“Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? AND IF YOU DO NOT DO WELL, SIN LIES AT THE DOOR. And its desire is FOR YOU, BUT YOU SHOULD RULE OVER IT” (Genesis 4:6-7).
And the Apostle Paul tells us exactly, as believers in Christ, how to rule over these attacks that come by way of our sinful flesh. Yes, he first writes that without Christ and the help of His wonderful, enabling Spirit, he cannot fight this battle alone.
As he writes in the name of all of us:
“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. … O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God — through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Romans 7:18, 24-25a.
Then, in chapter eight of his epistle, he proceeds to explain how the Lord is willing to help us to overcome the flesh through His Spirit:
“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. … So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. … Therefore, brethren, we are debtors — not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. … Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. … What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” Romans 8:1. 8, 12-14, 26, 31-37.
So then, just as we believers do not try fight the battles in the larger world around us with carnal weapons, but are increasingly made aware by the Lord and equipped by Him with spiritual weapons – faith, prayer, fasting – to fight these strongholds and principalities, so it is also in our personal battles with the principality of our sinful flesh.
To God be all the glory, who has delivered us and given us His Spirit to overcome the lusts of the flesh.
This is why the Lord told His disciples – as He tells us today – that we need to watch and pray not to fall into temptation:
“Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” Matthew 26:41.
The author of the epistle to the Hebrew writes:
“For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin. And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.” Hebrews 12:3-6.
And Jesus holds out before us the following words:
“If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it — lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple” Luke 14:26-33.
So these verses show what our Lord already said when He was on earth; no one can be His servant who is not willing to put the Lord first and above the ties to his closest relatives and family. We are here on earth in a total battle for the Lord against principalities and powers, and any area in our life which we have not been willing to surrender to the lordship of Christ becomes a potential entryway to the Evil One, a snare hindering us from fully serving the Lord and His purpose in our lives.
If we are willing to become over comers in the service of the Lord, then we need these verses to remind and strengthen ourselves – as David did – in the Lord and in the power of His might. We need to battle in His strength, watching and praying, resisting the Devil and his schemes, persevering and striving unto blood to remain on His narrow road and so to see His fruitfulness in, and strategic use of, our lives to His glory.
We need to be strong in the Lord and so to see His victories in and through our lives!
Jan Willem van der Hoeven, Director
International Christian Zionist Center
Republished with the kind permission of Author Jan Willem van der Hoeven, Director of International Christian Zionist Center.
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