A few weeks back we took some time in our weekend gatherings at Life Center Rainier to do some live Q&A. We didn’t get a chance to get through all of the questions that came in, so I decided to answer a few of these questions via my blog. In my first post, (which you can view here) I answered the question about learning to forgive ourselves since we have been forgiven through Jesus. Today, I want to answer another great question that was presented about the ongoing battle that many of us have experienced.
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“Why is it that the old self, the old you is still present after you have been saved? Constant battle. Why?”
If you are a follower of Jesus and have never wrestled with this question, the rest of humanity needs you to write a book immediately. Every person who has experienced salvation through trust in Jesus has wondered, “If I am a new creation, why do I still struggle with _____?” Even the Apostle Paul experienced this and expressed his wrestle in the New Testament.
Consider what he says in Romans 7:18-25
And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.
Paul expresses some important truth here. In another place, he calls himself “the worst sinner”. Paul. The guy who penned a majority of the New Testament under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit…
If you have ever wondered about this constant battle, you are in good company!
So what do we do about this battle? What should we know? Here are a few short thoughts:
SALVATION IS ALREADY AND ONGOING
It is important to remember that when we trust Jesus, WE ARE SAVED. That salvation is both instant and ongoing. Here is what I mean by that: In an instant, our sin is forgiven and the penalty we deserve because of our sin has been paid in full by Jesus. But God is also working in our lives through the process of sanctification to free us from sins power. This is the ongoing aspect of our salvation. In a moment, we are JUSTIFIED through what Jesus has accomplished for us (God’s JUSTICE has been SATISFIED). But the Holy Spirit is continuing the process of sanctification (being set apart) as God continues to work in us to save us from sins power over us.
WHAT WE FEED GROWS
If we make the decision to keep feeding “the OLD man”, he will keep showing up. The things we starve in life, tend to get weak and the things we feed tend to grow stronger. The same is true when it comes to the reality that we still live with a sinful nature. Yes, God is at work in us, rescuing, renewing and redeeming. But we must cooperate with His process that He is working in us. Part of that includes making the decision to feed what He wants to grow in us and starve what He wants to see die.
THIS BATTLE IS A REMINDER OF DEPENDANCE
This battle is frustrating at times and downright annoying at others. But it serves as an opportunity and reminder that we are not the source of our own rescue and salvation. We need God’s grace for salvation from sins penalty, but we also need his grace DAILY to overcome sins power. In this battle, we find sufficient grace in Jesus – not ourselves – to overcome. God will finish what He has started. We can be confident of this truth. He has never asked us to be dependent on ourselves. If that were the case, we could be our own saviors, and we wouldn’t need The Savior.
I’ll close with this simple reminder from Galatians 6:9:
So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.
What have you found as you have faced this battle in your own life? Share your thoughts and comments below!