Swindoll writes "Once someone has received God's grace through faith, the holy spirit takes up residence in that believer. And so begins the internal struggle. The flesh continues to serve sin, while the spirit serves righteousness."
Although I challenge myself on a daily basis to get through an entire day without doing, thinking, or saying something in which I know is not pleasing to God, I realize the battle is real! I am however aware that sin is not my master, and it isn't a lifestyle I chose. Jesus promises to forgive me, and I know His promise is true. We are all trapped in flesh, and even though we have been saved, our new nature is in constant conflict with our old nature in search of pleasing God.
"You know how it works. You constantly vow, "I'm gonna break the habit this time," but in your own power, you can't do it. You fail again and again. Then you get in a cycle of guilt and shame-beating yourself up over it, vowing to try harder next time, and when you fail again, you sink even lower, feeling a great weight of condemnation heaped upon you. (John Burke)
"For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want." (Gal 5:17-NIV)
The Life Application Bible explains that "This describes the experience of all Christians struggling against sin or trying to please God by keeping rules and laws without the Spirit's help. We must never underestimate the power of sin and attempt to fight it in our own strength. Satan is a crafty tempter, and we have an amazing ability to make excuses instead of trying to overcome sin with our own human willpower. We must take hold of God's provision for victory over sin; the Holy Spirit who lives within us and gives us power. And when we fall He lovingly reaches out to help us."
"Spiritual character is developed by responding to God, which is influenced by habits, which get formed by practices, which emerge from beliefs. So the key to deep character development is to interrupt those autopilot responses with new beliefs and practices, so we can respond to the spirit and allow God to grow us up in that area" (John Burke)
We all live in a constant state of conflict, and I know that God doesn't approve of all that He sees in me, but He stays with me right or wrong until I get things sorted out. I have discovered that the more I struggle, the more I become stronger spiritually. I'm determined to continue to hang on and fully rely on God's grace and mercies, and praise Him for this temporary internal struggle. Sin is stronger than I am, and without God's help I am unable to defend myself against it's attack!