“Better to be patient than powerful; better to have self-control than to conquer a city.” (Proverbs 16:32 NLT)
Conquering ourselves is the hardest battle we face as human beings. It’s ironic that we can easily see problems in others, even including solutions for “their” issues, but when it comes to the person in the mirror, it seems our hands are tied. Why do you think that is? Could it be we can’t see our shortcomings because we’re blind to how they’re hurting, not only ourselves, but others?
Ron Hutchcraft wisely wrote: “What about that volcano temper that erupts briefly but scars permanently? How about that chainsaw mouth that rips even the people we love. That selfishness that insists ‘I’m more important than you are.’ The passions that cheapen sex, imprison your imagination. Those dark feelings that take us to some very bad places. The addiction that’s calling the shots.”
The most difficult “animal” to tame is our mind, from which comes every problem we’ll ever need to solve. Our mind, or what the Bible often refers to as our “heart,” is the minefield that gives direction to everything we think, say, do, or are.
In Matthew 12:35 Jesus said: “A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart.” And please don’t misunderstand, we have no goodness in and of ourselves. A genuinely “good” person is someone who has yielded their lives to the Lordship of Jesus, but does that mean unsaved people aren’t capable of any goodness? Of course not.
Every human being is made in the image of God, which means we have the capacity for God-like characteristics; however, sin distorts and destroys God’s image unless and until we give our allegiance to Jesus, who is the embodiment of all goodness. When we become children of God by virtue of our second birth spiritually, the Holy Spirit indwells us, thus amplifying God’s goodness in and through us.
Without Jesus we’re powerless to tame the wild spirit that reigns in us. He alone has authority to conquer the evil habits and inclinations with which we will battle ‘til our dying breath. But to the degree we give ourselves to the sway of the Holy Spirit, to that degree we’ll be freed to be all Jesus died to enable us to become.
Ron Hutchcraft wrote: “The Christian life is a moment-by-moment miracle, lived by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit takes the joy and peace of Christ and reproduces them in and through our lives. He takes the love of Christ and manifests it through us.”
Conquering sin and self is a lifelong battle, one that demands our dependence on Jesus every moment of every day. The common adage that says “We’re our own worst enemy,” seems never more true than when we’re seeking to be all we can be for our heavenly Father. The closer I get to Jesus and the more passionately I desire to be like Him, the more areas He points out that need His attention.
As the Lord enables us to win one battle only to face another, our tendency is to get discouraged, but therein lies the victory of perseverance. Those who aspire to be marathon runners don’t start by running 20 miles, but typically begin to train in the gym, conditioning their body and preparing their heart and lungs and legs, so that when they begin with short runs they don’t damage critical muscles or strain their body in other ways.
Similarly, conquering sin and overcoming the enemy of our soul, while we’ll never achieve final victory until we leave our body of clay, is a moment-by-moment process that draws us to Jesus and enables us to become more like Him. It’s well worth the effort it takes to be conquerors for His honor and fame.
Blessings, Ed 😊