The water hyacinth is an amazing plant: it can double itself each day. So on day one, you have just one plant — but the next day, you have two — the next day, four, and then sixteen. It’s both incredible, and frightening: if it’s not stopped, the water hyacinth will take over any amount of fresh water it finds itself in, often killing entire ecosystems. That’s a lot like sin. If left unchecked, sin will spread to every part of us, choking out all life. It will leave no part of us untouched. So Peter encourages us to “be sober mind; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8 ESV).
While this doesn’t mean we need to see the devil behind every shadow, it’s a good reminder that our lives are not neutral territory. Where we resist Christ’s reign, we expose ourselves to temptations we have no hope of resisting on our own.
So how do we defeat this ruthless enemy? Peter tells us, “Resist (the devil), standing firm in the faith…” (1 Peter 5:9 NIV). In fighting sin in our lives, faith is our most important weapon. But it isn’t faith in anything we can accomplish on our own. Instead, it’s faith in what already has been accomplished. Remember, this battle has already been won and Jesus Christ is the clear victor!
This doesn’t mean each day will be easy for us. But through our union with Christ and by the ministry of the Holy Spirit, we can partake of the same power that has already broken the hold of sin and death once and for all. As Paul says in Galatians: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20 NIV).
When we stand firm in our faith, we stand with Christ. In fellowship with him, we can share by the Spirit in his eternal victory. Day by day, we can count on his Spirit to be at work within us, and act on that basis. As we do, the sanctification he worked out for us throughout his whole life, culminating on Calvary, will become more and more complete in our lives, spreading life to every part of us — just like the water hyacinth — but thankfully, with a very different result.
I’m Joseph Tkach, speaking of LIFE.