1285. Why am I Still Struggling?

If you are a Christian who is still battling the same old things, here’s hope.

IT’S WORTH CONSIDERING

Why are You Still Struggling?

If you are a Christian, do you find yourself struggling to conform your life to biblical standards that seem impossible to attain? If you do, you’ve got lots of company. Perhaps you’re discouraged because your temptation in some area is just as strong as it was ten years ago. Then there are verses like 1 John 3:6 that says that no one who abides in Jesus sins. This and other verses like it are enough to drive us to despair. Of course, we sin, but these verses seem to say that if we were really saved, we wouldn’t sin at all. That’s really frustrating.
Paul expressed the same frustration in Romans 7 where he recounts a time in his life when what he did never matched what he knew he should do, and it was driving him crazy. This was before he learned the truth that set him free from his struggles and frustration. Isn’t it comforting to know that even the great apostle Paul struggled with the same things that confound us?

What I am sharing today represents my own process of being set free from these same things. The Bible says that we shall know the truth and the truth shall make us free (John 8:32). The truth that has set me free from the struggles that frustrate all of us is the same truth that set Paul free, and it will do the same for you, if you let it.

AS I SEE IT

The underlying truth is that when we are born again, and we are placed in Christ, the result was a “dual nature.” Stay with me here. It’s not complicated at all. Most of us go through our Christian life from a “single nature” approach. We think that the “new creation” that we have become (2 Cor. 5:17) represents a new and improved version of who we were and that this “new life” is all there is in us. We assume that this new life is responsible for everything we do, say, or even think. Since it’s from God, we think it should conform to God’s righteous standards. We trust that this “new creation” will enable us to overcome all the things that got the best of us before we were saved.

We rarely ever actually reason this out. It’s just where our subconscious goes. Most of us are never taught to avoid this kind of thinking, so our subconscious reasoning just goes there. We assume that as a new creation, we are equipped with everything we need to live the “victorious Christian life.”

It doesn’t take long for the struggle to begin. The more we read and learn, the more convicted we become over our failures. Our actions don’t match what we are commanded to do and we enter into Paul’s frustration as expressed in Romans 7.

Now for the good news, which is that we actually have a dual nature-our new nature and our old nature. The new nature is also referred to as the Spirit. The old nature is called the flesh. The new nature (Spirit) is Christ now dwelling in us via the Holy Spirit. Everything in the new nature is perfect and sinless. The old nature (flesh) is everything we used to be. Everything in it is unrighteous and full of sin.

These two natures are constantly battling one another for our attention (Gal. 5:17). The flesh sets its desire against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh. The flesh wants its every desire to be gratified. It wants to glorify self and to deny the need for God’s help. It is self-seeking; sin-oriented, and God-hating. It’s true that our “old man” (old life) was crucified with Christ on the cross (Gal. 2:20; Rom. 6:6). Yet it didn’t cease to exist, never to be heard from again. Its power over us was ended forever, but its influence would keep hanging around in what is called “the flesh.” The Spirit is all about God’s will being carried out in God’s power by allowing Jesus Christ to live out His life through the body and personality of the believer. This happens as we walk in the Spirit.

This is what Paul learned that led to the great freedom he expressed in Romans 8. He came to realize that there were two natures within him, the Spirit and the flesh. One holy and righteous, the other utterly sinful. Paul’s freedom came when he understood that when he sinned (doing the opposite of what we wanted to do), it wasn’t him (represented by his new nature-the Spirit) that was sinning. It was sin in his flesh. He hadn’t sinned. He had simply given in to his flesh. This is why he began Chapter 8 with “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Instead of beating himself up over his apparent failures, he came to recognize that there was a war going on within him. His mission was now to make sure he continued to walk in the Spirit while denying the flesh.

This understanding also explains 1 John 3:6 which says that no one who abides in Jesus sins. Now we know that when we abide in Jesus, we are walking in the Spirit, where it is impossible to sin. If we sin, we must have stopped abiding in Him and given in to the flesh.

Do you see now how freeing this truth is and why it is so important to continually walk in the Spirit? By abiding in Christ, our frustration will be replaced by excitement over the fruit we are bearing (John 15:5). God doesn’t want His children to be struggling over unnecessary things.

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