victory and battle cannot co-exist
When God refines our faith and renews our minds with His truth, the outcome is lasting transformation which requires no effort on our part to maintain. This is always exciting, yet hard to believe, for people new to this discussion. When the Spirit persuades us of the truth within our hearts, the lies we believed will no longer feel true and behaviors related to these lie-based beliefs will be transformed. Love, joy, peace and the rest of the fruit of the Spirit will follow.
Some people advocate that living victoriously is all about battling against our nature and wicked hearts and choosing to live rightly. There is a problem with using the term “victory” in the context of battle, since these terms cannot co-exist. You are either victorious or you are in battle. You cannot be in both places at the same time. The Bible is clear that we are presently victorious (1 Cor. 15:57); we are new creations (2 Cor. 5:17) and our old man/self is dead (Rom. 6:6), since it was crucified with Christ (Gal. 2:20). Any struggle we encounter is not through a lack of victory or a necessity to battle, but rather it exposes the beliefs that are contrary to the truth. Our heart belief determines our perceived reality. We are in battle because we believe we are and not because it is so. According to the Scriptures (which is the only true reality) God has “… raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus…” and we “… have been raised up with Christ, [so we should] keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. [We should] Set [our] minds on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For [we] have died and [our] life is hidden with Christ in God.” (Eph. 2:6, Col. 3:1-2) The Lord has not called us to battle, but rather to enter into His rest (Heb. 4:10).
struggling against logic and rationale
Obviously we all still struggle when trying to live out the truth in areas where we do not believe it experientially with the heart. The struggle can cease when our minds are renewed by the Lord’s perspective and His transformation follows. The lies we believed that were contrary to the truth, will no longer feel true, and the behaviors supported by those lies will fall away.
Many of the sinful behaviors that plague us are our solutions to the pain produced by lie-based belief. For example, to avoid feeling anxious, we eat when we are not hungry. We do not like feeling overwhelmed, fearful, or out of control, so we distract ourselves with sex, entertainment, alcohol, etc. However, these lie-based behaviors will no longer be an issue when we know the truth in our hearts and our pain has been replaced by the peace of Christ. Not only do we feel whatever we believe in our hearts, we also do (behave) whatever we believe in our hearts. Heart belief determines how we will live our lives. The struggle ensues when the truth we believe in our minds runs contrary to the lies we harbor within our hearts.
When we struggle against these sinful behaviors, trying to stop doing them, we struggle against logic and rationale. This is because our sin is serving us in a practical way to solve the problems that our lie-based beliefs have produced. More often than not, our sins are acting as a “solution” to our perceived problem. If we stop the solution, we are left with the pain coming from the lies we believe. We may succeed in stopping some particular behavior, but we will not remain in pain for too long before we will look for a new solution or revert back to the old one. We may call this a battle, when in fact, it is all self-perpetuated. There is no one to fight with but ourselves.
What about the devil?
Someone will say, “What about the devil? Are we not at war with him?” I only ask one thing, “Can the devil make you do anything you do not choose to do?” This is a rhetorical question. Satan’s only weapon against us is deception. Deception only has power when it is believed. So, if the enemy cannot force his will upon us, what reason do we have for fighting him? Do we resist his schemes? Absolutely! (Eph. 6:11). Do we need to fight him? Some people do, but there is no real necessity for this.
Someone once said, “If you are having a problem with flies, then look for the garbage.” Clean out the garbage and the flies will leave. It is the same with the devil. He is drawn to us by something within. What is inside is the problem and not the flies. Have you ever tried fighting off flies during a picnic? Did you succeed? Probably not. However, did you notice that as soon as the food was put away, your fly problem ended? The same holds true for the devil and his horde of flies.