A little while ago I heard someone say something that really made me think. He spoke about “taking up a conscious battle” when it comes to fighting sin. It got me thinking: what does it mean for me to take up a conscious battle against sin? A conscious battle, that means that I know that I am fighting and what I am fighting for. Am I really fighting not to sin?
I’ve noticed that I easily forget normal everyday things if I’m not paying close attention to what I’m doing. And it’s the same with my spiritual life. When I don’t focus on trying to be pure, for example, then impurity can easily come in without me even seeing it. Or, if I’m not focusing on having only good thoughts about people and not judging them, then I can easily begin to judge them without being aware of it.
Sins like these are part of my human nature and can easily come up in my thoughts if I’m not watchful. Here I see that I have to actively do something if I want to put a stop to sin in my life. It’s one thing to go through life and know that I’m not trying to sin on purpose. But to really decide not to sin is something totally different. That’s where the conscious battle against sin comes in – like a war or battle I take up in my thoughts, in my mind.
This is what it means to fight a “spiritual war”. I need to wake up every morning with a firm decision that today I will not sin. Today I will fight rather than sin; I will be watchful.
Focusing on the opportunities
I know that this is something I really have to fight for. I need to take this battle seriously, because the way I take these battles will decide where I will spend my eternity. It’s that serious! If I don’t always have this longing to overcome sin, then suddenly I will find that I feel it’s not so important anymore for me to overcome, or that it doesn’t matter for me anymore if I am a little bit impatient or a little impure.
No, for myself it has become important that I really focus on my salvation. Salvation is not something that only happens one time when I am converted. It is something that should happen throughout my whole life. It means that I become saved from all the sins that live in my human nature – that I overcome all the sins that I am tempted to. In fact, it is the reason I am on earth - the reason God called me from before the earth was created.
“So continue to work out your own salvation. Do it with fear and trembling.” Philippians 2:12 (NIRV). Do I do that? Is it my greatest interest?
For example, I really want to become more patient, which is one of the fruits of the Spirit. I pray for patience, but when situations come up where I am tempted to be impatient, am I really focusing on being more patient so that I can get more of this fruit of the Spirit?
When I pray to love people more, do I then spend my time thinking good thoughts about them so that my love for them grows? When I’m focusing on that, then I don’t even have time for judging or negative thoughts.
We get many opportunities to grow in patience, but if I don’t see them, my patience will not grow. And every day at work or at school there is impurity all around me, but can I stay pure in spite of what is going on around me? For this I need to be watchful and awake.
“Be on your guard and stay awake. Your enemy, the devil, is like a roaring lion, sneaking around to find someone to attack.” 1 Peter 5:8 (CEV). If my enemy is trying so hard to find someone to attack, shouldn’t I be fleeing away even more from the sin he wants to catch me in, and actively fight to overcome all sin?
“But run away from the evil young people like to do. Try hard to live right and to have faith, love, and peace, together with those who trust in the Lord from pure hearts.” 2 Timothy 2:22 (NCV).
Fighting this spiritual war
Now that I have taken a firm decision to fight this war against sin, I really have to fight until the end. It is easy for me to think I have already reached something just because I have decided to do it, but that isn’t how it works. Yes, I’ve made a decision, but now I have to do something - go to action!
It is written that Jesus’ prayers were heard because of his godly fear. (Hebrews 5:7.) He truly feared to sin against God because He knew that sin has the power to destroy. He had seen how sin had destroyed the lives of people right from the beginning of time.
He was very serious in His fight against sin, and I can get the same serious spirit by reading the Bible and filling my mind with the spirit that He had. I have to get an armed mind that is willing to say No to the evil I am tempted to and, in this way, stop with sin. (1 Peter 4:1.) Then I don't fear for the battles to come, because I know that I will certainly overcome.
To fight this spiritual war is extremely important. I must stop sinning. I have to be very awake if I want to see all the opportunities where I can overcome sin. It has to be a matter of life or death for me. “… and having done all, to stand.” Ephesians 6:13. Even if right now the temptations seem endless, one day they will come to an end. Then I’ll have no more chances to overcome more of the sin in my nature, so I must use the opportunities today!
To overcome must be the most important thing in my life. And I can honestly say that it has become this way for me.