I think, and then of course act, as though my fiercest enemy is someone or something out there. I fret about a problem or a person just on the other side of the hill, something or someone I know is ready to make trouble for me tomorrow. I sweat and stress and stew about it or him or her.
And so I’m often preparing for the wrong battle.
Every Christian will have to wrestle the world and struggle against Satan, but the pivotal war of my life is being waged inside my own skin. My biggest enemy, and the thing causing my most glaring vulnerability, is my own sin.
Have you ever felt really wronged by somebody? You know how it eats away at you? Or apprehension about something coming down the pike? You know that palm-sweating, can’t-sleep sort of worry?
I can be so absorbed in that sort of thing, with what or who might assault my comfort, my peace, or my loved ones, that I neglect the thing most poisonous to any of those: my sin. I bloody my knuckles on a punching bag preparing for the wrong enemy. I’m so obsessed with financial problems or job worries or car troubles that I miss the fact that my rage or doubt or idolatry or deceit are right at the door, threatening to blow it off the hinges and kill everyone inside.
The most important battle you’re ever going to load your musket for is the one against your own flesh. Your sin is a far more deadly foe than a layoff or a leak in the roof or a bitter relative you can’t please. Your anger, gossiping, lust, and idolatry are far better armed, and far closer to the front lines. This is Gettysburg. This is Normandy. I’m warning you and I’m warning me: Don’t get too distracted by life’s little skirmishes with less toxic dilemmas. The one that can cost us most dearly is right behind our own breastbone.
The devil and my flesh would love for me to spend six hours wondering how to pay a bill and no time praying for victory over my anger. So this is a written redirect, as well as an attempted clarion to fellow Christians: this is the battlefield where most eternal blood is spilled. This is the war our Savior died to win, and rose to prove He can’t lose. This is the one where the smoke clears and the faithful are left standing, swords of Spirit in hand, ready for a peace that never ends.
This is the one that counts more.
Be brave, and be focused.
I’ll let Scripture shut the door for me:
For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me… For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate… For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’