Tears rolled down his cheeks and hung on the end of his chin. I sat quietly listening and holding back tears of my own. My heart broke for him—I knew his struggle well. He knew what was right, he knew what his Bible taught, but it seemed he was the only one doing the right thing around him and it was so hard.
I wished that I could tell my son that it would get easier. I wished I could tell him that as he grew it would all come more naturally. But it wouldn’t. It would always be hard, and he would always have to fight. What he needed to understand that afternoon, and what I must continually preach to myself, is that the biggest battle was not with his brothers or neighbors or the world around him, but rather with himself. He must not ever cease to fight the sin within his own heart.
When soldiers go to battle they must be sure of one thing above all else—they must know whom they are fighting. It would be far too easy to become distracted, to focus their eyes on something else, perhaps to even fight each other. But if their mission is clear—their true enemy evident—they will not be deterred.
In this year ahead of us, we must do the same. We must stay focused on our mission—to proclaim the truth of God’s Word. We must remember our enemy. And we must fight with all that we are to put to death the sin within us that would make shipwreck of it all.
As 1 Timothy 6:12 reminds us:
“Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses."
And Hebrews 12:1 which says:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and the sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us”
Hope for the task ahead is found in the truth that we are not left to fight alone. By God’s grace we are kept, we will be victorious. There will come a glorious day when we are presented before His throne blameless in Christ Jesus our Lord. Until then, we must fight the sin that remains within us—for when we cease to do that, we will fight each other.
I can say it no better than Martin Luther once said, “To fight against sin is to fight against the devil, the world and oneself. The fight against oneself is the worst fight of all."