The Struggling Christian

21 I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. 22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 I thank God — through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.

Romans 7:21-25

In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, amen!

The war and struggle between the human flesh and God’s spirit working within the Christian is real.  However, only the Christian has such struggle.  Such struggle demonstrates itself as one day may be of greater or lesser intensity than another.

Unbelievers do not have the same struggle as the Christian, nor do they see such a struggle of the Christian as of any major significance, for the unbeliever does not have faith.  Yet for the Christian, the battle within, even greater than the battle with out, can often be overwhelming and even paralyzing, because the struggle of which I speak is not merely of the mind or of the heart, but of the soul.  Does God still love me?  How can God still love me?  Things really shouldn’t be this way.  I shouldn’t be this way!  I should know better.

Granted, Christians don’t always ask such questions at every moment.  Sometimes the confidence of the Christian is unwavering.  The Bible does say that you are loved of God! (i.e. Romans 8:38-39)

God, in His tender mercy, gives such confident faith, and for this, Christians give unceasing thanks and praise.

There are times, though, that despondency and the sense of hopelessness, however brief or intense, may raise their ugly heads.  These, though, are not of God.  Therefore do we also pray, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

God instead gives certainty and promise.  God does not lead to doubt and despair, but instead gives joy and certitude in His blessed Son our Savior.

When the questions of God’s mercy and His kindness appear, and they will, and when you face such struggles, remember that God is your Helper.  He will never leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5).  His Word is sure and everlasting! (1 Peter 1:25)

These things are so, not because you believe them, but because God has declared them so.  Know that His love for you in Christ is abundant and abounding, and not at all dependent on how you feel or how you have failed (or are failing).

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.   For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.   And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation”  (Romans 5:8-11).

God also says, even to you, “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you” (Jeremiah 31:3).

If you don’t feel such struggles as God’s beloved child, you need not look far to find them.  They will find you.  But when they do come, whether big or small, do not give in to despair.  Rather, hope in the Lord!  It may be that at those times, all you can do is pray and call out.  Such is what faith does.  You don’t have to change for God to hear you or love you.  Know that He already does, in Christ!  He is your comfort, whether the struggle be slight or intense.  And should you ever sense that you can’t hold on any longer, know that it is He who is holding on to you.  It is not you that carry God.  It is He that graciously carries you! (See Luke 15:4-7)

Thus does your Lord say, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

And, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6-7).

Your Lord does care, and because He does, so do His people!

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.  Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” ( Ephesians 6:10-13).

 

Luther

 

“Because the flesh cannot believe for sure that the promises of God are true, it resists the spirit.  Therefore it contends against the spirit and, as Paul says, holds the spirit captive (Romans 7:23), to keep it from believing as firmly as it wants to (Gal. 5:17).  This is why we continually teach that the knowledge of Christ and of faith is not a human work but utterly a divine gift; as God creates faith, so He preserves us in it.  And just as He initially gives us faith through the Word, so later on He exercises, increases, strengthens, and perfects it in us by that Word.  Therefore the supreme worship of God that a man can offer, the Sabbath of Sabbaths, is to practice true godliness, to hear and read the Word.  On the other hand, nothing is more dangerous than to become tired of the Word.  Therefore anyone is so cold that he thinks he knows enough and gradually begins to loathe the Word has lost Christ and the Gospel.”  (Luther’s Lectures on Galatians, LW 26, p64).

Prayer: Lord Jesus, do not forsake Me.  Grant me faith to believe Your promises and to hold on to them as my own at all times, for You freely give them to me.  Amen.

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