Dear Struggling Christian

by Stephen Rhoda

Romans 7:22-25

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. Wretched man that I am!  Who will deliver me from this body of death?  Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Here is the recurring confession of every honest Christian.  Reaching the end of another week, we look back on the evidence of weakness and sin.  We fall short of the glory of God weekly, even daily, and by the Spirit of Christ within us, we lament our sin and groan, “Wretched man that I am!  Who will deliver me from this body of death?”  Surely there are some who will object to this, or even worse, who will shrug in apathy, not finding, nor desiring, such faith within them.  But this is written for the trembling Christian under the conviction of sin that he or she might find comfort and take courage in the fight!

So let the convicted Christian know that the struggle with sin is itself a sign of life within and evidence of true faith.  The point is not to excuse or belittle sin but to understand that sorrow for sin and even hatred of sin are the fruit of the Spirit of Christ within us.  Psalm 51:17 even says, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart.”

Also, let the convicted Christian know and understand that this struggle will continue throughout his or her life. It is part of the experience of true faith that, so long as we remain in this “body of death,” we must struggle against sin, not surprised by our weakness and yet confident of victory in the fight, for “we know that our old self was crucified with [Christ] in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin” (Romans 6:6), until we are raised up to new bodies free of sin and corruption (1 Corinthians 15:42-43).

Finally, let the convicted Christian know how to fight!  The first step is to close down the channels of influence that work to normalize sin.  Being entertained by sinful behavior, whether on a screen or in print, will keep us from recognizing sin as a matter of gross rebellion against Christ.  Next, we must answer the call of Philippians 4:8 to fill our minds with all that is good and honorable, which surely is a reference to the Word of God and the teachings (doctrines) of Scripture.  Entertainment is not inherently wrong or unnecessary, but as a rule of thumb, we ought to spend no less time in the Word each day than we spend on entertainment.  If we have two hours in a day to watch television or play games, then an hour or more of that time should be given to reading and meditating upon the Word of God.  Third, let us pray.  The prayers of Psalm 139:23-24, Psalm 141:3-4, and Matthew 6:13 must be prayed regularly, and not by rote utterance and polite form, but with the pleading heart of one who seeks the mercy of God, loves Christ, and despises sin.

So what is faith?  What is sin and obedience?  What is the authentic Christian experience?  These questions must be answered and these terms defined, not by the world or even by popular Christian writers, but firstly and finally by the Word of God.  Dear Struggling Christian, take heart!  Take up the Word, spend much time in prayer, and fight on as one promised the victory and glory of Christ!