Many in the church mistakenly think their greatest problem is out there somewhere. They think it is the environment . . . the culture . . . the government . . . the neighbors . . . the boss at the office . . . the list could go on and on. I counsel many married men and women who are convinced that their greatest problem is located on the other side of the bed. But the Bible has something altogether different to say about our enemy, and until we understand what is going on inside of us, there will be no measurable change outside of us.
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. (Galatians 5:17)
The Bible makes it crystal clear that our enemy is not out there somewhere. It lies within us, as the old man (the desires of the flesh) wages war with the new man (the desires of the Spirit). Before Jesus showed up, we were content to honor the desires of the flesh, living to satisfy our sin nature. But after Jesus showed up, the war began between the old nature and the new nature. The enemy is not “out there.” It is deep inside of us! Our Lord warned:
What comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person.
Jesus provided a penetrating and profound diagnosis of the root problem that lies deep within the soil of every one of us. Years ago, a newspaper article invited readers all over the globe to answer the age-old question: “What’s wrong with the world?” G.K. Chesterton, the great British writer and thinker responded succinctly, “I AM!”
He got it! Do we?
It’s important to remember sin’s goal in this battle: to separate us from God. We cannot be taken out of His loving hand (John 10:28-30), but we can be tipped over and buried under the weight of our sins. Satan wants to do to us what he did to Adam and Eve—to make us believe that God cannot be trusted. The devil brought Adam and Eve to an utterly insane conclusion: that God—the One who created them . . . sustained them . . . gave them everything good . . . walked with them in the cool of the day . . . their loving Creator and Friend—could not be trusted.
The devil tries to make us believe the same thing each day. “Has God really said . . .?” Every time we sin and give in to the desires of the flesh, we prove we doubt the goodness of our great God. That is why we need to keep the Gospel before us moment by moment. The truths of the Gospel give us the necessary motivation to keep getting up every time we stumble and fall, because we know we are secure in Jesus.
Ultimately the victory has already been won for us on Golgotha’s Hill. Now go out and walk in that victory!
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!