make war.

Can I simply begin by pointing out that it’s already August? I don’t know where the time is going, but I am in complete disbelief that I’ve been a member of the “real world” for more than a year now. The other day I was thinking back on how uneasy I felt at this time last year: I was quickly approaching the end of an internship without the promise of a permanent job, I had no idea where I was going to live or who I would live with, I was watching so many friends return to my beloved alma mater without me, and the list goes on. I was confused, frustrated, sad, and scared — but here’s what gets me: even with all of that, I was better off then than I am now.

Last year, the only way I could cope with the unknowns sitting before me was to rely on God every step of the way. Now, I am content. I’m well-versed in a job that I enjoy, and I’m living in an area that I love. I’m one of the fortunate few to still keep in touch with my best friends from college, and I’m in a relationship that makes me a better person. These are all good things, but my investments and attention to each have completely blinded me from progressing in my spiritual life.

The other day I was talking to a friend about seeing people more for what God is making them into, and less for the brokenness we see in them now. As I thought about this more, my heart sunk a little when I had to admit to myself that I’m not being made into anything — the focus I’ve had on my spiritual life lately is sporadic at best, and the devil is able to convince me that nothing is wrong because at the end of the day, I rest in my contentedness. And by extension, I don’t allow people to see me for who I am; more importantly, I can’t help others recognize who they are when they hand their lives to the Lord.

A few days after this conversation, I got a text from the same person with a link to an article from Desiring God and a message that said:

Time to make war.

“Making war” was in reference to a part of the article that boldly stated it was time to actively fight against the sins that so easily entangle. This perspective was refreshing to me, because often times I feel like the only way to address the sin inside of me is to do so in the most graceful way possible: pray diligently, ask for forgiveness genuinely, and share candidly how my experiences prove that God redeems broken souls. And hear me loud and clear: ALL of those things are asked of us, and are essential to the process of growing in a relationship with God. But, we also have to remember that sin is ugly, and it is hateful. So much sin in our society today is dressed up to appear pleasurable, coveted, beneficial, and completely acceptable — but here’s the reality: our societal norms will one day fade away, and the kingdom of God will prevail.

And if we believe that, and we truly understand it, it is time to make war against the sins that have us bound and trapped. More than anything, I think that refers to the sins that we don’t even recognize in our everyday lives. My list would look something like this:

Apathy. Choosing not to spend time listening to sermons, reading my Bible, or praying because I’m “too tired.” Or, as we’ve seen throughout many of my recent posts, looking back on the past few months and seeing a decline in my spiritual life, but doing nothing about it.

Jealousy. This could span across so many different areas of life, but to put it simply: wishing that where I was at in life was different than where God has strategically placed me. I have a really hard time appreciating the season of life that I’m in, and my jealousy feeds this more than anything else.

Pride. This is most evident in the way that I so easily fall into conversations that involve gossip. I hate to even admit that I do this, but the minute I hear someone’s name come up in a conversation, I try to soak in as many details as possible… because in a very twisted way, talking about someone else’s weaknesses gives me the illusion that I have so many strengths.

There are many more, but the point of this isn’t for me to tell you all of my sins, it’s for you and I both to make war on what is taking us captive. We should absolutely do this with grace and love — both for ourselves and for those who confide in us — but we should also do this with truth, which isn’t always pretty.

A lot of times I truly wish that the process of God refining our hearts and souls was pretty and polished, but that’s certainly not what it was on the cross. Our sin is so ugly that only the brutal death of Jesus could bring justice — but just as God resurrected His Son, He too will resurrect our souls. When that day comes, I want to be able to confidently say that I fought the good fight — and you did too.

 “The sins that exclude from heaven are the sins we keep pursuing without regarding them as God-dishonoring, and without seeking forgiveness through Jesus, and without making war on them as the enemies of our souls.”

-John Piper

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