1. As a Fight
Many people have the idea that the Christian life becomes easier as one grows in holiness. People think that holiness is experienced as victory over all known sin. Scripture presents a different picture. Galatians 5:17 and Romans 7:7–25 frame the Christian life as a fight. As we seek to obey God, the Holy Spirit works to conform our hearts and minds to love. As we progress, the sinful desires of our hearts that oppose God become more apparent. Christians will not feel victorious, but they will feel the fight. The presence of the fight should remind believers that the Spirit is working. The spiritually dead don’t fight.
2. As a Greater Sense of Need
The longer Christians fight, the more they realize their need for God to help them. In John 15:1–17, Jesus teaches that to grow in our Christian life, we need to rely upon him. In Galatians 2:20, Paul teaches us how to rely upon Jesus. To rely upon Jesus is to believe the gospel and trust in Christ for salvation. As Christians, our lives are characterized by faith. By faith we receive the Holy Spirit (Gal. 3:2–3). It’s the Holy Spirit who makes us holy. The more we fight, the more we realize that we need Jesus. The fight against sin makes us realize that apart from the Holy Spirit we are dead in our sins, unable to please God (Eph. 2:1–10).
3. As a Deeper Understanding of God’s Grace
The more we come to realize that apart from the work of the Holy Spirit we cannot please God, the deeper we will understand God’s grace. It is not popular to believe that apart from God we are spiritually dead. A lot of young Christians I meet tend to think that they make themselves holy through programs, methods, or human effort. When we begin to see that we are sinners by nature, we can begin to appreciate God’s grace. Grace is God giving Christ what we deserve (hell on the cross), and giving us what Christ deserved (resurrected life). Even now we experience the beginnings of the new life that Christ won for us (Rom. 8:18–25).