The moment we receive Jesus and become born again, some new struggles begin. We acquire three new enemies, the world, the flesh and the Devil. Actually, they were our enemies before we received Jesus too but we didn*t know it then. The most important thing is that when we receive Jesus, we who were enemies of God have changed sides and have peace with Him that we did not have before. We are now on the winning side. We will have the help of God to fight all three of our enemies. In fact, the battle is the Lord*s and we are just the foot-soldiers.
1 Samuel 17:47b: . . . the LORD saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the LORD*S, . . .
We need to get to know our enemies and learn to fight the battles. The struggle between Christians and their three enemies will continue until they die or until the Lord returns and takes them to Heaven in the Rapture. It seems strange that one of our enemies is within us. That enemy is called our flesh, the carnal mind, the old man, the body of this death and some other things. It is the part of us that wants to sin. It does not want to pray. It does not want to study the Bible. It does not want to serve God. It is the enemy of God and always will be. It cannot be anything else.
ABOUT THE WORLD
James 4:4b: . . . know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
1 John 5:4: For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.
Worldlings want you to be like them. Victory over the world is to be personally transformed, to be unlike the worldlings, to prove the will of God and to be separated from the world.
Romans 12:12: I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
2 Corinthians 6:17: Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, 18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.
ABOUT THE DEVIL
1 Peter 5:8: Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
1 John 3:8: He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.
Here is the formula for victory over the Devil. We need to keep it in the proper order. First submit to the Lord, and then resist the Devil. Submitting to the Lord will include putting on all of His armor.
James 4:7: Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Ephesians 6:10-17: Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For 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. 13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
ABOUT THE FLESH
Romans 8:7: Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
The apostle Paul had the same struggle between his born-from-above spirit and his flesh that all Christians have. The words heart, mind and spirit are sometimes used interchangeably in the Bible. In this passage Paul calls the part of him that was changed by receiving Jesus his mind. He calls his flesh the body of this death.
Romans 7:24-25: O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? 25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.
We must not use our flesh as an excuse to sin. We must fight against it and bring it into subjection just as Paul did.
1 Corinthians 9:27: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.
Romans 6:6: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
Galatians 5:16: This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
Christians that have recently received Jesus or have not studied what the Bible says about this struggle within them sometimes believe the struggle is evidence that they are not saved. The struggle surprises them. They are surprised when their flesh rises up and they commit some sin. They need to understand that there are two natures within them and that one of those natures is the enemy of God. The struggle is evidence that they ARE saved. Thankfully, God wants to forgive the sins we commit after we have received Jesus as well as the ones we committed before.
1 John 1:9: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
The forgiveness and cleansing in the passage are not for everyone. The word we in the passage includes John himself and only those others who have received Jesus and become born again. In the book of 1 John, he repeatedly calls the ones he is writing to little children. It means little born ones or little born again ones.
1 John 2:1a: My little children, . . .
He was not writing to the unregenerate. This forgiveness is not for them and will not be until they become born again children of God.