April 3, 2021 | By Jay Ashbaucher
One morning I awoke with a great fear. I feared that an unseen force was stronger than I and that I could not defeat it. Every day there is weakness, a corruption in my human nature proving to me that I cannot keep from thinking or doing something wrong. It’s like my body, under certain circumstances, has been trained to do the wrong thing, and before I can think not to do it, I have responded wrongly and have given in to satanic ways. Yes, I do recognize and overcome some temptations to think or do the wrong thing. When I recognize thoughts that come from an evil source, I immediately counter them by saying, “No, I’m not listening to that”, and I am able to defer to a thought that tells me what is right. At the point of rejecting an evil thought, I am able to move on without falling into wrong’s harm. Nevertheless, on this particular morning, I knew that some challenging and perhaps depressing event could happen, and in that moment, Satan would exploit my weaknesses and I would fall into his path of destruction. I feared the power of evil and my weaknesses.
Captivated by this fear, I prayed to God, “God, I need you to help me. I need you to fight for me against the evil one. I cannot overcome the powers of sinfulness in my life, nor the powers of Satan to use them against me. I am not strong enough in myself to defeat him, but you are. I fear being put in a situation where I will not be able to be strong so as to overcome what is trying to destroy me. I need you to protect me and help me overcome, not for my sake only, but for others I would also hurt.”
There is a saying that has been popular among many Christians which says, “God loves the sinner but hates the sin.” Do you believe this saying is true? If so, then I ask you, and myself, “Do you hate the sin in you? Do you hate what it does to you? Do you feel too weak to overcome it? Do you hate it so much that you fear its power to destroy your life? Do you see that evil is stronger than you? Do you humbly acknowledge your weakness? Do you turn to God to help you?”
The apostle Paul is an example to us of how to gain God’s strength to help us overcome such weaknesses. Paul experienced the same problems we do. He said, “I am in bondage to sin. I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate” (Romans 7:14-15). He knows that the willingness to do good is in him, but the doing of the good is not (Romans 7:18). He says, “I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good” (Romans 7:21). Realizing a weakness in him that he cannot overcome, Paul cries out, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:24). Immediately, he realizes the answer to his question and says, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 7:25)!
In other words, Jesus is my savior; I can’t, but he can! Satan tried to destroy Jesus and thought he succeeded by getting him put to death. But no, Jesus came back to life. No power of evil can overcome Christ’s power to conquer evil, not even death itself. We find strength to overcome when we let Jesus be our Lord. If we want to defeat the overwhelming temptations of Satan, and the sin that is in us, we must see our powerlessness to do it ourselves. We cannot do it, but in Christ we have the strength we need. We believe Jesus’ words, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Therefore, we choose to stay in close touch with him and let his words stay in us, we experience his love, and we do what he says (John 15:7-10).
Furthermore, we do what Paul says he does, “I die daily” (1 Corinthians 15:31). What did he mean? Certainly, he knew his life was in danger from persecutions he faced, but he was confident in the resurrection of Christ and that he would live with him, even if he died, so he kept doing God’s work, even if it meant his death. Dying daily can mean lots of things. We deny ourselves and take up our cross daily to follow Jesus (Luke 9:23). We die to our sin and don’t let it reign in our body (Romans 6:11-12). We have been crucified with Christ; we recognize that he loves us and lives in us; and so, we live by faith in him (Galatians 2:20). We have faith that he will empower us when we acknowledge our weakness to overcome Satan’s evils that are trying to control our lives. Knowing that “greater is he who is in us than he who is in the world” (I John 4:4), we die to our pride of thinking we can do it on our own, and we yield to Jesus as our helper.
We adopt daily the attitude that I am powerless and cannot manage my life of sin, so I will choose each day to let him do what I can’t. Christ has already taken my sin upon himself and has given me his righteousness. Therefore, I am forgiven and free from sin’s power to destroy. Instead of letting satanic thoughts of guilt and fear of judgment grip me, I will let myself be controlled by God’s love and righteousness and I will obey Jesus, trusting his power in me to help me overcome satanic thoughts that try to get into my mind to defeat me. Through the words of Jesus, and his Spirit living in me, I have the mind of Christ and I will use his mind to do battle whenever Satan’s thoughts attack me. I begin my battle against what tries to destroy my life and world by daily realizing that I can’t, but he can. Therefore, to battle the evil one and enjoy victory, I will use the Lord’s words against satanic thoughts and tactics that threaten to destroy me. God’s word is true, “resist him, and he will flee” (James 4:7).