The Struggle Against Self Will


We’ve been studying from Ephesians 6, particularly from verses 10-19, in talking about how we prepare for the spiritual battles of this life. Last time, we talked about the fact that our struggle is a spiritual one, that we must be prepared to overcome, and that this battle is ultimately the Lord’s. We lean on Him for our victory. In this continual conflict, we have one obstacle we might never consider, but it can be the strongest opposition we face — our own self will.

A Struggle with Self-Deception

Jeremiah 17:9 – 10 simply tells us our hearts can deceive us. We are so used to following our hearts in so many things that we may not think to question ourselves. We want to trust our own judgment, but it should be God’s that has the final say. Isaiah 55:8 – 9 tells us God’s ways are higher than ours. Our standards are fallible. God’s are infallible.

Ezekiel 18:25 – 32 speaks of how God exercises righteous judgment and how He can discern our hearts as easily as our actions, but Matthew 7 warns us against relying on our own judgment overmuch. Jesus warns us that we will be judged by the same standards to which we hold others if we are overly critical. He says that, if we wish to help others overcome their shortcomings, we must first be aware of our own.

Looking Into Self

This means that when we search God’s word, we need to take it for what it says rather than trying to make it fit our own desires. Truly search the scriptures. Don’t try to make it say want we want it to say. Otherwise, we’re just like those Jesus is speaking to in Matthew 13:13 – 15 who have eyes that do not see and ears that do not hear. We have to hear and see when we search.

1 John 1:5 – 10 Tells us we have to be open and willing to self-examination. We have to be able to admit when we are wrong so that we can better walk in the light. As in James 1:22 –25, we should be looking at the mirror of God’s word and openly assessing what we see reflected back to us. Then we can begin to make progress.

Seeing the Obstacles Within

When we look at ourselves critically, we can better see how sometimes we are indeed our own worst enemy. We must be self-aware when it comes to our weaknesses and our personal sources of temptation. On the other hand, we can also know where we need help to grow, what to pray for, and what our spiritual needs are. Examining self will reveal shortcomings, but it will also reveal opportunities for growth and self-improvement.

Galatians 2:20 and Romans 6:6 both emphasize that we crucify a sense of self when we put on Christ in baptism. If He is ruling our lives, then we should be striving to put aside that opponent who is ourselves. My Savior lives in me, and I have given myself wholly to Him. Sometimes I get in the way of myself with that commitment, but I can overcome when I am honest with myself, and let Jesus rule my life.

lesson by Kent Ward