…The ever present enemy at the doorstep of our souls. As Christians we know the blood of Jesus has been shed to eradicate the punishment and end-game of sin. We are forgiven and given new opportunity to ‘shine like stars in the universe as we hold out the Word of life’ (Phi 2:15-16) to the rest of the world. Ultimately sin has been conquered. The war has been won but unfortunately we still fight many of the daily battles on our way to the final victory. We are like the soldier who’s side has won the war but who still resides behind the enemy lines.
Sin has been a problem since the moral collapse in the Garden of Eden. Man was created perfect and sinless. Man decided to sin and when doing so, abandoned the sublime relationship with God and now had a problem on their hands. The problem was sin and it’s ever waging assault on our souls. In the Old Testament, people had no real weapon to confront sin except their own strength and will power-not very effective even at its greatest peak. The human flesh and mind is weak in its battle against sin, often succumbing to its’ temptations and overt tactics to bring us down to its level, destroying our conscience and exacerbating the distance between man and God. In the beginning, even man’s first son was murdered at sin’s bidding, as Cain killed his brother because of envy, a tainted sacrifice and a wrong heart before God. The Lord makes this statement to Cain, following those events,
“Cain, why is your face so downcast? If you do what is right will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, SIN is crouching at your door and it desires to have you. You must master it.” (Gen 4:6-7)
Simple right? Do the right thing and all is well. Do the wrong thing and…well, things are not so well. The scripture here decrees that sin is crouching at the door of our heart and desires to have us but, that we must master it. Problem is, fallen man could never master sin. Fallen man simply did not have the ability to do so. They were at the mercy of their sinful nature (flesh) and their soul (mind, will & emotions). They were lacking something. Their spirit. When man fell to Satan in the garden, man’s spirit died. God Himself is Spirit (John 4:24) and He communes and relates to man through spirit. Thus, with man having a dead spirit, people were left to themselves to fend against the devil and the temptations of life. Let’s just say: Man was not on the winning side here. But as we fast forward through time to the New Testament and the advent and sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we see the game is the same, but the rules have changed-in our favor.
Yes Jesus died to forgive our sin. Glory to God! But what does that mean? Our past sins? Our future sins? Just one of our sins? How about the ability to not sin? Hmmm…The blood that Jesus shed covers our past sins, our present sins and our future sins. It covers all sin for those who have confessed Him as Lord and savior of their lives but, the sacrifice of Christ is also efficacious in combating our sin nature-the part of us that wants to still sin at times. Being a Christian involves a constant battle between the Holy Spirit in us and our natural selves-our fleshly sin nature. The more of the Spirit that dominates our lives, the less of the flesh nature we deal with. Hopefully, this pendulum should be ever swinging towards the side of the Spirit as we age in our spiritual walk with Christ. John the Baptist said, “He must increase while I must decrease.” Here we see: more Jesus and less us. This is termed the process of sanctification in our lives.
As born-again believers the Lord sent His Holy Spirit to dwell within us-everyone of us-after He departed and ascended back into Heaven. This Holy Spirit enables us to confront sin and OVERCOME it! We have been armed with weapons to wage war against sin and this world and win! But I will say, this victory comes at a cost. Just as there was a cost involved in Jesus obtaining salvation for all mankind through His death on the cross, there is also a cost for us. It involves ‘crucifying’ our own flesh nature. Putting to death daily our sinful desires ‘which war against our souls’. Suffering always preludes glory. In the case of Jesus, the cross had to first be endured before all of creation could be restored to God. In our case, we must die to self in order to walk in the fullness of victorious life.
“Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. 2 As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. (1 Peter 4:1-2)
I love this Scripture. It reveals some great truth in our walk with the Lord and our battle against sin. It states that if we will adopt an ‘attitude’ of ‘suffering’ for Christ’s sake, we can be done with sin. Did you get that? Maybe you missed it. Here it is again. If we are willing to suffer in our bodies (our fleshly nature) we can conquer sin. (I know I just heard an ‘Amen’ somewhere!) The Apostle Peter here says we literally ‘arm’ ourselves with this attitude. It’s a weapon in our arsenal. There are other places where the Bible talks about the weapons of our warfare. The Word of God is a weapon. Prayer is a weapon. How many have every thought of one’s attitude as a weapon? There is popular saying ‘Attitude determines Altitude’. I agree with that statement but this scripture takes it a step further. What its saying here is, when we as believers have accepted the struggle against our natural desires; when we are ok with suffering and going without certain natural pleasures of this life; when we can steadfastly say ‘no’ to our sinful wants and accept the pain involved with that decision, sin no longer has mastery over us! This is absolutely huge!! Does this mean we become a monk living out in a little mud adobe in the desert somewhere wearing a leather tunic and eating locusts? No, not really.
What it does means is saying no to wrong desires within us and saying ‘yes’ to those things God has spoken to us about. (Sometimes God will call us not only to say no to wrong things but also no to certain other things in life that have become a hindrance to us and where God wants us to go.) Now the genesis of this strength births from the Holy Spirit residing within us as Christians. He (the Holy Spirit) will lead us to want to be holy and make right decisions-we just have to act and carry out the orders given to us. Once we do so, we are victorious. We then no longer live the rest of our lives for evil (sensual, normal flesh-led) desires but rather for the will of God. We should assume the mind of a soldier in an army. The Apostle Paul affirms this very thing:
“Endure hardship with us, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. For no one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs for he wants to please his commanding officer.” (2 Timothy 2:3-4)
We are soldiers in God’s army. We have a mission and calling in our life to life for God and share the Gospel. The civilian affairs involve those things that detract from that mission. Let us not get off track but look to pursue and please the Lord, our commanding officer. What did Jesus do? He used His suffering to attain His victory! Let us then be encouraged to take up this new weapon of the right ‘attitude’ in our battle to pursue God and secure our daily victories in life. Jesus has given us everything we need, we just need to appropriate those things to win the small battles on the way to the war-which has already been won.