Creation is amazing. Whether I’m hiking in the woods, gazing on a garden filled with beautiful flowers, or watching our two dogs play together, I am left in awe at the wonders of the natural world.
How did God come up with all of this? Then, when I think about the human person, I am even more amazed. Just think about the way your hands or feet work or the intricate network of neural pathways in your brain or the complexity of your nervous system or your respiratory system. Isn’t it all amazing?
As amazing as we are, and with all the potential we have for good, we humans have a checkered history when it comes to using our potential in the right way. Despite all the good we actually do accomplish, we all make numerous decisions that are not so good as well.
St. Paul was aware of this contradiction in us. He knew that some of our decisions come from what he calls the “new self,” which is “created in God’s way in righteousness” (Ephesians 4:24). But he also knew that some of our decisions come from the “old self,” that part of us that has yet to be renewed and remains opposed to Jesus (Romans 6:6). Paul considered this contradiction to be like a battle. So he urged his readers, and us, to take up “the armor of God” by exercising gifts like faith, righteousness, the truth, and the word of God (Ephesians 6:11, 14-17).
Talk of a spiritual battle can sound intimidating, but we should know that the Holy Spirit wants to help us in this battle. He wants to empower us and teach us how to overcome these drives of the old self. With the power of the Spirit in us, we can hold our ground against the devil’s temptations and the habits and attitudes that come from our old self. We can “put away the old self” and “put on the new self” a little bit more each day (Ephesians 4:22, 24).
The Grace to Be Renewed. I can see this battle in my own life. I see ways that the Holy Spirit helps me choose good, but I also see how my “old self,” along with the devil’s temptations, can influence me and convince me to commit sin. But I don’t give up. I have seen how the way I think and act has changed over the years. I have seen the Holy Spirit join with my own desire to be a disciple of Jesus and help me to be “transformed by the renewal” of my mind (Romans 12:2).
This is part of what makes the gospel such good news. God’s own grace is at work in our hearts and minds. He is giving us the power to resist the devil, put off the old self, and let the Spirit continue to renew us.
I hope that, as you read this issue on the spiritual battle, you become more aware of the battle going on in and around you. I hope it inspires you to put on the new self each day. Creation is amazing. Humanity is amazing. You are amazing. You have been created to be like Jesus, to reflect his own purity, perfection, and holiness in the world. So let’s join the Holy Spirit and get to work!