My (R’s) ears begin to heat up and turn red. That’s the first sign for both of us that I’m being triggered – that my buttons are being pushed. There are other signs of internal escalation as the triggers continue. I lose eye contact because my mind drifts and my mount tightens. These are early signs, but we are constantly doing some self-evaluation to discover earlier signs, perhaps even new signs. This is important because of this truth: The earlier you engage the enemy, the more likely you are to win the battle for good.
Romans 7:19-23 and James 1:13-15 help us understand the battle within us. Romans uses the word “war” to describe the battle between my mind where I have decided what I want to do (the good) and my flesh (my human nature) that often acts in ways opposite (the evil). James refers to my “own evil desire” (which I believe is the human nature) that meets temptation, loses the battle and sins.
The context for Romans 7 is letting us know that the salvation from this frustrating dilemma (not doing what I want to do) is the fact that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. James is reminding us that the ultimate cause of the evil we do is that our evil desires intersect with temptation and sin is the wreck that occurs. That’s my word picture; James uses the picture of conception and birth – and ultimately death.
Though forgiveness must be the ultimate solution for our sin problem because we will never win every battle, we admit that since we have “died to sin” (Romans 6:1-4), continuing in it is not the choice of the person walking in the ways of Spirit. We want to win the battles between our mind and our human nature. We want to fight the temptation so that we keep our evil desires from dragging us into sinful behavior.
Make no mistake. When your disagreements with your spouse end with unloving or disrespectful behavior, your evil desire has collided with temptation, and sin is the result. When unwholesome words – words that do not build up and edify your spouse – are spoken, you are losing the battle and acting in the way to which you say you have died. Fight the fight against your human nature – the evil desires inside you.
It’s true on the battlefield, regarding health issues, and in regard to your spiritual battle: the effectiveness of your fight is proportional to your early detection that the fight is on. That’s why self-awareness is so critical. When I feel the lobes of my ears heat up, I recognize what is happening to me, I understand that I am escalating toward unholy reaction to my wife, and I tell her that I’ve got to step away to pray for minute. I have fought the fight early, and I have resisted the temptation – before I have behaved sinfully!
If feels good to win the war! And it’s a whole lot better for our relationship!
Early detection is vital. What are the early signs that you are being triggered? When you have identified them, think about it some more. Can you figure out something that occurs even earlier? When you name your reactions, determine that you will stop remove yourself from the triggers when you sense them happening.
When has early detection of the battle helped you to win the war inside yourself?