STAY IN THE BATTLE TO WIN

Have you ‘given in’ to desire, lusts, feelings, temptations, or evil thoughts in an attempt to find peace or a settled mind? Or have you just given up fighting evil thoughts or temptations to sin? Are you thinking that your struggle is over and you may relax to enjoy a calm ride after giving in?  That choice may be far worse than choosing to fight temptations and it may be the height of self-deception to think that life will better and more peaceful.

Are you seeking validation from others?  Does pride drive you to parade suggesting comfort in walking in your new reality?  ‘I’m doing me!’  And why do you still feel a certain way with this newly discovered freedom pursuing full speed with what you simply have to do?  Why the repeated, “don’t judge me” imposed upon others in general conversations at times?

Does it not bother you that others may be hurt, harmed or alienated by your choice to disregard restraint, overlook a higher call for your existence to dig deep for strength to overcome, or just stand still to pray for God’s intervention?  Do people or their feelings not matter as go about to ‘do your own thing?

Scripture teaches that the struggle to pursue the best behavior and best attitudes is part of successful Christian living. That is the tone of the Apostle Paul’s message to the Colossian Church, “. . . set your hearts on things above . . . set your minds on things above . . . Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature;” (Colossians 3:2-5 NIV)  No one can expect life to be better giving up or giving in to unwholesome or evil thoughts or desires when the struggle will generate some form of victory and/or possibility of overcoming. And how can one expect peace when allowing desire and temptation to run their course in life?

Giving in to emotions, desire, inclinations, lusts, cannot and will not make a better person. Giving in to a rebellious spirit to forsake any reasonable standard for human experience and existence, interactions with others, divine purposes and plans, reasonable ambitions and goals, ideas about culture, family and social structure, or a generally positive sense of self-image and self-concept, will not render one at peace or free one to be all that they can possibly be. It is deceptive to think that one can live without restraint or discipline and resist being overtaken by feelings, desires or the enemy of our souls. Just because something feels good doesn’t mean that it is good! The high call to virtue, principle and love is a call to resist evil and any inclinations one may have to fall into its lusts and desires.

In fact, giving in limits the scope of one’s own possibility. An individual usually becomes defined by what he/she gives in to rather than realizing a real hope of fulfillment, or the development of potential or possibilities. The alcoholic will be viewed as an alcoholic once he/she decides to give in and let alcohol rule and run its course. Giving in to drugs leads to an addictive lifestyle that sometimes becomes the only choice offering a helpless, homeless, and hopeless life. Adultery destroys relationships and trust leaving one known as an adulterer. The unfortunate result is that a life given over to its lusts and temptations or desire is not good . . . “those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:21b) Whether it is giving in, giving up, coming out, going in, turnt up, or whatever phrase or clause used to communicate that I’ve chosen to allow my desire, wants, lusts, feelings, to dictate to me who I am or what I shall be, the results are all the same. The effects of that choice limit potential, possibility, or prospect of hope. The end result is not good.

If one gives in to consider only immature subjects, growing old there will be only immature subject matter to consider or even talk about. If one pursues the night life and all of its offerings, it may limit one’s pursuits for greater achievements or better, more in-depth ambitions or goals. While one is giving their best time, greatest energies, deepest thoughts to lesser or minor things, feelings, or desire, there will be little time for major long-range concepts, purposes, or fulfillment. Giving in to the lesser is never a great choice when there is always the possibility for greater and better . . . attitudinally, physically, mentally, emotionally, behaviorally, or spiritually. Giving in locks one into where they gave in and to what they have given in to in life.

Some people have struggled with feelings, thoughts, behaviors, habits, desires, lusts, and for a lifetime to discover that the struggle is their access to victory, deliverance, breakthrough or change, for a better life. It is a sad deception to think that accepting desires or lusts as one’s reality for a normal walk of life will bring validation, freedom or peace. “For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh . . .” –Galatians 5:13 NKJV

Choose better attitudes or higher hopes for life. Don’t just give up or give in to what you think you want. Don’t allow your feelings to overwhelm you into thinking that this is who I am. Why settle, seeking peace when you can fight to find peace and fulfillment? When it is all over with this life, will you be able to say I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. (II Timothy 4:7 ESV)  Consider how you can overcome “. . . the lust of the flesh” to realize your victory. But it will never happen as long as you just give in.

Of course, the struggle is real!  And it is a day by day reality to stay ahead in the fight. “. . . the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.” – (Galatians 5:16 NKJV)  But it is a far better hope to choose struggle than to fall for the deception that one will be better or more at peace giving in to personal issues of lust and desire.

Why this hard argument against giving in you say?  Our ultimate reality, as occupants of these bodies in which we live wherein lie all of our desire and lusts, will not survive our move from time into eternity. It would be sad to invest heavily or throw everything into something that is temporary and sure to meet with deterioration, death, and decay. This flesh, physiology, anatomy, mind, brain, thoughts, feelings, lusts . . . all of it will die along with our bodies. We are made of dust and cannot carry this frame or its temporal thoughts and desires into eternity. Don’t put everything into what your body tells you to do? It is temporary as are most of what our mind tells us!

Make the choice to rise above where the mind tells you to go or what it tells you to do. Choose to override what your body feels and what it tells you that you cannot live without. Pursue a life outside of what the flesh demands and seeks for your life. Reach for something more than feelings, pleasure, and self-gratification. Like an older preacher said to his church, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward . . .” (Philippians 3:14 NIV)  And yes, it does get better.

Remember that we’re never left alone in the struggle to overcome what seems to be overwhelming desires in life. Every day is a pursuit things that are noble, good, right or appropriate lifestyles and behaviors, correct attitudes and thoughts. It is a never-ending struggle. But, the promise to each of us is that He “. . . is able to keep you from falling and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy . . .” (Jude 24 KJV) He is able and He will “. . . deliver me from this body of death? I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!” – (Romans 7:24a NKJV)

The best thing to do is to cease spending so much time allowing this body of flesh authority over what we feel or think, in order to learn to look beyond ourselves for hope and help. Focus beyond self and feelings to “. . . lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross . . .” – (Hebrews 12:1-2 NKJV)   A much overlooked truth is that our weakness is made strength when we choose to live in pursuit of something better and more noble than our fleshly thoughts and desires. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness,” (I Corinthians 12:9 NIV) is the testimony of someone that lived with real struggle to discover “. . . that Christ’s power may rest on me.” – (II Corinthians 12:9c) Acknowledging the weakness or desire that is contrary to God’s plans for us becomes the avenue through which we discover strength to overcome.

Friends of the same mind pursuing Christ with a whole heart to resist giving in will also encourage, edify, and enlighten you as the days unfold. The crowd that gives in may grow large in number but will never fully understand the scope or feeling of peace and deliverance to a life of victory. “I am a friend to all who fear You, to all who follow Your precepts.” (Psalm 119:63 NIV)

Strength also comes through the Word of God. Strong feelings of desire must be met with strong words from God that edify, empower, and engage us to hope for a better life. “I have hidden Your word in my heart that I might not sin against You . . . My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to Your word.” (Psalm 119:11, 28 NIV)  Remember that God knows who you are, He made you and He is familiar with your struggle: “As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him; for He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust.” (Psalm 103:13-14 NIV)  Jesus endured living in the flesh for you to overcome its strong nature and desire. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet He did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:15-16 NIV)  Remember also that prayer is key to overcoming in the struggle. Boldly seek God’s face in your battle to overcome because He has grace and mercy that will help in time(s) of need. They are sufficient in every battle.

Christ Jesus didn’t give in, but endured both His humanity and the suffering of the cross! Don’t you dare give in! Endurance is hanging in there until the battle is over! You may not win every fight but you can endure to the close of the battle . . . “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrew 12:2-3 NIV)

Stay in the battle to win!

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