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On Spots, Stains, and Warfare

Updated: Feb 19, 2020

“Until the day that we leave this world, there will always be spots and stains within us, and we will always be bent down with the burden of our sins and weaknesses. This is in order to humble us and to show that our life is to be a constant battle. Thus, though sin dwells within us, it must not have dominion, but the Spirit of God must conquer it. This can only happen if we flee to God with fervent zeal, and pray that he will remedy the evil that we cannot change. Also, that he would grant us more of the gifts of His Spirit so that we might overcome all that has weighed us down.”

In his chapter on Calvin’s view of the transforming work of the Spirit, Thabiti Anyabwile notes that Calvin conceived of the Christian life as primarily one of warfare and struggle. I wonder how many of us American Christians view the Christian life in this manner. If you are like me, you know that our life is one of warfare. But you don’t really live as though you are engaged in a war.

Calvin was certainly no an aesthete. He was in no way against enjoying the good gifts that the Lord gives in this life. To the contrary he writes poignantly about the importance of receiving God’s gifts with joy and thanksgiving. But he was acutely aware that as long as we remain in this present life, we are engaged in a raging battle against the world, the flesh and the devil. I pray that I might learn from Calvin, and live each day seeking for the Holy Spirit to conquer within me.

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