Sometimes I find myself thinking that certain sins are set to dog me for my whole life, they loom large, they seem too big too strong, I am defeated by them before I start. Now, we will sin – I don’t believe the Bible teaches sinless perfectionism, but it does teach progressive sanctification.
Living as a follower of Jesus means that we enter into a spiritual war. We mustn’t play down that reality the Bible emphasises again and again. Paul makes that clear as he writes to the Ephesians and calls on them to put on the whole armour of God. Jesus makes that clear as he writes of what the disciples will face and as it’s seen in his own ministry battles with demons and spirits. Revelation gives us a peak behind the curtain of history so that we see some of the spiritual battle that rages. Paul writes of principalities and powers both physical and spiritual.
You can’t take the Bible seriously and read it and think about it without concluding that following Jesus means stepping on to the battlefield of a spiritual war. It is real, it is intense, and it is a fight. But I wonder sometimes if in some areas we treat it less as a battle and more as an inevitable defeat.
I was drawn back to Ezekiel 36v26-26 last week, where we read God’s promise that “I will give you a new heart, and put a new Spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” That is a staggering promise fulfilled by Christ. As those who follow Jesus we are given a new heart, a soft tender heart that is devoted to God and seeks after him. But more than that God himself fills his people with his Spirit, why? To what end? For what purpose? To animate and move us to obey him out of love.