© by Todd A. Sinelli

You have a problem.

How’s that for a conversation starter? Would you like to slap me in the face now or later? Or would it be best to dump the drink in your hand over my head? Either way, before you slap me or pour that drink over my head, please allow me to explain.

I may not ever meet you but one thing I can know about you is that you’ve got a problem. Yes, you’ve got a very big problem. Guess what? I also have this problem. It is a very big problem. Not only do you and I have this problem but everyone who is a born again believer of Jesus Christ shares this problem.

Let me be clear in articulating this, you are the problem. As Pogo stated, “we have met the enemy and it is us.” You may say, “Me? The problem?” Yep, the problem is you. In other words, it is actually your flesh that is the problem. When you get saved, your spirit is born again and will live forever; however, your flesh is going back to dust for in dust it was created. Before you were saved, the Bible says that you were a slave to sin. When you became born again, you became a slave to righteousness. This is going to need some explaining.

The Bible states, “Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching which you were committed” (Rom 6:16-17).

To be more specific, we all have a serious problem. Sin is the problem. We were slaves to sin but once we became born again there is a greater hope acting within us that allows us to be victorious in this daily battle against the evil living within our flesh.

Do you know how to fight this battle? I hope so. Wouldn’t it be great to become more schooled in the teachings of Christ rather than the teachings of this world? This article will examine the war we fight with sin and lean heavily upon excerpts taken from Kris Lundgaard’s book The Enemy Within.

Two Different Battle Plans

The teachings of this world seek to please the flesh and the teachings of the Bible seek to nourish your soul. Two different desires are at work within your body. The Bible tells us to, “clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature” (Rom 13:14) but to, “destroy speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor 10:5-6). We must receive our instruction from the Word of God and learn how to walk by the Spirit so that we do not carry out the desire of the flesh (Gal 5:16).

Now, I have some good news and some bad news for you. The good news is really good and the bad news is really bad. Here’s the bad news first. You are a sinful, wretched person. Those might not be the kindest words you would like to hear from me; however, they are true. There is nothing good in you other than Christ. Jesus said, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing” (John 6:63). We are not to boast in wisdom, strength, or wealth (Jer 9:23-24). Our only boast should be that we know and understand our Lord and His commands, words, and statutes bring us into a deeper knowledge of Him (Pr 8:10-11). Through our knowledge of God, we begin to see how holy, pure, awesome and amazing He is and how He has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him (2 Peter 1:3). The really, really good news is that we have the Bible to teach us how to navigate along this journey called life. This is not only good news, it is great news.

Let me let you in on a little secret, the struggle with sin is normal. It’s part of life. Once you grasp this, you will then stop trying to find a hidden cause for sin. Once you became born again, your life is no longer dominated by sin. You are a new creature created in Christ Jesus where God has prepared good works in advance for you to do (Eph 2:10). 2 Corinthians 5:17 states, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Cor 5:17). As Jim Achilles from Grace Bible Church in Hollister writes, “The Christian is a cleansed person. His life is new, his position before God is sure, his sin is forgiven and he’s been given the power of the Spirit of God.”

Here’s some more good news: God knows you. He knows you are full of sin, but greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4).

The battle we all fight is with our flesh. The battle of our flesh warring within us. Warring within us. This is strong language. The Apostle Paul writes, “I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members.” This struggle will continue until we die. Paul says, “For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want” (Rom 7:19).

The question I have for you is, “Do you know how to fight this battle of You vs You?”

If so, great. Let’s swap notes.

If not, keep reading and we’ll look at what the Bible teaches us in order to have victory against the enemy within.

Sin

Sin makes us an offer. The offer is usually glittery, seductive, and tapered to attempt to satisfy those things that can never be satisfied through the things of this world: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life (1 John 2:16).

The book of James tells us how sin works, “But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren” (James 1:14-16).

Sin is in you. It is in your flesh and it wants to be pleased. However, there is only one thing that can satisfy our soul. It is the surpassing knowledge of knowing Jesus Christ. By knowing God we want to know more about His ways, His Kingdom, His righteousness, His love. Colossians 2:3 says that in Christ “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I say this so that no one will delude you with persuasive argument.”

The first step to combating sin is to renew your mind in the Scriptures (Rom 12:1-2) and to find out what pleases the Lord (Eph 5:10).

We must learn to use our mind and train it to focus on what is most important. “If you want to overthrow a fortress, start by knocking out the watchman—if he can’t warn the others, you will easily breach the wall and carry the day. The flesh plies deceit to knock out the watchman of your soul: your mind. Each of the faculties of your soul has duties before God. The mind is the sentinel, commanded to watch carefully over the soul by questioning, assessing, and making judgments: ‘Will this please God? ‘Is this according to God’s Word?’ If the mind determines that an action is right, the affections should then fall in line and desire, long for, and cling to that which the mind said was good.”

“The pleasures of sin are the rewards it offers—rewards most people will sell their souls for. Hebrews 11:24-26 hints at a battle for the heart of Moses:

By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.

The contest was between the law of sin and law of grace. The rewards offered to Moses by sin must have been great: honor with the Egyptians, wealth beyond anything he could see among the people of Israel, the intellectual delights of debating with the top minds of Egypt, the sensual pleasures of fine food, women, and entertainment.” These are powerful temptations for most men. Moses chose wisely and forsook the pleasures of sin and was obedient to the Lord through this test.

Kris Lundgaard writes, “The law of sin doesn’t work on us from the outside. We carry it in us. It’s not a written law, simply directing us by decree. It is inbred—working, compelling, and urging us from the shadows of our hearts. Paul calls it ‘sin living in me’ (Rom 7:17), the evil that is ‘right there with me’ (v. 21), ‘another law at work in the members of my body,’ and ‘the law of sin aw work within my members’ (v. 23). In verse 18 he says, ‘I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.’”

Friends, sin is a major problem. It is at war with our Spirit. We must understand this to find our victory in Christ and by obeying His commands. “Never think for a minute that the war against sin is over in this life. There isn’t even a cease-fire.”

Your flesh will deceive you. It will trick you. This battle we wage is within. Victory rests in obedience to the Scriptures and letting God’s Word “judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb 4:12). The believing Christian has a “new mind—even the mind of Christ (Rom 7:25; 8:26; 1 Cor 2:16), and new desires for the things of God (Rom 7:18; 2 Cor 5:2; Heb 13:18). Yet, God’s work in this renewed heart is unfinished (1 John 3:2). The mind can’t see clearly as it will (1 Cor 13:9, 12), the desires can be entangled (Gal 2:11-13), and the will can’t fully do God’s will (Gal 5:17). The flesh in the believer remains unsearchable and deceitful.”

Sometimes we think of the flesh as our enemy; but it only hates us because God is in us, “The flesh wars against the Spirit” (Gal 5:17) in us. The flesh’s hatred of God explains a lot.

“Which is easier: to sit with a bucket of butter-soaked popcorn and watch Tom Cruise on the big screen for two hours, or kneel and pray for five minutes? Tom Cruise wins hands down, because there is literally no competition. What the flesh hates is God, so it resists anything that smacks of God—especially communion with him. You can feel the hostility of the flesh whenever you approach God—it makes real love for him into work: digging around the Bible to find a juicy new insight to impress your small group is like sailing the Caribbean, but poring over the Scriptures to find the Lover of your soul is like skiing UP Mount Everest.”

The great thing about having the Scriptures to guide us is that we are “instructed to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus” (Titus 2:12-13). God wants us to live, think, and act differently than those who are not saved. “You must understand this: the flesh weakens conviction against sin by separating the remedy of grace from the design of grace. The flesh works to make you forget the design (that you are saved to be holy) and think only of the remedy (if you sin you’ll be forgiven). It preaches half a gospel (a twisted gospel) to us: ‘Go ahead and indulge—it’s already paid for.’ Those who fall prey to such deception are evidently many, since the Scriptures go to such lengths to condemn it (Rom 3:5-8; 6:1-4, Jude 4).”

The flesh is fighting to drive every thought of God far from our minds and it wants to be filled with the ways of this world. “The flesh knows a mind cannot be fixed both on God and earthly things (Col 3:2; 1 John 2:15). The main ploy of the flesh is to slip worldliness into the mind under the guise of necessity.”

“Imagine a man starting off in his business with his heart set on honoring God in all his ways, then being led astray. He gives a tenth or more of his profits to the kingdom, and God blesses his work. So he works harder, makes more profit, gives more to God. This looks and feels like God’s blessing, yet his hard work and the demands of his success start to encroach on his time in the Word and private prayer. He meditates more now on his quality control than God’s control of his life. The tunnel has been dug under the wall, and it caves in, exposing his heart to the deeper deceit of the flesh.”

The flesh is deceitful beyond comprehension and uses subtle tactics of taking what is good and please to God and using it to squeeze out thoughts of God. Again, the “main ploy of the flesh is to slip worldliness into the mind under the guise of necessity.”

Victory in Christ

There are certain steps for us to take to fight against the flesh:
– we can meditate on the cross and see the rottenness of our sin and the fullness of Christ’s love
– keep watch against sin’s deceit
– fill you affections with heavenly things
– renew your first love for Jesus
– hunger for a glimpse of God’s holy glory

“If you ask what foundation you have to build your expectations on, remember that you have no other options outside of Christ. To whom will you go? Christ alone has the words of life (John 6:68). Without Him you can do nothing (John 15:5). Your only strength comes from Christ dwelling in your heart by faith (Eph 3:16-17). You can only put the misdeeds of the flesh to death ‘by the Spirit’ (Rom 8;13). And who sends and commands the Spirit but Christ? Think about his mercy, tenderness, and kindness as your High Priest at the right hand of God.”

He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted (Heb 2:17-18).

We are in this fight seemingly alone yet mysteriously together. Each one of us will fight our own battles with the flesh; however, God promises us victory when we are “strong in the Lord” and “we must pay careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away” (Heb 2:1). “The sense of the warning is that we need to give earnest attention to the things we have heard (in the Scriptures), because if we don’t, we’ll lose the life, power, sense, and impression of them in our minds. There is no way to keep the impression of the Word in our minds except by constant care.”

Our job is to kill the flesh. The strength we have is God’s Spirit working in us. God has given us tools to fight this specific war. “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses” (2 Cor 10:3). Two weaons we use are: prayer and ministry of God’s Word (Acts 6:4). Never underestimate the power of these two weapons with which we fight spiritual battles.

Conclusion:

There is an enemy within you and it is your flesh. Do not be deceived by its trickery, cunning, and deceitfulness. Live under the mindset that you will be given power by the Holy Spirit to be obedient to the teachings of God. Your sins are forgiven and when you repent God remembers them no more. There is freedom in being forgiven and because of the mercies God has upon us, let us offer our bodies as holy living sacrifices which is our reasonable act of worship (Rom 12:1-2).

Furthermore, let us be thankful and “not to lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Cor 4:16-17).

Jesus said He will never leave us nor forsake us so that we confidently say, “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?” (Heb 13:6). If you are born again, God is on your side. He desires to show you the power of His might and the rewards of obedience by providing you with the peace that surpasses all understanding as you consider it all joy as you face trials and tribulations of many kinds (James 1:2-3) knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.

God uses the weakness of our flesh to show us the strength of Him.

May you continue to fight the battle of You vs You and become more and more victorious as you submit to the Spirit of God to empower you beyond what you could ask or even imagine.

Christ is our hope, our victor, our model, and the one who causes all things to work together for your good and His glory. The Bible says we are a “midst”, “vapor”, “aliens”, and “pilgrims” just passing through on our way to an eternal home with our Lord. There is a battle going on inside your flesh. Fight with a battle plan that mirror’s Jesus’ when He was tempted by Satan after fasting forty days and forty nights. His constant response was, “It is written. . . ”

Take some time to study the best selling book of all time. In it you will find some fascinating battle plans that makes us equipped to fight these light and momentary battles that “war against your soul.”

The battle of You vs. You is really Jesus and You vs. your flesh. Keep your focus on the author and perfecter of faith and He will never leave you, nor forsake you. “You will fight, and you will see your flesh crumble. It is God’s pleasure not only to rescue you from hell, but to glorify you with Christ by making you like Him. You will see through your flesh’s most deadly deception. You will grow in self-disciple and courage.”