Women on the Front Lines

The Battle Within

 As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance but, as he who hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation, because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy (I Peter 1: 14 – 16).

As followers of Christ, we are instructed to live as He lived: to be holy as He is Holy.  But what does this mean: “to be holy?”  Being a holy believer is being set apart from the defilement of sin for the service of God: not allowing our sinful nature or the world’s philosophies and norms to influence our thoughts, words, and actions, but living according to God’s Word through the power of His Spirit.

Meditating about God’s desire for holiness in His children can produce probing, personal questions such as:  “Am I the only one who struggles with sin over and over again? Why can’t I live a holy life 24 hours a day, 365 days a year?”  Just as these questions are sparked by His Word, their answers are also found there.

Age-Old Yet Contemporary

It is comforting to know that I am not the only one who has ever experienced this conflict.  The Apostle Paul states in Romans that he could not do “the good that [he] would,” but did “the evil” which he did not want to do (Romans 7:19 ).  Paul goes on to say, “I find then a law that, when I would do good, evil is present with me” (Romans 7:22 ).  Christ emphasized that true life is available to us through the Spirit not the flesh: “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing” (John 6:63).  In the Garden of Gethsemene , our Lord admonished His disciples to “watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41, Mark 14:38 ). 

This struggle or battle is still present in God’s children.  Paul tells us in Galatians that our “flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would” (Galatians 5:1).  We are in a battle between the old and the new creation: our old desires to please ourselves are fighting against our new desires to please our Heavenly Father. With all the admonitions found in God’s Word that we are to “walk in the Spirit, and [we] shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh,” why does the battle to obey occur?

The Cause

At salvation, the Holy Spirit indwells the believer and a “new creature” is born (2 Corinthians 5:17 ).  God’s Word reveals that the new life within us and the flesh are “contrary” to each other; they have desires that conflict.  On one side of the battle is our flesh with self-serving, self-gratifying desires.  On the other is the new creation with new, Spirit-given desires to serve and please our Heavenly Father.  Between these two sides a battle ensues and this battle will not end until we are rid of our old nature (through physical death or our Lord’s return) (1 Corinthians 15:54-57, 2 Corinthians 5:6-8, 1 Thessalonians 4:17).

The Victor

As in other conflicts, the stronger and better equipped combatant wins. For an example, let us look at our country’s armed forces.  When our troops are in a conflict, they rely heavily on supply lines to deliver their provisions. No matter how well they have been trained, if their provisions are cut off so that no food, water, and ammunition are delivered, the chances of victory become very small.  During the time our troops are deprived of supplies, defeat is almost assured if the enemy’s supplies have gone uninterrupted because the enemy is better equipped for the battle.

How does this scenario correlate with our battle within?  The same facts hold true; the better supplied combatant wins.  Therefore, it is important to know which side of our inner battle is receiving “supplies.”

Are we supplying the new creation within us with the necessary provisions: Bible study, prayer, and church attendance?  Have we acquired spiritual ammunition through scripture memorization and meditation?

Too often the fleshly side of our conflict receives supplies more regularly and in more abundance.  Worldly philosophies and fleshly enticements are prevalent in our favorite entertainments: TV, radio, movies, books, internet, theater, etc. We are constantly bombarded with information that is designed to appeal to, and to arouse a response from, the flesh; however, we may only receive spiritual provisions at church one to three times a week.  We might spend hours engaged in entertainments, but find it difficult to have daily Bible study and prayer.  Even believers who have consistent times of study and prayer find that time spent in this manner is considerably less than time spent in worldly endeavors.

We as Christians, however, tend to overlook fleshly provisions if they are placed in an entertaining setting. I have found myself (and heard others) offering the following reasons for allowing influences contrary to God’s word into their homes and lives.

·          I know my favorite TV show depicts pre-marital/extra-marital sexual encounters, but I still watch it because I enjoy the story line and the fornication/adultery is not the main focus of the series.

·          There was only one/or a few use(s) of profanity in that movie, but it had a good message (story line, characters, etc.).

·          I know it’s fiction/not real, so the philosophies expressed don’t matter.

I believe that we desire these types of entertainment because our flesh hungers for nourishment. The Bible says that it “lusteth” against the spirit; it cries out for things that are contrary to the Spirit within us. However, when I contemplate what my Savior thinks of glorified depictions of sin and the world’s philosophies, I am unsettled. How can I hope to do “the things that I would” when I continually send provisions to the enemy? “Can a man take fire into his bosom and not be burned?” (Proverbs 6:27)  Can we allow worldly, flesh gratifying stimuli into our lives and not be influenced?

The Exhortation

Ladies, let us be sure we are “sending provisions” to the new creation God has born within us and that we are “setting blockades” in our lives to keep out provisions for the flesh.

Let us remember:

·          As we strive towards holiness through reading, memorizing, and meditating on God’s Word, we will equip ourselves to fight the appetites of our flesh.

·          As we yield to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, we will have victories over our daily struggles.

·          And as we claim His promises (Romans 8:29 , 1 John 3:2), we will remember that this battle will ultimately be won through God’s grace when we see our Lord and Savior face to face.

We are not alone on the front lines of this battle.  Our Heavenly Father is near “unto all those who call upon Him” (Psalms 145:18).  He has given us the charge (1 Peter 1:14 – 16) and He will be faithful in its completion (Philippians 1:6).