Every Breath Is a Battle (The Everyday War for Holiness)

We’re all warriors in the battle against our own sin.

However else we may differ, whatever trials we may or may not be going through, we’re on a level ground here: redeemed sinners, taking to the field to fight the common enemy.

I don’t think that battle is any easier for anyone. In fact, it seems like the more I grow as a Christian and the better I know God, the harder that battle gets. (Does it get easier as you get older? I don’t know, I’m only seventeen, but from what I’ve heard it doesn’t seem like it).

Paul said this:

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. (Galatians 5:16-17)

Sometimes it seems like every breath is a battle. Our sinful nature is so strong, and it doesn’t want to walk by the Spirit. We want to walk in our own strength and our own desires – not God’s. We feel that fight between the flesh and the Spirit, and sometimes there’s victory but more often than we’d like it’s defeat. It’s trudging along, moment by moment, fighting the same temptations and needing the same grace.

I don’t have “3 steps to defeat the flesh” or anything like that, because I’m pretty sure I feel defeat as often as you do. And besides, we know the answer: His word, and prayer. Abiding in Him.

But here’s what I’ve been learning: I’m not strong enough for this battle. I can’t even say I start the day with good intentions and then fail, because I wake up ensnared in my flesh. Loving the things of this world, my eyes on everything but God. I simply can’t do this.

Only He can.

Something I’ve learned from John Piper is this: it’s not wrong to sit there and pray, telling God that you can’t do this and you’re helpless and you desperately need grace. In fact, He is most glorified in those prayers. When you admit that you’re powerless and only His strength will allow you to live as He’s commanded, His love and grace and glory only shine more brightly to you and to the world around.

Something else I’m continually learning is the truth of 2 Timothy 2:13:

If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.

Because yes, I am faithless. “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it.” I turn away from Him and chase the world so often it hurts. But He is like Hosea – faithful to an adulterous wife. And He is like the father in the parable – running to meet the son who stunk of a pigsty. It’s hard for my heart to accept it, but because of Christ’s righteousness, my Father already sees me as perfect. He’s there – He still loves me – even when I don’t love Him.

I guess what I’m saying with this rambling post is this: we have to live in complete dependence on Him. We can’t think we’re capable on our own, because we’re not. We need Him. We need His word, to give us a greater love for Him. We need His grace, to fight this battle. We need His mercy, for the many times we fail.

And He gives all of it freely.

This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him. (1 John 5:14-15)

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