By Shari Abbott, Reasons for Hope* Jesus
Paul speaks very clearly in Galatians 5 about our battle against the enemy within…ourselves. All too often we look to others, or even demonic spiritual forces, to be the source, the cause (and usually the blame) for our sins. Although sometimes their can be external forces, ultimately all responsibility lies at our doorstep. Our greatest battle is truly against our own flesh, the sin nature that resides in every one of us. To deny or to minimize it’s strong pull on our will is to succumb to the lie that we are, in ourselves, good. Man isn’t a sinner because he sins. Man sins because He is a sinner. We must remember that we are all born in a fallen state and with a sin nature. Two verses that remind us of the evil within are:
Jeremiah17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
Romans 3:10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
Keep in mind the context of these verses are about unregenerate man. When God saves us He takes away the hard heart and gives us a new heart. But, we must remember that while our sins are forgiven and while we are also given eternal life and the gift of the Holy Spirit, even with the new heart of regeneration we continue to sin. And, as it has been since the Garden, we are all tempted by these three things: 1) the lust of the flesh, 2) the lust of the eyes and 3) the pride of life (1 John 2:16)
It’s interesting that the lust of the flesh is the first sin listed. In Galatians Paul tell that the life in the Spirit will overcome the lust of the flesh.
Galatians 5:16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
Walking in the Spirit was God’s design for man. It was the life which Adam and Eve enjoyed prior to sin, and it is the life we, as Christians reborn into the newness of life in Christ, can enjoy.
In the Galatians 5:16 verse, Paul is telling us that our sinful nature can be controlled if we walk in the Spirit. “Walk in the Spirit” is a command from Paul, because he knows we have a choice. Our God-honoring choice is to be made intentionally and devotionally by a surrender to God’s will. It is a choice to do His work and to live life in a way that honors Him. When we “walk in the Spirit,” as Paul wrote, “ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.”
Our choice to surrender to God’s will unleashes the Spirit’s power in our lives, and we are then empowered by the Holy Spirit who teaches us, guides us and protects us.
So all that makes sense to any Christian….but we also know that it is much easier said than done. Paul reminds us of the difficulty in this battle:
Galatians 5:17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.
The flesh and the Spirit are in opposition. This is a battle of our two natures—the spiritual man who is guided by the Holy Spirit and the natural man, which is the human mind, personality and will (physical and emotional desires).
This battle begins in the mind. Therefore, Paul wrote in his letter to the Corinthian, how we can fight this battle:
2 Corinthians 10:5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.
Our lives move in the direction of our most dominant thoughts.
What we “feed” our minds with will fuel our hearts and direct our words and actions. All too often we forget the things we should remember and remember the things we should forget. What we should remember is JESUS!
Sanctification (growing in holiness) begins with rightly remembering Jesus and who we are in Him. I’ve written about this a lot, because it is the message that God put on my heart when someone I care about forgot. In my book, Why the Butterfly? Rightly Remembering Jesus, I teach about rightly remembering who God is, what He has done for us and who we are in Christ. When we forget any part of these three things, we are prone to wander, to turn inward and to fall. God in His mercy and grace has already given us everything we need and we must remember everyday that:
God has given us liberty from sin, sight to see and ears to hear. (Luke 4:18)
God has given us eternal life and unity with Him. (John 17:3, 23)
God has given us His Holy Spirit. (John 14:16, 16:7)
God has given us His love (John 17:26, 1 John 3:1)
God has given us His joy, peace and hope (Romans 15:13)
God has given us His Word and His mission. (John 17:8, 18)
God has given us the promise of glory to come. (John 17:22)
Do we really believe that we’ve been given all of those things? Christians would whole-heartedly answer, yes! The real question in daily living is less about whether we believe those things, but if we remember remember them and it is reflected in our lives.
In the book Why the Butterfly? Rightly Remembering Jesus I wrote about our new identity in Christ. We are told in the first three chapters of Ephesians who we are in the newness of the redeemed life we now live.
We are are: blessed (Eph 1:3), chosen (Eph 1:4), holy and blameless (Eph 1:4), predestined (Eph 1:5, 11), given, redeemed (Eph 1:7), forgiven (Eph 1:7), enlightened (Eph 1:18), quickened/made alive (Eph 2:5), saved (Eph 2:5, 8), raised up (Eph 2:6) and sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise (Eph 1:13).
When you read these verses, remember that God doesn’t say you will be blessed, but rather that you have been blessed. He doesn’t say, you will be chosen if you do something, but that you already are chosen. God doesn’t say, you will be made alive if you do the right thing, but that you already have been made alive. Every designation of who you are in Christ is spoken of in the past tense because it has already taken place. God gave you this identity when He saved you. 
Let me ask you this. Do you really believe that’s who you now are? The whole-hearted “yes,” that we quickly give to the question of what God has done for us, doesn’t come as quickly when they consider what God says about us. That’s because we know that we still live in the flesh and we still succumb to sin. We know how our daily thoughts, words and actions don’t always honor the Lord. So once again, we must remember that our identity is in who God says we are. We are not defined by the world, other people or our sins. We should read the “identity list” (above) to ourselves everyday…and believe it. When we do that we start with a heart of gratitude for the One who has saved us and a desire to love and serve Him.
So…my worst enemy is ME! But my best ally is JESUS! Throughout His Word, in all of creation, and by the indwelling Holy Spirit, the Lord cries out to us….REMEMBER ME.
We know who God is! We know what He has done for us! We know all that we have been given. And, we know that we are in a battle. Our mission is to defeat the enemy—whether that be the enemy within or without. We fight the battle by remembering all that we have and all that we are and by taking every thought captive for Jesus!
It begins in the mind. Remembering that the Holy Spirit will fuel our words and works, we can go to sleep every night thanking God for another day to do His work. And, we can rise every morning and get back in the battle, knowing and trusting in the strength God gives us to do His work.
We are warriors for the Lord and by keeping our minds centered on Jesus, our hearts will be devoted to Him and the power of the Holy Spirit will control, direct and sanctify our lives…and He will be our ever-present help in every battle we face!
Remember the Lord
God, my heart is fixed; I will sing and give praise, even with my glory. Awake, psaltery and harp: I myself will awake early. I will praise thee, O LORD, among the people: and I will sing praises unto thee among the nations. For thy mercy is great above the heavens: and thy truth reacheth unto the clouds. Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens: and thy glory above all the earth; That thy beloved may be delivered: save with thy right hand, and answer me. (Psalm 108:1-6)
Trust the Lord
Give us help from trouble: for vain is the help of man. Through God we shall do valiantly: for he it is that shall tread down our enemies.(Psalm 108:12-13)