Internal Battles

by Matthew J. Slick

As Christians we are indwelt by the living God who has bestowed His presence within us through the cleansing sacrifice of God the Son. Our position with God is one of justification. This means that we have been declared legally righteous in God's sight. Our sins have been removed and the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us; that is, it is reckoned to our account. This justification occurs by faith (Romans 5:1) and is because Jesus bore our sins in His body on the cross (1 Peters 2:24). As a result, we are indwelt by God (John 14:23) and in fellowship with Him (1 Corinthians 1:7).

Our salvation means that we have been changed. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come." As Christians, we are new creatures in Christ. We are no longer slaves of sin and no longer under the condemnation of God. Or position before God is eternally secure and we are guaranteed our place in heaven. All this is because of what Christ is done on the cross for us. It all rests in Him.

However, even though we are indwelt by the living God, we are also indwelt by sin by the fact that we are by nature fallen. The reality of our internal battles against sin is something that all Christians are aware of. On the one hand, we seek to serve God, to honor Him, and to turn from sin. On the other hand, there is within us the carnal nature that sets itself against the godliness that calls to us through the Son. Our fallen nature is part of what we are. It is natural to us. But what is not natural to us is the indwelling of God. It is, in a sense, foreign to us and it is something we have to get used to.

Nevertheless, sin takes its opportunity in us and wars against our desires to honor God and it produces in us battles between right and wrong. This is why Paul said, "For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not." (Romans 7:18). This struggle is all too common and it becomes more intense the closer we grow to Christ because in the presence of light, darkness flees and the things hidden in the darkness become exposed. As we grow closer to Christ we more easily see the sins of our heart that manifest themselves in pride, stubbornness, selfishness, lust, and anger. Again, Paul says, "Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?" (Romans 7:24). If Paul, who was an apostle, struggled how much more is our struggle. Yet, Paul was no different than us. He too was a sinner.

The reality of this struggle will not leave us until we die and go to be with a Lord, for only Jesus is able to deliver us completely from sin and it affects upon us. In the meantime, our position with God is secure and we are no longer to be condemned for the sin we commit before God. This is why Paul says in Romans 8:1, "Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." Our condemnation and our sins fell upon Christ on the cross and because of it we are free. We are free to reckon ourselves dead to sin and alive to Christ. "Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry." (Colossians 3:5).

Our hope is Jesus. Our deliverance is Jesus. Our security is Jesus.

It is only through Him that our internal battles against sin can be conquered and it is only through Him that we can escape the punishment due our sins. We are to take comfort in knowing that though we struggle now there will be a time when our struggle will end and that the Lord Himself has given Himself for us that we might forever dwell in His presence and rest in the victory over sin that He accomplished on across. Therefore, we are able to live according to God's word:

"So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you." (Colossians 3:12-13).

Taken from the CARM Newsletter, September 4, 2004, Devotional -- Internal Battles.
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