We have come to our last blog about battle. We have been talking about this war that is raging, how we are to stand firm against the devil but fight the good fight of the faith. And we have been talking about all of this in a collective, large-group type style. But I wanted to end by looking at our own individual battles.
Everyone has a story. Everyone has a reality that is slightly different from everyone else. And because of that, not everyone’s battles are the same. Each person has internal battles that they must deal with. Battles that are raging against our souls. It makes me think of Spider-Man 3 and Venom. Venom, the evil, attaches to Peter Parker and it feels good, but he tells another character that when Venom takes over you begin to “lose yourself.” Just as Spider-Man battled Venom taking over his internal state, we have to battle our selfish desires.
1 Peter 2:11 “Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.” Peter acknowledges that we have this war against our soul. But did you notice how he addresses us? Sojourners and exiles. This is an important identifier before recognizing the war against our soul. As Christ-followers we are awaiting the day when we truly go home. Therefore, if we continue to think in terms of the battle theme, we are on duty waiting to go on leave. We are away from home. We do not want to jeopardize our eternal homecoming, with decisions we make in a limited time on earth.
Our internal battles cannot be won with blanketed statements or a generalized plan of attack. Just as each internal battle is different, so are the ways in which we battle them. There are some that need to remove themselves from the battlefield in order to have victory. What I mean is 2 Timothy 2:22 “So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” There are internal battles that have to be won by removing ourselves from the situation. We best do that, when we have others that are willing to do that with us. It is much easier to live a lifestyle, when you know other people around you are living the same lifestyle. So too, it is much easier to remove yourself when we know others are making that choice as well. This is usually the way sexual temptations are handled best. 1 Corinthians 6:18 “Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.” We have to be willing to be bold enough and have enough courage to remove ourselves from situations. I heard a speaker tell a story of a guy who struggled with pornography and most often it would be at night, in his room, on his phone. So the speaker looked at him and said, then don’t have your phone with you at night! Change the situation. Fight for goodness. But I think we struggle with that because we believe it isn’t normal, or that it is a sign of weakness that we struggle with it. But all struggle, and most find strength in knowing that others struggle too.
Another big sin, what C.S. Lewis believes to be the original sin, and what almost every guy struggles with is pride. Pride can be a virus that we don’t even recognize. The focus of pride is always ourselves. Proverbs 29:23 “One’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor.” Pride lifts us up. It takes into consideration other people only to reaffirm our loftiness in comparison. It focuses on the number of followers, friends, likes, and comments on social media, only to again keep track so that comparisons can be made. If you are unsure whether you struggle with pride or not, consider how much the pride of others bothers you. This can give us an insight into how much of the spotlight we truly desire. But pride is not easily defeated. We cannot flee from ourselves. We must combat it with something, but what? The opposite of pride is humility. The best way to experience humility is to live life as a servant.
Jesus spoke on this. Matthew 20:26-28 “But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and give his life as a ransom for many.” To combat pride we must place ourselves is the role of a servant. Many of the New Testament authors referred to themselves as a bond-servant. A bond-servant is one who held a permanent position of servant, but did so voluntarily. Take Paul as an example again. 1 Corinthians 9:19 “For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them.” What is needed is a more constant mindset of being on mission…in our hometown. See, missions puts us in a servant role. Rarely, if ever, do we go on missions so that we may be gawked over. We go so that we may serve and speak of Jesus.
This should be a daily habit, not a summer activity. Serving continually reminds us that we are not God nor are we the center of the universe. We are moons. We do not create light. We cannot create light. We only reflect the light of the sun. So too we only reflect the light of Jesus. We are not good, for only God is good. We simply reflect the goodness of God to others. With this mindset, there is little room or time for pride.
The last one I want to specifically mention is self-esteem. I think as guys a lot of time we go from pride, to depression, without stopping in the middle ground. We believe that in order to be godly, we must be lowly even in the sense of self-worth. We forget the value, the care, and love God has for each of us. We look at others more highly than ourselves, which is good, but at the cost of seeing ourselves as less valuable to God. Jesus again tries to build us up in holiness by reminding us of our value. Matthew 6:26 “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” We do have value. We are cared for. But how much? 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 “You are not your own, for you were bought with a price.” What was that price? That was the price of a life. A human, and divine life. God himself came down, to live a humble life and die a criminal’s death, so that our debt would be paid. Valuable things are paid for. The higher the value, the more the cost.
These are just some of the ways in which we battle internally. But there is commonality in all of them. Evidence of these stems from Scripture. If we do not know the Bible, then we would not know the value we have, or the service we are to give to others. We will only last a few days fighting like this. But we need to be nourished. We need to be filled with substance. We have to know the Word of God. Knowing the scripture is huge. As is our prayer life. Our life-line to God. Take advantage of the ability to speak to God directly. He will guide you. Often times not with audible words, but with internal nudges. If any internal nudge does not blatantly go against God and his Word, take it. Do it. See where God is trying to lead you.
Lastly, internal battles, though our own, are best fought with brothers. Brothers in Christ lift one another up, enable them to serve God well, and correct them in love when needed. Do you have that? Are you that?