Before his crucifixion, the Lord made an amazing statement that was both a warning and an encouragement. He said:

“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

To fully appreciate this statement, one must understand the utter disparity between Jesus Christ and the world. John the Apostle exhorted the disciples that “the whole world lieth in wickedness.” (1John 5:19)

He emphasized the fact that whosoever loved the world, did not love the Father:

“For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” (1John 2:16)

This was a reference all the way back to the Garden of Eden when the serpent tempted Eve to disobey God:

“And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food (lust of the flesh), and that it was pleasant to the eyes (lust of the eyes), and a tree to be desired to make one wise (pride of life), she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.” (Genesis 3:6)

From that moment forward, the world was given over into the iniquitous hands and control of the devil to do with it whatever he chose. Scripture confirms this in Matthew 4:8 and Luke 4:6-7 where it records the devil tempting Christ:

“Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;”

“And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine.”

This is why, today, the scriptures refer to the devil as the Prince of the power of the air and affirms that…

“…we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians 6:12)

So, what does this all mean for born-again, Spirit-filled Christians? It means that we have a war on our hands. But it’s not a war that can be fought in our own strength! And it can’t be fought in some distant land separated from where we live. This is because the battle is as close to us as our own body, which the scriptures declare to be “the temple of the Holy Ghost”.

The warfare is between our “flesh” (i.e. the carnal nature inherited from Adam’s fall in the Garden) and the Spirit of God which abides in every believer. And this warfare is very real. In fact, the nature we inherited as a result of the fall of Adam is just as evil and sinister as Satan himself. It’s also subjected to his commands if we allow our flesh to consume us:

“For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.” (Galations 5:17)

Not only does this warfare rage within our own personal lives, but we are surrounded continuously and bombarded by the forces of evil and iniquity that fills this entire world system (including the people that are in it)!

Are you beginning to understand why you sense so much hidden opposition against you when you try to implement your godly desires within your family, job, finances, circle of friends and, yes, even your own church?

We have only one resource in the midst of this intense battle … and that is to WALK IN THE SPIRIT!

“For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.” (Romans 8:13)

“Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19-21)

Most serious Christians are fully aware of the above scripture, and many sermons have been preached on it. So, it is not the intention of this writer to cause any semblance of blame, guilt or condemnation concerning these areas (for we have all exhibited these corruptions in our lives at one point or another). It is, however, the intention of this writer to make the reader aware of just what he is up against in this current world which is full of wickedness … and its continual influence upon the heart, mind and emotions of every born-again believer!

You see, when a believer is tempted by the evil one to engage in any of the works of the flesh and succumbs to it, he basically “hands over” to the evil one some of his God-given authority in the Spirit … even as Christ would have “handed over” His authority in the Father if He would have succumbed to the temptation to fall down and worship the devil. The consequences of that “mistake” would have been catastrophic for all of us!

To be sure, Satan can never “touch” the Holy Spirit that dwells within us; however, he can and does hinder us in our daily walk with the Lord if we “give place” to him in certain areas of our lives. There are many Christians who are ensnared by the evil one through watching movies they shouldn’t, getting involved with occult activities and even unwittingly following after false teachers and their doctrines. These, and many more, open the door to Satan’s influence which fills the Earth today.

Hence, this warfare rages against us on a daily basis with an onslaught of temptation, affliction and persecution from every imaginable source and direction!

That’s why Jesus tried to encourage His disciples by telling them:

“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

It also reminds this writer of the exhortation which the glorified Christ gave to the church in Smyrna in the Book of Revelation:

Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation … be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” (Revelation 2:10)

Thanks be unto God that He has not left us alone to fight this war on our own. He has provided every saint with an abundance of hope, comfort, strength and mercy that will enable each one to be refreshed in those times of battle or even outright failure! He will not leave us or forsake us … ever!

“A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory.” (Matthew 12:20)

“For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.” (Psalms 103:14)

Before his greatest failure of denying the Lord Jesus Christ, Peter was full of himself and the “pride of life”. They had even argued among themselves who should be the greatest in the kingdom of God. When it came time for Jesus to wash the disciples’ feet, Peter was full of a false sense of humility and proclaimed to the Lord:

“Thou shalt never wash my feet.” (John 13:8)

“Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.” (John 13:8)

Unless we are cleansed by Christ alone, we can have no part with him. We are totally unable to cleanse ourselves. Without the help of the Holy Ghost in our lives, we will never “overcome” the works of the flesh!

When Peter heard this he exclaimed:

“Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.” (John 13:9)

He had begun to realize the essence of his own depravity and the total dependence that was necessary concerning the cleansing nature of Christ. Then Jesus responded to Peter with another amazing statement.

“He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean….” (John 13:10)

Every born-again believer is “clean every whit”, but as we walk through this world which is governed by the Prince of the power of the air, we stumble, fall and get dirty. But as we turn back to Lord and cry out for His deliverance and mercy, He has compassion on us, washes our feet and strengthens us to move forward!

“For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again:” (Proverbs 24:16)

So, we continue on by faith in the promises of God, looking forward with confidence that we will be able to say at some point in our walk with the Lord:

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)

The next time you find yourself overwhelmed with failure, temptation, persecution and affliction, remember what God told the children of Israel:

“When thou art in tribulation, and all these things are come upon thee, even in the latter days, if thou turn to the Lord thy God, and shalt be obedient unto his voice;” (Deuteronomy 4:30)

 “…if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.” (Deuteronomy 4:29)

If Christ made that promise for those who were under the Old Covenant, how much more does it apply to us who are under the New Covenant! We are the sheep of His pasture, and as a loving and faithful Shepherd, He leads His own sheep by name, saying:

“Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32)

So, as we heartily pursue after the things of the Spirit and, by so doing, put to death the works of the flesh, let us…

“…lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,” (Hebrews 12:1)

“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith;” (Hebrews 12:2)

“…having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; for he is faithful that promised.” (Hebrews 10:22-23)

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