“You were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest” (Ephesians 2:1-3 NASB).
The real culprit, found lurking one moment in the recesses of our hearts and the next in the shadows of our minds and repeatedly causing every believer to experience the need for personal revival, is sin. This especially makes sense when we see Christianity framed in the perspective of relationships.
Personal sin always disrupts, frustrates, slows down, or stifles the maturing of an individual’s relationship with God. It can also, in the fleeting moment it takes to utter one inappropriate word, tear apart our relationships with people, making difficult even the most natural and needed connections for fellowship with others.
Now, if enemies know their opponents’ weaknesses, does it not make sense that the focal point of their attacks will be their opponents’ frailties?
I believe that is exactly the battle plan Paul had in mind when he mentioned the defeat the Ephesian believers had experienced before encountering the saving work of Christ. Their enemies—a world system under the influence of lost mankind’s wicked nature, the devil, and the flesh—had schemed together to see the Ephesians entrapped in a spiritual death caused by their own trespasses and sins.
I believe these same three enemies, individually and often jointly, are still scheming today to cause even believers to sin. With each battle won, these vicious foes are causing Christians in every church to grieve God and stumble in their relationships with others.
These enemies know that if they can cause us to sin, thereby planting wedges or building walls in our relationships, they will be successful in nullifying both the power of God from being displayed in our lives and our ability to demonstrate the love of God to a lost and dying world.
So what can a believer do to stop the onslaught and turn the personal defeat caused by sin into the kind of victory that honors the One who sacrificed His Son so we could live?
First, we need to examine our hearts and allow the Spirit of God to show us if we are truly born again: 2 Corinthians 13:5; 1 John 3:6-10.
Second, as His children, we need to humbly allow the Spirit to examine our hearts as well, confessing our sins to God and fully repenting of every revealed act of disobedience: Psalm 139:23-24; 1 John 1:9; Acts 26:20.
Third, we need to submit ourselves to the lordship of Christ, setting our minds on things above where Christ is, while purposing to deepen our love relationship with Him through worship and loyal obedience to His every command: Ephesians 5:17-20; Colossians 3:1-2; John 14:21.
Fourth, we need to grow in our knowledge of His Word while depending on Him to help us discern who the true enemies are behind every spiritual attack. We also need to trust the Spirit of God to guide us in formulating an appropriate response for each enemy: Psalm 119:11; Ephesians 2:1-3, 6:12.
Fifth, we need to stand firm on behalf of other believers, getting involved in their lives, doing spiritual warfare on their behalf in prayer, and ministering to them at the point of their deepest needs: Ephesians 6:18.
If you have been losing your latest battles with sin and the enemies who would keep you defeated, do not despair. Turn back to God and put your trust for deliverance in Him, the One who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:55-57).