The Christian life is a battle. It's war against every impulse and urge to exult self, a non stop warring against every inclination to follow after the sinful desires of our flesh, and a ceaseless striving to pull down every evil stronghold of this world.
The most important questions of your life, if you are a professing Christian, is not, "Have you won the war?" or "Have you gained victory?" ..... It is, "Are you in the war?", "Have you gained any victories?". If you haven't gained any victories, yet in a little while, you will. If you are a Christian for any length of time, and you keep fighting the good fight, you will make progress.
The opposite is also true. If you profess to know Christ, yet are at ease in this world, you my friend are lost. To be at ease in this world is to be at peace with the devil. To have a holy discomfort in this world, is to be a friend with God. Amy Carmichael, a great missionary used by God in days gone by said this, “Soldiers don’t ask for ease or expect it”
Do you have a holy discomfort in this world? Do you expect ease? There is no other way about it. I do not say this to crush you. I say this to stir you up. Pastor John Piper said in his sermon Febuary 17, 2002, “How to Kill Sin, Part 2” “Until you believe that life is war — that the stakes are your soul — you will probably just play at Christianity with no bloodearnestness and no vigilance and no passion and no wartime mindset. If that is where you are this morning, your position is very precarious. The enemy has lulled you into sleep or into a peacetime mentality, as if nothing serious is at stake. And God, in his mercy, has you here this morning, and had this sermon appointed to wake you up, and put you on a wartime footing. Jesus said in Matthew 11:12, "From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force." Do you want to enter the kingdom of heaven? Take it violently! But violence against whom — or against what? Listen to Jesus' answer: "If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than to have two hands or two feet and be cast into the eternal fire" (Matthew 18:8). Do you want to enter life? Take it violently. Cut off your hand or your foot if you must to keep from stumbling. It's a picture of the most radical kind of assault on our own sin. Not the sins of others — our sins. Lay that on top of Romans 8:13, "If by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live." Do you want to enter into life? Do you want to live? Get violent. Get a wartime mindset. Stop making peace with ears and eyes and tongues and hands and feet that betray you like Judas, and go over to the side of the enemy and become instruments of sin and make war on your soul. Put to death the deeds of your body. Ed Welch, in preparation for his book called A Banquet in the Grave, said: “. . . there is a mean streak to authentic self-control. . . Self-control is not for the timid. When we want to grow in it, not only do we nurture an exuberance for Jesus Christ, we also demand of ourselves a hatred for sin. . . . The only possible attitude toward out-of-control desire is a declaration of all-out war. . . . There is something about war that sharpens the senses . . . You hear a twig snap or the rustling of leaves and you are in attack mode. Someone coughs and you are ready to pull the trigger. Even after days of little of no sleep, war keeps us vigilant.” There is a mean, violent streak in the true Christian life! But violence against whom, or what? Not other people. It's a violence against all the impulses in us that would be violent to other people. It's a violence against all the impulses in our own selves that would make peace with our own sin and settle in with a peacetime mentality. It's a violence against all lust in ourselves, and enslaving desires for food or caffeine or sugar or chocolate or alcohol or pornography or money or the praise of men and the approval of others or power or fame. It's violence against the impulses in our own soul toward racism and sluggish indifference to injustice and poverty and abortion.”
Again, the question is not, "Have you won the war?", "Have you reached some state of where you have it all together and walk on cloud nine twenty four seven?" No. No. No.
The question is, "Have you signed up for war?","Have you confessed Jesus as Lord, and surrendered to follow him with your life?"
If you have. Be ready for battle. Be ready to fight the good fight. Be ready to make war. But also know this, you will win. There is victory in Jesus. God will provide you strength through the Holy Spirit to persevere.God fills his soldiers with joy and peace and a resting in him, even amidst the battle. The Christian life might be war, it is definitely that, but it is not drudgery.
“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11)
The other thing I must mention is, the one big difference between Christian war and all other war, even religious wars like terrorism or anything else is, its not like that. All other wars are wars against other people. Christians do not war against other people. Our war is mainly against ourselves and the sinful desires of our flesh; that is sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. Our war is a war to follow after Christ and the fruit of the Spirit; which is, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:18-23)
Our war is to not to hurt other people. Our war is to give our lives for other people so that they might have life too. Our war is not against people. Our war is against “flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12)
“O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus… to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ which he will display at the proper time” (1 Timothy 6:11-15a)
The Christian life is serious business. It is not for the faint of heart. It is for those if it were not for Christ, would faint. Are you in the battle? If you are, press on! Fight the good fight!
“Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.” (1 Timothy 4:8)