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A Battle With Doing What We Don't Want

One of the painful consequences of salvation and the regenerative process of the Holy Spirit is that we gain a heightened awareness of a fierce and relentless war that rages between the person we were, and the person we are becoming. Just like the Apostle Paul, those of us who are saved recognize that a part of us is ruled by sin and wants to have its way above all other authorities, while the other part of us, which is being regenerated, hates our sin along with the choices we make in our vain attempt to satisfy the lusts of our yet to be fully regenerated selves (Romans 7:15-21). To paraphrase Paul’s description of his struggle: “I don’t do the virtuous things I want to do, and instead, I do the very things that I hate. Every time I have the choice to make the right and good decision, I make the wrong and evil decision.” He describes himself as a wretched man in the midst of this internal struggle with the part of him that desires everything except righteousness (Romans 7:24). Any person who has honestly battled their way out of addiction knows exactly how that struggle feels in very real and tangible terms.

Likewise, any Christian who is honestly trying to pursue holiness and to approximate the example of Christ also knows how that feels. They know it because that painful heightened awareness is working in them a realization of just how far short they fall from the standard God expects. The more closely you walk with Jesus, the more painful your awareness becomes as more of his light is shined into areas of yourself that you’ve never examined! But for the Christian who is honestly pursuing Christ’s holiness, this painful awareness does not lead him or her to darkness and despair. It leads us to an appreciation of the deep love that God has for us. While we were still sinners and rebels, he died for us (Romans 5:8). His love was actualized and demonstrated in the pain and torture of a particularly gruesome form of capital punishment that he did not deserve, but endured on our behalf. And he continues to love us, shape us, guide us, influence us, and transform us in spite of our sin (Romans 8:1). This love and kindness leads us to turn away from behaviors, and patterns, and life choices that put us at odds with Godly growth (Romans 2:4).

It is slower for some of us, and quicker for others, but in that growth, we develop new righteous desires that replace the old sinful ones. Our entire orientation changes a little with each faith filled step we take alongside our Lord until we are fashioned into completely new creatures that bear the unmarred image of God we were always intended to carry (2 Corinthians 5:17). The true christian is a child of God who ultimately reaches full maturity, no longer having any internal battle with sinful rebellion, but instead having glorious and joyful union and celebration with God himself and the family who loves him in spirit and in truth. So as we battle through our raging war with sin, let us know that the victory belongs to the Lord, and that if we remain steadfast in our fight, our faithful labors will never be in vain (1 Corinthians 15:56-58).

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