"Who has a harder fight than he who is striving to overcome himself?" Thomas a Kempis
There can be some pretty tough fights we go through in our lifetime, but I think this clergyman of an era gone by hit the nail square on the head! There is no harder fight hand the one we fight with ourselves - especially when there is some 'flaw' we see within ourselves we feel must be overcome. The more we strive to overcome it, the harder the battle gets, and the worse we feel when we find ourselves not 'doing well' in the fight. We are invited to live life to the fullest - in Christ Jesus. Attempting to find a 'full life' outside of that relationship is impossible and can yield some of the toughest fights we will ever have to fight in our lifetime. Our sins are dealt with once and for all. The freedom to live the right way and the desire to live as we should are both provided at the foot of the cross.
This is the kind of life you’ve been invited into, the kind of life Christ lived. He suffered everything that came his way so you would know that it could be done, and also know how to do it, step-by-step.
He never did one thing wrong, not once said anything amiss. They called him every name in the book and he said nothing back. He suffered in silence, content to let God set things right. He used his servant body to carry our sins to the Cross so we could be rid of sin, free to live the right way. His wounds became your healing. You were lost sheep with no idea who you were or where you were going. Now you’re named and kept for good by the Shepherd of your souls. (I Peter 2:21-25)
Peter began this chapter with the reminder to make a clean sweep of some of the most basic of sins such as envy and hurtful talk. The simplest of things some might assume, but the hardest to actually live out in our daily choices. Learn to live without needing to boast of one accomplishments, or put another down with words that cut deep and you have learned a great lesson. Live life like this all the time and you are living a life free! There are lots and lots of things we need to be 'free of' that are revealed in our daily choices. Things we might not realize we need to let go of, or that need to let go of us! As God points even one iota of those things out to us, we need to carry them to the foot of the cross and leave them there. It is only as we do that we are ever going to be truly free.
I am always grateful that God doesn't just 'tell us' to live right and make right choices. He gives us the step-by-step instructions, illustrations through lives both well-lived and those lived without restraint. We don't have to flounder or wonder. We can see plainly in his Word, in the lives of those he puts up before us as both positive and not so very positive examples of how we are to live. These are 'grace guides' to help us through this journey of letting go of what needs to be left at the cross and then lay hold of that which will become the way of obedience.
Where are your areas of greatest struggle today? Are they in the area of your attitude or words? Are they in the realm of your lusts and desires? Are they perhaps in the choices once made, repeated, and now formed into solidly bad habits? It matters not where the struggle is, the same means of freedom exists for all of them! The cross provides the means of deliverance - the repeated direction of our "grace guides" helps us live free each day. These are not mystical 'guides' from the netherworld, but rather the truth of the Word of God, the examples of grace given to us in lives clearly touched by his presence, and the reminders of his Spirit deep within to truly 'live free'.
We don't have to fight with futility. Our battles have all been declared as 'won' in Christ Jesus. We just sometimes need to 'dispossess' our enemy from the land! We might just never feel totally free until the 'enemy within' is totally and completely sent packing! Where is it that this battle is won? At the foot of the cross and no other place! You don't have to be 'spiritual' - you just have to be real in God's presence. You don't have to be 'perfect' - you just have to be transparent. You don't have to know what it is you are battling - you just have to be willing to listen to your Commander in Chief. Just sayin!