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What the Bible says about Battle against Self
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Colossians 3:5-8

What we fear to do is to suffer the pangs of self-denial. We fear putting to death our flesh that is demanding satisfaction. But the truth is that we are dealing with the most troublesome aspect of our humanity. It is pride demanding its due. That is what we do not want to face because, in submitting to God, we are denying what pride is demanding, that we stand up for ourselves.

Do you understand that it is pride within us that wants to be god? It loves being praised and being coddled. It quickly puffs up with angry judgment over the real or perceived wrongs of others while being oblivious to its own. It is almost like a living, breathing something, a form within us unlike that of any other creature. It can be fed, or it can be starved. When fed, it grows. When it is starved, it diminishes and dies daily.

Pride starves and diminishes when we choose to submit to God's Word in obedience. But it is going to put up a strong defense of itself through the fear of being denied. It wants satisfaction. "You shall be as gods," the serpent told Eve. God made the serpent say exactly what was happening. Pride in Adam and Eve exalted itself over God, and made them god by changing the standard to satisfy themselves when they saw that the fruit was attractive. They did not deny their flesh.

Whether the challenges arise in what we permit ourselves to eat or to drink, how much we permit ourselves to eat, the control of the tongue, directing the temper, or whether we choose to be kind or sarcastic or cynical or hopeful and encouraging, the test to control our fear of humbling ourselves exists. That is where the battle is being waged.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Does Doctrine Really Matter? (Part Four)

James 1:2-3

The trying of our faith seems to be happening a great deal. Our faith is being tested, but it produces patience or puts patience to work. This verse suggests that the trials, of and by themselves, do not produce spiritual maturity. In fact, they may turn people bitter or cause them to be envious, jealous of others who do not seem to have any trials, sailing right through life without problem. It can be difficult to see the contentment of others when we feel as if we have the weight of the world on our shoulders, or we are burdened with sorrows, we are perhaps sick, a family member is giving us problems, or we are about to lose our jobs. Under such a strain, it would be easy to become bitter.

Did Jonah's trial produce a great deal of patience in him? At least at first, he was angry with God. His is a good example of trials, of and by themselves, not producing good things, particularly spiritual maturity. It is faith plus the test plus patience that complete the process of coming to holiness, because that is what the trial is designed to do. The trial of our faith is to bring us to holiness, but if we lack patience, the process is going to be short circuited.

The natural reaction to trials is to want to escape them, and that is understandable. But God says, "No, don't do that. Patiently bear with Me. Let Me work out what I want to accomplish through this trial." Our job is to let our faith produce patience. While bearing with it, what are the patient expending their energies on? They are straining against the self, for that is where the real burden lies.

In humility and meekness, the faithful Christian does not feel it is incumbent upon him to change others, but rather he emphasizes his responsibility to change himself. He patiently works through the trial, working on himself, his attitude, his relationship with God and with other people, and the factors that have caused the problem. He cannot change the other person, but he can change himself. If he does, then patience has accomplished its perfect work or its complete work.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Unity (Part 8): Ephesians 4 (E)


 




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