“… TRAIN YOURSELF to be godly” (I Timothy 4:7b). Oh… good grief! So much for THAT theological myth that teaches when a person embraces Christ as their Savior that God will go “KAZAAM!” and instantly ALL the old habit patterns and desires to fall back into our former ways will suddenly vanish, never to reappear. Not so! The war between our soul (that very human part of us) and our spirit has just begun in all due seriousness.
The Apostle Paul struggled in this area. “For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, BUT with my flesh I serve the law of sin” (Romans 7:14-25).
So…. if HE didn’t get zapped and had struggles, who am I to think that I am any different? And… what do those who teach the “instant perfection” theologies do with these verses? Hummmm…..
Obviously we AREN’T exempt. With those thoughts and Scripture in mind, we can see that it is indeed a battle. The point is that as spiritual as Paul was, he still did things he didn’t want to do. However, he waged war against it through our Lord. We obviously cannot do it successfully on a consistent basis in our own strength. We rely on the Lord and the strength of His Holy Spirit that lives within us (our #1 defense) and then WE put on the armor of God as described in Ephesians 6:11-18 (our #2 defense).
The Lord doesn’t dress us for battle, WE have to put it on. Faith WITH works (James 2:22). So, there we have it. We trust the Holy Spirit for His empowerment and then we do our part with self-control, discipline and obedience to His Word. And, we become more and more conformed into His image. Isn’t that what all the struggles are about in the first place?