I struggle with sin. Since the days of knowledge when the awareness of sin entered my life the battle of good and evil has waged a vicious conflict on the fields of my heart, mind and soul. Crater filled landscapes paint the picture of the epic struggle against the spiritual hosts of wickedness deployed against my will. Memories are vivid of the valleys of defeat and hills of victory. The battle continues each day and final victory will only be found in the coming of the King or the embrace of death.
There is a wonderful beauty in this place of conflict where the soul is tested. In each place of battle where blood was spilt and fighting was waged stands a blood stained cross. As I view my life on the pages of war I do not see defeat or sorrow but victory because my battles were fought in the blood of Jesus Christ. The fields of Arlington are arrayed in acres of white crosses giving honor to noble men and women who served sacrificially for their country. Inscribed upon the marble are names and a dash of life. Scattered over the remains of my battles is a cross bearing one name – time and time again placed upon the hallowed ground of where my King gave Himself to redeem me.
Long ago a soldier of the King wrote these tender words of affection of his conflicts endured and battles won in the cross of Jesus: “Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen” (Galatians 1:3-5). Paul would later describe how he had “fought the good fight” (2 Timothy 4:7) as a soldier of the King. He knew the power of the saving grace of Jesus Christ who gave Himself for Paul’s sins and I must learn the same lesson of how Jesus gave Himself for my sins.
There are many victories where sin is resisted and the power of self-control manifests its crushing blow against the influence of Satan. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13) sounds forth from the trumpet of God as temptation is driven away and sin is conquered. What glorious days they are. Built up in the might of God we bear the armor upon the hills of bloody warfare defeating the forces of evil on every hand. We withstand in the evil day and standing with truth are able to “quench all the fiery darts of wicked one” (Ephesians 6:16). We are “strong in the Lord and in the power of His might” (Ephesians 6:10) and placed upon those hills of victory the cross of Jesus Christ rises in triumph.
Not all days end in victory for mortal flesh. The dark days when temptation is not resisted and the desires of the flesh, pride of life and lust of the eyes slay our spirits are hard days. We fail. We sin. “For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice … O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death” (Romans 7:19, 24). It is then that the cross of Jesus is placed upon the burned remains of my spirit and forgiveness granted. In my sorrow I seek forgiveness from a loving and merciful God. “The Lord is merciful and gracious; slow to anger, and abounding in mercy. He will not always strive with us, nor will He keep His anger forever. He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. As a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust” (Psalms 103:8-14).
Life is filled with the burned remains of the days of failure where sin had its greater victory. But these pages in life are not marked with sorrow and defeat but with the blood stained cross of Jesus who “gave Himself for our sins.” As I look upon the vile moments of Satan’s victory I hear the voice of the Father dispelling thoughts of defeat in showing the forgiveness of sins through the sacrifice of His only begotten Son (John 3:16). Jesus died for me so that His cross and His death would mark the place of my failures. He died for MY sins. He died for ME. He gave His life for MY life. He died so that I could LIVE. His blood stained cross fills the landscape of my life with a debt that I can never repay.