The Struggle is Real

Joseph Esposito

I appreciate the honesty of God and the writers in Scripture. I’m glad the Bible doesn’t just portray “picture perfect” Christians with no flaws, blemishes, or struggles. The Apostle Paul was one of the greatest Christians in the New Testament. But in Romans chapter seven, Paul shares with us the inner struggle, even turmoil, between his desire to do right after the Spirit, and his war against sin after the flesh. I’m reminded of this: if Paul had this kind of struggle, we will too.

Romans 7:14-19 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.

Notice helpful thoughts from the Apostle Paul as we battle daily to live a Spirit-filled life in victory over the flesh:
1.   Everyone will struggle with our sinful nature (vs 19). Even the great Apostle Paul struggled with the sinful nature of his flesh. We will never come to a point on this side of eternity where the struggle won’t be real. May we remain sober and vigilant against sin. Let us not think that we’ve arrived. No one is above stumbling or falling (1 Cor 9:27, 1 Cor 10:12).
2.   Even in the midst of doing good, sin can be present with us (vs 21). Even in the midst of serving, ministering, and sacrificing, sin and temptation may be present. I had a conversation with someone recently who said, “even on the mission field, sacrificing and serving, there’s temptation.” David succumbed to temptation at the “top of his game” and the pinnacle of victories in his kingdom. Let’s stay on guard!
3.   Delighting in God’s law will help us in this struggle (vs 22, Psalm 119:9). The fact that the struggle was real didn’t stop Paul from delighting in God’s law.
4.   Be willing to fight the good fight (vs 23). I’ve oftentimes heard young men say in my office, “I’m just struggling with this.” I’ve said it before and I’ve wanted to say at other times – no you’re not. A struggle involves two sides. You’re surrendering. Paul was victorious, in big part, because he was willing to fight the good fight. His heart’s desire was to beat the flesh, and win. A fight/struggle it will be. Let’s be willing to “fight the good fight”.
5.   Realize my wretchedness (vs 18, 24). Paul realized that in his flesh there was “no good thing.” Jeremiah realized the same when he said his heart was desperately wicked. If I realize my wretched inclinations being in this flesh, I will be more vigilant and less likely to give in to the flesh.
6.   Seek deliverance from Christ (vs 25, Heb 4:15-16). Paul understood that his victory over the flesh and sin would be in and through Jesus Christ. He is the One that gives us the grace and strength to defeat the world, the flesh, and the devil.

This side of eternity, there will be a battle between the flesh and the Spirit in our lives. But this is a worthy battle. It’s the “good fight.” Let’s fight it and see what the Lord can do through us, through our marriages, through our families, and through our church, as we live Spirit-filled lives with Christ’s help.

Romans 7:24-25 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Joseph Esposito

Bro Esposito serves as the vice president of our Bible college, teaches the Cross Point Adult Bible Class, and heads up our children and teen Sunday school ministry. He and his wife Jennifer have five wonderful children.

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