As Christian’s we are in a spiritual battle.
When we responded to Christ’s call on our lives the Holy Spirit entered our life and made us aware of the sin within. He is growing a desire within us to change from sinner to saint unfortunately for us the sin within declares war against the Holy Spirit.
This is the part of our lives that is described in the bible as ‘the flesh’ the part of us that doesn’t want to change, or is convinced that it is impossible to change or that we just want things to stay the same until we get to heaven then we will be happy to be completely perfect but for the time being we fight not to change.
For many Christian’s this has been the level of their hope, the hope that Jesus light will bring an end to our darkness once we leave this earth. However, the bible teaches us a different version of the journey. A hope that we can know now.
The war is won
For many of us who can’t seem to shake habitual sin, it seems that we will never know true freedom. We may even convince ourselves that maybe we need to put up with it, like the thorn in Paul’s flesh, a reminder of his humanity so we excuse our sin or we go all out to change it. The truth is Paul’s thorn was a place of suffering not of sin, we can not excuse habitual sin but we can’t seem to be able to anything about it either. Is there really any hope for us this side of heaven?
In despair we resolve to do something about the sin within, we resolve to change and become a better person. This is the moment we lose the battle. In that moment of resolve we pick up our own sword and try to battle through. Unfortunately our success is often short lived; for some of us we can make it to a couple of years before the sin within rears its ugly head again, but for most of us it can often be just a few short weeks or even days when we are back to the same old habits that only bring chaos and destruction.
That’s because we have failed to understand that we are engaged in a battle.
The war has already been played out between God and the devil. The devil has lost and will at the end of time be banished to hell forever. During our lifetime, even though he knows he lost the war, he challenges God’s people to a battle. Usually this is a battle of wills, that’s because the devil knows his will is stronger than ours. There is no denying it the devil is powerful and seems to be able to control us through the sin we refuse to let go of.
Our own personal battle becomes a constant place of defeat, our resolve weakens and we doubt whether we are truly a Christian; we doubt whether this journey is worth it; sometimes we see non-Christians become successful at anything they put their minds to so we are tempted to go back to the place we were before we met Christ.
The battle belongs to the Lord
Where we have gone wrong is that we focus on the power of sin and forget about the power of God. We stop reading our bibles so we don’t see God’s power in the pages, his power to love, his power to heal, his power to judge, his power to transform.
If we do read our bibles we allow the devil to convince us that God didn’t know what he was doing, or that God can’t be trusted because the things he did was horrid. He persuades us that God’s power is limited or used against others. He tries to convince us that God is against us not for us. That we are more advanced now because of our ability to create and manipulate technology so have no need of God’s input.
The horrendous thing about all of this is that we believe him and when this happens our lives reflect the power of sin rather than the power of God.
The devil uses life’s circumstances to distract us from the fact he has already lost the war, that we as Christian’s are actually on the winning side. He persuades us to enjoy the pleasures of today so we are distracted from the need to be transformed into Christ’s image.
We become defeated people so that we are ineffective in demonstrating to others God’s power against sin, the world and the devil,
We stop caring about a fallen world who are in need of God’s love and forgiveness and we focus on our own inability to achieve or our own determination to be better.
We’re not alone
I was watching a film the other night and the tag line throughout was ‘Use the weapon’. This reminded me of Hebrews 4:12 ‘For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.’
This is the weapon God has given to all his warriors. His word. The bible. The most underused resource ever given.
Ephesians 6:10-18 gives us a framework of living as a warrior; it sets out who has the authority and power; it sets out the equipment; it sets out the battleground and who the antagonists/enemies are; it shows us the purpose of being equipped; it demonstrates how we are equipped and how to use the equipment provided but most importantly it declares who has already won the war.
We maybe in a battle but we are not alone and God’s power is sufficient for all our needs.
Freedom is possible
We may be in a battle but it is a battle where the war has already been won. It is a futile battle by the devil because he has already lost but he still wants to stop as many people as possible from living in the light of Christ and finding freedom from sin.
In John Chapter 10 verse 9-10 Jesus describes himself as ‘the gate whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full’.
This isn’t just speaking of eternal life but a life of freedom that we may come and go, we may travel this life with confidence that we are not alone, that Christ our Saviour has provided a pasture for the journey as well as the final destination.
However, it is only possible to find this place of safety when we lay down our own life at the foot of Christ’s cross.
Jesus demonstrates to us throughout the bible that the beginning of transformation from sinner to saint begins by us laying down our arms. By submitting our whole being into his hands recognising that He has already won the war.
Freedom from sin isn’t a result of our right choices; our right choices are a result of Jesus provision of freedom from sin.
Christ has done it there is nothing we can do in and of ourselves. We need to learn to live in the freedom Jesus death and resurrection has provided. What we can be certain of is if the Holy Spirit convicts us of a sin within that needs to change then the Holy Spirit will continue to use God’s word to transform us.
Our greatest temptation is we think we can do it on our own, we are unwilling to let go of our pride, we are unwilling to trust God to come through for us. We are only willing to trust if life is good; we are only willing to trust if we lose the weight or become happier; we are only willing to trust if there is no pain or disease.
From here to eternity
Jesus told his disciples in Luke 9 that whoever wanted to be his disciple then they would need to take up their cross daily. Being a disciple costs us something, often it’s something we’re not willing to pay.
For many of us we say I would give my right hand if……but would we do anything to get what we want or need?
Would we be willingly to stop eating chocolate forever?
Would we willingly do exercise regularly?
Would we stop looking to self and look to Jesus to rescue?
Would we willingly lay down our own plans and dreams and trust God with his?
There is much we wouldn’t do, so we should stop promising to change when we don’t even have the power to try. We need to learn how to trust Jesus with his power, trust Jesus loves us enough that he won’t leave us where he found us.
Over these last 25 years of seeking the perfect body, seeking the praise of others and failing miserably Jesus has been transforming me:-
From jealousy to submission
From bitterness to forgiveness
From greed to unconditional giving
From laziness to unconditional serving
From chaos to self-control
From pride to humility
From offense to love
From demand to unconditional love
These have not been perfected yet but I am loving the journey, I love it when I respond differently to how I did in the past. I love it when I notice someone in need and have a willingness to meet that need, I love it when someone tries to hurt me and I offer love, I love it when I am tempted to overeat and walk away.
I love learning what it is to walk in the freedom that Christ has provided.
Something to ponder
What if God’s plans and purposes were far greater than our own?
What if our weight wasn’t God’s top priority?
What if you are exactly where God wants you to be so that he can begin to transform you from sinner to saint?
What if the desire for weight loss is stopping you from receiving God’s blessings?
What if trying to lose weight is limiting what you can achieve?
Do you measure success by what the scales say?
Do you measure a good day by what the scales say?
Do you measure your relationship with God by what the scales say?
Is the scales voice louder than God’s?
If you put weight on does that make it a bad day?
If you lose weight does that make it a good day?
Do you measure God’s relationship with you by how much you weigh?
Do you measure God’s love for you by how much you weigh?
Is it time to deal with the core issues rather than the symptoms?
Maybe now is the time to lay down your arms and take up God’s weapon!
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”.
The question is are you willing to trust?