There are many times I’ve been discouraged in my day to day journey. Just when I’m excited with how far I’ve come or how well I’m doing, suddenly I’m brought to my knees. It’s funny how this can happen after feeling spiritually strong. Maybe I was reading the Bible and felt so close to God, and then an hour later I see a kid in the grocery store and – Wham!!! – I’m fighting my thoughts.
The discouraging part is thinking I should be above all that. The devil starts to whisper things like “You’re never going to change” and “You’re just a messed up person”. I know the devil is a liar and that Jesus is living inside me, but really, shouldn’t I be free of all this by now?
I read in the Bible about Paul’s experience. He says, “The good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want… although I want to do good, evil is present with me.” He recognizes a struggle occurring inside him. Paul wants to follow God – he knows that’s the good way – but there’s a tug-o-war going on. He exclaims, “Who will set me free from this body of death?”
Have you ever experienced this struggle? It’s happening, because the Holy Spirit came to live inside you when you accepted Jesus. You have a new spiritual life now – the life you share with God – and you want to do good. Still, there’s that old part of you that actually hates God’s leadership, and desires evil things. What can we to do?
Paul exclaims, “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” God’s solution is that we should walk with him each day like a little child, and trust him as our shepherd. We should deny the old part of us, putting it to death, just like sin was put to death with Jesus on the cross. We should honor him with our thoughts and actions. The Holy Spirit will help us, and has the power to truly change you and me. God promises victory if we stay close to him.
Nevertheless, evil is present with us. We will be in the middle of this battle as long as we are on earth. Therefore, we shouldn’t be surprised when lustful desires sneak up just when everything seems to be going well. Sin is an enemy that “crouches at the door”, but “overwhelming victory is ours through Christ who loved us.”
Here’s a word picture that helps me understand: Before I started following Jesus, my life was like a slum city with broken down walls. The enemy ran through at any time, and ruined all the precious things in my life. But, when I ask Jesus to be Lord and King, he and I started repairing the walls. The Holy Spirit came to live inside me and began to heal the brokenness and restore beauty. Now, the enemy can’t just run through whenever; my life belongs to God. I’m still in a battle with sin, but the Holy Spirit and I stay on the lookout. In the meantime, I can get about the business of doing good things and enjoying life.
So… when I’m at the grocery store and suddenly my thoughts are turning bad, I’m not surprised. It’s that same old enemy. I don’t listen to the devil’s lies, saying I’m a bad person. Instead, I take “captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ”, and say – No I belong to Jesus!
This struggle won’t last forever. After we die, God promises to raise us back to life and give us new bodies that aren’t vulnerable to sin. And someday, Jesus will come back and finish what he started. In the meantime, you and I are to “fight the good fight” and “not get tired of doing what is good, [because] at just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.”
There are a lot of ideas here. If you have questions, please send them under Contact, or ask someone you know that loves and follows Jesus.