Fighting sin is a battle that defines every Christian's journey on earth.
Sometimes we charge ahead bravely, fortified by our armor and supported by the companions besides us.
Sometimes we crawl naked and bruised from a great fall, in the dirt, and every drop of blood we shed is a reproach to ourselves.
But sometimes we're not so much bruised and bleeding as so weak we can't even stand--we wonder how we became so weak without realizing it before, why something that used to be so simple and forthright suddenly morphed into something so complex and frighteningly difficult. How did we get so weak, and how do we go on?
Looking through my old prayer/spiritual journal from 2012, I discovered one entry where I was struggling with this problem--it felt like I kept falling down whenever I tried to pick myself up, my legs were too weak to stand. Suddenly, I had become so weak in fighting sin. Spiritually I felt like a jellyfish on a dry road, too weak to move, let alone resist anything that tried to squash it or push it back.
I feel ashamed and horrified at myself, and know how difficult it'll be to change.
It makes me realize that I haven't been fighting sin with God's help of late. I've been weakly and halfheartedly struggling with it on my own, and that's why I give in so easily. I need to see the occasions of sin as what they are--every one a fight with Satan--no matter how small or unimportant it seems, and cry to God for help. Is it any wonder if I get discouraged, burnt out, or desensitized if I go on like this?
Sometimes these subtle attacks are worse than the outright wars; it's very obvious, at least, if it's a terrific struggle, something big and bad like fighting to control anger or swallow pride. The severity of it forces me to cry to God for help and then, even in the midst of the fierce war, know that I either end up winning or losing decisively.
But when it's a 'small' sin the strife is so mild in comparison that I end up not asking for God's help, thinking I can deal with it on my own. And then even if I lose, it doesn't seem a big thing--maybe the person you're sinning against doesn't even know or notice it; or it's not enough to visibly strain your relationship; or no one knows, it's just between you and your conscience.
But that's why I've been failing more and more of these challenges. That's why I've gradually become so weak that big and small sins alike become equally difficult, equally impossible to resist. I've fallen into the habit of relying on myself to overcome 'small sins', to settle little temptations with my own self-control and will-power instead of recognizing that I need God's help and going straight to ask Him for it.
Our self-control and our will-power are powerful forces if God uses them. But on their own--on our own, without Him--they became pathetic sticks we wave around under the delusion that they're swords. They can only bring us so far in our war against sin and then they'll crumble away into useless chips of bark in our hands, leaving us helpless and weak.
We can't do it on our own.
I have been constantly learning this lesson, the same lesson in different ways and different depths, all along my Christian life--whether as an unconverted seeker struggling to make peace with God, a young Christian full of aspirations I want to carry out for God, or simply the old fight of sanctification, struggling with the sin that dogs me.
I can't do it on my own.
I need His help, in the big things and the small, in the big sins and the small.
a quiet voice
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