Do you struggle with sin? With damaging habits? With distracting thoughts?
I once heard that the struggle with sin is evidence that we’ve been born again and the Holy Spirit is working in our life. After all, a person living in the world, who has never known Christ, does not struggle with their sin. It’s not unlike tossing a dead body in water. The person won’t struggle to breathe . . . because they’re dead. But if you toss a living person in water (please don’t), they will indeed struggle to breathe.
That’s encouraging, isn’t it? If you’re struggling with sin, that means the Holy Spirit is working to change your heart, putting enmity within you against sin. HalleluYah!
There’s More to the Story
What if that was the end of this article? Well, if you keep failing and are tempted to give up, this might be encouraging. The very fact that you are struggling and feeling disappointed because of your failures is proof that God has not given up on you. But is that the end of the story? Absolutely not!
“But thanks be to God, Who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
— 1 Corinthians 15:57
But why would we limit it to just one verse? Here are some more excellent passages to consider:
“For whatsoever is born of God overcomes the world: and this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcomes the world, but he that believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”
— 1 John 5:4-5
“Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and for ever. Amen.”
— Jude 24-25
“And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God.”
— Revelation 15:2
Victory Is Possible!
The Word of God is clear. We can overcome and gain victory over the world, and this is what needs to happen if we are to stand before the judgment seat. So, why is this so often missing from the gospel that we hear from the pulpit? More importantly, why aren’t we consistently victorious?
It all goes back to the original conflict between God and Satan. To put it simply, this half-baked “gospel” that assures you God still loves you in your struggles (which is true), but fails to mention the availability of full and complete victory over sin, is the creation of Satan to ensure that no one ever obtains that victory. As long as men cannot live in complete harmony with God, you see, His character and Law remain in question. After all, God promised us victory, as I quoted above, so if we continue to believe we cannot be victorious, then do we not make God a liar? And if God be a liar, then is not Satan the one telling the truth? And so, Satan exults in every failure, no matter how “small” it may seem to us.
The Power of the Gospel
“For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believes; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.”
— Romans 1:16, 17
The Gospel is the power of God, but men today are preaching a powerless Gospel—a false Gospel. The essence of the Gospel, the purpose of the Gospel, is not merely to get us to heaven! It is to bring us into full and complete harmony with God. If we do not come into this unity, this oneness, by the atoning work of Christ, then we not only cannot enter into heaven, we also fail to vindicate God’s character before the universe, which has been called into question by the enemy.
“The tempter can never compel us to do evil. . . . The will must consent, faith must let go its hold upon Christ, before Satan can exercise his power upon us. But every sinful desire we cherish affords him a foothold. . . . And every failure or defeat on our part gives occasion for him to reproach Christ.”
— E. G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 125
Taking God at His Word
So, what does it mean when we struggle, but sometimes lose in that struggle and fall? How can this be if God has the power to “keep us from falling,” as Jude said? There is only one possibility. We aren’t truly believing God when He tells us that He has already given us the victory in His Son; instead, we think that we need to get it through our struggle. We lived our former lives doing everything in our own strength; thus, even when we come to Christ, we default to our old habit We forget, or don’t realize, things have changed. In fact, we cannot overcome Satan at all, for he knows our every weakness and how to exploit them to his best advantage. He is a master strategist and has had 6000 years of practice to hone his skill. We don’t stand the ghost of a chance.
But HalleluYAH, Christ did get the victory over him! And because He became the Second Adam, and thus the representative of our race, we already have the victory in Christ. As long as we abide in Him, as He instructed in John 15:4, we cannot fail, for he already won the battle. We just need to let God’s creative power in His Word be true in us, as it was in the world when He said, “Let there be light” and there was light! It’s as simple as that!
But We Struggle with Simplicity, Too
Is it really that simple? Indeed it is. Ah, but there’s the rub. We make it complicated. We make it an unnecessarily difficult struggle, all because we refuse to let Him do it for us. Because we are so used to it being complicated and difficult that we won’t accept that it’s actually simple. The very idea that salvation is simple is something with which we struggle. Isn’t it ironic?
Claiming the Scriptures
Here’s an idea for both of us to try from now on: when we’re faced with one of those sins that “does so easily beset us,” remember that God promised us victory and say — out loud — “Amen!” Mean it! Take into your heart the assurance that the victory has already been gained and it is just a question of claiming it. Of course, for this to work, we also need to get into the Word; otherwise, we won’t know enough of God’s promises to be able to claim them in the moment of temptation.
In order to accept Christ’s victory into your hand, you must let go of whatever is already occupying your hand. In other words, that thing that Satan is using to entice you. Is it forbidden thoughts that you take secret pleasure in? Is it a time-wasting, impractical “hobby” that you do just for fun? How about frustration or a grudge? Or a desire to do housework on the Sabbath? I list these in particular because they have been among my own personal struggles and are things that might seem “small” to some, but are very real problems that God wants to remove from our lives.
Remember, His goal is not merely “pretty good,” it’s perfection! (See Matthew 5:48.) Therefore, no matter what is in the way, you have to let go of it in order to accept the gift of victory. Ask your Saviour to take that thing from you and replace it with His grace to overcome. He will always be faithful to keep His promises!
When Will We Cease to Struggle?
Let’s just be clear, here. Even when the 144,000 gain the final victory over sin and receive God’s seal, they will still struggle. Indeed, this will be the greatest time of test and trial that God’s people will ever face! Our struggles will not cease until Jesus comes to take us home. However, God’s promises are sure. He will carry us through all our trials and give us victory as long as we abide in His Son. Praise Him for His great mercy! So, receive the grace of God today, friends. You will find it in His Word, just waiting for you to claim it in faith.