How to Win the Battle
What side are you on?
As our country and world grow in deeper division, this has been a frequent question informally proposed to other people and me. So many people refuse to allow a middle ground; you are either for me or against me. There is no grey area. You have to decide, and you better choose correctly (knowing full well you will offend and possibly hurt someone no matter what you do). That’s been a tough spot for so many people.
In the chaos of these cultural wars constantly surrounding us through 24/7 news cycles and feed updates, we frequently lose sight of a war that’s far more important with far worse implications. It is the war unseen (well, sort of). It’s a spiritual battle; our worldly desires against the Spirit!
Every day there is a fight within you to control you, to rule over you, a battle for your soul. This is a war between death and sin versus the grace and sanctification of God, our heavenly Father! These battles can manifest in significant life-changing ways but can also happen in the most mundane moments of your day. But the devil would love nothing more than for you to just brush past those moments and not acknowledge them for what they are. Because if you’re unaware, you aren’t fighting back.
But I want to start by saying that this war, this battle waging inside you, it’s a good thing because we know that God can redeem it. This war is a sign that God is working through you, convicting you, and the Spirit within you is fighting back [John 16:7–15]. The lack of awareness of war within is evidence of being at peace with your sin; that’s a significantly scarier place to be than on the battlefield. Being a Christian does not mean you don’t sin. A Christian has these internal struggles with sin but knows that Jesus defeated the enemy and desires to use that same power to combat these worldly temptations!
We read in Romans, “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.”
We’re getting a picture painted for us about these truly opposing sides that cannot mix. We see this strong language like “hostile” to impress that severity in our minds. Much like the pressure of society today, this battle requires choosing sides. This warfare is discussed in multiple books of the Bible. Paul, the author of many books in the New Testament, writes in Galatians 5:
“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.”
In this verse, we see that this is truly an issue that requires us to choose a side. We cannot have both the things of this world and the things of our God. So often, I find myself in a situation where I feel so defeated like the enemy has won. I gave into temptations. I allowed my desires to trump what God has given me. I ask myself, how can I escape this awful cycle of sin?
And here’s the beautiful truth, the answer to my wonderings: Jesus Christ has overcome death and sin for us! He created this beautiful road to salvation. This is the Gospel message; Jesus came to earth, lived a perfect life, died a death taking on all our sins that we daily face and fall into, defeated the grave, and rose again! Praise God! And as Galatians 5 states, if we are to “walk by the Spirit,” that means we are trusting the Gospel! We are trusting that Jesus’ death and resurrection defeated everything!
This good news is reiterated to us in Romans 6:
“Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.”
The amazing power of Jesus Christ is inside every person that gives their life to Him! The power of the Holy Spirit can be used to resist the opposition. We just need to be open and willing to be shaped by this gift from God.
So, how can we step into this fight, acknowledge it, and work with the Spirit instead of against it? It starts with being obedient and staying close to God, choosing a side! We must choose to believe the Gospel. That is how we fight. This decision includes remaining in constant prayer, reading God’s Word, and surrounding ourselves with a church family who will keep us accountable to our walk with God. This decision includes staying away from what tempts you and regularly repenting, apologizing for your shortcomings, and showing humility before God. These are the things that strengthen our faith.
In a world full of blurred lines and undefined sides, it’s hard to make a confident decision. But I ask you today, between flesh or Spirit, between death or Jesus Christ, what side are you on?