Young person, do you ever feel like you just can’t seem to eliminate the desires that draw you toward sin and destruction? Don’t you hate it when you realize that you have just done or said something that was displeasing to God, and you knew better? Well, as frustrating as that is to you, (if you are doing your best to follow God’s will for your life) you are in good company. The great apostle Paul experienced the exact same conflict – knowing the right thing to do, but finding himself doing the wrong thing; wanting to do the right thing, but often behaving the wrong way. In Romans 7, Paul gives us the tongue-twisting account of the battle between right and wrong that he constantly faced within himself. In verses 14 – 25, he is very clear that the flesh is sinful, “…in my flesh dwelleth no good thing…,” and he was ever at war against the desires of the flesh in order to fulfill the desires of his mind, which longed for godliness.
Perhaps that is a relief to you, knowing that you are not the only one who faces a struggle between right and wrong. Better still, in 2 Timothy 4:8, Paul lets us know of his rewards awaiting him in Heaven, “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day…” How did Paul go from doing wrong when he meant to do right, to getting a “crown of righteousness”? I think he shares the secret in verse 7, that he will be awarded such an honor: “I have fought a good fight…”
Undoubtedly, one area where Paul could say that he “fought a good fight” was in the war that raged within his members. He never gave up, and he never gave in to the desires of his flesh — hence the WAR that was in his members. When his flesh wanted to do the wrong thing, Paul fought back to do the right thing. It wasn’t that the Christian life was an easy, effortless victory for Paul, it’s that he fought; and when he fought, he began to win. How about YOU, young person? Is there a war in your members, or do you just let the flesh do whatever it feels like doing without any resistance whatsoever? Have you given up in the fight against the flesh and just decided to go along with whatever you feel like doing or saying? Guess what kind of crown God reserves in Heaven for quitters? Yes, probably an invisible crown made out of nothing that can be see. There ought to be a war inside of you.
When your flesh wants to do wrong, fight a good fight!
When your flesh longs to lust for things it should not yet have, fight a good fight!
When your eyes wander to look at things they shouldn’t, fight a good fight!
When your tongue longs to criticize and humiliate others, fight a good fight!
When your mouth is about to speak cruel, belittling words, fight a good fight!
When your lips like to wound others without cause or care, fight a good fight!
When your low self-esteem causes you to attack the successes of others, fight a good fight!
When your insecurities cause you to feel jealous of someone else, fight a good fight!
When your personality conflict with another person causes you to want to ignore or mistreat them, fight a good fight!
When your need to be accepted by others causes you to forsake the rules and principles you have been taught, fight a good fight!
When the need of your flesh to be “popular” tempts you to avoid certain people who do not elevate your “status,” fight a good fight!
Teenager, do not give in to the flesh without a fight! There is no shame in the war that rages within your members and your struggle to do right. Shame belongs to those who have given up – those who have no war inside. That struggle says you are trying, not dying. That struggle says you are going on, not giving up. That struggle is a badge of honor, not a mark of shame.
When your flesh enjoys the beat and rhythm of worldly music, fight a good fight!
When your desire for adventure entices you to play video games that are in no way useful, helpful, or godly – in fact are worthless, destructive, and satanic – fight a good fight!
When your thirst for entertainment tempts you to watch shows or movies that will excite your flesh but destroy your soul, fight a good fight!
When your hormones, your need for attention or your insecurities tell you it’s time to “fall in love,” fight a good fight and wait on the Lord!
When your desire for affection from the opposite gender leads you to betray who you are and lower your standards, fight the good fight and stay true to God and to yourself!
When your burdens cause you to seek pity and sympathy, fight a good fight and stay joyful!
When your flesh longs to complain, fight a good fight and praise God!
Your tongue may want to talk back to your parents, but fight a good fight to honor them!
Your members may want to exaggerate or make up “abuses” done to you by authority, but fight a good fight and take ownership of your poor behavior!
Your flesh may want to quit and give it all up, but fight a good fight and keep going!
Your body may be weary, but fight on with perseverance!
Your mind may be exhausted, but fight on with faithfulness!
Your patience may be almost out, but fight on with longsuffering!
Teenager, do NOT go along with your feelings and what you may want to do – what the Devil wants you to do – fight! Learn the right, and then do the right. Get a picture in your mind of who and what God wants you to be, and then fight to be that person!
When your flesh screams for attention, fight for humility!
When your members want to be seen and admired, fight for modesty!
When your flesh wants to touch that which is forbidden, fight for purity!
When your members want to talk about anything that is inappropriate, fight for wholesome words!
When your members want to dwell on carnal lusts, fight for holiness!
When your members want to look, act, and live like the world, fight for godliness!
When your members want to rule, fight to serve instead!
Success does not come in following your flesh, but fighting it. Christianity does not give in to temptation, true Christianity fights it. Victory does not come from surrendering, it comes from fighting!
Mediocre people meander along wherever the flesh leads them. Conquerors fight the flesh. They fight to stay pure, to stay holy, to stay humble, to stay loyal, obedient, faithful, respectful, kind, and joyful. They fight to work hard, to serve others, to honor those in authority, to discipline themselves, to be a soul winner, an encourager, a good friend, and a godly example.
It doesn’t matter how strong the pull of the flesh is…FIGHT!
It doesn’t matter how tough the battle is…FIGHT!
It doesn’t matter how strong your feelings are…FIGHT!
It doesn’t matter how young you are…FIGHT!
It doesn’t matter how popular you are…FIGHT!
What matters is that you keep fighting. Get something inside of you that says, “I will NOT give up or give in to my flesh. I will fight!”
Fighting gets the blood flowing, the body temperature up, the senses alert, and the heart pumping. Fighting gets you excited. It gives you enthusiasm. It makes you feel alive. Fighting strengthens the body, sharpens the mind, and energizes the spirit. Fighting gets God’s attention, His approval, and His assistance.
Giving in, on the other hand, dulls the senses, weakens the body, deadens the mind, and crushes the spirit. Giving in causes a sour attitude. It steals your joy. It even causes you to criticize those who are still fighting.
The fighter is better than the spectator, better than the critic, the bystander, or the heckler. Even if the fighter is getting beat, at least he’s fighting!
Young person, FIGHT! Sin may win, and you may do that which you would not, but at least let your members know that they were in a battle. Keep fighting, and you will start winning, and winning feels great! There is no victory without a battle. Don’t be a Christian who has no war in their members – who has lost their fight. Don’t be influenced by the quitters – FIGHT! It is then that you will join Paul in receiving your “crown of righteousness” which the Lord shall give you one day. KEEP FIGHTING!
Longview Baptist Temple