An essential key to winning a battle is to have a strategic plan. Our Lord, when describing the necessity of counting the cost of being a disciple, explained that a wise king considers his enemy before engaging in battle (Luke 14:31). As disciples of Christ, the rules of combat for spiritual warfare are much the same. We are soldiers enlisted in the cause of Christ (2 Timothy 2:3-4). As those who put on the whole armor of God, the weapons that we wield are of a spiritual nature (Ephesians 6:10-20; 2 Corinthians 10:4-6). We are in a battle of life and death. According to 1 Peter 5:8, our adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion seeking to devour us! As Christians, we need to know the terms of the battle to wage war. We must stay alert to the schemes of the devil and lean on the Holy Spirit to hold us fast in the hour of temptation. The cosmic battle between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent is decisively won by Christ in His death and resurrection. Although Satan’s power is now restrained, he continues to try to ensnare image-bearers in sin, and he will continue to do so until Christ’s second coming when Satan is eternally vanquished (Revelation 12:9).

We are not normally accustomed to studying the doctrine of sin or the reality of the devil. However, an understanding of sin and Satan’s snares can instruct us as believers to put on the whole armor of God and depend on the Holy Spirit. In his book Knowing Sin, Dr. Mark Jones addresses the topic of sin to equip the believer with a knowledge of how to stay on guard. Speaking of indwelling sin, Jones writes that “we should never forget that there is an enemy that walks around with us, pretending very often to be our best friend while truly being our worst enemy. Indwelling sin is always ready to pounce.”[1] While we are new creations in Christ, indwelling sin remains within us a result of the fall. Although we will fall short of God’s law in this life, we are called to lead holy lives as those set apart. Understanding what we are up against will assist us in our earthly pilgrimage.

Even though it was our first parents who plunged humanity into an estate of sin and misery, we are individually responsible for our own sin. We are answerable to God almighty for the sin in our own lives. At times, it is easy for Christians to externalize their sin and to shift the blame, particularly when it comes to desire and temptation. However, as Mark Jones writes, “we are fully responsible for our lusts and temptations within. Any evil from the heart is our responsibility.”[2] This is especially important for us to consider in a day and age where we are told that our thoughts from within determine our truth and reality. A biblical view of sin rightly recognizes that our hearts deceive us and that we must take every thought captive.

In the midst of spiritual warfare, Jones offers this encouragement and exhortation: “We must lay hold of both God’s promises and his ordinary means of grace (e.g., the Word, prayer, and the sacraments) if we are going to arm ourselves for battle.”[3] When we understand what we have been redeemed from and what it cost our Lord to restore us to Himself, we can only but marvel and rejoice in so rich a salvation.

Dr. Mark Jones will be joining us at Tenth on September 30 to discuss sin and desire in greater depth. Learn more and let us know you’re coming.

[1] Mark Jones, Knowing Sin (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 2022), 66.

[2] Jones, Knowing Sin, 170.

[3] Jones, Knowing Sin, 176.

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