Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Fight the good fight but stop trying so hard

A few years ago, we studied Steve McVey's books "GraceWalk" and "Godward Gaze" in our Higher Ground women's group. The study was rich and life-transforming for many of the women. One of the truths that made such a huge impact on the women and continues to even today is stop trying and start trusting. So many of us go through our Christian walk trying and trying to measure up, falling short over and over, getting up and dusting ourselves off and making ourselves feel better by promising to do better next time. We are trapped in a vicious cycle of failure and trying harder and harder to be a good Christian. McVey's point is that it's already a done deal: Christ accomplished for us what we can never accomplish for ourselves: Live the Christian life perfectly. So rather than trying harder we need to rest in the finished work of Christ on our behalf. Trusting by faith that we are already perfected, holy, and accepted.

Recently, I have been reading "The Enemy Within" by Kris Lundgaard. Perhaps for the first time in my 26 years as a follower of Jesus Christ I am starting to really understand the battle of my flesh as a real enemy of the things of God. There dwells within me the law of sin that wars against the Spirit. (Romans 7:23) Now, don't misunderstand me - the only power the law of sin has over me is what I grant it because "For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death." (Romans 8:2) But, whether through laziness, ignorance or self-centeredness, or more likely a combination of all three, I have granted my flesh, indwelling sin far too much sway in my life. I failed to recognize the mole - the enemy within. I was more intuned to the enemy without - temptations from outside of myself. Of late, I have been quickened in my spirit to be alert to the law of sin that resides within. "For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members." Romans 7:22-23 As I have gained understanding (even if feebly) of the enemy of my soul that resides within me, that is indwelling sin, which will remain until I see Jesus face to face, I am more and more certain that I must fight the flesh reckoning it dead.

At first blush - McVey and Lundgaard sound like they are contradicting one another; one saying stop trying start trusting, the other saying fight to mortify the flesh the enemy within. So which is it? Stop trying or fight?

We need to stop trying in our own strength to do that which Christ has already accomplished and trust in His finished work.
We need to fight to put to death the deeds of the flesh BY THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. "For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live." Romans 8:13 We need to fight, not in our own strength but by faith in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Please do not rush past this truth because this distinction is vital to our spiritual health and growth.

Take some time today and read Romans 6, 7 and 8 meditating upon the truths packed into these 87 verses. Savor them like a piece of rich chocolate, extracting every morsel of truth, allowing it to sink deeply into your spirit.

Oh, sisters, that we would be changed.


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