Sometimes I feel like Sisyphus.
Remember him? He’s the poor guy from mythology who was sentenced to push a boulder up a hill only to have it roll back down. Not a very appealing way to spend eternity, huh?
Anything Can Be a Battlefield
I’ve got a boulder. Like Sisyphus, I never seem to be able to leave it at the top of the hill.
My boulder’s the sin in my life. My version of pushing my boulder up the hill is fighting against my sin.
Sometimes my fight’s in-your-face obvious. A gunslinger temptation challenges me to a high noon showdown. Sometimes I outdraw it and it ends up in boot hill. Sometimes it’s quicker on the draw and I’m the one bleeding from gunshot wounds.
Anything can be a battlefield. A simple example: someone tells me my book’s helped them and pride pulls up in its snazzy red convertible, top down, and says, “C’mon, hop in. Let’s go celebrate!” Or no one says anything and the self-pity buzzard feeds on the road kill thought that I’m not appreciated.
I’m fighting sin all the time. Sometimes defeating it; sometimes being defeated by it . . .
And that makes me feel like Sisyphus.
Maybe you’re thinking, “Charley, you’ve been reading my mail!” That doesn’t surprise me. There are no desk jobs in Jesus’ army. Each of us does hand-to-hand combat on the front lines against sin.
Satan likes to bully us with this fact that we have to fight against sin. He’ll tell us that because we have such a fight with sin we can’t possibly be Christians. And he loves pouring salt in the wound when you sin. He’ll tell you that you’re sin proves you’re a bigger a hypocrite than any Pharisee. That causes battle fatigue. And that’ll make you feel like Sisyphus.
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Thank God for the Fight
How do you live as a Grace-Focused Optimist and keep rolling the boulder up the hill?
You do with your boulder what Paul did with his. What’s he do? He thanks God for the fight: “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through our Lord Jesus Christ!” (Romans 7:24-25).
Surprised? Yes, hate sin. Yes, mourn when you fail. Yes, keep fighting it. But do this with gratitude to God. Even in your foxhole at the end of a long day of hand to hand combat, look up to God and say, “Thank you, Father, for the fact that I fight against the sin in my life.”
How can you do that? The same way Paul did. When he says, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through our Lord Jesus Christ” he’s saying, “I’m grateful for my fight against sin because of what it tells me about myself.”
Recognize what your fight against sin tells you about yourself and you’ll fight it as confidently as David fought Goliath. Here are five encouraging truths your fight against sin tells you about yourself. I’ll put them in the form of If-Then assurances.
- If you fight against sin then you can be sure the Holy Spirit lives in you.
The first demonstration that the Holy Spirit lived in Jesus was the fact that he led the Savior to wage war against Satan and sin: “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil” (Matthew 4:1). According to Galatians 5:16-17, the Spirit has a sacred chip on his shoulder and a holy grudge against sin. When he’s present it’s as unwelcome as Satan in heaven. And fought tooth and nail. If you fight sin you can be sure the Holy Spirit lives in you.
2. If you fight against sin then you can be sure you really do believe in Jesus.
The Bible says, “In him (Jesus) you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit” (Ephesians 1:13). A believing heart is the Spirit’s habitat. It’s the only place where he’s comfortable. Since he lives in you, you can be sure you really do believe in Jesus.
3. If you believe in Jesus then you can be sure the guilt of all the sins you fight is gone forever.
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). The hymn writer Augustus Toplady’s right: “Payment God will not twice demand / first at my bleeding surety’s hand / then again at mine.” There is no double jeopardy in God’s court. If Jesus went to hell on earth for your sins you can be sure you will not go to hell for them after you die.
4. If you fight against sin then you can be sure God has begun a good work in you.
Who are those in whom the Spirit dwells, who really believe in Jesus, whose guilt is gone? They’re the “saved.” Who are they? Listen to Jesus: “Who can be saved?” Jesus answers, “With man this is impossible but with God, all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). You could no more make yourself a Christian than Lazarus could raise himself from the dead. If you’re a Christian you can be sure God’s begun working in you.
5. If you fight against sin then you can be sure God will finish the work he’s begun in you.
Shubert’s Eighth is called The Unfinished Symphony. The Maestro didn’t finish his masterpiece. God will have no unfinished symphonies. Having begun his good work in you he will complete it by making you like Jesus (Philippians 1:6). If God’s begun a good work in you, you can be sure he’ll finish it by making perfectly and permanently like Jesus and, consequently, perfectly and permanently happy (1 John 3:3).
The point’s encouraging. If you fight sin then you have reason to be a Grace-Focused Optimist about your battle and reason to keep on fighting. If you fight against sin then I have good news for you.
Sisyphus, one day you’re going to roll your boulder to the top of the hill and leave it there!