Conquer Sin by Loving Him
I recall reading an ancient Desert Father who said that the one thing we can count on to the day of our death is to be tested, tempted, and tried. It is simply the course of the Christian life. How can it be any other way? We are away from home in a foreign and strange land under the rule of Satan. His dominion over our lives has been broken, and he hates that more than anything. To his skewed way of thinking, the Creator of this world trespassed his domain and worse, “led a host of captives” (Ephesians 4:8). And he is now prowling about the lives of Christians seeking to trip us up in every possible way (1 Peter 5:8). He will do this to the very end. Furthermore, our own sinful natures cry out against our profession. It is the interminable war of the flesh against the spirit which the Apostle Paul speaks about in Romans 8 and Galatians 5:16ff that we feel each and every day. The world, the flesh, and the devil will never leave us alone.
So what are we to do? Number one: Claim the promises like the one in this verse: “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life.” The Christian looks beyond the test to the reward. It would be pointless without the reward; life would be an endless drudgery. But the Christian looks to a reward that far surpasses the pain of the trial; indeed, he has the added benefit that the Rewarder gives him grace to endure the trial. And what is the reward? The Crown of Life. I read that the ancients might have associated such a crown with the laurel wreath athletes would receive at the games. But we associate the Crown with that eternal life God has promised us—a life without pain, toil, or tears, and, oh, without trials, either.
But I stopped quoting the verse at a crucial place that I must now continue: Those will receive the Crown of Life “which God has promised to those who love Him.” It’s not even the promise that is the main cause of our remaining steadfast; it is our love for Him. It is love that compels us to pass the test, to endure the trial, even take the pain. And it is painful. The Preacher of Hebrews reminds us that “the Lord chastises every son whom He receives” and “that it is for discipline that [we] have to endure.” And all of this is to produce “the peaceful fruit of righteousness” in us (12:5-11).
So yes, we have a hard path to follow. But we have the Holy Spirit who has shed His love abroad in our hearts. So make your return of that love with all your heart, mind, and strength—and see if your trials aren’t easier to bear.