By Anna Bright
For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do (Galatians 5:17 ESV).
First of all, let me take this opportunity to greet all of my former readers from my previous column and to welcome all of you to my new column, “The Faith Connection”! I am excited about my return to the “Faith and Values” page, and my prayer is that each one of my messages will encourage, inspire, or motivate you in some way. Happy Blessed Reading!
What is a “war”? According to Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary, a war is “a struggle or competition between opposing forces or for a particular end.” Ever since the beginning of time, man has had struggles—some with others and some with himself. However, when someone is trying to make up his mind if he is going to follow Christ, there can be a struggle. He tosses and turns within his mind if he should make this decision or remain out there in the world where Satan rules. Undoubtedly, he is wrestling with what he has to give up in order to become a part of God’s army. Therefore, a war is now brewing, and that is the war within himself. When someone is wrestling with the decision to be on the Lord’s side, he must know and understand that he has to surrender all. God is not looking for part-timers! It is all or none as explained in this verse: “For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do” Galatians 5:17 (ESV).
Think of it this way. You are a diabetic and about to partake of an exquisite meal at a special dinner to which you have been invited. There are several dishes on the menu that are high in carbohydrates and sugar. Because of the fact that you have diabetes, you must be very selective about what you eat from this mouth-watering meal. Then come the desserts! What are you going to do? Are you going to partake of that delicious thick slice of chocolate fudge cake with caramel filling, loaded with nuts, that will send your blood sugar completely into orbit, or are you going to pass and eat one of the mini bran muffins? Temptation, temptation, temptation… Paul said in Romans 7:21 (NIV), “So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.” What a war to fight?
When you are trying to make that decision to follow Christ, you will have a war to fight inside yourself. It will be one of good vs. evil, which lurks daily. There will be challenging questions that you will have to answer. As you move toward that decision, be careful of the voice to which you are listening. Every voice is not of God. There are those who will want you to stay in the world with them. This is where “effectual, fervent prayer” must abound. You must be strong and stand up to those demons. In the words of Rev. Destine Spell, Pastor of Cumberland and Isaiah United Methodist Churches, “Demons are disrespectful!” Come to Jesus Christ as you are, for He looks at your heart, not your outer appearance as man does. Don’t continue to fight that inner war. Let Him clean you up because you cannot do it alone.
Now that you have made the decision to give your life to Christ, don’t think that the war between good and evil is over. This is when the real test comes. Satan will tempt you every chance that he gets. Therefore, you must be prepared to show him: “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world” I Peter 5:8-9 (ESV). Make every effort to feed on that which is good and beneficial to your soul.
The next time that you find yourself wrestling with an inner war, read and think on this simple anonymously written illustration, “Two Wolves, An Indian Story of Good and Evil” (atimetolaugh.org).
One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that was going on inside himself.
He said, “My son, the battle is between two wolves.
One is evil:
Anger, envy, sorrow,
Regret, greed, arrogance,
Self-pity, guilt, resentment
Inferiority, lies, false pride,
Superiority and ego...
The other is good:
Joy, peace, love,
Hope, serenity, humility,
Kindness, benevolence, empathy,
Compassion and faith...”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather:
“Which wolf wins?”
The old Cherokee simply replied:
“The one I feed.”
Always abound in the faith, and never leave home without Him!
(Anna Bright is a minister, retired educator, journalist, and community activist. She can be reached at email@example.com.)
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