I have been reading an excellent book, The Beauty and Glory of the Holy Spirit, a collection of essays edited by Joel R. Beeke and Joseph A. Pipa. My last two blog posts were inspired by readings from that book and are available here and here. Today I want to share one other thought in that book that touched me.
In his letter to the Ephesians Paul had this to say about nature of our struggle as we live by faith in Jesus, writing:
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12)
In an essay drawn from the work of the Puritan Richard Sibbes about the presence of the Holy Spirit within the Christian, and particularly the connection between the Spirit’s presence and spiritual warfare, Beeke wrote:
“The transformation that the Holy Spirit effects in the believer is accompanied by external and internal struggle. Externally we face the powers of darkness, even the prince of darkness himself, because the devil is profoundly envious of the man who walks in the Spirit. Satan will do all within his power to destroy the comfort of that man.” (233-4)
It is an inevitable consequence of new life in Christ that we will have periods of struggle. We try to follow God and live in ways that shape us in the image of Christ and this is something that God’s enemy opposes, sometimes in way that are “mild” and insidious and sometimes in ways that are viciously relentless. In the midst of spiritual warfare Beeke reminds us that “The believer’s greatest encouragement in spiritual warfare is the abiding presence of the Spirit.” (234)
I don’t think that every trouble I experience in the world is an attack by the forces opposed to God. But I do think that every trouble I experience gives me an opportunity to respond in a God-honoring way, rather than a way that only considers my needs. So every trouble, every spot of difficulty in my life is an opportunity for me to listen to the Spirit, abiding within me, and discern from God the path to follow.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.