THE BATTLE WITHIN US
Are there those things in your life you wish you didn’t do, but you end up doing them anyway? Have you had those times where before you had time to think, words have come out of your mouth which have hurt someone, often it’s the ones you love, and you think, why did I say that?
I am sure that when you get up in the morning, your intentions are to be patient, kind, loving, gentle and self-controlled. But the truth is throughout the day, things come along which frustrate you and try your patience. You have great intentions to be kind, loving and gentle, but when people say things that irritate you, sometimes words have come out of our mouths before we think about the consequences.
How often do we find ourselves in the same situation as Paul writes? “I do not understand my own actions.
Today Paul shares three lessons that he learnt in trying to deal with the battle within us.
First Lesson– Knowledge of the law of God is not the answer.
As we read God’s word his instructions are clear how he wants us to live. To live without greed, hate, jealousy, gossip, sexual immorality, disobedience to authority.
We know what the Ten Commandments say. We know the law is good because they were put in place by God for holy living. The Ten Commandments are like a mirror, they allow each of us to say, “I am doing the very things I hate” as a child of God. Even though we know the law is good, we end up doing what we desire rather than what God desires. Often, we find “what I do is not the good I want to do, no, the evil I do not want to do, this I keep doing”.
Second Lesson– Self-determination is not the answer.
Paul writes: “So I find this law at work. When I want to do good, evil is right there with me.” Have you found yourself sinning in ways that in yourself you are ashamed of? Even though your desire is to be in control, you find you aren’t in control of your thoughts and your actions.
Most likely you would love to get rid of some old habits and attitudes. We want to be more considerate, and helpful and co-operative, to be more open, less critical, more tolerant of others with different opinions, and be more patient. While we can try to be more determined to be that person, there are times we find we aren’t.
Third lesson. To be a Christian does not mean there will be no more sin and temptation in our lives.
We know that don’t we? This battle goes on in us, where even though we have been baptised and all our sins have been washed away by the water and the word, sin still lives within us and constantly pushes us to do the wrong thing. Luther describes our life as a Christian as one of saints and sinners. We are saints because we are baptized into Christ which leads to holiness, but at the same time we are also sinners in need of daily forgiveness.
So, what hope do we have? Will there ever be an end to our struggle of our sinful self, and our desire to do good? We could well cry out as Paul did: “What a wretched person I am. Who will save me from this body of death?”
The answer comes: “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
We are not left on our own to fight the battle within us. Christ himself came into the world and took on Satan himself and won the victory over sin, death and the devil. Through baptism into Christ’s death and resurrection we have received a new life. Which means as children of God, our true nature is now the one which follows Christ and delights in his laws and instructions. Even though we are new people, washed and redeemed by Christ, inside of us still lives the old sinful nature which will not allow our new true selves to grow and rule completely.
So, what do we do? We take up Jesus’ invitation, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
We offer him our failures, our scars from our inner battles, our guilty and crushed consciences, and we ask him to take away our sins and our guilt. Jesus says: “For my yoke is easy, my burden is light.”
The burden is light because daily he wants us to come to him and confess our sins and he will remove the guilt of sin. When we allow God to be our master, the living Christ fills every part of our lives and when burdens and troubles preoccupy our minds and lives, our faith tells us that we have a God who loves and cares for us.
As we realize the great love that Jesus has for us, our faith becomes living and active in our daily lives.
We learn to be caring and concerned about people.
We serve the Lord with a heart full of devotion.
We are patient in times of trouble, praying always.
We do everything possible to live in peace with everyone.
We are willing to do whatever we can to support the mission of God’s church and be a living witness to the world. We gladly do these things and more because our faith in Jesus has become a living faith.
Today Paul is drawing our attention to the times when all good intentions succumb to the battle within and we feel disappointed as Paul did. “I don’t understand myself at all, for I do not do what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.
The battle within us will go on, but when we feel confused and overwhelmed by the appeal of the desires of the flesh, let us remember who bought us with his body and blood on the cross. We ask Jesus to take control of our minds and bodies and protect us against those things that lead us into sin.
Jesus invites us to come to him and find rest for our souls with Him. If we try to rely on our own strength we are bound to fail. Thank God for Jesus Christ!
He rescues us, forgives us, takes away our burdens, and promises to bring us home to receive that eternal rest in him.
Rest in his merciful presence as he fills us with his presence through the power of the Spirit to overcome the battle within. In Christ we can find peace.
Thanks be to God! Amen.
This message by Rev. Joshua Pfeiffer brought to you by Grace Lutheran Church, Web and Park Street, Mountain View, Arkansas. For prayer or more information, contact Pastor Kenneth Taglauer by email: [email protected]. A Pass it On Project , You can read more at Lutheran Church of Australia Sermons