1 Peter 4 : 1 - 2, Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. NKJV
2 Timothy 4: 6 - 8, For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing. NKJV
The Lord has given me a very specific word today concerning Christians and the issue of sin. Our heavenly Father has provided a way that we can escape the snare of sin. Not only is it possible through Christ for us to overcome the desire for sin's pleasure, it is a requirement of God that His children live a holy life before Him. If God commands us to live holy, then we know that a life of holiness in Christ is obtainable. However, we must desire it more than anything or anyone else.
Since becoming a child of God have you noticed an increase in opposition against you and your faith? Not only will the world turn on you, but the flesh nature that once controlled your decisions will war against you as well. Peter tells us in his epistle not to be surprised when fiery trials invade our life as if something strange has just occurred. Like James, he tells us to rejoice in them. They tell us to rejoice when faced with hard trials, and Jesus commands us to be of good cheer. Their response to persecution (rejection from this world and afflictions) seems to be quite different from normal human responses.
As long as you fight the battles that war against your faith, know that you're winning the greater battle over sin. John teaches us in his epistle that whatever is born of God doesn't sin...yet we hear ministers teach precisely the opposite. We're told that Christians are just sinners, saved by grace. Why is there a contradiction between the Word of God and some who teach His Word? God tells us in Psalms 103 that Israel knew the acts of God; nevertheless, only Moses knew the ways of God. In Isaiah 55, God tells us that His ways are not our ways and that His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. Ministers are humans, who must learn the ways of God just as much as the people of God. Since we know about God, nevertheless we don't know all of His ways; it does seem strange for us to consider the persecution and trials of our faith as joyful.
Let's look at "good fight of faith" from the view point of the Bible. Our faith in Christ is our victory over the world. As we live and walk by faith, we are rejecting the will and desires of the flesh nature. When we obey the Word of God and seek to do His will in our lives, the Word will circumcise, or cut away, the flesh from our hearts; thus, we will no longer desire the pleasures of this world. Remember, David said, "Your Word have I hidden in my heart that I might not sin against you."
The only way to hide the Word of God in our hearts is to obey it. When the Word enters our heart through implementation, it becomes a sword which divides our flesh from our heart. While the Word is working in your heart to free your new life in Christ from your old ways, persecution will arise against you for the Word's sake. As we fight the good fight of faith and endure suffering as a good soldier, we are also winning the battle against the allure of sin's pleasures.
As we continue to win the battle over the flesh nature through our faithful obedience to God's Word, then we will grow in the ability to count all of these light afflictions as joy. Being alive to the Word and living for the Lord will put to death the evil deeds of our flesh. This insight should encourage us to keep fighting. If you're in the midst of a fiery trial, and you're wondering why God has allowed this to come upon you, be comforted; you can rest in knowing that His Word is in you and will set you free from the stronghold of the flesh nature. Afterwards, you will walk in greater peace, liberty, strength, and boldness.
In 2 Samuel 11, King David was supposed to go out to battle. Instead, he sent Joab to lead the army of Israel, and David remained in Jerusalem. David tarried behind, took another man's wife, and committed adultery with her. As a result of David's adulterous affair, Bath-Sheba became pregnant. In order to cover up his wrong, David had Urriah, the husband of Bath-Sheba killed. There were many consequences of David's decision not to go out to battle and fight. It affected his faith, his walk with God, and his authority as a believer.
We all grow weary while fighting in the good fight of faith. However, if we ever decide to lay down the cross that Christ commanded us to carry, and we stop fighting our own flesh nature, then we will open the door for temptation to sin. I pray that you now have a better understanding of how important it is for a Christian to be obedient. When believers refuse to put the kingdom of God first in their hearts, it can open the door for Satan to lead us astray and into sin. It comes down to choice. We all must decide to die to the flesh and live unto God so that we can overcome the weaknesses of our flesh.
Fighting the Good Fight of Faith,
Pastor Asa Dockery