A few years ago, I went through a really difficult time. I was very discouraged in my fight against the sin in myself and I was ready to give up totally. It was too hard. A whole lifetime of fighting against sin just seemed too much, too tiring. When can I relax a bit? How could I possibly “not get tired of doing what is good”, as it’s written in Galatians 6:9 (NLT)?
With a lot of patient encouragement from my mum, I soon realised that the problem was that I didn’t see my goal anymore. “Without a vision, the people perish.” Proverbs 29:18. This was coming true in my life. I was just looking at my life here on this earth and forgot to look forward to eternity. How can a soldier possibly go on fighting in battle, when he doesn’t see the goal ahead of him – the end of the war, and the goal he was fighting for?
What is my vision?
Moses chose “to suffer with God’s people instead of enjoying sin for a short time … because he was looking for God’s reward.” Hebrews 11:25-26 (NCV).
I began to search in God’s Word to find out what exactly this reward is. “To him who overcomes I will grant [give] to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.” Revelation 3:21. That promise alone sounds like reason enough to overcome all sin in my life! But through my reading I also found so much more:
In heaven, I’ll be together with all those who’ve followed Jesus on the way of overcoming sin – from the first disciples, right down to my own dear mother. There will be perfect peace and unity there – untouched by sin. I will never again be sad over the sin that I find in my own nature. Instead, I will naturally show goodness, love, joy; all the virtues that I get when I overcome sin!
I will be with Jesus, whom I love above everything else, for eternity!
An interesting change
I remember thinking at the time, that even if living for God made every day on this earth a very great struggle, even if I felt terrible for the rest of my life, it would still be worth it in the end when I met Jesus and received my reward.
So I did it. I gave it my all. I gave up everything and gave my heart properly to God. I told myself, “Just one short lifetime of misery and then I can enter into the joy that God has promised me.”
But an interesting thing happened. Instead of being miserable, I became happy! I experienced for myself the words that God said to Abraham in Genesis 15:1 (NIV): “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.”
With God as my shield, and with my eyes fixed on the goal ahead, I can live without ever giving in to sin. When I come into temptations now, it brings me joy, because I see what I am fighting for, rather than just looking at the suffering. They are opportunities that help to bring me closer to that goal, if I take them in the right way.
Those dark, heavy feelings would still like to take hold of me when things get difficult, but I know now that the source of those feelings is unbelief in God’s promises. And I can overcome them by choosing to believe God’s Word and looking straight ahead to the goal.
Tasting the reward
And the best thing I’ve discovered is that you don’t have to wait until you get to heaven to taste the reward for your faithfulness. The blessing from God begins already here in this life. Overcoming sin has given me peace and joy, and the battles I must fight are short and final. God gives me strength not to grow tired in my trials, and I am refreshed in my spirit when I read His Word.
It is written that the eyes of the Lord run over the whole earth, to help those whose hearts are wholly for Him, and this is my comfort. (2 Chronicles 16:9). With God beside me and my goal before me, I can’t be defeated in my battle against sin. Thank God for the promises He has made to those who are faithful to Him!