Why the fight? Who will win
By repetition, in recent articles, I have emphasized the great truth that God sends His Holy Spirit to dwell within the body of each believer at the time he or she turns to the Lord Jesus for forgiveness, acceptance and the new birth.
Not long after being saved you begin to realize that if being saved means you will never be tempted again and will never sin again, then you conclude that you have been misled. No, instead of being misled, you simply need to be led to the Bible truth as to what is happening within you.
Before you sincerely turned to the Lord Jesus, you had a sinful nature which made you to be selfish, to want your own way and to rebel against God. Then, when you turned to the Lord Jesus, you were still left with a sinful nature within your body, but the Holy Spirit came to dwell in that same body of yours. Now, you personally have become a battleground. That part of you which has been born again and is indwelt by the Holy Spirit desires to live an abundant and meaningful life, pleasing to God. But, the sinful nature that remains is in opposition to you living a life pleasing to God. Therefore, a battle is going on within you; a fight is taking place.
The Bible describes this inner struggle between your sinful nature on the one hand and your born again soul, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, on the other. Galatians 5:16-17 says, “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.” Then the Bible lists some of the acts of the sinful nature. Galatians 5:19-21 says, “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies and the like. Those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Then the Bible describes what the Holy Spirit desires to produce in you. Galatians 5:22 says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness and self control.” What a dark and wasted life the sinful nature can lead to! What a beautiful and abundant life is made possible by the indwelling Holy Spirit!
So, at least we have a simple truth answer as to the “why” of the fight going on within us believers. Now, the all-important question is, “How can I win this fight?”
The fight will not be won even by the best of personal human effort. In Galatians 3:3 we are warned of the impossibility. “Are you so foolish? After beginning (your Christian life) with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?”
The Bible gives instructions for winning the fight when it says in Galatians 5:16, “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” Our goal is to “put to death” our sinful nature by the Holy Spirit’s help and to be controlled only by the Holy Spirit. Galatians 5:24 says, “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.” But, the sinful nature has a way of rising from the dead to fight us again. That is why the Apostle Paul said, “I die daily.” That is why our Lord Jesus said, “If any person will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily, and follow me.”
We are daily faced with the sinful society about us, the sinful nature within us and the devil against us. But the believer possesses four powerful weapons: the Holy Spirit, the Bible, prayer and the fellowship of a loving church. The Holy Spirit: “Greater is the Holy Spirit that is within us than the devil who is in the world” (I John 4:4). The Bible: “Thy Word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against God” (Psalm 119:11). Prayer: “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. For truly the Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak” (Mark 13:48). Fellowship of a loving church: “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
“O Victory in Jesus!”
Note: Charles Christmas is a religious columnist for The Clanton Advertiser. His column appears each Saturday.