When I was a young believer I had the mindset that if I got to a certain level of spiritual maturity, had served the Lord for a “magical” number of years, or learned a specific amount of knowledge I would no longer struggle in my walk with the Lord. The truth is though the struggle never ends.
The day we believe we have made it or matured beyond struggling is the day we open ourselves up for failure. As believers our struggle never ends. Our struggle with sin, our struggle against the flesh, our struggle against anything that sets itself up against the Spirit.
For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. – Galatians 5:17
Flesh and the Spirit are constantly at battle, and this battle whether it is with drugs, pride, addiction, lust, self-righteousness, or any other myriad of sins, never ends.
Paul reminded the Corinthians to never think they had reached the end. He urged them to stay vigilant by saying:
Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. – 1 Corinthians 10:12
He even said this of himself:
Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. – Philippians 3:12
Paul, the same Paul that wrote the majority of the New Testament, in all of his spiritual maturity, and in all of his spiritual authority knew better than to ever think he was “there.” “There” being the place where the struggle between sin and the flesh have completely lost the battle to the Spirit.
He also urged the Corinthians to always be alert because he knew that sometimes you just couldn’t see the enemy. He wanted believers to be like watchmen on the wall at all times prepared for the Spiritual battle.
Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. – 1 Corinthians 16:13
There are times in our life when we stand stronger in the faith than others. There are seasons of life where nothing can shake our spiritual walk, while at others even the most spiritually mature struggle. It is the constant uphill climb. It is the constant fight against the undertow and riptide.
As believers we must always be of sober spirit, because not one of us is safe from spiritual struggles and attacks. Peter likens it to a lion attack.
Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. – 1 Peter 5:8-9
A lion doesn’t barge at its prey straight out of the gate. He sneaks low, slow, and unsuspecting to get as close as he can get to it. His very coloring mimics the surrounding grasses. He will get as close to you as possible, waiting quietly and patiently for the exact moment to attack.
Paul often refers to sin as a life form that attacks, and struggles, and raises itself up against the Spirit. Sin may also lie dormant. When you think you have gained complete victory and you begin to let your guard down sin and the flesh will rise up against the Spirit.
This is why every day, even every hour we must crucify the flesh and cry out as Christ did in the garden “Not my will, but your will be done.”
We must constantly have upon our lips the words of David, who prayed,
Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful [some versions say wicked] way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.
I by no means claim perfection in my walk with Christ. I by no means claim that I have obtained that perfection in even crucifying the flesh daily. I too struggle with even putting to death the flesh at times.
Friends until the perishable puts on imperishable, until the corruptible puts on incorruptible, and until the day the imperfect puts on perfection at the resurrection we will struggle. We will have to battle. We will have to continue in the struggle against everything that raises itself up against the Spirit.
The struggle never ends. We may no longer struggle with the temptation to steal a pack of gum at the store, but as we mature we may now struggle with pride, addiction, or self-righteousness.
Let us be diligent in putting to death the deeds of the flesh. Let us be diligent in crucifying the self daily. Let us be diligent to allow Christ to live His life through us, because the struggle never ends.