I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. (Romans 7:19-20)
And that is why we hate sin! We are in a constant struggle against sin and dealing with the warfare within. And note this: if the great apostle Paul was not immune to struggle with sin living within him, you and I certainly are not.
So how do we get better at winning the war within?
First, we give the struggle over to the Lord and cry out with the apostle Paul, “What a wretched man I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” And the answer? “Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24-25).
Saint Augustine understood this war from his own internal struggle and penned these profound words:
By these links, as it were, a chain was I held, shackled with a hard bondage. So these my two wills—the one old, the other new, the one carnal, the other spiritual—contended together, and by their discord disturbed my soul.
Their discord disturbed my soul . . . This is the daily experience of every child of God. Inasmuch as sin no longer reigns over us because of the cross work of our Lord Jesus Christ, it still remains in us. We will contend with sin during every step on the stairway to heaven.
But sin need not keep us captive as a conquered victim! Jesus gave us probably the greatest weapon for winning the war within, and that weapon is clearly explained in Holy Scripture. All three Synoptic Gospels—Matthew, Mark, and Luke—chronicle Satan’s efforts to tempt Jesus after His forty-day wilderness experience, only to be defeated by Jesus’ use of the power of the Word of God to blunt Satan’s temptation and win the war within. Three times Satan dangled temptation, and three times Jesus quoted Scripture: “It is written,” our Lord said. “It is written . . . It is written.” The devil was defeated and finally left Jesus alone.
So . . . how often are you taking up “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17) in your battle against the temptations you face? Remember, if you are going to use the Word of God in your war against sin, you must know the Word of God. In other words, you must be in the Word of God daily so that the Word of God gets in you. Add to that a consistent prayer life and communion with the saints at your local church, and you have the spiritual weapons you need to slay sin and win the war that rages within.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!