Nobody is Exempt
One of my greatest desires is to have a close relationship with my children. Although our relationship is far from perfect, I am thankful that they at least know that they can tell me anything. Much of the time we spend talking about thoughts and temptations they have, sifting through them, and figuring out what to do with them!
One day, after being out for awhile, my daughter walked in the front door. I could tell by the look on her face that she was not happy about something, so I asked her what was wrong. She proceeded to try to put into words what she was feeling. She said, “Mom, I think I did okay today … but then maybe I didn’t … I will have temptations … and I try to fight them … but then I don’t … and I want to … but then I don’t want to … and …” I could almost visualize the battle!
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.
I want my kids to know that we all face the same battle. No one is exempt! As a mom I wish I could somehow make it so that my kids could skip the battle! I would gladly fight it for them … but I can’t. I can stand beside them and teach them how to fight. I can help them fight. I can even carry them sometimes, but ultimately they have to be active in the battle themselves. Walking through this with them serves as a constant reminder of my own battle!
A professor I had in seminary shared something that still rings in my ears today. He said, “Satan will not sit back and watch us become conformed to the image of Christ! The battle for our devotion takes place on three battlefronts: the world, the flesh, and the devil.”
It is so important that we become aware of this reality! But knowing this is just the beginning. We need to learn how to actively engage in this battle! We are up against the world and its godless philosophies. We are up against Satan and his constant effort to cause us to stumble. We are up against our own fleshly, sinful desires.
We are given the choice of who and what we will serve.
As I face each day I can be tempted to become weary. What we are up against is big! As I feel the “pull” of the world, the flesh, and the devil I can also go down the road of condemnation. As I see my own heart each day accusations are constantly being thrown at me. If people really knew my heart … if they knew the real me! I am a hypocrite … fake … sinner.
Apart from Christ all of those things are true!
Thankfully, even though what we are up against is big, God is bigger! If we look to the Word, and arm ourselves with all He has to offer us in fighting this fight, we have the guarantee that we will win! Romans 8 says:
There is therefore now no condemnations to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit … But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you … And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
God has given us all we need. We do not need to despair or become overwhelmed with guilt and condemnation. We need to see the truth: We are in a battle! Then we need to arm ourselves and get fighting with the truth and strength that God provides.
The very things that I tell my daughter are the things I have to tell myself as well.
The temptations you are facing are normal. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man: But God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”
God has given you all you need to fight this battle and be a godly believer. 2 Peter 1:3 says, “…His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness…”
Rely on God’s strength to help you fight this battle. Ephesians 6:10 says, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.”
After I spent some time sharing these things with my daughter, I sensed she was still a bit overwhelmed. I tried to encourage her with these words, “Be encouraged! There is so much evidence of God’s grace in your life! He has given you a sensitivity to the Holy Spirit. He is doing a work in you. You are learning how to fight the battle. This is good!”
Ephesians 3:20-21 tells us, “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.”