For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. – Romans 7:15-20 ESV
Outside of Jesus Christ, Paul would be in the running for the title, “The greatest Christian to ever live”. Paul wrote the book of Romans, and he was not a young man when he wrote it, so he had much experience in his ministry. He had been taught by Christ in Arabia, ONE-ON-ONE. But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. (Galatians 1:15-18) Here is a man who was mentored by the risen Christ for 3- years, like the other 11 apostles, a man who wrote 2/3 of the NEW TESTAMENT, a man who is as responsible for the forming of the CHURCH, more than any other person, again- with the exception of Christ. Yet, you can read of his struggle. There is a real battle OUT THERE, that is being waged inside every single person, especially in those who are CALLED OUT, who are CHOSEN by God, to be sons and daughters of the MOST HIGH! If we are not aware of the battle, we lose the battle. It is hard to defeat a foe that one has not identified. If you are a child of God then the Bible says you have three enemies: The World, the Flesh and the Devil. If you are not in these battles, then you might NOT be one of His.
Leader, let us follow the command of 2 Corinthians 13:5 and examine ourselves. “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!” Peter alludes to the same concept; Therefore, brothers, strive to make your calling and election sure. For if you practice these things you will never stumble, and you will receive a lavish reception into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:10-11) Scripture teaches us that if we are a TRUE FOLLOWER of JESUS CHRIST, we face three foes: the world, the flesh, and the devil. When the Bible talks about “the world”, it most often refers to the humanistic system that is at odds with God (Matthew 18:7; John 15:19; 1 John 4:5). “The World” is referring to the world’s corrupt value system. Satan is the god of this world, and he has his own value system contrary to God’s (2 Corinthians 4:4). This is the present world-system that TRIES to bring believers down. 1 John 2:25-17; “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world-the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life-is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” Our flesh is also at war with our Spirit. The flesh is our old sinful nature. It is the nature we inherit at birth. The Bible says that Adam and Eve had sons and daughters in their own likeness: When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image; and he named him Seth. After Seth was born, Adam lived 800 years and had other sons and daughters (Genesis 5:3,4). When the Mother and Father of ALL CREATION fell it became part of our DNA! When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned. (Romans 5:12)
Conduit, our third foe, and the most formidable one, is the devil! Many people downplay the devil. I have talked to people who “identify” as Christians who DO NOT believe in the devil. You must believe in the devil, he is real, he is in the BIBLE! The Bible tells us that “Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil” (Matthew 4:1) People should not doubt the existence of Satan. He is indeed real and tried to destroy Jesus in the wilderness to thwart his redemptive work. The Devil talked to King David and God him in BIG TROUBLE! Then Satan stood against Israel and incited David to number Israel. (1 Chronicles 21:1) The Devil was encouraging Peter to keep Jesus OFF THE CROSS. But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” (Matthew 16:23) As a matter of fact, the only group of people who NEVER doubted Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of God, was the DEVIL and his DEMONS (fallen angels). As the sun went down that evening, people throughout the village brought sick family members to Jesus. No matter what their diseases were, the touch of his hand healed every one. Many were possessed by demons; and the demons came out at his command, shouting, “You are the Son of God!” But because they knew he was the Messiah, he rebuked them and refused to let them speak. (Luke 4:40-41) One of the devil’s greatest WILES, is that he wants you to NOT believe HE IS REAL! So as FOLLOWERS of the RISEN JESUS, what are we to do? Peter gives us a pattern to be VICTORIOUS in our SPIRITUAL BATTLES. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith virtue; and to virtue, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities and continue to grow in them, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever lacks these traits is nearsighted to the point of blindness, having forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins. (2 Peter 1:5-9) Even though this is a SPIRITUAL BATTLE, we must remember and ACT AS IF, we are fighting from a place of VICTORY. The end has already BEEN WRITTEN- see Revelation chapters 21 and 22. We also must remember that JESUS is our commander, He is our Leader, each day we must check in with our KING JESUS! “General Jesus private Black reporting for duty sir!” I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) NOT ONLY are we overcomers, but we are MORE THAN THAT through JESUS! What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:31,37-39) Amen! Soldier on and continue to FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT!