Fight with ourselves
The Christian life involves struggles. Although there are many who live their Christian lives without wanting to take part in any struggle, they simply enjoy the benefits that come with being a Christian. But there are those who have recognized by the Word of God that we must fight alongside walking with Jesus.
The biggest challenge for us is not fighting the world (like differences with unbelievers, striving against secular laws), but we have a much bigger fight with ourselves. Unfortunately, most believers don’t even ask the question of whether we should fight ourselves at all. Because why should we?
„For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.”
Those who have been repented are still living their lives in flesh, and it will certainly a struggle (those who follow Jesus with reality)! For many became believers wanting peace for themselves, so they did not even mind participating in a constant struggle. In this case, the victory of the flesh is certain. And then comes the excuses that no one can be perfect, no one can overcome temptations because Jesus is the only one who has been able to do that. So here are these excuses, while they think they are repented, they don’t even think they might spoil something. It’s a bit of a paradox, as they claim we can’t be perfect in anything, but they still consider their own faith to be perfect.
May God save us from such blindness, give us seeing eyes and hearing ears so that we do not deceive ourselves! The life of a believer involves abandonment, constant struggle and persecution, which results in our tribulation in this world.
„I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world."”
Everyone loves peace, no one wants evil for themselves, which is probably why Christian denominations were created that promise all good things in this earthly life. For example, that God saves us from all bad things, He wants to give us all good things and things like that. But children can’t judge correctly what’s good for them, so parents make the decision for them. Discipline is part of parenting, God raising us in a way that does not always remind us of happiness.
„And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? "My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives." It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”
Everything God does is for our souls and at the same time for our faith. No matter how painful, it is worth it in the long run in all respects. And let it not be hidden from us that everyone will be punished as much as necessary. If one is greatly punished, he still needs many formations, those who are less punished have already been better transformed into the image of God. Why does God shape us in His image? He shapes us to be like Him in deeds. Many stop in spiritual development because they are unwilling to learn from punishment. And many don’t even start developing because they don’t recognize punishment. They deceive themselves because they still live to their own desires and are unable to see beyond themselves. And those who are serious about their calling see beyond themselves every day, examining their faith and their actions.
„Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?--unless indeed you fail to meet the test!”
We must always be ready to examine our faith. Let us not follow doctrines that have been unquestioned for a long time just because many believers have been following them for centuries. Let us not blind ourselves, let us not be proud and hard-hearted, but let us look at our faith in the light of the Word: did we really think and follow them well?
Everyone is trying to achieve something. Some people strive to be the best in sports, some who want to gain a great reputation in their studies, others in their business. But what about believers? How can many live their faith in a half-hearted way, even though it is about salvation? They live that way because they don’t believe in it! Because if they believed in God, they would do everything for Him. They would not believe in man, but read the Word of God, their own pride would not stand in their way.
„Then the disciples came and said to him, "Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?" He answered, "Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit."”
Why didn't Jesus convince them? Because they didn’t want Jesus to convince them. If someone decides something, even though it is to his detriment, there is only one person who can convince him otherwise: that is himself. It’s just that a lot of people are afraid of what comes next, so he’d rather go astray than take on the consequences.
If someone has thought for 50 years that he is following Jesus well, it is not easy for him to face the fact that he has followed Him badly so far. Many are unable to start all over again, continuing their journey rather than giving up the years behind them.
„But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ”
Paul was ready to give up his life he had built up until then. Following Jesus, he gave up fame, friends, relationships, his entire future! What’s more, Paul did all this by receiving a promise from Jesus that he will suffer a lot. Still, Paul took on this life! We also see that he took Jesus seriously, he really suffered a lot both physically and spiritually. He took following of Jesus seriously, unlike the people of today who want peace, wealth, health in return for following Jesus. It’s as if they don’t have a big enough reward for Jesus dying for them and they can be forgiven of their sins.
Let us be the ones who examine themselves daily.
Author: Antal Farkas