The Struggle (2)
Alright then, so we’ve established that we can’t rid ourselves of all sin…or even of our sinful tendencies. So what do we do with that clearly Biblical fact? (1 John 1:8ff) The doctor knows we are terminal, but that doesn’t stop her from treating us. Exercise and proper diet won’t prevent all illness, nor keep us from dying one day, but it’s still worth it, isn’t it? The struggle is not without its benefits then, is it?
So what about our sinful tendencies? Might we be called in Christ to fight against those? One could reason that since they possess such tendencies, God must be the source of them, so it must be right to fulfill them. But Scripture teaches otherwise. Isn’t it true that you, as God’s child of faith, are called to a magnificent struggle in life…to deny yourself. There are men who have sexual interest in children (may God forbid all sin in this area). I spoke with a Christian counselor about this terrible problem. I asked him if that condition was correctable. Can one ever get over that? He told me that he had spoken with Christian men who had such tendencies…and that even though they had not permitted themselves to give in to those temptations for many years, they still confessed an inward pull towards it. So…what do we tell them about victory in Christ. We tell them they are called to magnificent struggle. They must keep putting one foot in front of the other, denying the evil tendencies, adding no fuel to the fire within, seeking whatever help is available to resist the pull.
Is it difficult for them? What do you think? Is it difficult for you to give up alcohol, smoking, pornography, cursing, hot temper, over-eating, over-spending, and a hundred other tendencies toward evil? Of course! But you are called to magnificent struggle under Christ. In His honor, because of Him and through Him, struggle on, even with no end in sight, against apparently insurmountable odds.
Our toughest struggle may be that against our own hearts. It matters not…fight on! What’s that? You say you have failed for the thousandth time. Well that is too bad. It is sad…maybe even tragic. But what now? Will you give up? If so, you give up on the One Who took the nails for you. Don’t do that! Don’t fall into the progress trap…where we begin to reason within ourselves that we must experience x amount of growth in x amount of time or else we are not really God’s people and we should stop fooling ourselves and others and just give up. Please understand, that’s not what God wants you to do, and He knows you better than you know yourself, doesn’t He? If we have to be able to detect our own progress as a requirement for our continuing with Jesus, then we aren’t walking by faith, but by sight. Don’t do that! And if your lack of spiritual progress bothers you, well, that is progress in itself, isn’t it? You are called to magnificent struggle…no matter if you feel holier today than yesterday or not…no matter if you are better today or not…no matter if you can chart recent progress or not…no matter if you feel like it or not.
One thing I know, if we struggle on, if we refuse to give up, even though we may not feel or look like winners, we are more than conquerors through Him Who loves us so. To struggle on when we are having real difficulty seeing any reason to do so other than our love for Him, listen…this truly honors Him. And those who honor Him, He will honor in return. (1 Samuel 2:30) So brothers and sisters, be aware that your struggle is a magnificent thing. It testifies that God is working on you and that you are unwilling to quit until He ultimately accomplishes His marvelous handiwork in you. Please struggle on! I’m asking you not to quit. And I do know, at least something, of what I’m asking of you. The Cross proves that He didn’t quit on you, let’s respond to Him in kind!