40 Days of Discipline

40 Days of Discipline: Day 8 – Spiritual Warfare

11 Comments

15 I do not understand what I do.  For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.  16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.  17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.  18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.  For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.  19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.  20 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 7:15 – 20)

 

Today we switch gears to the Discipline of Spiritual Warfare.  This Discipline highlights the reality of the struggle that believers engage in every day, for “we wrestle not against flesh and blood.” This is a struggle that many avoid thinking about but the Bible certainly doesn’t avoid the topic.

Please prayerfully reflect on the passage of scripture above.  It provides a powerful statement of Paul’s struggle, which can certainly be viewed as a struggle of identity.

 

Something to think about:

We are often encouraged to focus on victories in our Christian walk. That is, of course, appropriate encouragement because “greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world”.  However, in the passage above Paul exhibits clear vulnerability.  In the spiritual battle for our identity, how might the kind of vulnerability exhibited by Paul prove valuable?

11 thoughts on “40 Days of Discipline: Day 8 – Spiritual Warfare

  1. As we strive to be more like Christ each day, if we remind ourself that even a godly man like Paul experienced setbacks, maybe we won’t be down on ourself thinking we just “can’t be the perfect Christian we want to be”. Instead we should use his life as a valuable lesson to teach us to never give up the goal of being more Christlike each day.

  2. It’s comforting to know a man like Paul experienced this but he did not allow this to take his eyes off of Jesus. I think it would have made him appreciate how much more he would have to depend on the Lord. I too struggle with this and sometimes wonder if God is fed up of me seeking forgiveness. Thankfully He’s not.
    Have a blessed day all.

  3. When we are brave enough to be open about the incongruence of our desires and our actions it can be helpful to others. This truth encourages young and seasoned believers to know they are not alone in the battle between the desire to be more like Christ and our flesh.. Knowing even Paul struggled is a source of hope and comfort. Knowing he was valued by Christ inspite of this and his identity and worth wasn’t diminished because of it bring much value.

  4. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 1 Peter 5:8 The devil most often uses my fleshly “baggage” to trip me up and to tempt me to respond with attitudes and actions that do not reflect Christ in me!!! When I can be vulnerable with God and maybe a trusted person about my “baggage” I basically expose the potential weak points that the devil will use and seek reinforcement through prayer and counsel.

  5. Paul’s vulnerability showed that the struggle is real because of his sinful nature. It shows that in ourselves we are not able to overcome this struggle because inherently we are identified with our sinful nature. This is very valuable because he understood that this was a battle that he could not win in himself.

  6. To me, Paul expresses his struggle in raw, vulnerable terms, and then at the same time articulates the truth of his identity. We have a sin nature which we will never be rid of on this side of heaven, and it frustrates us endlessly! And Paul shares this frustrating struggle with us. Then, he states in verse 17 and again in verse 20, almost like coming up for air (life) in the midst of the wrestling match, that he no longer identifies himself AS the sin nature, for he is a new creation(!), and sin now merely lives in him. This is the comprehensive truth… on the one hand, we are new creations but not immune from having to wrestle with sin, and on the other, we will continue to sin, but it is no longer who we are! We should have the wisdom to recognise i) our fleshly enemy and its persistent temptations, and ii) at the same time, our new found power to overcome, one temptation at a time. To God be the glory!

  7. The biggest takeaway for me from this passage is that with Paul’s new nature he clearly identifies his desire not to sin. Christ has given him new desires, this is a gift which we must cherish. While the battle rages on, we can find comfort and encouragement in this secured new heart and desires. As society is degrading at a lightning pace, I am observing more and more people who ‘desire’ to do evil, they actually revel in it. This used to be limited to sociopaths, but now it is a trait commonly observed in the general populace. Thank God for the power he has given the church – we have the minds of Christ and the power over sin. Importantly, we also have the desire to wield this power – we must be sure to take this privelege seriously and be an ever brighter beacon in a darkening world.

  8. I wish I could foresee all the gaps where evil creeps in to make me react in what I consider an ungodly manner. I am comforted to know that He is there to receive, forgive and guide me each time as related to Paul. Even for little me, there is always hope and love. Thank you Lord.

  9. We are human so to err is what we do. Thank God we can sin less if we keep focused on Christ.

  10. The struggle will always be there, once we are on earth. However, genuine sharing with trusted believers and their support will provide the necessary encouragement to press forward.

  11. The constant struggle between good and evil manifests itself in every person’s life, including those we consider spiritual giants, like Paul. He admits that he is somewhat spiritually weak when he gives in to doing what he does not want to do and simultaneously not doing what he knows he should be doing. This is a clear case of the spirit warring against the flesh and vice versa but one of the admirable qualities in Paul is that he does not give up. In applying this to my life, I realize that Paul is my twin brother! Despite our deficiencies, our identity is in Christ and we optimistically persevere, by God’s grace.

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