There is a war going on. At times the battles are fierce and unrelenting, then there are short stints of quiet when everything seems to be at peace. Before long with little warning, the battle ensues. It is perhaps the oldest battle in human history. No one is immune from this battle. The young are drafted into this far sooner than they would ever intentionally enlist. The old long for the day the battle will stop. It is the war between good and evil that takes place within the soul.
When you become a follower of Jesus, the battle doesn’t end, it intensifies. Easily the most quoted preacher in history, (not named Jesus), the Apostle Paul surely fought this battle and was very candid about it. He wrote,
” For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 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. 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. … What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?” ~Romans 7: 18-24 NIV
I feel his exhaustion with himself don’t you? I know I have wore myself out a time or two. So how can we experience victory when the battle between holy vs. unholy, good vs. evil rages on inside of us? The answer may surprise you. The motto is not, “go, fight, win!” It’s the opposite, the key to victory is SURRENDER.
Now, it’s not surrender to the sin or evil that fights against our soul, it is surrender to the only one who can forgive, strengthen, guide and empower us for victory…Jesus Christ.
Paul teaches this in Romans 6: 8-14. I’ve took the liberty and underlined some of the key statements for emphasis.
“ Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.” – (NIV)
Do you see the keys to victory Paul outlines for us?
Settle the matter to whom you belong – vs. 8-11
Paul refers to the redemptive work of Christ when He came, died and arose from the grave. He died one time for the sins of the entire world. Jesus purchased redemption for every person past, present and future. There will never be a time when Jesus will say, “I better go back to Earth and do the cross again.” In the same manner, Paul says when we receive by faith that Christ has redeemed us by His sacrifice and trust Him alone for justification before God, we must settle in our mind that we belong to Christ and sin has no more dominion over us. There is an old saying, “Get your head on straight.” If there is any truth we must settle it is to whom we belong. When the head is right, the body will follow.
Stop yielding yourself to sin’s control, you don’t have to anymore – vs. 12
When you trust Christ, He makes you righteous before God. Sin loses its control over you. You will still be tempted and you may occasionally slip and fall down, but the key is you are no longer under sins power. Sin is a bully. He will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay and cost you more than you want to pay. He is a bully and how do you defeat a bully? You stand up to him.
Surrender yourself daily to the power of Christ.
Jesus told His disciples that to find your life, you must lose it in Him. You do that by daily picking up your cross to follow Him. To the first century Jew, that was a very graphic illustration. Jesus was calling the disciples to a daily decision to give up the reigns of their life to Him.
Shortly before His death on the cross, Jesus told His followers that it was going to be better for them after He was crucified and resurrected from the dead. They couldn’t understand Jesus’ logic. They may not have understood, but He knew exactly what He was going to do. Jesus was going to send His Holy Spirit to not simply walk with His followers, but to indwell and empower them to be victorious.
The Bible encourages us to, “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16). In the Greek, the Scripture is teaching us to walk continuously in the power and influence of the Holy Spirit. To get up every day and surrender our mind, our will and our emotions to Christ through His Spirit. That is how we live victoriously over the desires of our carnal nature.
That is what Jesus offers to me, to you, to anyone who places their trust in Him – Victory through Surrender.
Paul knew this. That is why he was able to follow up his moment of exasperation with these words,
“Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” ~Romans 7: 25 NIV