I am having such dreadful battles! I have to fight, and fight, and there seems to be no end to it. Surely I am not sanctified; if I were, I should not be so tried. What shall I do? The desire to be all the Lord's is uppermost; but can I truly be all for Him with so many thoughts of all kinds running through my mind? Could I find rest from these battles probably I could feel that all is well; but with this constant battle I fear something is wrong. Isn't sanctification a grace where one will not be tried or tempted very much, at least not with such things as I am tried and tempted with? Why, the most terrible things ever heard of are suggested to me to do! Can you help me any?
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Suppose we should visit a citizen of the land of Canaan and ask him if he had any battles with the giants of the land. No doubt the twinkle of his eye and the animated expression on his face would show that memory was at work, and we should wait in all expectation. Ah! here's one; let us hear him!
"Indeed, indeed. Many, many times did I battle with the giants of Canaan. Many people suppose Canaan is the home for soldiers to rest, while in truth it is the great battleground of the world. I recall one battle I had with Giant Accuser [Matthew 4:1-11].
"Look right over the top of that olive tree due east, down toward the Dead Sea. Do you see that shaded valley deep down between those two mountains? That is the Valley of Sorrows. In that valley I had one of the greatest battles of my life.
"It was before I possessed my home. I had been helping my brethren fight off the inhabitants of the land and was out at this time looking over the country. I entered that valley. The sun was sinking into the western sea, and my thoughts grew gloomy and foreboding. All at once right before me loomed the big form of one of the worst giants in all Canaan, Giant Accuser. I could not run back, the cliffs were too steep on either side to climb out, and the fierce old Giant blocked the way in front.
"'I rebuke you in the name of the Lord,' I said to him.
"'Ah, the Lord! Ha! ha! The Lord does not care for you. Steal that sheep you see yonder; no one will see you. If any one sees you with it, you can tell him a lie about it,' he said to me.
"I stood aghast at the suggestion. Never before had I had any evil suggestion like that, and I felt sick at heart that any such thought should enter my mind. The old Giant strode closer, and I trembled.
"'Curse and swear,' he roared at me, scowling down into my very face. And from his coarse mouth there rolled a volume of blasphemy such as I never had heard. The curses had a peculiar effect of sticking on my mind, until they seemed to be within me.
"I fell on my knees, while the old Giant dealt me a blow over the head with his club. 'You have cursed,' he shouted. 'See, your mind is full of evil words. And you would steal; for the suggestion lodged in your mind to steal that sheep. You are a sinner, that's what you are. Christians never have such thoughts as you are having.' And again he struck me with his club.
"I was too weak to fight. Finally I felt as if I really had sinned.
"The Old Giant then fell to beating me, and after half killing me and laughing right in my face and telling me he was going to drive me out of Canaan before he was through with me, he walked off.
"I lay there a long time thinking over the situation. Not an angel appeared, and God seemed to have forsaken me. My mind was all confused over the battle.
"While I was lying there, the old Giant came again. I was terribly frightened, because it seemed I had no weapon that he feared; if I had, I did not know how to use it. I tried to resist, and felt indignant within that he should treat me thus; but how to overcome him I did not know. I prayed, 'O God, help me! Help me!' But no voice answered, and no help came. The Giant strode right up and, without saying a word, again struck me with his club. The blow seemed to fall right on my heart, and a sickening feeling of utter discouragement and helplessness filled me. I groaned in complete confusion and bewilderment.
"'See how discouraged you are! You are not happy as are others in Canaan. Evidently something is wrong. People in Canaan ought not have such discouragements as you are having.'
"Then from some cause or other (it may be the Giant insinuated these things into my mind), a whole variety of slimy thoughts, vulgar words, bad imaginings surged through my mind and, together with a feeling that all was lost, seemed to dig down into the depths of my soul. There I lay, alone, forsaken, while the towering bulk of the Giant hovered over me ready to club me back into utter helplessness any minute. Finally I attempted to rise; but down came that dreadful club. Once more I struggled to my knees, determined to arise; but a terrific blow just at my heart felled me again.
"'You have sinned,' he hissed. 'You can not stay in Canaan. God has cast you off. See, He has abandoned you. He loves you no more. Die and be done with it. You are a sinner, anyway; you might as well do something desperate and end all.'
"I was so confused, I hardly knew what to do. The Giant dealt me one more blow, then left me to nurse my wounds.
"Finding myself alone, I began to endeavor to collect my thoughts and find the significance of the encounter. But my mind was so confused that the more I tried to reason out the why of the affair, the more confused I became.
"And then, to my consternation, the Giant came in sight again. I knew instinctively that he would once more beat and wound me. I made a feeble attempt at resistance; but it seemed to avail nothing. He repeated the beating I had before, and there I lay utterly baffled. The same thing occurred for many days.
"Then one day my attention was called to the shield of faith [Ephesians 6:16] with which the Lord had equipped me. I had used it slightly, and there it lay at my feet. And my sword of truth lay unused by my side. Why I had not used it was a mystery to me. No giant can stand before it. I then and there determined that if Giant Accuser came again to beat me, I should use these holy weapons.
"Not long after this decision was made, the Giant came again. He came up confidently, expecting to make short work of me and laugh at my calamity. I did not shout at him, nor utter any sigh of despair as before, neither was I trembling; for I now knew that all I had to do was to use my weapons. When the Giant got close enough, he bawled out again, 'You have sinned. Your thoughts have been on things that are wrong. You have doubted. You must begin over. You are lost.'
"'You are wrong,' I declared. 'I am a full citizen of Canaan, with a clear title to a home in this land of Beulah,' and with that I kept before me my shield of faith, and drew the sword [Ephesians 6:17] and struck at him with all my might. He winced, but immediately again braced himself. He was not sure but that I might yield; so he began telling me the wrongs and sins he was accusing me of.
"'I am not a rebel,' I declared emphatically, 'and these ugly things coming to my mind are from you, old Giant Accuser,' I added. Then I struck at him again with all my might. He gave way a little at that, and I saw it, and it gave me immense encouragement. Then I rained blows on him as fast and hard as I possibly could. Soon he started to run. Summoning all the strength I had, I ran after him, giving him blow upon blow, until he jumped into a deep place and disappeared. Then I dropped on my knees and praised the Lord God Almighty for helping me win so signal a victory.
"I have fought with Giant Tempter, Giant Discourager, Giant Covetousness, Giant Liar, Giant Lust, Giant Pride, Giant Doubt, Giant Fear, Giant Worldliness, and many others. Thank our God for the weapons of warfare, the shield and the sword, the breastplate and the girdle, which give us power over them. I have not seen a giant for some time; but if any of them should attempt an encounter, by God's help I am ready."
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Sanctification does not deliver from temptations; but it does make us more sure of winning over them. It is even probable that you will have more battles to fight, have more temptations to overcome, after you are sanctified than before. The spiritual foes are by no means confined to the justified state; there are a host of them to meet in the Canaan experience.
Many newly sanctified people have been overwhelmed, just as you have, with dreadful inner battles. Either the mind is harassed with constantly recurring evil thoughts, or evil words keep popping into it till they apparently spring from within. Or perhaps the suggestion to commit some sinful act keeps persistently coming to mind. Maybe feelings one considers foreign to the sanctified experience possess one. Possibly some diabolical temptation keeps whirling one about. All of these are sent with the avowed object of overthrowing the soul.
It is a favorite method of Satan's to suggest a sin or bring something bad to the mind and then accuse you of being guilty of the evil. It is as if a thief should turn around suddenly and accuse the owner of the stolen property of being the thief. Satan may fill your mind with bad things and then try to throw the blame for having them all on you. His object is so to trouble you that you will give up your faith, after which he will make short work of you.
Fight on! No one can grow strong without fighting. And the battles give proficiency in the use of the spiritual weapons. When your faith is assailed, you learn how to use the shield of faith. Then in the next assault you can use it more familiarly. The same reasoning applies to the using of the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. These very battles which seem to be more than you can bear are only developing that which will make you a strong and valiant soldier in God's army.
Then, too, these violent spiritual battles are proof of your ability to resist, else you would not have them (1 Corinthians 10:13). They are proof of your trueness. So, instead of looking upon them as something to be frightened or troubled over, see in them a signal proof of your strength and of God's confidence in you. So, then, dear soul, be encouraged concerning them; rejoice that God counts you able to fight for Him and counts you able to win. By looking at them in this light you will make of them a source of encouragement. That being the case, let the battles come -- they will do you good (2 Timothy 2:3; 1 Peter 1:7).