It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question? The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different. (THE MESSAGE)
We might sometimes mistakenly assume that once we commit ourselves to Jesus we don’t have any more battles to fight against sin and Satan. But even Paul fought such battles, so we can expect the same. In fact, seeking to follow Jesus actually sets us up for these battles. If we simply wanted to go our own way, ignoring Jesus, then there would be less internal conflict. But if we do want to go his way, the seeds of conflict are sown.
A sleepy, apathetic disciple will not arouse the evil one to fight against us. If we are wanting to be serious about discipleship, then the enemy is activated and tries to overcome us. In real earthly warfare it is the frontline soldier who does not run away that feels the full brunt of the enemy. It is the same with our life of following Jesus.
The fact that you are at times internally conflicted and do not make godly decisions does not mean you are no longer a follower of Jesus. It just means you are human, and the old powers of sin are still active. Satan has been defeated but won’t lie down. In fact, the time to worry is not when you are struggling, but when you cease to struggle. That may mean you have given up on Jesus. Suffering occasional defeats doesn’t mean you have given up, it just means you live in a world not yet perfected by its Maker.
But as Paul reminds us, God in Christ has won the ultimate victory. The bedrock reality of my life is not my struggle against sin, but my belonging to a God who not only helps me in my present struggle but assures me that I am on the winning side in this earthly tug of war.