My youth pastor said something amazingly important to me years ago. He said, “Only the living fight.”
He and I had been talking about sin and temptation in my life. I struggled with lots of the problems young men struggle with. I still do, by the way. My worry about my sin was causing me to doubt my faith and salvation. I would ask myself, “If I am really a Christian, then why do I keep doing this?” Doubt, depression and hidden anxiety were pretty constant companions.
His words were really important then, and they remain important today.
Only the living fight.
What that little statement means is only people who are alive in Christ fight against the death of sin. If a person is dead in their sins, they do not struggle. They do not fight. They do not battle temptation over and over again. Instead, they surrender. They give up. They capitulate.
Philippians 2:12-13 says:
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence, but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.
We are meant to work at our salvation.
Obedience is the work of salvation.
All of us struggle with sin in some form or another. Even people who are not Christians often wish they could do better in some area of their lives. Getting better means work.
So work at it. Fight against your flesh. Battle against your badness. Struggle against your sin. Wage war on your weakness.
When you get discouraged, just remember: only the living fight. You’re not dead yet. Your struggle proves it. You’re not finished today. Get back in the ring and go another round.
You can rely on the grace of God. Please, please, please do not separate verse 12 from verse 13. You do all the work you can and keep on battling all you can. When it gets too much, remember it is God who works in you.
You can make it.
Get back in the fight.