Abstain from passions of the flesh which wage war against your soul... It seems the war-waging passions of my flesh were easy early in my walk to identify and deal with. The closer I get to the Lord, the more stealth my sin becomes. Mainly because the obvious has been dealt with. Now I can find myself entertaining a heart condition that God would hate, and realize that I've been perfectly comfortable with this condition for a long time! Of course I repent, but then it acts like those invasive weeds in the garden that send very woody roots out horizontally to spring up in unexpected places. I am terrified by the fact that I ask the Lord to search my heart, I ask for conviction, but these things still can take their time to surface. Just like the invasive weeds - you do not know they are there, but the root systems of your garden are being destroyed, infiltrated, weakened. The nutrients intended for the vegetables are being absorbed instead by the invasive weeds. Such a good picture of sin. It weakens, limits, robs resources intended for Kingdom purposes and reallocates them to strengthen the enemy.
So .... is that all there is? Am I left with this picture of sin that prevails under the radar despite repentance? "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us." (Rom 8:37) I believe our repentance needs to take an ax to the root of the sin. Sometimes that - finding the root of the sin - requires soul searching, introspection, healing. Fun example: I am reading a book on "tidying up" the house, that involves massive purging of my stuff. When I went through my wardrobe, I was to only keep articles of clothing that sparked joy. But none of it sparked joy (except, of course, my kayaking and backpacking gear...). I have had a terrible wardrobe my entire life. I would buy clothing and never wear it. The book revealed through it's research that people who grow up with other people's hand-me-downs (me) never learn what they like or dislike in their own clothing style. The never develop their own style as a result of never learning to make clothing choices. Boy, that got the bells going off. Made perfect sense. That is the root of the problem - - luckily someone else did the research, because that was not a topic I was about to devote a lot of introspection to, but it makes the point. Clothes would not solve the problem, because the problem is not a lack of clothing, it is not knowing what clothing I like.
So.... where does all this leave me? I believe the Word. I cling to every word of Scripture - it provides my oxygen. We are MORE than conquerors because it says so. We can not only overcome sin, but we can learn from it, be strengthened by it, help others through it, basically make a bigger dent in the landscape through conquering the sin than it made to begin with. Sin's impact cannot be downplayed. Sin, my own seemingly little and innocent sin is like throwing a rock into a still pond - - the waves it creates continue to disrupt the surface outward in all directions until its impact is absorbed by another surface, at which time its impact changes in nature and it takes on new life in its new temporary abode, until it is released again..... and again..... and again...... mindboggling. So dealing with my sin is incredibly important to me. I want goodness and godliness to be the reverberations I make in the world. But if my strength is being sapped by the root system of the weeds - - I will continue to struggle - fighting the weed instead of advancing in the Kingdom.
"The Spirit helps us in our weakness." (Rom 8:26)
OK - - I am not alone. I do not need to rely on my own resources to fight this battle. God has acknowledged that I am weak, and provides support in my weakness. I do what I can with what He has created me with, then, because I will still fall far short of the goal, He provides what I can never do to actually get me there. But His help is in my weakness, not instead of using the tools (Eph 6:10) He has given me.
"For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death." (Rom 8:2) I once had no choice. I was trapped in a system that was destroying me. But being in Christ has replaced the desires, the goals, the idols that previously dictated my path by being the recipients of my worship. I was unable to worship God before Christ - I did not care to worship God before I was in Christ -- now I not only intensely desire God and worship Him, but I am free from the entanglement with the previous idols to worship the One who is truly worthy of it. He is my desire. He is my joy. I can enjoy the smile of God.
That is the freedom that enables the introspection that can honestly deal with sin - at its root. There are some roots that grow from woundedness. The wounds become deeply tangled from years of "making do", as they send out shoots that can infiltrate many areas of our lives. Sometimes when we pull up weeds, we damage other desired plants near them. Collateral damage. Our woundedness is usually the result of another person's sin. The outward ripples leaving carnage in their path. That is the ugliness of sin. It is given new life yet again by me acting out of that place of woundedness, and withholding blessing, or quite possibly acting sinfully or disobediently with regard to another, instead of being a conduit of the Lord's goodness and kindness and loving on His behalf. If there is such a thing as an "orphan spirit", this is how it looks to me - - one who is compelled to do and be for themselves because they know of no other way for their needs to be met.
But I "did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but ...have received the Spirit of adoption as (a) son(s) by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!" When God dealt with a wound in me, He revealed quite clearly that in my own strength I did not, and could not posses the capacity to provide what He was asking me to give. In the natural you cannot give what you do not have. He was asking me to give out of my poverty in that area, because it was He who would provide the riches I was to give from. I was to provide the very thing for others that I had yearned for and never received myself. Sometimes I was willing, sometimes I was not. I repent because lately I have felt less willing to yield in this area. Serving the passion of my flesh - the desire to withhold giving what I still yearn to receive, never actually provides that "thing" for me. Funny how I can have it to give to another, but by withholding it, I cannot give it to myself. I remain bereft. And it is in THERE that we find the joy. THAT is the Spirit of Life - - Being adopted as His child guarantees that the unmet needs will be provided by Him, it is at His hand that I receive. The root of this invasive weed species is trust, and a spirit of contentment. When I trust Him to provide, and find satisfaction in His provision, I live out of the place of abundance, freedom, generosity with my time and efforts. When I am doubting Him, instead of being a conduit for Kingdom work, I partner with the enemy and work to suppress the truth of His goodness and faithfulness.