What is a genuine Christian? (part 3)
We live in a world at war. You can be reading this article at any time, and what I say next will still apply: recent news events show us that humans are constantly living in a state of conflict. We are always at war, the only thing that changes from place to place and year to year is how well this war is being hidden. But even when you don’t see it, it’s still there. It may not be on the news, it may not even be on the streets. But it’s always in our hearts. We’re never truly at peace in this world, and it’s only a matter of time before that inner conflict escalates to something visible.
The bible makes it clear that this inner war we’re engaged in is, in fact, a war with sin. Sin is mankind’s true enemy because our sin is what separates us from God, and thus eternal life and peace. Now, in any war, there are only really two types of people… the soldiers and the victims. It is no different in the war with sin. You need to choose which you are going to be – a soldier who fights sin, or a victim who lets sin have its way.
The third mark of genuine Christians, according to Romans 8, is that they have chosen to be fighters, not victims, of sin. Paul puts it this way:
“Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.”
This is not saying that your success at fighting sin is what saves you. Jesus Christ alone saves you. But it’s saying that if you are saved you will in consequence be fighting sin and, to some extent, making progress against it. That’s a mark of God’s Spirit working in us. While sin tries to make us think everything’s okay under its control, the Spirit calls us out to join the resistance and gives us the weapons we need to fight.
A Christian has an obligation:
A soldier feels obligation to fight, not because she wants to… not because it’ll be comfortable, but because it’s absolutely necessary for her own survival. A Christian likewise cannot be content with sin – she has come to the realization that sin is the very thing that threatens her eternal life, and thus feels a constant obligation to fight it.
A Christian puts sin to death:
Part of a soldier’s job is to kill. It’s unpleasant, but often necessary. Especially when it comes to the real enemy inside us all. A Christian is someone who is ruthless with the particular sins he identifies in his life. He doesn’t try to find a way to live with them, but he puts them to death in the most expedient way possible, even when this is unpleasant. Even when it requires letting go of things he enjoys, and putting uncomfortable disciplines in his life.
A victim doesn’t do these things. A victim is always fooled into thinking that the enemy won’t treat them that badly. A victim always takes the path of least resistance. A victim is the one who believes the enemy’s propaganda that everything’s actually okay under their rule.
So, which are you? A victim of sin, or a fighter against it? If you haven’t yet, enter the fight by turning to Jesus and following him. He’s risen from the dead to defeat your sin… he’s opened the prison doors, and now he calls you to come out and join the fight. Listen to him. Because of what he’s done, future victory is certain for Christians. But until then… suit up, get ready for battle, and ask yourself: what particular sin do you need to declare war against today?