Real struggles are part of our humanity
Published 12:34 pm Tuesday, August 29, 2023
We can no more deny our humanity than we can deny the earth is round. Within the confines of our humanity is a real struggle that everyone deals with. That struggle revolves around the fact none of us are perfect but have proclivities that operate against the goodness we are called by Scripture to walk in.
In his letter to Rome, Paul is transparent with his own struggle. He writes how he is not practicing the things he wants to do but sometimes does the very things he hates (Romans 7:15). We like to think the Apostle Paul and the other writers of Scripture never dealt with the issues of their humanity. The reality is, they did. Paul, Peter, Matthew, Luke and the other characters of Scripture were just as human as you and I. Which tells us, they had their own struggles.
There are two natures we deal with. The nature that wants to follow Christ and the nature that wants to act in less than stellar ways. For example, when someone is rude and hateful to us, part of our being wants to give them a piece of our mind while the other side of us says to extend grace and mercy. There is tension in our lives as we are pulled in two directions. Further illustrations are unnecessary because the reader understands this to be true as it is present in their life.
The question then becomes, “How do we ensure the outcome of the struggle is positive?” While we all deal with a real struggle, followers of Christ have the upper hand. This upper hand does not alleviate the struggle but it does give an advantage.
Just before Jesus ascended into heaven from the Mount of Olives, He said to the disciples, “…but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you…” (Acts 1:8). The tipping point in our struggle comes from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. God’s Spirit is with believers and abides in them to empower followers to walk in a holy manner. It is by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit the follower puts to death the works of the flesh. Meaning, the less-than-stellar part of us is, or rather, should be, getting weaker and weaker. The Spirit helps us overcome our fleshy desires to do wrong.
The life of Peter is a great example of how the Spirit can make a difference in our struggles. Prior to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, Peter cut a man’s ear off, and then shortly after this event he even denied knowing Jesus. Yet, after Peter received the Holy Spirit, he boldly proclaimed the message of Christ to a crowd and some 3,000 people became believers. Peter went on to preach Christ, work miracles, and was bold in times of trial and Scripture indicates that Peter’s shadow brought healing to the sick (Acts 5:15). The Spirit in Peter’s life gave him an upper hand in his struggle.
Yet, Peter was not immune from struggles. He still dealt with his own humanity. We read in Galatians how Paul had to confront Peter because Peter had become aloof and acted with prejudices towards certain folks. This was not right and so Paul called Peter on the carpet. This shows us just because Peter had the Holy Spirit in his life, he was not immune or resistant to his own humanity. Peter struggled even after the Holy Spirit came upon him. This does not make Peter less of a person, it makes him a real person who had real struggles.
Following Christ does not mean there is never any struggle or that a person will not have conflict within themselves. We do and we will. However, followers of Christ, over time, learn to lean more upon the Holy Spirit and make better choices. Instead of giving in so easily to the ways of our natural person, believers become seasoned in trusting the leading and direction of the Holy Spirit. Such is like learning a skill, the more you practice the skill, the more proficient you become at it.
So remember, daily we all have real struggles but we don’t have to be defeated by them. The Holy Spirit has been given to us in order to help us overcome and be victorious in this life. Our duty is to yield to the Holy Spirit, for if we do, we are in the best place to have a positive outcome in our real struggles.