Christianity is war, plain and simple. If you are a Christian and don’t know this—you are in trouble.
This war is far more real than you think. The fighting is intense, lasting and real victories are hard won and more rare than you think, casualties abound, retreat is commonplace, and taking and holding ground far more costly than ever imagined. This war is the ultimate reality all earthly wars point to. They are but a picture of this war, as real and terrible as they are. Our spiritual war is the reality as unreal as it sometimes appears to be.
In this fight, our weapons are not made of metal and plastic but are divinely powerful designed to destroy all that is in us that is opposed to Christ. Our enemy is a brutal, savvy, treacherous, highly skilled, and unbelievably enduring foe whose greatest strength is his close proximity to us....for our enemy is always with us 24/7. It is none other than our sinful flesh, our old man, if you will, whose nature it is to oppose, fight, and if it could, destroy the spiritual life within us that is becoming more and more glorious everyday as it is being conformed moment-by-moment into the image of Christ 24/7 whether you realize it or not.
Our enemy will never quit, be reformed, tamed, surrender, tire of fighting, or concede. Its fight is to the death and only in our death will its head never rise again. But while our flesh presents itself as such a formidable foe it can be defeated even if not yet destroyed. It can be resisted and it can even be used to encourage our battle hardened and weary souls when seen aright for what it is and why it is. You see, the mere realization that we have a sinful flesh that opposes us in our desire to pursue Christ assures us that our pursuit of Christ is real and something the enemy of our soul finds worthy of opposing.
The truth all Christians must learn and can only truly learn through spiritual hand-to-hand combat with this enemy who seems to prevail against us at every point is that the mere fact that we are being opposed by as well as opposing our sinful flesh provides us with an assurance of salvation we could find nowhere else. For you see before salvation, we were at peace with our sin but at war with God. After salvation, we are at peace with God but at war with our sin.
Listen, I know firsthand how ugly this battle can get. I also understand how demoralizing and discouraging it often becomes to lose battle after battle. But don’t diminish the value of the battle whether won or lost. Only believers are at war with their sinful flesh and thus, the greatest value may not lie so much in your success as much as in the fact that you’re in the fight.