THE STRUGGLE AGAINST SIN…
“Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us.” 1 Peter2v 11-12
Peter reminds us that aliens and strangers in this world, we must live lives that reflect our citizenship and by so doing make Christ real to everyone around us and ultimately bring glory to God. If we are going to remain true to our identity as followers of Christ and citizens of Heaven, Peter warns to abstain from “sinful desires which war against our souls”.
From time to time, our human nature will tempt us to do things that we know are contrary to God’s will and word. Sometimes, the temptation within is intense and the truth is that sometimes we fail. Other times, the pressure to give into sinful desires is from the outside world, friends, family and colleagues.
During those times, we find ourselves seemingly standing alone against a swarm of voices and opinions pressuring us to give in, conform and go against the will of God. But we are not alone. Christ is with us. Whether the pressure to give into sinful desires is from within or from the outside, Peter reminds us that such desires will war against our souls and very often they will war against our souls unrelentingly.
Our human nature will tempt us to sin while the culture that surrounds us will consistently pressure us into conforming. Peter does not use the term “war against the soul” lightly, because it is a sober reminder that as followers of Christ, we are in a war.
We are embroiled in a spiritual war in which the enemy is after our very souls and want nothing more but to separate us eternally from God. We are in a war in which He will use any means necessary to derail, disarm, distract and discourage us. The enemy will relentlessly attempt to attack our commitment to Christ through circumstances, temptations and will even work through people to pressure us into giving in and falling into sin.
Nothing comes between our relationship with God like sin. When we fail we are gripped by guilt and condemnation, we feel unworthy to approach His presence and often times like Adam and Eve, we “flee” His presence. This is a deception from the enemy.
What I am increasingly appreciating is that God is true to His word and that He is not a man that He should lie. So, if He says that He will forgive us if we confess our sins and sincerely repent, He means it. Not only will He forgive us, but though the power of the Holy Spirit by faith He will also purify us. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” 1 John1v9.
Every moment we allow guilt and condemnation to keep us from God’s presence, we are weaker and we are susceptible to even more pressure to fall and fail. The more we fail, we more we flee from Him, and before we know it we end up in this vicious cycle of guilt and condemnation until we are so far away from God, that we feel we can never find our way back. I know because I have been there. This is a lie and deception of the enemy.
What I now know beyond a doubt is that It is the desire of our Father in heaven to forgive us and to purify us. It is His desire to heal us and free us from the bondage of sin. It is His desire to forgive us, if only we would approach Him for forgiveness when we fail and ask Him to grant us the power to fight the sin and weakness in our lives.
And here’s the thing, we will have to fight. We should desire to fight. As the sinful desires wage war against our soul, we must wage war back. But, we can only do that if we ask God to grant us the desire and strength to. Without His strength and without the power of the Holy Spirit, we will lose the war. It is only by completely trusting in God to empower us and strengthen us can achieve victory over sin. “…Anyone who trusts in Him will never be put to Shame. ” Romans 10 v 11
The war against our soul is a spiritual one and to win it we must approach it spiritually, through absolute dependence on God and the power of the Holy Spirit. Through daily renewal of our mind by the word of God and spending time in the presence of God in prayer. Through Christ, we have every power available to us to stand firm and be victorious in this battle.
We must fight to win, because how we fight the war has eternal consequences – eternal fellowship or eternal separation from God. Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 9 v 24, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get to prize.”