Have you ever uttered a prayer that goes something like this? “Father, forgive me of this – again.” If we’re honest, most of us have, at one time or the other, struggled off and on with something that keeps tripping us up. To that issue, the writer of Hebrews admonishes us to set aside “the sin that so easily besets us” (Hebrews 12:1). Did he mean sin, in general, or might it be that he was referring to that particular thing we struggle with over and over again? Before you answer, consider what Paul had to say in Romans 7.
“For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. 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. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.” Romans 7:14-20)
Is Paul saying “The devil made me do it?” Of course not. He is just stating what a lot of us feel; that we desperately want to be the people God has created and ordained us to be in spite of who we really are at times. We can’t seem to become the person He wants us to be because we do things we really don’t want to do and fail to do those things that we really want to and should do. Essentially, he telling us that, first and foremost, we’re in a battle with ourselves because, even though we’re born again, we’re not yet in a glorified body. Mortal has not yet put on immortality. Corruption has not yet put on incorruption, and therefore, our biggest adversary is not the devil; our biggest adversary is self.
Therefore, we need to embrace the goodness of God’s Word and His instructions and let it indict our disobedient flesh. Rather than letting our errant habits overwhelm us with hopelessness, we need to focus on the standards set forth in His Word and be challenged to overcome that sin that so easily besets us. In other words, we need to be challenged to defeat the enemy within. This is must because we can’t expect to overcome the adversary without unless we first defeat the adversary within. Revelation 12:11 tells us that, at the end of days, there are people who will overcome the Adversary, the Devil:
“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.”
The people that are described here overcame the Devil because they first conquered the enemy within; we know that because it says “they did not love their lives to the death.” When we are born again of the incorruptible seed, we are given the ability, the power and the right to become the sons of God. When the Word of God is in us and is being manifest in our lives, we are positioned to overcome all obstacles. Because His Spirit and Word lives in us we can overcome Satan and the world IF we have learned to overcome the adversary within us – that is, our will and selfish desires.
Our prayer for today, tomorrow and everyday until mortal puts on immortality should be, “Father, help me defeat self. Help me to overcome the adversary that’s within me, that I might overcome the adversary of my soul.”