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In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. 1 John 5:3-4

There is an old Native American legend regarding evil and good. Evil is portrayed as a dark dog that lives within each of us; good is a white dog that also lives within each of us. The two are at constant battle for control of our lives. The dog we choose to feed the most is the dog that wins control of our lives.

In a sense, the legend isn’t far from being wrong. Paul describes a similar scenario in his own life when he says, in Romans 7, the good that I want to do, I don’t do. Instead, the very things I hate, the very things I despise, I find myself doing over and over again. Paul, like the rest of us, want to see the ‘dark dog’ die, yet we continue to feed it at least enough to guarantee power to wage war in our lives.

Any of us who have walked the journey of life at all are well aware of the battle within. There are so many things out there that cry out to us. Things that make us feel good (for awhile at least), things that ‘seem right’ (even though they contradict God’s law), things that sneak up on us and attack us at our weakest moment.

For some of us it’s an addictive habit like smoking, drugs or alcohol, or lust. For others it’s anger, language or food. Still others battle daily with feelings of failure, insecurity, fear and doubt. We work hard to build or salvage broken relationships, save our homes or jobs and rescue our children from harm. It’s draining just to think about it!

The Apostle John gives us a formula for victory. It’s a lesson he learned at the feet of Jesus himself. The secret to victory over the world isn’t found in religion. It’s not found in social action, counseling, self-help books or volunteering at the local soup kitchen. Recovery groups and fitness programs won’t help either.

The secret to victory over whatever you are struggling with is love. Not love as the world gives, but love that comes from a growing relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Many of us know that but few of us see victory. One reason may be that we forget, or have never learned, that relationship takes time. Victory won’t come over night. The bad news is that we are responsible for every bad decision we’ve ever made. We can choose. The good news is that even if we’ve made a boatload of bad decisions in life, Jesus Christ will forgive us and help us back on the road to recovery.

Don’t expect to win every battle every day. Take little steps. Relationship comes as we read God’s Word on a daily basis, pray for guidance and strength and refuse (one decision at time) not to listen to the enemy voices that want to bring us to defeat.

People who are victorious over the things that bring them down are the people who determine every day to walk just one step closer to the light. The are the ones that have learned to celebrate the small victories in life and bounce back from the occasional defeats as they learn to love Jesus Christ above all else.  

PRAYER: Father, from this day forward I have resolved to move closer to you in relationship through the love and forgiveness only Jesus Christ can offer. Forgive me for the times I’ve made wrong choices. Empower me with your Spirit to learn to walk closer to you and love you more. In Jesus name, Amen.

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