The War for Our Souls
I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Romans 7:22-23
Twenty years ago, I daily watched a particular cable news show in which the host styled himself as a culture warrior. At the time, I gravitated towards the title, believing that the greatest threat to my faith was from a secular world that was hostile to my religious convictions. My most significant conflict in life, in my mind, was against outside forces that opposed my world view.
At the time, I was secretly harboring a growing addiction to opiate pain medications. Despite this, I still thought the greatest danger to my faith was external to me. Over the next 10 to 15 years however, it was those destructive desires inside of me that proved to be my downfall. Looking back, I can see that nobody else could have done to me what I did to me. My destructive side has and continues to be, my life’s greatest problem. I am my own worst enemy.
Paul said something similar in today’s passage. In it, he lamented that, even though he wanted to do right, he repeatedly found himself doing wrong. It was none other than his own sinful desires that waged war on him. Paul acknowledged that life is a battle in which our flesh nature is our own worst enemy and the thing that most threatens to turn us away from following Christ.
The world around us certainly may be hostile to our beliefs. I used that conflict however, as a distraction from dealing with the real threat to my faith. As long as I saw the enemy as external, I didn’t have to deal with the danger lying within me.
I’m not suggesting we should ignore the world. I’m just saying that we can attain great cultural and political power and still lose the war for our soul. One doesn’t have to look far to see those who are sitting in seats of great power but who are lost before God.
Our greatest war – the fight of our lives – is inside of us. Daily, we must engage in this conflict, consciously choosing to follow God, not ourselves. If we don’t purposefully do this, our nature simply takes over, causing us to follow ourselves. If faith means following God, then following our way is the greatest threat to faith that we’ll ever face.