Struggle

<<wrestle>>

After sin entered the world life became a struggle for all of creation. All humanity has become subject to the blight of a fallen nature, so there is a major battle going on in the life of each believer – the good versus the evil, sinful tendencies and lusts of the flesh (Gen 3:15-19; Gal 5:17; Phil 1:29,30). The flesh is fighting against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh. This is not a one-off experience but an ongoing occurrence because of the inherent sin-biased nature. Paul expressed it as “sin seizing the moment so I do what I do not want to do” (Rom 7:21-25).      

As Satan wants those who become believers back in his kingdom, he does all he can to bring this about. We need to be aware of this and not fall for his tactics but resist him (2 Cor 2:11; Jas 4:7).

It requires consistent determination and faith to push through into the victory that Jesus died to gain for us and fulfill His calling on our lives. This may require us surrendering to Him what we consider precious, yet He will enrich our lives for our love expressed in obedience (1 Sam 2:30; Mt 19:29; Jn 14:15; 1 Cor 15:57; 1 Jn 3:8). Satan even tempted Jesus to meet His legitimate desires by a quick, ‘no pain’, by-pass route which was outside the divine boundaries and he will do the same to us (Mt 4:3-10).

The root of any struggle we have is basically a spiritual conflict revealed and outworked in the natural or physical realm. Ultimately, there are only two options and we get to choose which we submit to: either the righteousness of God’s Kingdom resulting in eternal life or the fleshly, carnal, evil nature

Am I determined to come through this                                      victorious with Jesus?

under Satan’s control, ending in eternal suffering (Deut 30:15,19; Jn 3:16,36; 1 Jn 5:12). The lifestyle we live will reflect our choice, whether denying or gratifying the sinful nature characteristic of Satan’s Kingdom (Gen 4:7; Rom 8:12-14). “A person is a slave to whatever has mastered them” (2 Pet 2:19). 

Satan doesn’t want us to reach our full potential in Christ, and tries to block or delay our spiritual advancement by hindering our prayers and keeping us ignorant of the resources available to us as children of God (Dan 10:13; Jn 1:12; Phil 2:15; 1 Thes 2:18).

There are certain safeguards or steps we can take in the contest to help bring about the desirable outcome of eternal life, although we will not become ‘struggle-proof’ this side of heaven – we will always be outside our comfort zone.  These include the following: 

1/. Acknowledging that He is still in control, and with Him we can be conquerors (Rom 8:31,37; Eph 1:11).

2/. Actively putting off the old nature, considering it and its desires dead, and responding to the new self (Rom 6:11-13; Eph 4:22-24; Col 3:1-10).

3/. Taking strength from the fact that Jesus also experienced trials but did not sin (Heb 4:15).

4/. Following His example when He looked beyond the hardships to what would be accomplished by being obedient to death on the cross, and not giving up (Heb 2:10, 12:2,3).

5/. Being transformed by the renewing of our thought processes – by taking captive every thought and bringing it into submission to Christ (Rom 12:2; 2 Cor 10:5).

6/. Recognising that hardships and trials are God’s permitted instrument to further develop the fruit of the Spirit and character in us (Rom 8:28,29).

7/. Knowing the Holy Spirit is willing to help if we but ask (Lk 11:13; Rom 8:26; Eph 1:17).

8/. Having a continual attitude of praise (Ps 34:1; 1 Thes 5:18).

Struggles make us strong and develop spiritual maturity; nothing of significance is attained except through them, and we can only be victorious conquerors through participating in a battle. Don’t view the present challenges as impassible roadblocks but as stepping-stones to growth and progress. Gain the victory in this area so you will be prepared for the next trial that is sure to come. Without struggle, the disciplines of persistence, patience and hard work have little chance to develop.

Inwardly, the spiritual struggle is targeted at the control of our mind, so we are to utilize the full armour of God and walk in obedience to remain true to

  Lord, I can make it through with you

Christ, while outwardly the struggle is against the spiritual forces of evil directed at us through other people (2 Cor 10:4; Eph 6:12,13). Keep up the fight with persistent self-control while maintaining the right perspective, refusing to take Satan’s option of quitting. Don’t focus on the problems or any failures but recognize that with Christ you can overcome and thank Him for these character building opportunities to display His nature for His glory (Rom 5:3-5; 2 Cor 4:17; Gal 5:22,23; Jas 1:2-4; 1 Pet 1:6,7; 1 Jn 4:4).

Sometimes we struggle with God’s will or direction, yet Jesus said, “In the world you will have trouble. But take heart I have overcome the world”. It is ‘through trial and tribulation’ that we will enter into heaven (Jn 16:33; Act 14:22). Whatever He allows has been filtered through His love, so pray ‘Lord help me to remember that nothing is going to happen to me today that you and I can’t handle together!’ He promised He would never leave us, and would carry our burdens if we ask Him to (Mt 11:28-30; Heb 13:5).

Everybody has their own struggles to contend with (many people have far greater issues than what we will ever experience); sometimes we need their help to bring us through and at other times, by being other focused, we can support them (Gal 6:2; Phil 2:4).  It was when Job reached out beyond his own numerous trials and burdens by praying for his friends that his situation was turned around (Job 42:10).

See also: attitude, choice, conflict, daily walk, determined, overcomer, strive, suffering, test/testing, trials, wilderness wanderings.


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