It is necessary to prepare for the battles that you know you will face after you make the decision that you want to live for Jesus with all of your heart. Often it can seem like after you make that decision, all of a sudden your flesh – your human nature and tendency to sin – looks worse than it ever did before. But the truth is that it has always been this way; it’s just that now you see it. Now God is showing you what is there that needs to be overcome in order to become free from sin and to be conformed to the image of Christ. (Romans 8:29)
When you see that sin in your flesh, it’s not a reason to become discouraged. On the contrary, seeing it means that you can overcome it! Every time that God shines a light on the sin in your flesh, and He will shine more and more light as you progress on this way, then you can count that as a glorious opportunity to fight and overcome that sin and gain more of the virtues of Christ.
You usually know where you are weak; you know that when you go to school, or to work, or wherever you are, you are going to meet certain things in your flesh. Pride, egotism, vanity, being a slave to what people think of you, etc. So what can you do to prepare yourself for those moments?
“Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin.” 1 Peter 4:1.
You need to arm yourself. Christ suffered for you in the flesh, now it’s your turn to suffer for Him. You need to use those moments when you are not engaged in battle, to get the weapons that you need to fight with. Take the time to nourish your spirit with God’s Word and become familiar with it; it becomes your sword in the time of temptation. Learn of Jesus, who showed us the way. Use the time to pray to God for the strength to stand in those temptations that you know will come. Then you have no reason to fear being tempted. Because you are wholeheartedly prepared to overcome, even though you know what you will be facing. Then you don’t meet the temptations helplessly, but ready to put up a fight.
God’s Word is a sword
God’s Word should be used as Jesus taught us. “Away with you Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’” (Matthew 4:10)
For example, when you meet that temptation to fear what people think of you and hope for some honor from people rather than God, you can boldly say, “Away with you Satan! For it is written, ‘All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, and its flower falls away, but the Word of the Lord endures forever.’” 1 Peter 1:24-25. Using this verse as a weapon you’ll find that you, through the grace and power of God, can live only before God’s face so that you can serve Him as you should, without worrying about what people think.
Or maybe you are tempted to arrogant thoughts, to think that you are above someone else. Then you can say, “No! I will not allow these thoughts to live! For it is written, ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’” James 4:6. (See also Matthew 23:12 and Philippians 2:3.) When you fight this, you become humble by nature, and learn to be a blessing and an encouragement to others instead, raising them up and seeing them as the individuals that God created.
A temptation to backbite, or speak evil of, someone can be put right to death if you use the weapon, “With (the tongue) we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring send forth fresh and bitter from the same opening?” James 3:9-11. With constant use of this verse you will find yourself growing in love and kindness and mercy. When the heart is full of these virtues, the tongue also speaks them.
Because you are ready and armed to overcome, victory will be yours. You are not barely hanging on, hoping that you will overcome, but at the same time worried about what will happen when you find the sin in your flesh. No! It’s a resounding victory, because you have the full ammunition that you need to overcome.