And again. And again.
As long as you and I are alive and breathing, we are locked into an epic battle of day to day skirmishes. We know that Christ has won the final victory, but Satan refuses to admit when he is licked, so he tries to distract us with covert operations where we are most vulnerable.
The besetting sins that Paul talks about in Hebrews 12:1 affect us all. No one, not even the most spiritual of us, is exempt from the weight of the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.
I love how Dietrich Bonhoeffer aptly summed it up, “When all is said and done, the life of faith is nothing if not an unending struggle of the spirit with every available weapon against the flesh.”
Just when you think you have flesh beaten once and for all, you find yourself needing to hurl the proverbial kitchen sink at it once again. But praise the Lord, what a mighty “kitchen sink” we have in God’s Word!
“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, 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, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.” Hebrews 12:1-2a
So how can you slay your dragons? Remember, it will probably take more than a few blows, but here are three key steps to finding victory over the besetting sins of life.
1. Cling to the Cross.
I can’t emphasize this point enough. Christ has won the victory, but our forgetful brains often need to be reminded that He is our champion. You can’t conquer your dragons in your own strength. After all, if you could, why would you need a Savior in the first place?
Thank God for the weaknesses in your life, because it is these sins that force you to rely on God. Instead of growing discouraged, ask God for forgiveness and strength to cling to Him for healing in your life. Pray the prayer that never fails — “Change my heart, O God.”
2. Flood your mind with the Word of God.
Much of the dragon slaying battle must be fought in your mind. Our minds are amazing things, but they can go from being our greatest asset to our greatest weakness.
Thoughts turn to actions, so if you would truly slay your dragon, you must slay the thoughts that create the sin pattern. Allow God to start the work of reprogramming your brain by flooding your mind with His truth. The truths of God’s Word will counteract Satan’s lies.
Ask God to give you a special truth from His Word to remind yourself with every time you face your dragon. For example, one of my greatest personal dragons is envy. When this dragon rages, it RAGES. It affects my thoughts, which affects my actions. Slaying this dragon is sometimes a daily battle, but God continues to give me fresh ammunition from His Word. One of the truths that I sometimes need to remind myself of several times during the day is James 4:5-6, “Do ye think that the Scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? But He giveth more grace. Wherefore He saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.”
Praise God for that grace. I cannot explain the peace that floods my soul when I fight back against envy with a plea to God for the grace to resist the attack. He is so faithful to always provide that grace right when I need it. Start reprogramming your brain. Read God’s Word, listen to God’s Word, meditate on God’s Word.
3. Take your focus off of you.
I have noticed that when God is using me to impact His kingdom, it is then that I often have to face my toughest battles.
There is nothing Satan hates more than to see a Christian being used by God. So it is during these times that he mounts his greatest attacks. And he knows exactly which dragons to send your direction.
Take your focus off of you. Thank God for allowing you to be tested, but turn the tables on Satan by praying for others who are struggling in similar battles. Allow God to use you to encourage and lift them up during their time of need.