I have no control over your thoughts. I can perhaps influence your thinking by proclaiming the truth of God's Word, but my role in that capacity is instrumental only. You can't really be accountable to me for your private thoughts, nor can I be similarly accountable to you. This is a battle you must fight, sometimes all alone. It's lonely, grueling, lengthy, frustrating—and it's the one great battle you can least afford to shirk.
Paul knew that. On occasion, he described the Christian warfare in precisely those terms:
- Romans 7:22-23: "I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members."
- Galatians 5:17: "The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would."
Paul was describing a struggle in his own heart. He says you can expect to have the same kind of internal conflict. That conflict you feel inside yourself is one of the key skirmishes you must win in the spiritual arena.