Today, after having a great conversation yesterday with my friend in which I told him that sexual struggles and lust have been dormant in my life for the past month or so, I woke up struggling with lustful thoughts in my mind. (why... Why?!?! was it because I lied or something? Or because I was getting prideful? I dunno) But anyways, I did what a smart person does and forced them out of my mind all day. But towards the end of the day as I got home and was getting exhausted I just gave in and indulged in the thoughts.
As I was sitting and indulging in my idolatrous fancies, I attempted to bring some scripture into my mind. Something I read earlier today: "How much better it is to have wisdom than gold! and to get understanding is to be chosen over silver." I thought about it and tried to apply it to my life, to which my mind replied something to the effect of "psh. screw that! naked women are a heck of a lot more fun to think about than boring truth!". I saw my mind's point, and then unreluctantly gave up trying to dissuade myself from my sin, concluding I was already sinning anyways. Ok, I'm probably portraying myself rather more shadily than it really was. It was more like I genuinely did not want to think about this crap and and was feeling sorrow inside, but the sorrow wasn't enough to change my attitude.
It's funny (I'm not laughing). These moments are when we are most convinced that we're too far gone for any kind of repentance and we may as well continue on with whatever sexual sin we're committing, be it sexual fantasy, pornography, masturbation,... uh, well, I'm sure there's other stuff, and then repent later.
But as I've been realizing recently, these are the moments that spiritual warfare intensifies and really begins-- the reason we don't want to see it that way is because we're sold on the pleasure and don't want to contemplate the idea of giving it up. The band "Oh, Sleeper" has really been teaching me a lot about spiritual warfare. I used to think that spiritual warfare was, well, actually I don't know what I thought it was. I just thought it was dumb because it had something to do with demons scaring you and you trying not to be scared, which seemed totally dumb to me, because if demons exist, then God probably exists, and if God exists, then we have absolutely nothing to be afraid of. (I'm not that rational, I promise. I just think I am)
The other night I went running and listened to metal music the whole time. The band I just mentioned uses a lot of imagery of heroic sacrifice and constant devotion to what one is bound to. Whenever I run, it makes me get that feeling like, "Ah man look at me runnin' and all, I look so disciplined and hard core. I'm really fighting hard (I say this after like half a mile of running, which isn't anything really). It gives you this feeling of pride and honor exuding from yourself, but in reality it is baseless. Running at that point in my run isn't real spiritual warfare anymore than praying in the bed with the lights off and the door closed with your girlfriend is, and to pretend so is just as sinful as pretending you're really being godly by doing such a thing with someone you're not married or engaged to.
What is real spiritual warfare then? I like to say that spiritual warfare begins when you shut up with your emotions and talking and you're truly confronted with a challenge that is going to consume your whole soul, and as you fight you gain spiritual muscle deep down. See, it's nice when I run and listen to music and feel all awesome and disciplined like that during my first mile, but when I'm more than 3/4 of the way through a 5 mile race or even a 7 mile run ; I feel my gut clenched up, my muscles aching, my throat closing up, my whole body ready to collapse on the ground, my spirit and my hope failing, literally everything I could possibly imagine working against me, that including my mischievous deceptive mind, THAT is where spiritual warfare and discipline begins. That is when it truly takes everything you've got in your soul, and that is where heroes come from. Even as I write this I find it hard to believe, because I've so trained myself that life doesn't have to include such moments. But it does.
In my favorite song by Oh Sleeper, (it's a metal scream band by the way), the lead singer named Micah begins screaming in the middle of the song (that begins with the words "We were born to fight") something that really does punch me deep in my gut when I think about it. These are the words: "I'm sweating red; I'm sweating red, I'm sweating red. I'm red, I'm sweating red, I'm sweating red, red, red. [and so on...]. This is no light-hearted scenario. This isn't something you raise your hands and sing about. This is, of course, the scenario of Jesus at the Garden of Gethsemane-- a spiritual battle with no legitimate rival. With these words, he illustrates the absolute lengths to which we ought to be willing to go to in order to uphold truth, God's law, and devotion in our life. That battle isn't over when all the fun and games and singing have stopped and the true pain and work begins; it's just beginning.
This is actually funny: it's quite ironic how listening to this music during the first mile of my run makes me feel awesome and disciplined, while listening to it near the end of my run, I genuinely don't care about feeling awesome or any of the feelings of pride I had the first mile-- I am wholly focused on completing the challenge before me. This is the mindset I want to have. Forget the pride, forget the baseless passion. Enter into spiritual warfare as a daily battle, and see what happens.