Make War: Walk by the Spirit

The Christian life is not a playground; it’s a battlefield. Those who desire victory must wage war against the sinful flesh!

The Crucified Life (Galatians 5:16-26):

“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. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.”

Engaging the Battle, One Inch At A Time

“After detection and, if necessary, detoxification, the work begins. Many families, friends, and churches err at this point. Sin, slavery, and idolatry do not go away overnight. There is a Christian myth that change is an event rather than a process; that it is more like a light switch that is turned on than a battle that must be engaged. For some reason, we tend to think–wrongly–that immediate liberation from the slavery of addiction [and I would add, sinful patterns] is more glamorous than the gradual process of taking a little bit of land at a time…

“We must remember that for everyone, the Christian life is an ongoing battle. It is a daily process of mortifying the flesh. We must ‘encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness’ (Heb. 3:13). To our shame, Alcoholics Anonymous has a better understanding of the need for daily exhortation than the church…”[1]

Our victory against sin is not minimized because it is secured inch-by-inch, moment-by-moment. While the enormously slow process of our sanctification can be discouraging, we can rest in knowing that God will finish the work He has started (Phil. 1:6). In the meantime, we must keep our eyes fixed on the Author and Finisher of our faith, and trust that He has given us enough grace for today. We can win the battle in front of us, and we can take the Enemy’s ground inch-by-inch as we walk by the power of the Holy Spirit, Christ in us, the Hope of Glory. He has given us the grace of salvation and He will give us the grace of sanctification. May we honor Him as we walk by the Spirit and wage war against the Flesh.

Strategies for Battling Sin [2]

  • Although I had trusted in Christ, I lacked a deep grasp of the transforming power of my union with Christ.
  • I was driven by guilt, not joy. I needed a deeper satisfaction, a new affection, to expel my affections for sin.
  • My focus was more on sin avoidance than on growing in Christlike character. I needed to learn the practical power of replacing sin with grace (cf. Colossians 3:1-17).

Questions to Consider

  • Does your peace inspire anything less than hatred for your sin?
  • Is your peace rooted in logic alone, thus failing to sweeten your heart with rest and contentment in Christ?
  • Is your peace superficial, dealing only with the fruit (sinful behaviors), rather than roots (sinful motives)?
  • Does your peace focus on only one sin, while leaving the others untouched?
  • Does your peace lead to greater humility before God?
Extracting the Cancerous Marrow: “God’s terrible majesty is radiation. It X-rays a soul and shows that it’s gorged with sin… God’s radiating majesty kills the rotten marrow of sin and replaces it with humility. A heart humbled by God’s terrible majesty can begin its recovery and grow strong. Sin can’t thrive in a humble heart.” (Kris Lundgaard).[3]

_____

[1] Edward T. Welch, Addictions, A Banquet in the Grave: Finding Hope in the Power of the Gospel (Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 2001), 113.

[2] Brian Hedges, Licensed to Kill: A Field Manual For Mortifying Sin (Adelphi: Cruciform Press, 2011), 57-59.

[3] Ibid, 62.

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