Overall, we must remember that Paul specifies how the fight of the faith is a good fight. The fight of faith is a good fight because it has already been won. We do not engage in a battle with the enemy and our flesh in which we don't know the outcome. Jesus has won the victory through His death and resurrection, and because of Christ's victory, we are more than conquerors. Paul goes on in 1 Timothy 6:12 to say, "Take hold of eternal life to which you were called..." In the moments we are struggling to have a faith that fights, we can take hold of the eternal life Christ has given us. We can remain firm in the present as we look to the day when Christ will remove sin once and for all. One day we will not have to fight any longer, but until then, we can press on through the strength of the Lord to fight the good fight.
Want to learn more about the armor of God? Look out for our study Stand Firm, which walks through the armor of God, coming later this Spring.