“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
Have you ever been frustrated or disheartened by your struggle with sin? Do you find yourself fighting off the same temptations you have been fending off for years? Does your life with Christ seem more like war rather than rest?
If you have a hard time seeing that as a good thing, then allow the words of J.C. Ryle sink deeply into your soul. In one of the most helpful sermons I have ever read, Ryle says:
Take comfort in your soul, if you know anything of an inward fight and conflict. It is not everything, I am well aware, but it is something. Do you find in your heart of hearts a spiritual struggle? Do you feel anything of the flesh lusting against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh, so that you cannot do the things you would? (Galatians 5:17). Are you conscious of two principles within you, contending for the mastery? Do you see anything of war in your inward man? Well, thank God for it! It is a good sign. It is evidence not to be despised. Anything is better than apathy, stagnation, deadness, and indifference. You are in a better state than many. The most part of so-called Christians have no feeling at all. You are evidently no friend of Satan. Like the kings of this world, he wars not against his own subjects. The very fact that he assaults you, should fill your mind with hope. Reader, I say again, take comfort, the child of God has two great marks about him, and of these two you have one. HE MAY BE KNOWN BY HIS INWARD WARFARE, AS WELL AS BY HIS INWARD PEACE.
Struggling against sin is a powerful evidence that you are alive in Christ. Dead things don’t fight off death; only the living. Dead fish float peacefully down the river, but it is only the living ones that struggle up through it. It is not those struggling with sin who should be concerned about the state of their soul as much as those who are completely unconcerned with their sin at all.
The Christian life is war. Be ready to fight. Rest will come later.