Based on Biblical Text: Philippians 3:13-14:
Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
The truth is we are struggling daily. There exists within us an ongoing conflict between our two natures. The Apostle Paul reminds us “even though I’m Paul, the Apostle, I need to confess.” Though I love Christ, and I love God, even though I’m filled with the Holy Spirit, and love to worship the Lord, there exists within me a tug of war. I struggle between doing right and doing wrong. Realizing that we all wrestle with the same problem, Paul, inspired by God, tells us how to deal with this conflict.
We must come to the realization that the war we are waging is real! Paul points out that we do things that we are actually against and we don’t do the things that we know we are supposed to do. Like Paul we find that we too are confronted with this conflict between good and evil. Paul says, “When I would do good, evil is present.” Clearly Paul is referring to his sin nature producing evil that he didn’t even know he could produce. There is a constant fight waging internally between the old man and the new man. The old man is intent on holding on to sin, while the new man struggles to let sin go.
We are sometimes under the false impression that just because we come to Christ, the old habits and ways of our past somehow disappear. The truth of the matter is that when we come to Christ, we are saved, sanctified and filled with the Holy Spirit. But we are still operating in the flesh. That means we still know how to do the worldly things we found ourselves doing before.
Our brain will still produce evil thoughts in us because our new man is still wrapped in old flesh much like new wine in old wineskin. When we were saved, the old man did not move out; he just moved over and he is not going to give up his territory without a fight. We will be tested and tried. The truth is there may be times when our thoughts, words, and actions disappoint even ourselves. We must remain prayerful, and we must keep pressing.
We will find out the hard way that the war we are fighting is revealing. We will discover some things about ourselves. Like the Apostle Paul we will discover our lives are not lived on the Sunday stage all week long. Unfortunately, we will find out just like Paul that we are carnal. That means that we practice some things that we should avoid. We are not as in control as we would like to be. We have a difficult time seeing the sin in ourselves, and an even more difficult time passing judgment on ourselves. We do a horrible job of controlling ourselves.
Paul reminds us that “when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.” In other words, the blood of Jesus Christ covers our sin and opens the door to forgiveness for every repentant heart.
The struggle between good and evil reveals the truth about us. We may not see it ourselves, folk around us may not see it but rest assured God sees it. That very fact should be enough to make every one of us thankful for salvation. Satan would love to get us back to our old self, rendering us an ineffective witness for Christ. But we cannot allow Satan to have the victory! We ought to be very thankful for the Lord leading us, protecting us, and guiding us away from sin.
Thanks be to God the war between good and evil can be rewarding. It might sound a bit strange, however Paul encourages us with the news that there is actually a benefit to the struggle. The benefit is clearly that in the struggle we will find that “Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world!” Thank God, we will find we are not struggling by ourselves. We will come to find out that we have the help we need in our weakness; for when we are weak, then (through the Holy Spirit) we are strong. When we are on the battlefield, we are not alone, God is on our side. “If God be for us…” The more we struggle the stronger we become.
Wrestling with this old flesh of ours, helps us to discover that the Holy Spirit is our sword. Thankfully even while Satan is working to pull us apart, Christ is already putting us back together. There is in fact a war going on inside, but the victory is ours. We are being pulled from side to side, but we find ourselves getting stronger with the Lord’s help. Eventually we will find ourselves at the point where we are praying, “Lord, save me now!” Why, because the new man in us desires to draw closer to God. The sins that we used to enjoy will become thorns in our flesh, and we will eventually notice them fleeing far from us. The day will come when we will be able to say, like Paul, “I’m forgetting what’s behind me, and I’m reaching for what is before me; I’m pressing toward the mark for the prize of the high calling in Christ Jesus.”